Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Practice articles: Wings want to stem penalties; praise for Pavel; multimedia; Lightning skate late

Updated 10x at 6:07 PM: The Red Wings "held an optional" on Wednesday, and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of Mike Babcock's post-practice comments. Among them:

Q: The team was inconsistent down the stretch, how do you stop that from carrying over now?

Babcock: There’s two parts to that. Our part is we have to get prepared and ready to go and understand that Tampa is going to do their part too so the game has to be better. Each game of the series you have to get better to have success. We put ourselves in a good situation. We don’t want to give the situation back which mean our preparation has to be equal to their preparation today and tomorrow so we’re ready to go so that’s what our focus is.

Q: In the Wings’ two wins, Tampa Bay has been 0-for-13 on the power play.

Babcock: We’re on the penalty kill way too much, got to stay out of the box, that’s crazy. To give up a 5-on-3, it’s tough when you shoot it over the class or whatever we did. That 5-on-3 the posts were really kind to us. They made a real play to (Tyler) Johnson, that was tough to handle, but we have good penalty killers. We’ve had good penalty killers. We got off to a great start this year, we struggled in net for a while there, but we seem to have our penalty killing back. To test it each night with six or seven is crazy, three would be enough.

Babcock also discussed Pavel Datsyuk's contributions at length, and in the multimedia department:

1. Fox Sports Detroit posted interviews with Luke Glendening...

 

 

Pavel Datsyuk...

 


Jonathan Ericsson...

 


Joakim Andersson...

 


And Landon Ferraro:

 

 

Here's Babcock's presser, too (this is new):

 

 

2. NHL.com's "My Playoffs Moment" video chronicling last night's Wings win is pretty spiffy, too...

3. And yes, Keith Jones told WDAE's Ronnie and TKRAS that "it would be a shame" if the Lightning didn't win this series:

Of pre-practice report Twitter note from the Free Press's George Sipple...

Jonathan Ericsson on Bolts: “They looked tired for the first time in the series last night. So that’s a good sign for us.” #Wings

...

Jonathan Ericsson: “Last night we really spent some time in the offensive zone, put a lot of miles on their (defensemen)." #Wings

And the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith:

Ericsson on #tblightning: "They looked tired for the first time in the series last night. It's a good sign. We were energized by that too."

...

With Datsyuk's line neutralizing Stamkos' top line, and Glendening's group on Triplets, depth scoring could decide this series #tblightning

...

#redwings Zetterberg on raucous crowd at Joe Louis in Tuesday's 3-0 win: "It felt like Game 7 deep in June. They really helped us."

The Lightning didn't hit the ice until 2:15 PM...

From Smith...

#TBLightning have same lines: Killorn-Stamkos-Callahan/Triplets/Vladdy-Filppula-Paquette/morrow-Boyle-brown. Drouin on side

...

Same d-pairings for #TBLightning too, with Garrison still working with Barberio.

...

You'd have to think Cooper would consider a lineup change for Game 4, putting @jodrouin27 in for Vladdy to add offense to that line.

The Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson...

Based on early line rushes and defensive pairings at the start of #tblightning practice, no changes to the lineup

And Burns:

Jonathan Drouin skating in place of Namestnikov on the Filppula-Paquette line during rushes. #TBLightning

As well as the Free Press's Helene St. James:

Mike Babcock on Pavel Datsyuk: "He is better without the puck than he is with it, if you can imagine that." #RedWings

 

Update #1: It turns out that Jonathan Ericsson leads the Wings in playoff points with 3 assists, but Ericsson told the Free Press's George Sipple that he's not focused on his point production:

"It wasn't any backdoor open-net passes," Ericsson said today of his two assists. "Sometimes they come and sometimes they don't. Most of the times, they don't."

Ericsson did notice a difference in the way the Wings played offensively, though.

"Last night, we really spent some time in the offensive zone, put a lot of miles on their (defensemen)," he said. "They looked tired for the first time in the series last night. So that's a good sign for us. I think we got energized by that, too."

Ericsson had three goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 82 games this season. The 15 points tied his previous career high (2010-11).

Counting the end of the regular season, Ericsson has finished a dozen consecutive games without a minus rating.

"I've been feeling better," Ericsson said. "You have those times, too, where things are better on the ice. You feel more confident. Then all of a sudden, you can feel great and the pucks can fly into the back of your net. But right now, it's good. Everyone's getting the intensity up here and, hopefully, we can get it even higher for the few remaining games in the series."

 

Update #2: The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article about Datsyuk...

He has known what he is doing since he joined the Wings in 2001, even if he didn't know how long he would be doing it. Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull was among Datsyuk's first admirers, a picky goal scorer who relished being put next to a rookie because Datsyuk would get him the puck. Datsyuk helped the Wings win a Stanley Cup as a rookie, and another one in 2008. Now he's aiming for a third.

"Actually when I come here I don't think too far," Datsyuk said. "My mind is too small to think too far. I just enjoy it year by year, and I'm happy where I am now."

It's a happiness Datsyuk doesn't keep to himself. If his English is broken around the media, it isn't around the coaching staff.

"He has great thoughts offensively and defensively," Mike Babcock said. "He doesn't mind sharing his opinion with the Coach. He's a treat to be around, to say the least. He's made me a lot better coach through his vision of how he understands the game and how he thinks the game should be played.

"It's a real honor to be around him. He's a good, good man, he's a good teammate, he does it right, he leads by example. He is better without the puck than he is with it, if you can imagine that."

Babcock brought up something no one wants to imagine, saying "the only thing that makes you nervous is, if he wasn't here, who is taking his spot? I don't know the answer to that."

...

Datsyuk said the key to playing cleanly is, "move your feet first, and second, I play always with good teammates and they always help me, take care of me. It's nice to be back on track. I like it, to be nominated for anything. Lady Byng is important for me, too. I think it's the best trophy ever."

That last bit was said with one of those smiles, the one that's so contagious. Asked if it helped having a week of downtime between the last game of the regular season and the first one against the Lightning, Datsyuk grinned. "What do you mean, week off? What do I do, vacation? I'm working to be prepared for the playoffs."

Video of Babcock discussing Datsyuk included...

 

DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article about Datsyuk...

Being a productive scorer on one end is challenging enough, but to be named a Lady Byng candidate a player’s game must be well rounded at both ends of the ice.

“It’s tough especially when you have the offensive talent he does,” Sheahan said. “A lot of guys just take pride in their offense and they don’t really work on their defensive part of the game. Pav’s sound on both ends of the ice and I think a lot of the offense that’s generated with him or his line is created by plays he makes in the D-zone.”

While his dekes, moves and finishes make for some unbelievable highlights, Datsyuk’s defensive plays are equally astonishing to teammate Joakim Andersson.

“He’s a different kind of player the way he plays defense with his stick not many guys can do that,” Andersson said. “His stick is so strong and he puts it in such good spaces and steal pucks from other guys sticks, not many guys can do that. Then obviously, he’s doing the right thing with his body, he’s on the right side and all those things as well.”

Datsyuk’s defensive skills seem to come out of nowhere at times, stealing the puck off of the opponent’s stick with such ease. To be as efficient as he is in this aspect while limiting his penalty minutes to just eight this season is a remarkable accomplishment in a league so geared toward offense and open space.

“I imagine it’s pretty hard (to limit penalty minutes) because I had a whole lot more than that down in the minors playing,” forward Landon Ferraro said. “I mean he’s just so good with his stick, little plays, even when he has the puck or when he doesn’t, sometimes he just leaves the puck and smacks a stick out of the way or pushes a leg. That one little move creates a ton of space for him. He thinks the game on a whole other level than the rest of us so it’s pretty special to watch.”

And MLive posted videos of the Wings discussing Datsyuk...

 

As well as a video of Ferraro speaking about his play...

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan discussed the Wings' checking of Steven Stamkos...

"We know he's really skilled and fast," defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. "We have to try to take away his speed and time out there and all of us have done a good job out there.

"We know he's always a dangerous threat, especially in the offensive zone and he has a real good shot."

The line of Stamkos between Alex Killorn and Ryan Callahan controlled the puck in the first two games in Tampa Bay when matched up primarily against the Riley Sheahan line (with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist).

But at Joe Louis Arena, Stamkos faced the Pavel Datsyuk line (with Tatar and Darren Helm) and found life much more challenging.

Stamkos had two shots on net, was minus-1, and had two penalties, in 16 minutes 47 seconds of ice time.

"He's real good offensively, he can make a lot of damage," Datsyuk said. "It's nice to make work him work in the defensive zone."

The Detroit News posted a practice gallery, and the Free Press posted a video of Ericsson speaking with the press:

 

 
Update #2: Here's Jon Cooper's off-day presser...

And of note from the Tampa Bay Times' Smith...

#TBLightning @Opalat18: "This is far from over."

...

#tblightning Cooper said he's leaning towards same lineup for Game 4. No update on Garrison

...

Cooper on #redwings: "We didn't make them have to play the full 200 feet. We made the game easy on them."

...

So to review: Cooper indicated same lineup for Game 4, no update on Garrison. Feels #tblightning needs to just play its game

...

#tblightning @tjohnny09: "We didn't play our game at all. We've got to focus on ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot the entire game."

...

Stamkos on #tblightning down 2-1 in best-of-seven series: "Guys realize this magnitude of the next game. Not much needs to be said."

 

Update #3: The Free Press's St. James penned an article about Riley Sheahan:

Sheahan scored on a power play in the third period of Game 3, converting to give Detroit a two-goal lead and some breathing room. He played at even strength with Joakim Andersson and Tomas Jurco and benefited from not having to face Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos every shift.

"He had a better game," Babcock said today when asked about Sheahan. "He wasn't very good in the first two games. We need Riley to be a real good player for us. He's a guy who's going to get better with time. We'd like that time to be now. He's a big body with good skill, understands the game offensively and defensively. Needs to work on his strength, get stronger in his legs so he skates better, but he had a better night, but he also didn't have to play head-to-head against Stamkos."

Sheahan established himself as a regular last season when he was among the many called up to ameliorate massive injuries among Detroit's NHL regulars. He was also among the young guys who didn't produce once the playoffs began, but he did hold his own defensively against Boston's David Krejci.

Now Sheahan gets to feel good about himself for having contributed offensively. He's been responsible defensively since entering the NHL, something drilled into him during his days of collegiate hockey at Notre Dame. Since turning pro, the coaching staff in Grand Rapids and then Detroit have encouraged him to play with the puck, too.

"You get more confidence, you get more comfortable," Sheahan said of his progress. "I don't think the first two games in the series I played well, but now it seems a little better. I'm just trying to improve every game."

 

Update #4: The Lightning's website posted clips of Steven Stamkos...

And Ben Bishop speaking with the media:

 

Update #5: NHL.com's Paul Harris focused on the Lightning in his practice article:

With the Tampa Bay Lightning down 2-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference First Round, all eyes are on Steven Stamkos. The Lightning star center and captain had 43 goals during the regular season, but has been held to two assists in the series' first three games.

"I just think, personally, I've got to be better, like all of us," Stamkos said after practice on Wednesday. "Take a good look in the mirror … like all of us. We can be better."

Tampa Bay was shut out 3-0 in Game 3 on Tuesday as Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek made 22 saves. Game 4 is Thursday at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, FS-F, FS-D). Despite splitting the first two games in Tampa, the Lightning soundly outplayed the Red Wings. Tampa Bay had a 76-38 shots advantage in the first two games and each of Stamkos' assists came in the Lightning's 5-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday.

"I'll continue to compete hard and we'll try to get back to what we did well in the first two games," Stamkos said.

He has 11 shots in the three games, but eight came in the series opener.

"He's battling. He's playing hard. He maybe wants to get a few more looks than he did [Tuesday]," Tampa Bay center Brian Boyle said after Game 3. "Everybody kind of has a little less space than they do maybe in the regular season, especially a guy like him. He's a superstar. He's a competitive guy. He's going to battle too. He's going to figure out a way."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper agrees with Boyle.

"The thing about [Stamkos] is that he's done it on numerous occasions for us. So you see a couple of close games and he doesn't do it, bells go off," Cooper said. "[Stamkos] got a couple of assists. The guys who have done it on numerous occasions, there's a weight on their shoulders. … Does [Stamkos] wish he had gotten a goal or two in this series, sure. Do I think Detroit is going to hold him down for the whole series? No, I don't."

 

Update #6: MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Luke Glendening and Landon Ferraro about their line's work against the Bolts' "second line"...

Johnson is one of the faster players in the league. But Glendening and Ferraro also have speed. Both know Johnson well. Glendening and Ferraro played against Johnson (as well as Palat and Kucherov) in the Calder Cup finals in 2013 when the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch, the Lightning's AHL affiliate. And Ferraro played spring hockey with Johnson when they were youths.

"Obviously, he has skill. He's got great speed, he's a competitor," Glendening said. "He was a great player in the American League and he's a great player in the NHL. It's fun. If we can keep them off the scoresheet and limit their chances that will help our team win."

Johnson said of Glendening: "Solid player. Works hard. Good defensively. Good player."

Glendening is often matched up against one of the opposition's top centers.

"You get used to playing against a guy and it heats up a little bit every game," Glendening said. "That's what you grew up doing, in your basement or on the street; you lived to play in games like these."

Miller, the veteran of the group at age 31, said they take a lot of pride in their defense and the challenge they're facing.

"I'm still not too old so I can still find the energy," Miller said. "But definitely the guys on my line – I've been playing with Glenny for a while now – and Landon, he's stepped right in and played very similar to us. It's good to have guys that skate, are defensive-minded."

And the Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Landon Ferraro about playing against Johnson:

If Ferraro is to continue on in pursuit of Lord Stanley’s mug, it will come at the expense of one the people he’s known in hockey since they were kids. Growing up in Vancouver, Ferraro and Lightning centre Tyler Johnson were teammates in the same summer league.

“His parents would drive up in the big mini bus (from their home in Spokane, Wash.), and get him there for practice and tournaments,” Ferraro recalled. “I’ve played against him since I was 12 years old and I’ve played with him. When he was in Spokane (of the WHL), I was with Red Deer and Everett.”

For the next 3-4 games, or however long it takes to determine the outcome of this best-of-seven series which resumes Thursday with Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena and the Wings holding a 2-1 edge, Johnson and Ferraro will see plenty of each other.

If Babcock has his way, it’s all Johnson will see. The Wings desire to match-up the line of Luke Glendening with Drew Miller on the left wing and Ferraro on the right side against the Tampa Bay unit of Johnson between Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, a trio that authored 74 goals during the regular season.

“I think they’re as good a line as there is in the National Hockey League, that line, with and without the puck,” Babcock said.

The Glendening unit is known more for the latter than the former, but three games into this series, they are matching the Johnson group goal for goal. Johnson has scored a pair, and so has Glendening.

“I guess I haven’t really thought about that,” Glendening said.

 

Update #7: Here's the Tampa Bay Times Joe Smith's practice article:

“Guys realize the magnitude of the next game,” captain Steven Stamkos said. “Not much needs to be said.”

Said wing Ondrej Palat: “It’s far from over.”

The Lightning doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel, just get back to the type of style and effort that led it to win a club-record 50 games and dominate portions of Games 1 and 2. On Tuesday, it was a shell of itself, with All-Star center Tyler Johnson saying they were “lost” at times.

“We didn’t play our game at all,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to focus on ourselves. We shot ourselves in the foot the entire game. I think everybody is a little frustrated by the way we played. Our effort needs to be better. It’s about us.”

The Lightning went to work Wednesday with an up-tempo practice Stamkos called one of its best in a while. It focused on its struggling power play - 0-for-13 in two losses - as well as handling a forecheck and breaking out through the neutral zone.

While the Lightning held the Red Wings to just 21 shots Tuesday, and not very many scoring chances, it had too many turnovers, its passes far from crisp.

“What we didn’t do is make them have to play a whole 200 feet,” coach Jon Cooper said. “We made the game easy on them.”

 

Update #8: Among Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave's notes:

With Luke Glendening's line neutralizing Tampa Bay's other great scoring line centered by Tyler Johnson, Stamkos finds himself matched against Pavel Datsyuk's line, and the last change at home gave Detroit a decided advantage. It helps, too, that the Wings' top defensive pair of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson logs a lot of ice against Stamkos. The Wings' strategy against Stamkos is fairly simple -- though easier said than done.

"We know he's skilled and fast and we have to try to take away his speed and time out there," Ericsson said. "I think all of us have done a good job so far. He's always a dangerous threat, especially in the defensive zone from inside the blue line. He's got a real good shot, and he's dangerous from wherever he shoots the puck."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper believes it's just a matter of time before Stamkos puts his fingerprints on this series.

"The thing about Stammer is, he's done it on numerous occasions for us," Cooper said. "So you see a close game and he happens not to score, and all of a sudden alarms are going off and people are asking, 'What's wrong with Stammer?'

"Does he wish he had a couple of goals in this series? Sure. Do I think Detroit will keep him down the whole series? I don't. It's just a matter of time with him. . . So I'm not worried about it."

Meantime, Stamkos also knows he's not alone among those who need to raise their game if the heavily favored Lightning is to dispatch Detroit in this series.

"Every one of us knows what to expect this time of year. We have to have a better effort, and it starts with each and every one of us taking a little peek into the mirror and realizing what we have to bring to this team, what are role is and how we're going to compete. When we do that, we're a good team."

 

Update #9: Among DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose's notes...

Now that the Red Wings have taken a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, consistency becomes the biggest factor. But like every Stanley Cup playoff game there are two sides to every equation.

“Our part is we have to get prepared and ready to go and understand that Tampa is going to do their part too so the game has to be better,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday. “Each game of the series you have to get better to have success. We put ourselves in a good situation. We don’t want to give the situation back, which mean our preparation has to be equal to their preparation today and tomorrow so we’re ready to go so that’s what our focus is.”

Inconsistency has been a bee in the Red Wings’ bonnet since early March. They haven't strung along more than three wins together since since a six-game winning streak in January.

Still, alternating wins and losses didn’t derail this club’s ability to gain a remarkable 24th consecutive playoff berth. But losing is never part of any successful playoff blueprint.

“We’ve got to come out tomorrow like we did yesterday,” proclaimed captain Henrik Zetterberg. “Have a lot of energy, good jump from the start, take control of the game like we did, and get the first goal.”

By far, Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Joe Louis Arena was Detroit’s best played game of the series. The Wings will need more of the same if they plan to grab hold of this series and put the Lightning in a precarious 1-3 hole.

“They got the upper hand in the first two games, I think they were better than us,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “Last night we really spent some time in the offensive zone and put a lot of miles on their D-men. That really worked. They looked tired for the first time in the series last night so that’s a good sign for us. I think we were energized by that too. We have to do the same thing tomorrow.”

And Craig Peterson penned another Glendening line vs. Stamkos article:

“I mean you gotta know where he’s at,” Wings center Luke Glendening said. “He’s a great player, a great shooter, big time goal scorer. You’re always aware of where he is and you try to keep the puck out of his hands as much as you can but they’ve got a ton of weapons and you’re playing with fire wherever they are.”

One of the team’s biggest penalty killers, Glendening has spent a significant amount of special teams minutes opposite the shot-happy Stamkos. In doing so, the Wings PK has limited Stamkos and the Lightning to a bleak 2-for-17 in the series and 0-for-13 in Detroit's two series wins.

“It’s playoff hockey,” Stamkos said. “Guys are willing to block shots. They’re a team that is always willing to do that. There’s not much space through the middle of the ice. Our D are trying to get some shots through from the top and they’re blocking them, so we have to do a better job at just getting some more pucks on net. I think that’s where we’re most successful. In a series like this, special teams need to be a little better and we’ve worked on that again today, and hopefully that’s the case next game.”

The Wings blocked 10 shots in Game 3 and totaled 48 hits, chewing up space and not allowing players like Stamkos to find much room on the ice. One of the top scorers in the NHL since entering the league in 2008, Stamkos has scored just three goals in his last 13 games dating back to March 22.

The style of play through three games of this series has weighed heavily on the Lightning’s top center, as he was limited to two shots in Game 2 and then one shot in Game 3.

“No, it’s just myself, personally, I’ve got to be better,” Stamkos said. “We talked about it a little bit to take a peek in the mirror and realize what we have to bring to the table in order for ourselves as individuals to give our team a best chance to win. I got to be better. We’ve all got to be better. Not a good game for us the last game, and I think we were able to see it on the video and for us it’s just our willingness to compete. We know we have the skill. We know we have the speed and the intangibles that go along with that. But when we compete we’re a good hockey club and we need to do that next game.”

 

Update #10: Here's TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns' practice report:

“You’ve just got to realize what’s on the line,” Killorn said. “We’re fighting for our lives right now. I think we had that kind of mentality in Game 2. When adversity came our way, we were going to go through it. We’ve got to get back to that for sure.”

The Lightning came out swinging from the opening puck drop of Game 2, literally. There were numerous dustups during the first few minutes of the game, which came to a head when Brian Boyle and Danny DeKeyser got involved in an altercation while Steven Stamkos grabbed Kyle Quincey and put him in a headlock to the delight of the Amalie Arena crowd.

The aggression served the Bolts well, Tyler Johnson scoring the first goal soon after en route to a dominating performance. Conversely, the Lightning started Game 3 passively and were forced to play from behind nearly the whole way as a result.

“It seemed like we weren’t prepared as well as we should have been,” Killorn said. “We weathered the storm, that first 10 minutes we weathered it, but we’ve got to do better. We’ve got to realize they’re going to have a little bit of a push, but we’ve got to give a push back instead of just taking it.”

Tuesday was the first of the three games where the Lightning were outhit, Detroit muscling its way to a 48-26 advantage in that statistical category.

“We’ve got to know the line between being physical and I guess taking it too far, but at the same time, we don’t want to change too much from what we’ve done in Game 1 and Game 2,” Lightning forward J.T. Brown said. “Obviously, there are different things we would have liked to done in Game 3, but if we can get back to what we did in the first two games, I think we’ll be alright here.”

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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.