The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/06/13 at 04:39 PM ET
The Red Wings' prospects defeated the Minnesota Wild's prospects 2-1 on Thursday evening, but as there are no games scheduled for Saturday, and as only one more game remains on the Wings' schedule (the Wings play against St. Louis on Sunday), Detroit's prospects absolutely must defeat what is a star-studded and stacked Dallas Stars team this evening (at 7:30 PM).
As noted in the audio/mini practice post, coach Jeff Blashill appeared to make two tweaks to his lineup, with Rasmus Bodin sitting so that Jordan Maletta can get into the lineup, and Marc McNulty sitting out for Michal Plutnar's sake. Jared Coreau's starting as well, so the Wings' roster should look something like this:
Tomas Jurco #26-Riley Sheahan #15-Teemu Pulkkinen #56
Maritn Frk #42-Calle Jarnkrok #70-Anthony Mantha #39
Marek Tvrdon #60-Andreas Athanasiou #72-Zach Nastasiuk #62
Tyler Bertuzzi #59-Barclay Goodrow #84-Jordan Maletta #64
Xavier Ouellet #61-Ryan Sproul #48
Richard Nedomlel #77-Max Nicastro #58
Alexei Marchenko #47-Michal Plutnar #75
In goal: Jared Coreau #31
Cam Langian #68 as the back-up.
So Bodin, McNulty and Paterson are sitting this one out, and Phillipe Hudon's a scratch for the second game in a row.
StarsInsideEdge's Mark Stepneski posted Dallas' roster for tonight's game:
Dallas Stars prospects are back in action tonight at the NHL Prospect Tournament, taking on the Detroit Red Wings at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan.
Both teams won their opening game Thursday night, so tonight’s winner will be in the driver’s seat for taking the division and earning a spot in Monday’s championship game.
Philippe Desrosiers, a second round pick of the Stars’ in this summer’s draft, is expected to get the start in goal tonight for the Stars.
The Valeri Nichushkin-Radek Faksa-Alex Chiasson line will stay intact for tonight’s game. All the players who were scratched last night will be in tonight.
Here’s the expected lineup:
And oh, hi, another media outlet's in attendance tonight:
In terms of today's drills, they were very game-specific. The players were separated into two teams, consisting of the following players...
White team: Mantha, Bertuzzi, Maletta, Goodrow, McNulty, Nicastro, Coreau, Bodin, Paterson, Jarnkrok, Frk, Nedomlel;
Red team: Pulkkinen, Ouellet, Nastasiuk, Sheahan, Hudon, Marchenko, Sproul, Tvrdon, Lanigan, Plutnar, Athansaiou.
And after a simple "shoot around" to get the goalies warmed up--and it should be noted that Coreau and Paterson have shared a net for the most part, with Lanigan receiving a heavier workload--Jeff Blashill, Spiros Anastas, Jim Paek, Jiri Fischer and Chris Chelios had the players engage in incredibly similar drills to yesterday's slate thereof.
The "dump and retrieval" drill involved a little twist, in which the four-man "diamond" of 2 forwards and 2 defensemen chased down a dump-in, this time with the defenseman closest to the half boards staying there and the "wing" forward skating back between the defensemen to get the puck and haul it out of trouble.
At several junctures, Chelios, Paek and Fischer would attempt to create a three-man pile-up in the corner where three "opposing team's players" would be trying to jam the puck along the goal line, where the rink sort of curves toward the widest-from-the-net extent of the goal line, and the "diamond" would have to skate into the scrum and break the puck free.
While Jim Bedard had the team at the south end engaging in a double-passing drill, where forwards lined up in a half-moon crescent, equidistant from the goal from the slot to the goal line parallel to the faceoff dots, would take a pass from Bedard on either the goalie's blocker or glove side, and then the player would choose a passing recipient, who would either shoot or pass the puck one more time across the crescent to try to get the goaltender off his bearings and to "lose his net"...
The "four players line up in a square, the two forwards skate diagonally toward the blueline and then back across the ice in a carat '^' while the defensemen slide laterally" drill was tweaked to incorporate ONE forward moving in the "carat" shape while the winger closest to the boards would skate out to the point to take a point shot away.
Soon after that, all while continuing the "lateral movement" theme, the "square" defensemen would slide to the bottom of the opposite faceoff circle and the hash marks, respectively, while the forwards would shimmy over to the top of the opposite faceoff circle and the side boards, respectively, as if they were reacting to players coming up ice while trying to enter the zone using a push up the wing.
Instead of stretching some twelve minutes in, half the team lined up in "repositories" of players on the right-hand size of each defensive zone, and the players from each repository would skate to the far blueline, a coach would decide which player would receive a puck at said far blueline, and that player would skate back toward the end of the rink from which he came (i.e. a skater skating toward the south blueline would receive a pass and then skate back toward the north end of the rink) with his teammate joining him on a 2-on-0.
After that little leg-warmer-upper, Coreau and Paterson faced point shots in a situation where a 5-man unit--2 defensemen and 3 forwards--would stand sort of ready in a "power play" formation, Blashill or Bedard would hand the defensemen the puck, they'd execute at least one d-to-d pass and then try to get a shot at the net with bodies in front of the goalie and the rebounds pumped back to the point for second and third shots.
The five-man units would then skate from a defensive position to the far blueline--defensemen first--receive a pass from the coaches and skate back toward the end of the ice from whence they came in what Blashill described as a "neutral zone" drill, with the goal involving putting more pucks to the net with traffic in front, though wingers were also allowed to shoot in that drill.
Throughout these drills, the vast majority of the time, the lines and defensive pairings above were the ones employed.
The players then engaged in a pretty weird drill where a 4-man unit was placed at the four corners of the neutral zone, and the far-right or far-left forward would pass back to his far-right or far-left defenseman, that defenseman would send a diagonal pass to the opposite winger, that winger would drop the puck to the defenseman on the same side of the ice, and 3 of the 4 players would skate toward the defenseman who started the play. It was sort of an "N"-shaped passing drill, with the guy starting the "N" play getting the short end of the having-to-defend stick..
A little over halfway through practice, the special teams units--essentially the top two lines (except for the fact that Goodrow was subbing for Jarnkrok as Jarnkrok and Marek Tvrdon played on the power play points with Sproul and Ouellet, respectively)--engaged in drop-pass drills where the left winger or right winger would start with the puck at the half boards, drop the puck to the defenseman on his side of the ice, and then that defenseman would walk laterally toward the center of the blueline and hopefully fire a shot on net with bodies present in front of the goaltender.
At the other end of the ice, skaters would either skate out from the half wall, past a glove placed at the faceoff dot nearest to the side of the ice where they'd come from, shoot on net, and then station themselves in front for a point shot taken by either Chelios or the non-PP defensemen; then the skaters would repeat the first half of the drill, and after they shot their puck, they'd skate to another glove placed at the very bottom, furthest-from-the-net portion of the faceoff circle, reverse direction, take a pass from a coach down low and shoot from the slot, again, emphasizing forcing goaltenders to square up when facing repeated shots from different angles.
These drills took place from both the "glove side" and "blocker side" to make sure that goalies had both "sides" worked out. Eventually, the drill also involved a defenseman taking a "third" shot with the skater in front of the net.
The final iteration of that drill had the skaters almost pulling off a full sideways-figure-8 before going to the net for that "third" shot taken by a point man.
At the north end, a really tricky power play drill involved the left winger sending the puck to his right winger, the right winger sending the puck back to the right defender, and the right defender setting up the left winger for a one-timer via a diagonal pass; then, the defenseman would go d-to-d, with the "second" defenseman walking laterally and shooting while the "left winger" who started play rotated down toward the net; then the wingers would simply pass to each other.
The last ten or so minutes of practice were very casual. At the north end of the ice, guys worked on one-timers or tipping; Jarnkrok, Goodrow and Athanasiou did faceoff drills with Anastas; at the south end of the ice, the scratches gave Langian some work, and by 12:11 PM, 4 minutes early, the players were picking up pucks and getting ready to get off the ice and prepare for the game.
On a player-by-player basis, albeit briefly:
#15 Riley Sheahan: Sheahan's among the oldest players taking part in the tournament, and he looks like someone with an AHL season under his belt. He's working very hard to get to the net more regularly, to use his size to play a harder-charging and more physical game, and he's a very solid two-way center who, again, may or may not possess the offensive chops to be more than a Joakim Andersson-style 3rd line center with another stride.
#26 Tomas Jurco: Jurco's taking very oblique, diagonal lines to the net, and I can't figure that out, because when Jurco plays north-south hockey, he's more than big enough (and still filling out) and strong enough to muscle his way to the net or plain old blaze a trail given his speed. Instead, during this camp, he's been a passer and a playmaker with great defensive awareness and an ability to interchange with Sheahan as need be almost seamlessly. But he's supposed to score goals, y'know?
#39 Anthony Mantha: Mantha didn't seem to have a "deer in the headlights" mentality today. Looked more like his 6'4" self, skated harder, took more shots. I hope he has a better game tonight.
#42 Martin Frk: Ditto or Frk. He was working very hard as the left wing "passer" during the power play drills, and he looked more engaged. He's a notoriously slow starter--so said Blashill, and the summer camp proved as much--so the Hunchback of Halifax could yet get that one-timer going and start bulldozing his way to the net. He needs to step up tonight.
#56 Teemu Pulkkinen: With Sheahan working on being gritty and Jurco turning playmaker, Pulkkinen figured out that he needs to be the "shooter" on that line, and he practiced his one-timer until he was blue in the face. I think that for Pulkkinen, whose one-timer is nothing less than a thing of Brett Hull beauty, he's still struggling to adjust to North American angles and to take quicker passes, so the "time and space" issue yielded tons of wide shots, but he worked very hard, and again, he LIKES bouncing off of hard hits, so he's hard to intimidate.
#59 Tyler Bertuzzi: Again, when Bertuzzi gets the physical-first mentality out of his head, he's lanky but big, he skates very well, he's got a good pass and his shot is solid, and he can make plays. He's a very good player in the making if he gets his head on straight and puts on some real strength as opposed to just muscle mass, but he gets preoccupied with being a pest.
#60 Marek Tvrdon: Heavy shot, heavy skater, still a mystery. Looks wonderful on the point on the power play, but he can't seem to find the same room to maneuver when he's playing as a forward. Still rusty as hell after spending two of the last three seasons injured.
#62 Zach Nastasiuk: Gritty gritty gritty with a flair for heads-up passing and shooting and a solid and tenacious player in traffic. He really is like a Kirk Maltby (pre-lockout) clone.
#63 Phillipe Hudon: Aside from not being able to hit the side of a barn with his shot, Hudon's gotten a bit stronger, he's a very conscientious and enthusiastic player who embraces his checking role, he's fast, he's talkative and it's obvious that he's well-liked by both his teammates and the guys on the other team, at least when the puck's not been dropped. Does he show enough to convince the Wings to give another smallish checking forward a chance? I don't know.
#64 Jordan Maletta: Maletta is something of a reclamation project after having a rough year in the Soo and being traded to Niagara, he's a gangly 6'3," right-shooting winger who can crash and bang and skates very well. I haven't seen much else from him as of yet.
#67 Rasmus Bodin: Still a puzzle. Bodin could be a wonderful big, strong, tough checking forward with some hands and strong skating for a giant if he wants to be, but his focus is rarely there.
#70 Calle Jarnkrok: Elegant, polished, smart, Jarnkrok is an elite two-way center who skates, passes, shoots, takes faceoffs and competes with cool, calm and smooth polish, and while he's a bit undersized, it turns out that he's a hard competitor. He's exciting to watch as he is a high-high-high-high-end prospect.
#84 Barclay Goodrow: I think we've got Trevor Parkes II here, as I've been saying. Goodrow is not superbly-talented offensively, but he is big, fast and loves to hit people and to grind out pucks in the corners, and as a center, he's quite good defensively. He's a checker's checker.
#47 Alexei Marchenko: Marchenko is still establishing his North American identity. He's very, very strong, he skates superbly, at 6'2," he's no slouch in the size department, he's got a great poke check, he can carry or pass the puck well and his hard, low shot is superb. Again, he makes mistakes due to the pace and dimensions of the North American rink, but he usually bails HIMSELF out, and that's quite the skill.
#48 Ryan Sproul: Sproul is the most impressive of the Wings' turning-pro defensemen because he is a massive man at 6'4" and over 200 pounds who skates incredibly fast for his size--not McNulty fast, but fast enough--he hits people very hard, he's got a seeing-eye pass, his shot's a cannon and when you watch him you NOTICE HIM. But he's not used to making the simple play every time, and that's going to require some significant adjusting on his part. He will take time to find himself as a pro, but he will be worth the wait.
#61 Xavier Ouellet: At the opposite end, Ouellet is nothing but un-noticeably excellent, just gorgeously getting the puck out of trouble via poke-checks, perfect positioning that doesn't require him to be all that physical, gorgeous passing skills, smart shots, a puck-player as opposed to Sproul's puck-skating status, and he's not intimdiated by anyone. He's just got that slow step at times and when he loses his concentration, he looks like a kid coming out of juniors instead of someone who's almost NHL-ready already.
#58 Max Nicastro: Nicastro, again, has embraced a complimentary defenseman's role despite having more skill at the junior and NCAA levels, and the big, strong and sometimes very mean Nicastro keeps things simple, skates hard, checks hard and plays rock-solid defensive hockey.
#74 Marc McNulty: Ridiculously speedy for 6'6," uses his stick well to knock down pucks and poke away danger, he's got a good shot and he's surprisingly physical for maybe being 190 pounds and looking like he's 15. Very intriguing and very fun to watch.
#75 Michal Plutnar: Plutnar keeps up. I'm still trying to figure out how skilled he really is.
#77 Richard Nedomlel: Richard is gigantic at 6'5" and 231 pounds, he is mobile for his size, he's a hard checker, his positioning is good, he's got a solid stick, flicks the puck out of trouble and can occasionally head-man the puck, but when his concentration wanes or his intensity takes a short 5-minute nap, he becomes vulnerable. He will have ups and downs adjusting to pro hockey.
#31 Jared Coreau: It's going to be intriguing to watch Coreau play tonight. He's really remarkably polished given his size and at 6'4" or 6'5," depending on whose stats your quoting (I'd go with 6'5"), he's a great puck-blocker who really does look like Pekka Rinne when he's really on. His problems involve puckhandling, re-learning how to make his glove hand an asset after shoulder surgery and occasionally getting caught trying to "squeeze" all of those arms and legs together instead of letting his size make stops and fill holes naturally.
#36 Jake Paterson: He's the Xavier Ouellet of goalies, with perfect positioning, a great glove hand, great blocker, fast feet, an impeccable hybrid butterfly style, he stickhandles superbly, he likes to keep the puck moving, he deadens rebounds, and when his concentration waivers, he's human. But he is going to be signed to a pro deal, have no doubt about that.
#68 Cam Lanigan: His fundamentals are good and he's no slouch at 6'3" and a lanky 200 pounds, and he's a really classic hybrid goalie who wears his Reeboks well, but is he good enough to latch on? I don't think so, not yet, anyway.
While I was writing this, SlapShotGoal at Winging it in Motown penned her recap of Thursday night's game, astute observations included...
Via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey posted a Winter Classic/Hockeytown Winter Festival information repository....
MLive's Brendan Savage penned a profile of Ryan Sproul...
Sproul hopes to make it difficult for the Red Wings to send him to Grand Rapids to begin his pro career when training camp ends Sept. 18.
"That's the No. 1 goal," he said. "To blow these guys out of the water and make the NHL. I'm going to do whatever I can to do that. I know this is an organization that it could take a while but if they can't do anything about it I'm going to make it hard on them."
And if Sproul goes to Grand Rapids?
"Just to come into the league, whatever league it is, and play the way I know I can play and make it hard for the coach not to put me on the ice," he said.
Sproul, who is playing for the Red Wings entry in this week's Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, is coming off an outstanding junior career with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
During three seasons with Sault Ste. Marie, he had 57 goals and 96 assists in 172 games. Last year, he had 20 goals to go with career-high totals of 46 assists and 66 points, helping him earn the OHL's Defenseman of the Year Award after being the league's top-scoring defender. Offense is obviously his strength.
"That's me as a hockey player, an offensive defenseman," Sproul said. "You'll see me on the power pay and you'll see me shooting the puck and seeing the puck. I've heard it before about working on my 'D' zone and I've thoroughly worked on that as much as I can. Now it's about working on a full style game."
And Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner discussed Daniel Cleary's situation:
“I’ve got options," he said. "I just want to make the right call for my family. I’ve talked to (Red Wings GM) Kenny (Holland), and we all know what he’s trying to do. We’re all in agreement that I want to come back -- they want me back -- so we’ll see.”
Look, I like Cleary, and in a perfect world, he’d stay put. But this is a salary cap world, where there are limitations. The Wings cannot move or trade any of their players. They’ve tried all summer and have been totally rebuffed.
They'll begin camp with their current roster, and speculation is that they’ll send Gustav Nyquist to Grand Rapids -- he doesn’t have to clear waivers -- and put Darren Helm on IR to get down to the 23-man roster limit to start the season. The Wings are saddled with veteran forwards Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and Jordan Tootoo, which leaves Cleary as the odd-man out.
“It hasn’t been tough at all," Cleary said of his contract situation. "I’ve done everything I normally would. I understood the process. It just took time.There’s a lull in the summer when stuff doesn’t get done, and there’s now where stuff does get done. I guess it comes from experience. I’ve been through this before. I wasn’t worried about playing in the NHL or having a job. The offers are there. I would like to make a decision Sunday. I’ve got a great deal right now I can take.”
I’m sure you do, Clears, just not in Detroit.
Update: Michigan Hockey posted a gallery of pictures from today's morning skate.
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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.