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Captain Datsyuk’s Russians are kaput

Updated 6x at 12:08 PM:

Utterly stunning, and...Both heartening for Red Wings fans (as my pal Thomas on Twitter suggested) and devastating for the Russians' best player and captain, Pavel Datsyuk.

The Russians somehow came into their quarterfinal game against Finland, they scored the game's first goal (Kovalchuk via Datsyuk), and then they more or less went to sleep--Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, almost everybody but the man wearing #13, who tried to take the team onto his shoulders, and Malkin, who sparked himself awake later in the game--and surrendered a stunning, stunning 3-1 loss to Finland as a result.

Russia's most important team playing the most important sport at the perfect Olympic games have bowed out and are done--so Pavel may end up flying back to Detroit alongside his dear "buddy" Henrik Zetterberg tomorrow--and he ought to leave town before he's sent to Kamchatka or has to board a slow train to Kazakhstan to be shot into space with the rest of his teammates.

Datsyuk had a wonderful game at both ends of the ice and everywhere in between, but the Russian team was a political animal, and like the Winter Games, the KHL-heavy team never had any fit or finish in terms of puck-movement, intensity, determination or heart. The captain was sailing a ghost ship at times, and it's sailed.

Now Pavel Datsyuk will be able to come back to Detroit and rest that ailing left knee/groin/fallopian tube before the Wings go back to work and attempt to extend their 23-year playoff-making streak, but my goodness, if your heart doesn't sink for the man who I can only hope will still be playing NHL hockey for the Wings at 39 years of age...

sad

Datsyuk had an assist, went 9-and-11 on faceoffs (surprisingly), took 2 shots andplayed 19:33.

Sometimes not even a great leader and a selfless player can lead a team of bad eggs--it's telling that KHL'ers Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov led Russian forwards' ice time with 23:15 and 20:00 played, that Datsyuk played 19:33--less than KHL defenseman Yevgeni Medvedev's 19:38--and according to NHL.com's Dan Rosen, it was Evgeni Malkin who pulled the goalie:

Update:

Update #2: The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Datsyuk was brief with and blunt in terms of his comments:

"We can't score today," Datsyuk said. "Hard to win if you not score. We not make enough traffic, we not shoot enough."

Update #3: Here's more Datsyuk from the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek:

“It’s hard to win if you do not score,” said Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk, who described Rask as a “good goalie” but said the Russians didn’t do enough to get in his face. "But we make it easy. We make not enough traffic in front of him, and not shoot a lot.”

Nor did Datsyuk think the pressure had anything to do with the results, noting that once the tournament began, “we forget pressure and just do what we can do.”

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovski, who replaced starter Semyon Varlamov after the latter gave up three goals, described the feeling as “disappointing and empty inside.”

Could Bobrovski imagine that Russia’s tournament could end like this?

“No, never. Never thought about it.”

Update #4: Here's the AP's Greg Beacham's take:

Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and their teammates had nursed dreams about this week for several years.

They were all dashed in 60 frustrating minutes.

Russia crashed out of the Olympics in the quarterfinals Wednesday with a 3-1 loss to Finland, extending a historic hockey nation's gold-medal drought past 22 years and putting an enormous damper on the final days of the Sochi Games.

"Inside, I'm absolutely empty," Datsyuk said through a translator.

Teemu Selanne scored an early goal and Tuukka Rask made 37 saves as Finland crushed the Russians' plans to win hockey gold in front of their own fans for the first time. Russian teams have won eight gold medals in hockey, but none since the Unified Team's victory in 1992.

Ovechkin, Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin all hailed Russia's home Olympics as the most important tournament of their careers. They'll likely have only bitter memories after losses to the United States and Finland, which left Russia out of the medals entirely for the third straight games.

Despite its roster of high-priced offensive stars, Russia couldn't score in the final 52 minutes after Ilya Kovalchuk's early power-play goal.

"To be honest, I'm a little bit sad, also, for them," said Selanne, a six-time Olympian. "Obviously, they had a big dream to win the gold medal here, and then it doesn't work, so it's kind of disappointing in many ways, because that would be a great story. But again, it's proving to the hockey world that you never know."

Update #5: Here's Datsyuk speaking with IIHF.com's Slava Malamud:

The Finns had effectively won the game on the next two shifts, when the flurry of activity from the Malkin and Anisimov lines failed to yield the result for the home team. Syomin had the best chance of all, but his breakaway shot was beautifully saved by Rask, who went down on his side to deflect the puck with his body.

"Rask is a good goalie but we made it easy", said Russia's captain Pavel Datsyuk. "We didn't get enough traffic on the net and we didn't shoot enough."

With the fourth line benched, the Russians pressing and the Finns in a defensive shell, the third period was predictably one-sided, but try as they could, the hosts simply weren’t able to break the Suomi defense and Rask’s brilliant, acrobatic goaltending. The closest they came was during a third-period power play, after Kovalchuk sent the puck to the crease. With Rask on his side once again, Radulov dove for the rebound, but didn’t push the puck through.

"We had Tuukka Rask, that's why we won", said Jori Lehtera.

As the realization of the inevitable set in, the Russian crowd was mostly silent in the last ten minutes of the third period. The Finns have proven to be Russia’s worst nightmare again.

"Empty", was the only word Datsyuk uttered when asked how he felt.

Update #6: Here's some Datsyuk in rawly-Google-translated Russian, from Sovetsky Sport...

- Finns as the team were better than us. Managed to score, rose to the defense and well-defended, - said Datsyuk told reporters.

Twice...

Russia captain Pavel Datsyuk commented on the defeat of Finland (1:3) during the 1/4 finals of the hockey tournament at the Olympic Games in Sochi.

"Thanks to the fans, thank you guys, all tried to end. You can tell a lot in a temper, fly in the quarterfinals becomes unpleasant tradition for us, "- said Datsyuk.

And from Sport-Express's Artem Agapov...

- Alas, we lost on the ice ... - Datsyuk sighed, standing in front of another group of journalists - only a couple of forward Sergei Bobrovsky was in no hurry to go to the locker room, let the soul he obviously scraping cat. - It's a shame that we could not please their fans. Emotions that prevail, it is certainly disappointing. Disappointment from what we could not live up to expectations and achieve results. As we believe, we are not able to back up hope. Although all the guys did today what they could.

- Do not you think that today just was Team Finland team to a greater extent than Russia?

- I thought that the Finns as a team were better than us. Simply, they quickly scored the second goal after equalized, stood in defense and defended very well.

- You certainly have assumed before the match that if Finns lead, they close?

- Honestly, did not expect that will burn 1:3. Knew that the Finns a good team, good riding, good defending.

- Rusk - impregnable wall?

- We are simplified his life. You had to throw more, often to aggravate. We spent not much really dangerous attacks. And so - you can not argue he is a good goalkeeper. And today we gave him the opportunity to feel comfortable.

- As for the team influenced replacement goalkeeper?

- Zinyetula Khaidarovich decided to cheer the team. After that, we became more confident to attack.

- Were you surprised that the whole Bilyaletdinov third period set by the three-link?

- No. We tried to save the game, it is clear that the coach decided to use a three-tiered.

- Often been the case that someone was trying to do everything alone, but not at the expense of team play ...

- Maybe somewhere emotions gush. But all said in the dressing room that only a team we can win. I do not seem that we are constantly brought down to individual actions and dragged the puck alone, still trying to do something together.

- What is the problem with the implementation of the majority of the entire tournament?

- Probably a little thrown and all tried to bring to the faithful.

- The match with Norway today auknulos? He took a lot of effort?

- Take away certain number. But in such matches when their fans get additional power. Thank them for their support for this energy.

- Do not think that your team is unable to cope with the pressure?

- The pressure was high, yes. But when the Olympics began and we started out on the ice, threw it all. Just think about the game.

And R-Sport's Roman Solvyev:

"We could not justify the trust on us (pinned) high expectations, and we could not realize his dream, and also at the Olympics - said Datsyuk told reporters. - You have to take, to understand because of what happened."

"We had our chances, but we could not score, it's hard to win if you do not score. Finns also echoed and helped each other," - he added.

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Comments

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Hootinani's avatar

Not too shocking. Russia has been up and down all tourney, and Finland has been a workhorse team, with their only defensive hiccup coming in the opening game against Austria.  Doesn’t hurt that Rask has been outstanding.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 02/19/14 at 10:54 AM ET

Chet's avatar

The real takeaway: Radulov is still a major, major clown.

It is too bad for Datsyuk, though I agree that this team was not much of a favorite. There’s something weird going on with their program, and it seems as though there’s a lot of entitlement and ego without a lot of heart or hard work. The fact that they still try to shoehorn NHL and KHL players together in such a short tourney (or at least, the way they seem to do it) is also ludicrous.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 10:58 AM ET

Chet's avatar

I also don’t understand the continuous “fallopian tube” jokes…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 10:59 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I spent a semester learning about all the awful things that the Russians did in the first and second Chechen wars, things that are being ramped up a level in Dagestan, South Ossieta, the brief war with Georgia, against some Azeris, Abkhazians, still to the Chechens and now very obviously to some extent the Ukrainians.

I have no love for the Russian political system. The Soviet totalitarian system was less brutal than Putin’s Russia.

But the Russian people, as intolerant as they might be on occasion, are human beings. I can’t discriminate against Iranians because the Ayatollahs have been nuts forever or North Koreans because they’ve been brainwashed.

As for the team, I will agree with you—it was a “team” in the loosest sense of the definition thereof.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 11:02 AM ET

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So much pessure on them we all saw this coming.


At least now the complaining trolls around here can go back to complaining about G’s other flaws instead of just his un-patriotic love for all things Russia. smile

 

 

Posted by lancer on 02/19/14 at 11:03 AM ET

Chet's avatar

Ovechkin wasn’t good in this game. Standard…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 11:06 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Fallopian tube thing = Bart Simpson complaining about his “ovaries” during a test day. I.e. you never know what an injury is when we’re talking about the Russians.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 11:07 AM ET

TKShreve's avatar

I predict some members of team management may have lengthy vacations coming up.

Honestly though, this team boasted more up front talent than any other IMO. You have 5 All World players in Datsyuk, Malkin, Kovy, Ovie and Semin. The lack of fire power representation on the score board is astounding.

Posted by TKShreve from East Uptown on 02/19/14 at 11:07 AM ET

Chet's avatar

If you want a hat trick against Buffalo on a Tuesday in March in a 5-0 win, call Ovechkin… he will definitely cover that w a ENG to boot ...

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 11:08 AM ET

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Finland hs been playing a style that really seems to get other teams off their gameplan. Need to adjust to beat them.

Posted by lancer on 02/19/14 at 11:08 AM ET

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Ovechkin wasn’t good in this game. Standard…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 10:06 AM ET

Ovechkin wasn’t good the whole tournament.

 

Posted by George0211 on 02/19/14 at 11:09 AM ET

Chet's avatar

Everyone agrees Russia had a lot of high end forwards, but they never did get it together and trying to use KHL guys with superstars and with a weak defense was just not going to cut it. Honestly, the way I saw it, it just looked like too many of those superstars trying to carry the entire team while failing to actually play as parts of the team.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 11:12 AM ET

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I spent a semester learning about all the awful things that the Russians did in the first and second Chechen wars, things that are being ramped up a level in Dagestan, South Ossieta, the brief war with Georgia, against some Azeris, Abkhazians, still to the Chechens and now very obviously to some extent the Ukrainians.

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Not to get political on a hockey forum, but you are full of sh!t. Where exactly did you study this? I LIVED THERE. And the awful things Russians did there are nothing compared to what Chechens did.
The so called awful things that Russians did were to protect ethnic Russians that were getting exterminated there.
Same goes for Azeris who were killing Armenians in the streets of Baku.
Get your facts straight before you start posting your drivel.

Posted by George0211 on 02/19/14 at 11:14 AM ET

Chet's avatar

It seems like their forward corps has a few world-class talents that are me-first players with no secondary support, and from what I saw of their backend there’s not a ton to work with there, especially with defensemen who can move the puck well to their best forwards.


Could not have said it better myself…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 11:15 AM ET

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I think coaching needs to take a lot of blame here. The had 1 effective line the entire tournament, the Datsyuk line. As much as Radulov is a dope, he was probably one of only a couple players that actually played with any emotion.
Malkin-Ovechkin line was bad the entire time.
They never really played as a team, and that is a coaching issue.

Posted by George0211 on 02/19/14 at 11:18 AM ET

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@ TKSHREVE

For one, I really don’t think Russia had as much “world class talent” as Sweden or Canada. I mean. maybe depth is the issue in Russia. Don’t get me wrong, those players you listed are definitely absolute snipers but as far as talent goes… Canada has WAY more of it on all end of the ice and their top 6 could stomp on Russia’s top 6. Sweden is loaded with fire power as well. Anyway, It’s tough to see Datsyuk so disappointed and empty, but maybe he can come back with some fire and score some goals for The Red Wings.

Posted by Pasha1277 on 02/19/14 at 11:22 AM ET

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Of that Russian team, there just isn’t that fortitude that is needed to play every shift with the level of competition that is needed to succeed. They’re just too fragile. That’s why Datsyuk is the guy amongst the “big 4” on Russia that stands out the most - he’s the only one who keeps an even keel and gets back at it every shift. The rest of these guys don’t have the mental game.

I am convinced Ovechkin will never win a Stanley Cup as “the guy” - there has to be someone nearly-as-good or better than him with the complete mental game to lead a team Ovechkin plays for to the Cup. Against these teams that have less or no NHL representation, Ovechkin should score at will. Instead, he lays egg after egg.

Malkin - he’s proven to be able to compete in the big games/series and also proven he can disappear. He was decent throughout the tournament but he by no means carried that team to any wins. He wasn’t enough of a difference-maker.

Same can be said of Kovalchuk. Good player, made some plays. Not enough.

It is also clear that management of the Russian program is lost. There’s definitely something missing there.

Last thing: After seeing these guys compete as a national team the last several times (Olympics or other tournaments), I can see a little bit why Ken Holland shies away from drafting these guys. Even the Slovakians, who got destroyed all tournament, played with a lot more heart. If you rank the performances by determination, heart, competitiveness, and mental toughness, I think Russia finishes near the bottom. Nearly every other team showed more. This may be a reflection of where Russian hockey is right now. It seems apparent there is a lack of leadership at the top. Likely, this is permeating down through the developmental infrastructure.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 02/19/14 at 11:26 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Regarding the conflicts in the Caucasus, there are no “good guys.” The bloody wars on both sides produce brutality and death—we had a bombing not too long ago that taught us all about the radicalism and wanton willingness to target civilians for wrongs both actual and perceived that’s stirring among some of the native population.

Regarding the team, the fact that Malkin had to pull Bobrovsky and the fact that Coach Bill wanted to bench Radulov but never did so tell you who was NOT pulling the personnel strings. And that kind of team is no “team.”

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 11:27 AM ET

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It was not that stunning, really, especially if you had listened to me the day before the tournament started.

Specifically, I said Russia should embrace its status as no longer a hockey superpower and adopt the Finnish underdog mentality of outhuscling, outhitting and outworking their opponents. Check.

Secondly, I said unless the Russians do that (they obviously didn’t), they would not win a medal. Check.

Thirdly, I said, on paper, the Russians were, at best, the third most talented team in the tournament (tied with the Americans). Check.

Fourthly, I said, Vegas would have had the Russians as a 7-5 underdog to the U.S. on neutral ice and even on home ice it would be a pick ‘em game. Check. Check.

Fifthly, I said, the Russians, on paper, were barely more talented than a full-strength Finnish team up front, worse on defense, and way worse in goal.  Check. Check. Check.

Sixthly, I said, in a one-game playoff format, the Russians could lose to Finland, the U.S., the Slovaks, the Czechs, even the Swiss if Hiller got hot.  Check.

Of course, there was one fella who claimed that the Russians were still the favorites, blah, blah blah.  Wonder where he is now.

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/19/14 at 11:31 AM ET

Chet's avatar

good points re personnel—but, wasn’t bob the replacement?

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/19/14 at 11:31 AM ET

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It is also clear that management of the Russian program is lost. There’s definitely something missing there.

Absolutely correct. They have a lot of world class players thrown in here and there, but no one to actually put it all together.

Posted by George0211 on 02/19/14 at 11:34 AM ET

Avatar

You guys can dog on Radulov all you want.  But him and Pav were outstanding together.  He showed some heart, unlike the other stars of the team.  Kovi wasn’t bad either, but he mostly benefited from the other two.  I’d take Popov, Nichuskin and Belov on my team too, but that’s about it.

Posted by jkm2011 on 02/19/14 at 11:34 AM ET

Avatar

Proof again AO is cursed

Posted by SlimChance on 02/19/14 at 11:37 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

  Specifically, I said Russia should embrace its status as no longer a hockey superpower and adopt the Finnish underdog mentality of outhuscling, outhitting and outworking their opponents. Check.

I can’t see this happening.  Finland has a cultural history of being an underdog or, at the least, being outclassed by their neighbors to the west.  It’s acceptable for them to admit they aren’t the best in the world at everything.  Russia seems not to have that ability; perhaps it’s solely in the face they out forward, the result of language/culture translation issues, or some other factor I don’t understand, but there seems to be a disconnect of some sort that seriously impairs their ability to honestly assess their team/league/player’s talent levels and that creates the immense pressure we see weighing down the handful of guys that are truly elite.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/19/14 at 11:43 AM ET

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Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/19/14 at 10:43 AM ET

The reason is image. They *must* show the world how strong and invulnerable they are at all times, in all facets of life. They cannot demonstrate even the implication of weakness. That’s a cultural thing.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 02/19/14 at 11:47 AM ET

Hawk's avatar

Malik, you’re such a biased brainwashed f*ckturd!

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 02/19/14 at 11:48 AM ET

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I should amend my previous statement that from a governmental or “I represent my country” perspective, my statement is true. I am sure there are Russians who believe otherwise. But those toeing the “country line” will always demonstrate the air of superiority.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 02/19/14 at 11:49 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

Is it only the image they put forth, though?  Are they honest with themselves out of the limelight?  Their actions and decisions seem to indicate they aren’t.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/19/14 at 11:49 AM ET

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Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/19/14 at 10:49 AM ET

Whether or not they acknowledge weakness internally, I cannot say. But what you will see in the press (government-controlled) will be justification, conspiracy theories, etc. It will not ever mention that the team was not good enough, outworked, etc.

Posted by some kid on 02/19/14 at 10:52 AM ET

While I agree the US is arrogant at many things, I believe there is a serious ability for the press, government, and people to admit failure. In Russia, I don’t believe that to be the case.

Posted by VitoLambruski on 02/19/14 at 11:57 AM ET

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The most stunning thing about this is that people are stunned by it.

Posted by Garth on 02/19/14 at 12:05 PM ET

Hawk's avatar

The most stunning thing in all this is that there’s always at least one *#$%@& that suddenly finds out a political background in sports. Fackyeah Malik, you’re such a graphomaniac douchebag!

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 02/19/14 at 12:16 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I was writing that during the third period. Immediately as it happens, you’re stunned. But as you think about it, you know that this team was politically picked, politically ran and politically coached, that there was a clear disconnect between coach and team, that Pierre McGuire may very well have been right in saying that the KHL and NHL guys didn’t get along, and…

You know that this was incredibly and painfully inevitable for the “home team,” from the moment it was conceived by Putin, KHL president Alex Medvedev and the higher-ups in the Russian hockey federation.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 12:18 PM ET

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You know that this was incredibly and painfully inevitable for the “home team,” from the moment it was conceived by Putin, KHL president Alex Medvedev and the higher-ups in the Russian hockey federation.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 11:18 AM ET

Boy, you’re great at talking out of your ass. You really have no clue what you’re talking about. Stick to collecting Wings beat writers articles.

Posted by George0211 on 02/19/14 at 12:27 PM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Maybe its just that i dont really give a flying fornication about Olympic hockey, but the anger and intensity behind some of these comments seems a little unfounded to me.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 02/19/14 at 01:03 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Olympic break or no Olympic break, some of our members regrettably use sports as an excuse to argue with each other and to levy personal attacks.

I don’t understand the, “I watch sports as an excuse to argue about something” mindset, but for some sports fans, it’s all about finding an excuse to scream and yell.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 01:10 PM ET

Avatar

Shut up George, you are not physically attractive to me!

Sorry, it just seems like all the cool kids are piling on you with the personal attacks and I’ll be damned if the peer pressure isn’t getting to me…

Posted by Garth on 02/19/14 at 01:15 PM ET

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I don’t understand the, “I watch sports as an excuse to argue about something” mindset, but for some sports fans, it’s all about finding an excuse to scream and yell.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 12:10 PM ET

Simply pointing out that what you’re writing is wrong and has no basis is not finding an excuse to argue about something.
You were the one that started politicizing Russians’ loss instead of just keeping hockey related. And I called you out on the fact that your comments made no sense and had no basis.

Posted by George0211 on 02/19/14 at 01:16 PM ET

Avatar

Boy, you’re great at talking out of your ass. You really have no clue what you’re talking about. Stick to collecting Wings beat writers articles.

Posted by George0211 on 02/19/14 at 11:27 AM ET

You have a fairly aggressive manner of just pointing something out.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 02/19/14 at 01:24 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

To repeat: If you do not like what you read on this blog, you can always read other blogs and websites. Or we could, y’know, agree to disagree without me inevitably being told that I’m the *#$%@&.

The way we tend to interact online tells others as much about us as it does about our points of view.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 02/19/14 at 01:31 PM ET

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Simply pointing out that what you’re writing is wrong

The word you were looking for is “your”, not “you’re”.

It’s fun to be an *#$%@&, huh?

Posted by Garth on 02/19/14 at 01:31 PM ET

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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.