The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/22/11 at 09:37 PM ET
The Red Wings took part in a brief practice today and then told the media that the R&R they’ve earned between the first and second round will save some wear and tear on their bodies and allow them to address the on-ice issues which remain problem areas (like their penalty-killing unit). The Wings did insist to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, however, that they don’t plan on “resting” in the getting mentally soft sense of the term:
“I think it’s a good thing considering the guys that are out and you want to have back for the second round,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “It looks like they’re going to be back. It just helps us giving them a few extra days to heal up. Getting back and finding that edge and mindset is the hard part,” Lidstrom added. “You have to find that right away after a week’s rest.”
“I think that edge comes back with the drop of the puck,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “A lot of people were talking about us going into the playoffs. They weren’t sure how we were going to be. We felt pretty confident going in. This time of year, this is what everyone loves to do. Guys will train and prepare themselves on and off the ice and stay ready.”
The Wings are aware of the fact that, should playoff math hold up, they’ll probably face the Sharks in the next round…
“We haven’t talked about it,” Brad Stuart said when asked who they would like to play in the next round. “I’m sure all of us have thought about it. It looks like the percentages could be San Jose. We’ve seen them enough in the last couple of years to know what we’re up against. But it could be anybody.”
But the Wings insisted that their two days off from practice wouldn’t soften their work-out habits at home and/or in the Wings’ gym this weekend, nor will they let their foot off the theoretical accelerator that is the belief that they must continue to progress and improve to hit the ice at full speed next Wednesday or Thursday:
“You just continue to practice the way you play,” Jimmy Howard said. “Just make saves in practice and keep yourself sharp that way. Really I don’t think (a break) has any bearing. I’m a firm believer you practice the way you play. You go out there and work hard in practice, you challenge and be aggressive. The harder you work in practice the games just take care of themselves.”
“I think it’s a good thing,” Drew Miller said. “Playing three more games, with all the travel, we’d have to do going back-and-forth to Phoenix. There’s just that extra wear and tear on the body. We can keep our minds in it, keep our bodies going, working out and skating and have a little bit of rest at the same time, and that’s great for this team,” Miller added.
“There’s no right or wrong formula at this time of the year,” Draper said. “You just play, go to the next round and get it going from there. We’re happy with what we did. You get an opportunity to end a series in the first crack and we did that. Now we’ll wait and see and watch a lot of hockey here over the weekend. Guys are going to remain focused and continue to work hard on and off the ice,” Draper added. “We’ll find out when it starts later and we’ll go from there. Only time will tell (if the break was good). We’re on a bit of a roll so you want to continue to play. The fact of the matter is you want to win four games as fast as you can. We did it in a sweep and now we have time to rest.”
Henrik Zetterberg put things bluntly while speaking to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose...
Asked if he was rooting for the remaining Western Conference quarterfinals to go to seven games, Zetterberg said, “The more games they play, the better for us. But whoever we’re going to face is going to be a tough team, so we have to be at our best to move on.”
But Roose’s focus isn’t the all-but-guaranteed returns of Zetterberg and Johan Franzen from their respective injuries next week. Instead, he takes note of the fact that it was Niklas Kronwall who, by design, led the Wings’ point men in ice time, and, one might argue, led them in terms of his figurative impact upon the Wings-Coyotes series:
“He’s capable of playing the most minutes – on power play the penalty-kill or even-strength – and he can be the most active, physical guy, who can really make plays and we think he’s an elite player,” Babcock continued. “He’s a leader on our team. He’s vocal on the bench. He’s an important guy for us.”
In the 2010 playoffs, Kronwall was third among Wings defensemen in minutes played, averaging 23:15 of ice-time. Lidstrom averaged the most at 26:22 followed by Rafalski (23:58). But last week, Kronwall led the way at 22:24, followed by Rafalski (21:19), Brad Stuart (20:50), Jonathan Ericsson (19:36), Lidstrom (19:34) and Ruslan Salei (16:18). The defensive minutes have been distributed with a purpose, all the while giving Kronwall greater responsibility.
“I think he makes a big difference,” Lidstrom said. “He’s out there killing penalties. He’s on the power play as well, and eating up a lot of minutes. When he was healthy for most of the season, he was great for us. I think he had a great year. After he got back from being out a few games, I thought he just picked it up again, so it’s great to see.”
“Nick and I don’t have to do penalty-kills, so it helps us be more effective on the power-play,” Rafalski said. “You saw our minutes in that entire first series, everybody was between 18 and 22 minutes every game. That’s what you like because you’re out there fresh every shift. If you get stuck out there for a long shift you don’t have to worry about going back out there in 30-seconds. You can play the other two parts and give yourself time to recover. It makes a huge difference defensively, and it allows us to apply more pressure and get out of our zone much easier.”
“I think that’s great for everyone moving forward with me, Rafi and Nick to be able to play these big minutes when everything comes down the stretch,” [Kronwall] said. “You know the other teams are going to match the top guys and we’re going to need Nick and Rafi to play the big minutes down the road.”
Also of significant note: Chris Osgood must be pretty healthy, because the Red Wings made a roster move this evening, as noted by the Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema:
Another member of the Grand Rapids Griffins has seen his days as a “Black Ace” come to an end.
The parent club Detroit Red Wings assigned goaltender Jordan Pearce back to the Griffins on Friday afternoon. He had served as a “Black Ace” for the Red Wings during their Western Conference quarterfinal sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes.
That leaves seven Griffins left to practice with the Red Wings and be available should an emergency situation arise: forwards Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar, and defensemen Doug Janik, Brian Lashoff, Derek Meech and Brendan Smith.
In the multimedia department: WXYZ filed a practice report...
Wings special assistant to GM Ken Holland Chris Chelios spoke to WDFN’s Sean, Terp and Killer show...
And the gents took part in a two-part conversation about the whole PETA-octopus-throwing issue:
Quickie update: Per the Plymouth Observer:
The YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit and Detroit Red Wings Foundation have teamed up to offer the kids of Hockeytown a new iceless (floor) hockey program that instills the values of fair play and teamwork while developing the fundamental skills of hockey.
Y Iceless Hockey leagues are now forming at the Plymouth YMCA. Skill development, team practices and games will focus on the YMCA’s four core values of caring, respect, responsibility and honesty — preparing players for success on and off the “ice.”
“We are very grateful of the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and the generous grant they provided to make this program possible,” said Josh Landefeld, Regional Director of Youth Sports at YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit. “The Y knows kids in the metro Detroit area have a strong interest in hockey and we are happy to provide a fun and positive opportunity for young players to explore the sport.”
Each branch will be home to eight teams; four teams for players ages 6-7 and four teams for players ages 8-9. Each team will have one practice and one game each week.
The Detroit Red Wings Foundation donated all necessary equipment through a community grant to make this program possible.
The cost of the program is $40 for YMCA members and $55 for community members and includes all required equipment.
Thanks to the support of the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, scholarships are available for those in need. The program runs from April 25 to June 18.
Parents can register their children online at www.ymcadetroit.org or in-person at a participating YMCA branch. For more information, please call 248-553-4020.
• And here’s a plain old cool fact from the Columbus Dispatch’s Tom Reed:
#RedWings D Nicklas Lidstrom became the oldest player at 40 years, 347 days to appear in every game of an #nhl 82-game schedule - Elias SB
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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.