The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/12/13 at 07:39 PM ET
Paul's been doing yeoman's work and then some and the Chief captured the moment that I didn't see--perhaps thankfully, due to Fox Sports Detroit's broadcast of Friday's game--of the Ducks' version of "leadership," via Corey Perry spitting water on the ice while his BFF Ryan Getzlaf tried to challenge Henrik Zetterberg to who-the-f***-knows-what with Todd Bertuzzi, Brian Engblom and Larry Murphy's office between them...
And I'm not gonna give you the details as to why I've been gone and in bed for two days, but you can sure as *#$%@& bet that if I'm not around leading up to Game 7, things ain't swell health-wise. I miscalculated the concept of chicken noodle soup having heavy, thick noodles, and that was that.
I can tell you that the mom and aunt are getting Wendy's for Mother's Day, and if I can keep a Frosty down I'm gonna be really happy. The family doc said that by Thursday, I may be able to attempt a Little Caesars night--maybe--and according to the Free Press's Helene St. James, by that time, the Wings will either have cleared their lockers out, with Pavel Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula (the Detroit News's John Niyo's article about the Finnish enigma is wonderful) and probably a Swede or two headed to Stockholm and Helsinki to play in the World Championships...
Or they'll be in Chicago, two games into a series where the Wings will be deemed the Blackhawks' meatloaf at best.
I've been watching this team for 22 years now, and I state this as honestly as possible: I have no *#$%@& clue what's going to happen tonight, because I still don't know what this team is made of.
I don't think they're quite sure. 55 games into the 2013 season, this team still needed 82 regular-season and half-a-dozen more playoff games to establish its post-Lidstrom/Holmstrom identity (who knew Holmstrom's goalie-screening and especially his rebound-retrieving skills would be more sorely missed and absences more poorly addressed in terms of replacement by the team's management--thank goodness Pavel Datsyuk chose to deem Justin Abdelkader Homer's successor--than Lidstrom's?), and it needed seven or eight months' worth of time, enduring injuries, getting players back from injuries and finding necessary additions through an 82-game-season's trade deadline...
And instead, it's May 12th, Game 7 is an hour-and-a-half away and while the veterans can be counted upon to stand up and lead, Danny DeKeyser's broken thumb, the team's decision to send Brian Lashoff down to bolster the Griffins' lineup after three rough games alongside Jakub Kindl (note to Babs: never pair the two again) and coach Mike Babcock's decision to sit Cory Emmerton for Patrick Eaves' sake mean that the Wings are only dressing five rookies instead of the usual seven or eight out of eighteen skaters, but given the inconsistency of the Cleary-Filppula-Franzen line, the fact that of Eaves, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson, Samuelsson may be the only fully healthy player of the bunch, and given that Kyle Quincey's been a hot mess who's ensured that the warts in Brendan Smith's game have stood out like a big red zit on a supermodel's forehead, that Carlo Colaiacovo's version of having a "hell of a game" involved 5 giveaways alongside the sometimes wonderful and sometimes innervating Jakub Kindl, and given that the Ducks have spent more games than not neutralizing the Wings' only relatively consistent performers in the Abdelkader-Zetterberg-Datsyuk line and the Kronwall-Ericsson pairing...
Once again, this series may be decided on the backs of the Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Damien Brunner line and Jimmy Howard's goaltending, and the former are a "minus one" in terms of making fatal, game-losing mistakes versus delivering game-winning goals.
So perhaps they're due for a good night, and perhaps the Wings are due for more than getting checked into the back boards and hacked, whacked dumb-lucked into losses by the Boninos, Beleskeys and Palmieris of the Ducks.
Here's hoping for a better outcome and declarations of skating meatloaf on ice for the team that does more than bang on the glass, kick goalies in the groin and then chirp with boards or referees in between themselves and their opponents. And if things don't end well, and team, "You're gonna get it" wins, I'm still damn proud of the skating contradiction full of injuries, inconsistencies and self-inflicted game and series-losing mistakes that's done all Red Wings proud over the past four-and-a-half months.
It's been an innervating, frustrating, terrifying and sometimes satisfying ride, and regardless of what happens tonight, I believe this Wings team has a bright present and a brighter future, especially given the performances of the guys who've been forced into action along the way. Add Tomas Tatar to the mix on a full-time basis, bid farewell to some of the people we'll cheer tonight but may not have a future on a younger team in the long run, and maybe add a bit via the free agency market bolstered by cap-compliance buy-outs, and the East won't know what's hitting 'em.
But all of that's for later, and hopefully another week or two of playoff time instead of three periods away.
Tonight, positive result or negative result, I'm damn proud of this team and damn proud to be a Red Wings fan.
Here's the Wings' website's game-day preview...
And coach Mike Babcock's game-day presser:
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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.