The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/13/11 at 08:42 PM ET
Okay dokey, so the Red Wings-Penguins game-day update post
fell off the front page, SI’s Darren Eliot added his two cents to the whole, “Why exactly is Jimmy Howard not on the All-Star Ballot?” issue and we’ve found out that the Wings and Penguins might dislike each other, but they sure as hell respect each other. As such (and because a certain blogger succumbed to the lure of a pre-game nap), here are a few close to puck drop links, starting with more Wings praise for the Penguins via PittsburghPenguins.com’s Michelle Crechiolo...
Niklas Kronwall On the Pens still being a tough challenge through all the injuries: Absolutely. I think they showed it pretty good last year, that even though they had their two big guys out they went on to have a hell of a season. They kind of ran out of gas there at the end, but it’s pretty impressive what they did last year. This year again, even without Crosby, Malkin’s been carrying some of the load but at the same time, all the other guys have stepped up and taken more of a leadership role. Guys like (Kris) Letang, (Tyler) Kennedy, (Jordan) Staal and those guys, they just keep getting better and better.
On coming to Pittsburgh: This building is one of the louder ones in the league, I’d say. It’s always a lot of fun to come here. We’ve been getting more of a rivalry after the two Finals that we had against them, of course. It’s always a big challenge. They’re one of the top teams in the league. We come in here and try to stick with our game plan and hopefully we can come out with a win.
Johan Franzen On the Pens: From that ’09 year, it feels like they’ve been such a great team every year. They just know how to win games and make it hard on the other team. They’re finding ways to win even without their big guns. They’ve got a good thing going.
On if the rivalry has heightened with the two Finals: Yeah, maybe a little bit. We always know what we’re going to get when we get here. It’s a good measuring stick. It always feel a little bit extra when we play them.
On Detroit’s road woes: I don’t actually know why we’ve been struggling. In previous years, we tend to actually play better on the road. But this year it’s the opposite. It’s hard to put a finger on it, I don’t know why that is. Hopefully we can take a step tonight and get a win.
The Penguins returned the favor, via MLive’s Ansar Khan, who spoke to James Neal about how one defeats the Wings, and went from there:
James Neal: “To get the puck behind them you got to crash the net, make it a hard game for them. Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Filppula, Hudler, Helm, they all got great skills, they want the puck as much as possible. You can’t get caught watching, you got to be physical. Just make it a hard game for them all over the ice. Be physical, get pucks deep, try not to let them have a chance to play with the puck. They’re top of the charts for skill level, you need to play them physical. Those guys are going to be hard to handle, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, they got that top-end skill. We just need to be physical on them and try to keep them away from their game as much as possible.’‘
Steve Sullivan: “They play a very good system, they play with pace, they’re a good forechecking team and they have talent. “We’ve got to push the pace, make sure we’re playing our system.’‘
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury: “They’re fast, very similar to us. They’re a well-rounded team. They have so much skill up front, their D are contributing, makes them a hard team to defend.’‘
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma noted Detroit’s power play has been around 20 percent the last several games and how well their top two lines are playing. He said Johan Franzen “a lot of times drives this team, power play and five on five. We’re expecting a tough team to play against defensively—they don’t give up a lot—but also a team that’s going to come at you pretty hard with some speed and skill, and have a dangerous power play as well.’‘
We’ll shift gears and take a gander at a few multimedia clips via RedWingsFeed. The Wings’ website posted a clip of “sights and sounds” from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday night…
• I have no idea whether this clip from the Detroit Medical Center’s Flickr gallery is sincere as sincere can be or snicker-worthy given that Cory Emmerton’s talking about Movember behind, well. you’ll see, though Ty Conklin :
• And this hit, from YouTube user NHLArchive, might invoke “Kronwalled!” but its result scared the hell out of me:
In news of subjective insights, this week’s second crop of power rankings are out, and you may take them as you will, starting with Sportsline’s Adam Gretz...
7 Red Wings [last week] 5: Red Wings goalies always seem to spark an irrational debate as we try to figure out whether or not they’re legitimately one of the best in the league, or a product of the dominant puck possession team in front of them. We saw it with Chris Osgood for years, and now Jimmy Howard is helping us carry on the debate. He currently leads the NHL in wins, is second in goals against average and ninth in save percentage.
Continuing with those of TSN’s Scott Cullen...
This Week 4 Last Week 5 Detroit Red Wings: Eight of the Red Wings’ last nine wins have been by at least two goals and eight of the nine wins have come with the Wings scoring at least four times.
And concluding with a chunk o’ observations from SI’s Adrian Dater:
5. Detroit Red Wings Last Week: 3: Nick Lidstrom continues to defy explanation. Folks, he’ll be 42 YEARS OLD in April. He had 20 points and was plus-12 in his first 28 games. He’s got to be the smoothest player in league history from the blue line. Some guys were faster, had bigger shots and were tougher to play against physically. But when you combine everything, Lidstrom is in the pantheon of all-time greats and STILL among the very best. Consider: he ranks 51st on the all-time NHL scoring list (1,128 points). Last week: 2-1-0
This Week’s Games
Wed., Dec. 14 Rockford IceHogs at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 16 GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 17 GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters 7:30 p.m.
The Ups and Downs: Grand Rapids entered last week riding a three-game winning streak, after beating Toronto twice and Chicago once to close out November and begin December. The Griffins were unable to keep the winning streak going, but they did extend their point streak to a season-best five games, losing in a shootout on both Friday and Saturday to begin their second three-in-three of the season. On Friday, the Admirals rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits and spoiled Joey MacDonald’s return to the lineup, winning 4-3 in a shootout. The Griffins were the club who came back on Saturday at Rockford, as Joakim Andersson tied the game in the final minute of regulation to send the game to extra time, but the IceHogs prevailed in a 3-2 shootout decision. Grand Rapids concluded the trip with a visit to Chicago on Sunday, but the Wolves got out to a two-goal first-period lead to stop the Griffins’ point streak at five in a 3-1 win.
On Tap: The Griffins will look to extend their home winning streak to three games when they host the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The IceHogs have gotten the best of the Griffins this season, winning all three contests against the team, the most recent coming on Saturday in a 3-2 shootout decision. The Griffins will then hit the road for a pair of games against the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday and Saturday, both starting at 7:30 p.m.
Mac is Back: Goaltender Joey MacDonald returned to action last weekend after missing a month (Nov. 9-Dec. 9) of game action due to a concussion. MacDonald returned to the lineup on Friday in the team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Milwaukee Admirals. The Pictou, Nova Scotia, native steered aside 29 of 32 shots during the game, plus three of five attempts during the shootout. Despite his extended absence from the lineup, MacDonald still sits among AHL leaders with a 2.31 goals against average (T11th), a 0.923 save percentage (12th) and two shutouts (T5th).
Parkes Promoted: The Red Wings on Saturday reassigned forward Trevor Parkes from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye to the Griffins. Parkes has recorded one assist in 16 contests with the Griffins this season, entering back into the lineup Saturday at Rockford. Parkes appeared in four contests with the Walleye since being assigned on Nov. 28, tallying his first four professional goals.
Stepping it Up: Center Jamie Johnson has continued his strong play of late, enjoying a team-best six-game point streak that came to an end on Saturday at Rockford. Johnson recorded three goals and four assists from Nov. 25-Dec. 9 to put him at 11 goals and seven assists for the season. After starting the season with just one point in the team’s first eight games, Johnson’s production has ignited with 17 points in 15 games from Oct. 29-Dec. 9, adding two point streaks of at least five games and being held pointless in just three of those contests.
Clutch Scorer: The Griffins have seen increased goal production from center Joakim Andersson. He failed to score a goal in the team’s first 14 games but recorded seven assists along the way. Andersson has since scored seven goals in the next 10-game stretch. The 22-year-old Swede has scored two big goals for the Griffins in the past four games: the overtime-winning goal on Dec. 3 versus Chicago, and the game-tying goal on Saturday at Rockford with 47 seconds left in regulation that forced overtime and secured the Griffins one point.
And finally, in the words of Homer Simpson, there’s something to be said for a spectacular failure, and it sounds like Greg and Jake from Fake Henrik Zetterberg had a rough go when they brought the star of their wonderful web series to Detroit—in costume—to watch a Wings game:
After Hockeytown, we arrived at the Gordie How entrance at about 5 PM and were again swamped by people wanting pictures autographs, etc. Things were going swimmingly until a security guard asked us if we had permission to pass out cards on the property. We said “No, we looked online and it didn’t say anything about not being allowed to, is their someone we can talk to about it?”, “Yeah, Justin.” He said. “Um, okay, who’s Justin?”, “Go knock on the rink door and ask for him, I don’t know his last name.”
So with that we knocked on the Gordie Howe entrance. A guy answered and we asked for Justin. He looked confused. However, after 5 minutes of waiting Justin materialized. We explained the situation and Justin nicely said he would ‘turn his head’. So we continued.
About 2 minutes later two large security guards hauled us inside. They were being needlessly tough, not physically but with that cocky, police officer drunk with power air about them. They wrongly assumed we didn’t have tickets to the game, then searched our bag and found our postcards and prize pucks.
That made them angrier so they lead us down some stairs and through various inlets in the arena. It was like an inverted scenic tour of the Joe. We arrived at a small room full of cops watching TV and eating pizza.
The cops took our ID’s and searched our bag again and made us sit down. At which time Larry Murphy walked by, starred at Jakob in full costume and started grinning a lot.
When the cops re-emerged they informed us that we weren’t doing anything illegal and wouldn’t be charged with anything, duh. They made us replace the skates with tennis shoes, which we thought might happen and prepared for by bringing a pair of shoes.
They were about to let us go when the most mean of all the security guards decided to make up a reason why Jake couldn’t have the costume on out of spite. This was his reasoning:
Mean Security Guard: I can’t let you in with that helmet, you could jump up after a goal celebration, hit someone in the head and hurt them.
Us (in our heads): Um, yeah okay, that’s stupid.
Mean Security Guard: And I can’t let you wear the gloves either, what if you get into a fight?
Jakob: I thought the guys take off the gloves when they fight so their fists are more dangerous weapons.
Mean Security Guard (backpedaling): Well, you could have something hidden in the fingers.
Without the gloves and helmet the costume seemed so lackluster that Jake just watched the game in street clothes. 25 seconds in, on their first shift, Winnipeg scored and it looked like it would be an even longer night. But then, after about 8 minutes the flood gates opened. Howard played remarkable, like an All-Star, he really was snubbed. Zetterberg scored and it would have been a perfect night for a guy dressed as Z to hang out at the Joe.
7-1 was your final.
Hey, at least they were good luck…But their story certainly lends some serious-ass credence to the fact that people get a hard-ass time at the Joe for, say, things like throwing octopi and/or passing out tinfoil hats because the security guards and cops are assholes.
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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.