The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/05/13 at 05:54 PM ET
My apologies for my 16-hour absence. Dealing with difficult news + dealing with depression and anxiety can yield physical symptoms, and sometimes your body says, "Dude, you're dealing with some heavy shit and so am I, so we're shutting down" (my reply was of course, "*#$%@&, I just want to do my *#$%@& job!"). It sucks but it's part of the deal.
Please let me know whether you want me to offer some sort of quickie Wings-Canes recap or whether you want me to catch up on the Bruins' "morning skate" news.
Given that the Griffins opened their 2013-2014 campaign with an 8-1 drubbing of the Rochester Americans, and given that
they're tied 3-3 with lost 4-3 in OT to the Toronto Marlies, there will be a prospect catch-up post--and given that Mattias Janmark scored 2 goals in AIK Stockholm's 6-2 loss to Lulea yesterday and another goal in AIK's 5-2 win over Leskands IF today, there's news from elsewhere to catch up on as well.
In terms of the Red Wings' match-up with the Boston Bruins this evening (7 PM EDT, FSD/NESN/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM), the Wings' website posted a game-day preview...
As well as some news and notes from the morning skate:
It was a lighter morning skate today, but all healthy scratches and IR players (minus Eaves) skated.
Darren Helm was on the ice, as he, Tootoo, Tatar, and Lashoff all took shots on Gustavsson after morning skate.
Mike Babcock said Tomas Tatar may find his way into the lineup tonight.
Jimmy Howard will get the start in goal.
"We've played Boston twice already (in preseason) but this is the first time it counts. It'll be fun, it's a great opportunity for us."- Mike Babcock
"It's about how mentally tough you are... sticking to your plan, doing it right...Tonight should be a good test for our team and we're looking forward to it." - Mike Babcock
Is Tomas Tatar playing tonight? Yes, no, maybe, per the Free Press's Helene St. James...
Coach Mike Babcock hedged the bet after an optional morning skate, first saying he’d decide later, then saying Tatar “is in tonight.”
When asked for clarification, Babcock reiterated he’d decide during the afternoon.
Babcock said after the 3-2 overtime victory Friday at Carolina that he was considering making lineup changes. There aren’t any coming on the back end or in goal, and Tatar is the only healthy forward available. Babcock said all the forwards who played Friday are healthy and available.
Tatar is a hard-nosed little guy with a knack for scoring, the type where the puck follows him around.
“He’s a kid going in the right direction, brings enthusiasm,” Babcock said. “I think you need that in your lineup. I like him as a player.”
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
"I'm not sure if I'm in or not," said Tatar, who had four goals in 18 games with the Red Wings last season before starring for Grand Rapids during its Calder Cup championship run. "I've been waiting for a chance. Coach said to be ready tonight, he's still thinking about it. We'll see. I'm ready to go. If I get in, I'll try to play my best."
There would be no other changes to the Red Wings lineup.
This will be the first of four games between the two teams who generally are considered the top in the Atlantic Division. Bruins coach Claude Julien believes the Red Wings team defense doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
"They do a really good job of defending where I think sometimes we don’t give that team enough credit," Julien said. "The reason they have the puck a lot is because they defend well. You’ll watch tonight – they always have their players above ours. And very seldom do you get outnumbered situations and you have to be willing to fight for those pucks and you have to be willing to get it by them and go after it again. You’re not going to get a run-and-gun type game against that team because they defend so well."
And MLive's Ansar Khan:
“He likes the puck, he’s not scared of it, he goes to get it, he scores in tight,’’ Babcock said. “He’s not a big man (5-10, 186), he plays heavy on (the puck).You need that in your lineup. I like him as a player.’’
But, he added, “We always have ties with veteran players. It’s not like he couldn’t have had a spot in Game 1, but we give our veterans the first opportunity. He’s going to get in tonight.’’ He later backtracked on that last statement about playing tonight, saying he’ll decide later.
Tatar said he is patiently waiting for his opportunity. He’d enjoy the challenge of playing one of the biggest and best teams in the league.
“I like the challenge,’’ Tatar said. “I don’t really care if they are big or play physical. It’s just a part of the game. I have to expect that.’’
If he plays tonight.
Babcock said Jimmy Howard will start in goal for the 2-0 Red Wings. The Bruins are coming off a 3-1 season-opening win over Tampa Bay on Thursday.
As St. James noted, and as I'm going to point out, the Wings have an absolutely bizarre schedule coming up. After tonight's 3-games-in-4-nights wrap-up, the team gets Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off before playing home games against Phoenix on Thursday the 10th and Philly on Saturday the 12th, and then they head to Boston for a Columbus Day matinee (1 PM start) on the 14th head home to play a back-to-back game against Columbus on the 15th.
Then the team hits the road to play games in Colorado on Thursday the 17th and in Phoenix on Saturday the 19th, and they come home to play the Sharks on Monday the 21st and entertain the Senators on Wednesday the 23rd.
That adds up to 8 games played over the course of 14 nights, which doesn't sound so bad, but they're playing 4 in 6 between the 10th and 14th, and 6 in 10 between their first and second games against Phoenix.
"It'll be fun," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We look forward to it. Everything about today’s game for our team, it’s a real great opportunity because it’s three-in-four and it’s back-to-back. To me it’s about how mentally tough you are. It’s about ... sticking to your plan, doing it right. In every game someone gives in, you can’t give in today. You’ve just got to find a way. I don’t care if your legs are sore or any of that stuff or where we played. I want to see who’s mentally tough and who’s going to do it right. Tonight should be a good test for our team and we look forward to it."
Game time: 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: NHL Network/NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 1-0-0, Red Wings 2-0-0
Notes: This is the first meeting of the teams now that they're together in the Atlantic Division. ... Detroit and Boston did not face each other in the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season. ... The Red Wings have won the last four straight games against the Bruins. ... Brothers Reilly Smith and Brendan Smith will face each other in tonight's game. They played against each other in the preseason. ... The last time the Bruins and Red Wings were in the same division was in the East in 1972-1973. ... The last shutout between these two teams? Way back in 1982, when the Bruins won 7-0 on Nov. 7.
Bejnamin took note of the Reilly-vs-Brendan angle...
There was a near-miss for Reilly Smith and his brother Brendan in the 2010 Frozen Four. Had Reilly’s Miami (Ohio) team not lost to Boston College in the semifinals, it would have gone to the final against Wisconsin — Brendan’s team.
The pair, however, will square off Saturday with the Red Wings in town. They did see each other in Detroit for a preseason game, but this time it will matter.
“I think my parents are pretty happy about it,” said Reilly, who added that his parents won’t be at the Garden Saturday. “Might have to see them a little more because I think they’re planning a lot more road trips.
“Usually it’s pretty competitive against each other on the ice. We’ll see what happens.”
Reilly said the two have always been that way, whether it was hockey or basketball or lacrosse.
“It’s kind of just carried over into everything we’ve done,” Reilly said.
And the MetroWest Daily News's Dan Cragen wondered what would've happened had Daniel Alfredsson chosen Boston over Detroit:
[Boston Bruins GM] Chiarelli was looking at Alfredsson as a replacement for Nathan Horton. Alfredsson would have fit the Bruins’ mantra for playing from the defensive zone out, and motivation was no problem for a veteran of 1,178 games with no Stanley Cup. Chiarelli knew ‘Alfie’ well from his years in the Ottawa front office.
“Well he’s a veteran, he’s a terrific leader, he’s a terrific player and he does anything to win,” Chiarelli said at the time. “He’s strong on the puck, he’s got a terrific shot, he has a lot of good things about him.”
Teams could speak to agents and players two days before signing them this summer, a new wrinkle to the NHL offseason. Chiarelli spoke with Alfredsson’s agent J.P. Barry a few times on July 3 and 4.
[Former Senator Chris] Kelly has remained friends with Alfredsson since being traded to Boston in 2011. He heard the rumors that his old pal could become a teammate again, but didn’t reach out to him to sell the Spoked-B.
“You never know how much is true,” Kelly said. “You’d hate to call him and be like, ‘You interested in coming?’ And then, ‘No, I have no intention of coming.’ I spoke with him (later) in the summer and he was interested in coming to Boston.”
On the evening of July 4 — the same day of the Tyler Seguin/Loui Eriksson trade — Chiarelli got a call from Don Meehan, the agent for Jarome Iginla. Iginla was wondering if the Bruins would have interest in him. Chiarelli’s interest was piqued. He had multiple options now for a spot that needed to be filled by a big-time player.
The next day Alfredsson announced he was signing with Detroit for one year at $5.5 million. A few hours later, Iginla was a Bruin on a one-year deal that will be worth $6 million with bonuses.
The Bruins wouldn't have gotten both players. It’s an interesting question over which one they’d be better off with. Iginla is younger (36), a bit more physical and a better pure goal-scorer; Alfredsson (40) is a stronger defensive player who knows how to play and win in the Eastern Conference.
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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.