The Malik Report
by George Malik on 02/07/13 at 07:27 PM ET
Unlike Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is...Let's say, "Given to Malik Report-style rambling" on a consistent basis. The man's fascinating as all hell get out, but he's also extremely verbose, and sometimes his astute observations also involve some "out there" comments.
MLive's Brendan Savage received an unusual take on the Red Wings' struggles while speaking to Hitchcock earlier this afternoon, with Hitchcock insisting that the Wings' 4-2 loss to Columbus last Saturday and the team's 4-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday were the direct result of having played Hitchcock's Blues--a game the Wings won--six days ago:
"The game in Detroit ... was the best hockey game we've played in," Hitchcock said. "The game was really well played by both teams. Both teams put a lot of energy into it. What's interesting to me is neither team recovered from that game physically. Detroit went into Columbus and got beat, looked tired. They looked a little bit tired still against Calgary. We looked really tired (in Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Nashville), even with two days off. I don't think the fans realize that was a Game 7 playoff game. That's exactly what it was. The players poured so much into that this early in the season that neither team had anything left for the next outing."
Mike Babcock, who'd attempted to recruit Hitcock as an assistant coach before he took the Blues' job, offered a Babcockian response...
"We haven't done anything since," Babcock admitted. "We got all these theories. I think the older we get, the more theories we have. At least that's what my kids tell me. We just haven't won yet."
The victory over the Blues avenged Detroit's 6-0 loss on opening night in St. Louis. That was one of the Red Wings' worst performances in years as they allowed three power-play goals and were outshot 36-14. In the first period alone, St. Louis had a 17-2 advantage in the shots department.
"They spanked us badly the first game," Babcock said. "We both gave up power-play goals and had bad stretches in the next game. We came away feeling better about ourselves. (Then) we went to Columbus and lost and lost (to Calgary) at home. So we haven't done much since. I imagine they're getting a little bit testy. They gave up six and then lost to us. So I don't imagine they're not in a good mood. It should be fun" tonight.
Savage also asked the Wings' players to talk about Blues captain David Backes, and one predatory hitter complimented the other...
"He's a force out there," said Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "He's a big guy. Pretty good hands, sees the ice. He's really physical. He presents a lot of problems for the opposing team."
Before Hitchcock suggested that Backes plays so very well when he's facing the Wings for a reason:
"He recognizes when he plays against Detroit he's going to spend most of the night without the puck," Hitchcock said. "He's gotten more and more comfortable knowing that's the way it is. I think what it does for him is it makes him play patient. When he plays patient, he's a better player. When he gets running around trying to make big hits, it kind of pulls him out of position. I think playing against Detroit scares you a little bit and it makes him play more patient."
And I don't know what to think about this quip from The Fan 590's Doug MacLean, a former assistant GM in Detroit, as noted by Sportsnet's Luke Fox:
Should the Edmonton Oilers consider trading defenceman Ryan Whitney to the Detroit Red Wings? That was the idea floated out by Hockey Central’s Doug MacLean, who said the Red Wings would be wise to jump on Whitney if he’s available.
Whitney’s current contract, which carries a $4 million annual cap hit and does include a no-trade clause, runs out at the end of this season.
“He is struggling. Healthy scratch (one night). And last night (Jaromir) Jagr takes him inside-out on the winning goal,” Doug MacLean said on Hockey Central @ Noon Thursday. “If you’re looking for defencemen, if you’re Detroit, would you take a run at Ryan Whitney if he’s available?”
Nick Kypreos suggested the Oilers would be better off waiting until Whitney strung a few good games together before shopping him.
“No, I would take Ryan Whitney right now if I’m Detroit,” MacLean said.
Edmonton, which has been considered a team in need of defence more than offence, has received a blue-line boost this season from rookie workhorse Justin Schultz.
Whitney is a team-worst minus-6 and ranks fifth among Oilers defencemen in minutes logged per game with 18:21. The 29-year-old has no goals and three assists in nine games this season. Unless he can turn things around, this will be the third consecutive season in which his production has fallen off.
For reference purposes, the Sports Forecaster lists Whitney at 6'3" and 206 pounds. He'll turn 30 on February 19th, and TSF describes his game as follows:
Assets: Has excellent size and offensive instincts from the blueline position. Displays the ability to make a great breakout pass and handle power-play duties. Is also a very smooth skater.
Flaws: Is prone to occasional mental breakdowns in the defensive zone. Doesn't make enough good use of his imposing frame. Doesn't shoot the puck nearly enough. Is also a bit fragile.
Career Potential: Solid puck-moving, big-minute defenseman.
Whitney's struggled with health issues and on-ice consistency since the Pittsburgh Penguins traded him to the Anaheim Ducks during the 08-09 season, but he has posted 30 or more points 4 times over the course of his 8 NHL seasons. There is no doubt, however, that he is a reclamation project and a half...
And there is no doubt that a) there will be better defensemen available closer to the trade deadline and b) MacLean was spouting off because the Wings and Oilers play on Saturday, thus producing an easily imagined trade scenario.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.