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The Malik Report

Evening news: On Larkin’s first playoff game, ‘going home 1-1 vs. down 0-2’ and passionate hockey

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The numbers are facing outward on the Red Wings' game jerseys, indicating that the Wings lost Game 1:

2. If you are interested in going out this evening:

3. The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a notebook article in which Dylan Larkin and Jeff Blashill weigh in on Dylan Larkin's first playoff game...

"For myself, that was a feeling out process," Larkin said. "I'm more prepared for what to expect. Now I know the level of compete. I think I was standing around maybe waiting for pucks or waiting for passes. I want to try and go after pucks, and instead of being hit, hit them."

Larkin, 19, has a history of rising to big occasions. He made his pro hockey debut a year ago with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, joining them during the third round of their playoffs, and scored in his second game. At 18, he held his own while playing among men at the 2015 World Championships.

None of that, he said, compares to the intensity of the NHL playoffs. "This is so much bigger."

Larkin was critical of his positioning on the Lightning's first goal of the series, which in turns reveals his character and maturity.

"When you are comfortable in your abilities and comfortable in your skin, you allow yourself to say I should have been better in this area, and that's how you get better," coach Jeff Blashill said. "You can never get better if you don't admit you have to. One thing about Dylan, he has shown a capacity to learn and get better. He doesn't repeat the same mistake over and over again. He generally improves."

And she posted a video of the coach's remarks:

4. Among MLive's Brendan Savage's game-day notes:

• Recent history says the Red Wings are in big trouble if they lose Game 2. That would put them in an 0-2 hole, which has been fatal in seven of the last eight instances the Red Wings have faced that situation. The lone time the Red Wings have advanced in the playoffs after losing the first two games was in 2002, when their roster was filled with future Hall of Famers and they beat Vancouver in six games before winning the Stanley Cup. That was the series when Nicklas Lidstrom scored from center ice in Game 3 to turn the series around.

• The Red Wings have lost the last three series when they've trailed 2-0. San Jose beat them in seven games in 2011 after winning the first three games and the Sharks also won in five games in 2010 after taking the first two. Both were in the second round. The Red Wings were swept by Anaheim in opening round in 2003. Prior to beating Vancouver in 2002, the Red Wings lost in five games to Colorado in 2000 in the second round, the Avalanche beat them in six games in the 1996 Western Conference Finals, they were swept by New Jersey in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals and got swept by Chicago in the 1992 second round.

• The Red Wings' 3-2 loss in Game 1 marked their fourth straight setback in Tampa dating back to last year's opening-round playoff series. They also dropped both regular season meetings at Amalie Arena. The Red Wings haven't won in Tampa since Game 5 last year, when Petr Mrazek made 28 saves in a 4-0 victory. Pavel Datsyuk, Danny DeKeyser, Drew Miller and Riley Sheahan scored for the Red Wings. Tampa Bay has won nine of its last 11 regular-season home games against the Red Wings.

5. Among the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's notes:

The core of both the Red Wings’ and Lightning’s rosters have now played each other three times in playoff series’ in the last four years (the Calder Cup Final in 2013).

The familiarity and testiness boiled over in Game 1 with 18 minor penalties whistled on two teams who generally don’t get involved physically in such a way.

Blashill, though, wasn’t surprised considering the importance of the playoffs.

“I watched the games (in other series) and everybody knows what is at stake and there’s a lot of animosity in the other series,” Blashill said. “Certainly when you’ve played the previous year in a playoff series, and we’ve played four times during the season, no question there’s animosity.

“We both want the same thing and when you both want the same thing, it brings out fierce competitiveness and it showed on both sides. But that’s great, it’s what makes playoff hockey great.”

6. On the Lightning's side of the ice, Fox 13's Kevin O'Donnell penned a game-day article...

"Every playoff series is pretty physical," said Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. "Maybe a little more so, but they have some big guys over there that can throw the body around. I don't think it was a surprise. There is a lot of passion out there."

Game 1 also elevated the Lightning's confidence. They now know they can win without Steven Stamkos, which was the biggest concern at the start of this series. Nitika Kucherov's two goals filled the void for one game, but the Lightning aren't looking for one player to take Stamkos' spot.

"I think it's going to be a collective effort to make up for that void," said Lightning center Alex Killorn. "I think Jonathan Drouin coming into the lineup is a huge help the way he's been playing. It's expected of everyone. I think there is so much depth on this team that you'll see guys on the third line, fourth line contributing just as much."

There was a concern that Tyler Johnson wouldn't be ready for the Red Wings, but he showed once again how important he is in the lineup, especially against Detroit. He was the key player in knocking Detroit out of the playoffs last year and he continues to be a thorn, scoring his ninth point in the last eight playoff games against the Red Wings.

"I guess our line just always plays well," said Lightning center Tyler Johnson. "It's a competitive game and we're working hard. They're making the game a little bit easier and we are getting a few bounces here and there."

7. And Terry Foster appeared on WDAE 620 around noon, speaking with Ron Diaz about tonight's game:

8. Also of Lightning-related note, from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

When the Lightning lost defenseman Anton Stralman (fractured leg) late in the season, there was a obviously a ripple effect with the pairings. Stralman’s partner Hedman also had to adjust, learning to play with veteran Matt Carle.

The chemistry appears to have kicked in nicely, the pairing doing a nice job shutting down the Red Wings. The only difference, said Hedman, was the fact Stralman is a right-handed player while Carle is a left-hander.

“It’s a bit of a difference, but we complement each other real well,” Hedman said. “We communicate a lot on and off the ice and on the bench, in between shifts. We’re trying to read off each other and do a good as we can and be effective defensively.”

Hedman played nearly 30 minutes in Game 1, being utilized in every situation, and appearing to have scored a goal but it was wiped out by an offside call.

For a mobile defenseman such as Hedman, forward Henrik Zetterberg said it’s important to let Hedman carry the puck.

“He’s one of the better defensemen in the league,” Zetterberg said. “He’s big, strong and skates real well. He has a big shot. You just have to be on him and stay close to him and not let him lead the rush.”

9. Of note from the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

As the Wings prepped Wednesday morning for the game later that night at Amalie Arena, Detroit coach Jeff Blashill shuffled his defensive pairings. Jonathan Ericsson was with Danny DeKeyser, and Kyle Quincey was teamed with Mike Green. Only the duo of Niklas Kronwall and Alexey Marchenko were the same as in Game 1.

“We’ll make those decisions after warmups,” said Detroit coach Jeff Blashill, who didn’t think who plays with who was all that big of a deal.

While his predecessor Mike Babcock tended to remain rigid with his top four defense pairings, Blashill has proven to be more flexible in mixing and matching his defenders.

“The one thing I’d say about D pairs is we haven’t throughout the course of a lot of the year necessarily had just three pairs,” Blashill said. “We mix and match them throughout the game, especially against a four-line team, so we get the right matchups against each line.”

His defenseman also thought the adjustments weren’t really a matter worthy of lengthy discussion.

“That’s how we’re going to start,” Ericsson said. “I think we’ll do a lot of switches during the games. It’s going to be a lot of switches during games I’m assuming but it’s just a matter of whoever’s out there, we’ve got to do a good job on all of the lines.”

The line that did Detroit in during Game 1 was the unit of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, who netted all the Lightning goals in their 3-2 win.

“I think they were really successful last game in being in on all three goals,” Ericsson said. “They’re a good line. They’re a little unexpected. They’re swinging in, they’re swinging a lot and gaining a lot of speed in the neutral zone, which sometimes can be tough to gap up on that. They’re pretty evasive. They’re good at creating room for themselves and that’s something we’ve got to try and be even better at, to stay even closer and not give them as much room to be building up speed in the neutral zone because they’re really good coming into our own end, making good plays and making a good first attempt to attack the net. They’re really good at that and we’re going to try and eliminate that and it starts in the neutral zone. It’s small things that decide if they score a goal or not and they got their margins on the right side in the last game. Obviously we’ve got to try and do a better job of that.”

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Mistercristo's avatar


Any particular reason the trainers hang the jerseys that way after a loss?  I’m guessing it has to do with personal accountability, but it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.

Posted by Mistercristo from Cameron Frye's garage, circa 1987 on 04/15/16 at 09:17 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

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.