The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/27/14 at 07:05 AM ET
Updated 4x at 6:25 PM:
So today is NBC's Pro Hockey Talk's "Red Wings day," and the lovely gents have tended to post 5 to 8 articles on each team over the course of their August survey of the NHL's 30 teams, with the first "hitting the wires" around 8 AM, and the last one, involving this little vote, hitting at 11 PM:
This blogger has some away-from-the-home-office responsibilities today, so Paul and I will be posting the gents' articles in this entry as they "hit the wires" (more or less). I strongly encourage you to give 'em a click as I've thoroughly enjoyed their work thus far.
from Ryan Dadoun,
The larger issue at this point is if the Red Wings will be able to lure talent to help compliment their rising young players and have at least one more serious playoff run with 33-year-old Zetterberg and 36-year-old Datsyuk before they’re slowed down by age.
Detroit used to be a choice destination for free agents, but that hasn’t been the case in recent years and this summer was no exception. Detroit wasn’t able to sign a single noteworthy defenseman and instead brought back Kyle Quincey at a cost of $8.5 million over two years.
With the Red Wings largely unchanged from 2013-14, they will enter the season as contenders for a playoff spot once again, but some serious question marks remain.
added 10:06am, from Ryan Dadoun,
When you talk about creating a culture of winning, the textbook example would be the Detroit Red Wings. Sure there have been more successful teams in recent years like the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings, but no franchise has enjoyed a period of sustained success quite like Detroit.
The Red Wings last missed the playoffs in 1989-90, which translates to 23 consecutive seasons of postseason appearances (obviously, we’re ignoring the lockout eliminated 2004-05 campaign). That’s not the longest streak in the history of the league, but its close. Boston’s streak of 29 seasons from 1967–68 to 1995–96 holds that distinction, but it was arguably easier to make the playoffs for the Bruins given the percentage of teams that got in during that period.
Detroit has not only had to face more competition, but its also overcome the salary cap system.
Regardless, with every passing year, Detroit is coming closer to reaching that record, but how does that matter?
Update #2: Mike Halford discusses Anthony Mantha's chances of to "making the jump":
Mantha, 19, cemented himself as a dynamic goalscorer in junior hockey last year, recording his second straight 50-goal campaign by potting 57 in 57 games for the Foreurs — then continued that pace by netting another 24 in 24 playoff games. In short, the kid can put pucks in the net.
Mantha also racked up 11 points in seven games for Canada at the World Juniors, and earned huge praise from Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer.
“He’s unique. He’s fun to watch,” Fischer said of Mantha, per NHL.com. “The bigger the games, the bigger he plays, the bigger his performance, the more he wants to win. He loves playing games. He knows that he’s going to get a chance [at training camp]. He’s going to get a top-six forward chance in camp and he’s excited about it.”
Making the leap will prove difficult. Several factors are working against Mantha, the first being his lack of pro hockey experience. He’s never played a day in the AHL, and for an organization like Detroit — which has consistently benefited from players maturing in the minors — a year riding buses in the “A” might be the preferred approach, developmentally speaking.
Then there’s Detroit’s slew of forwards up front. Per CapGeek, the Red Wings have 14 forwards on NHL contracts; the club is also waiting on word from veteran Daniel Alfredsson, who may or may not return this season.
Update #3: I'll bet you didn't know that Jimmy Howard is "under pressure!" Quoth Mike Halford:
So, what went wrong for Howard last year?
Health, or lack thereof, was a problem. Howard missed 13 games with hand, knee and hip injuries and made just 51 appearances — a decent workload, but down from his 2009-10 and 2010-11 campaigns, in which he logged 63 games in consecutive years. Howard’s season also ended on a sour note health-wise; he was knocked out of Detroit’s opening-round loss to Boston with the flu, shooting down speculation he was sidelined with a concussion.
When healthy, Howard’s play didn’t exactly inspire. His .910 save percentage and 2.66 GAA ranked him 36th and 33rd among all NHL goalies, and there were stretches throughout the season where Babcock opted to use backup Jonas Gustavsson with greater frequency, including a stint in early December during which the coach called Howard’s confidence into question.
“You have to find a way to get hit and you have to find a way to get confident,” Babcock said, per the Macomb Daily. “You always find out way more about yourself during tough times, but that’s the same with everybody in any walk of life. When things are going great we’re all great people. It’s when it’s not going good it’s how we choose our attitude, how we choose our worth ethic, that makes you a good pro.
“Every good goalie in the National Hockey League has been through some ups and downs.”
The hope now, of course, is that Howard is done with the lows. He’s not that far removed from a banner ’13 campaign — during which he led the NHL in shutouts and finished sixth in Vezina voting — and Detroit hopes he can find the confidence he once had and get back into “star” form.
Update #4: Per Pro Hockey Talk's Ryan Dadoun:
This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
Detroit Red Wings
1. Gordie Howe (1535)
2. Steve Yzerman (968)
3. Nicklas Lidstrom (578)
4. Pavel Datsyuk (194)
5. Sergei Fedorov (144)
6. Terry Sawchuk (115)
It’s not surprising that Yzerman and Lidstrom finished so high on this list. They were Hall of Fame players and leaders of the Red Wings during a golden era of Detroit hockey.
At the same time, having Howe top this list feels right. The Red Wings have a rich history and so many greats have played for them, but Howe is one of the best players of all-time and had a profound impact on Detroit.
He led Detroit to four Stanley Cup championships, won the Hart Trophy on six occasions, and also claimed the Art Ross Trophy six times. He made his debut in 1946 and didn’t play in his final game until 1980.
He also ranks third on the all-time points list, behind just Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky and no one has surpassed him yet in games played despite the fact that for most of his career, the NHL only had a 70-game season.
For the vast majority of that, Howe was a member of the Detroit Red Wings. His tenure as a player with them ended when he retired in 1971, but he eventually resumed his career when he joined the WHA’s Houston and participated in one final NHL season in 1979-80 with the Hartford Whalers after the NHL-WHA merger.
Howe remains the Red Wings’ all-time leader in games played, goals, and points.
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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.