The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/25/13 at 07:26 PM ET
I've been out of the loop for a couple of days, first due to my illness flaring up on Monday night and then due to a familial issue, but it's been suggested that I offer my opinions on Wings-related issues a little more regularly, so here are a few "radon" thoughts...
- Now that Tomas Holmstrom's retired, I sure as hell hope that the Wings hire him to coach their power play. Holmstrom did two things particularly well, and the first may have been more important than the second:
a) Holmstrom had an uncanny ability to out-race and out-compete his opponents to rebounds or shots fired wide of the net, almost inevitably getting his stick or skates into a battle for the puck and coming out on top, retrieving the puck and shoveling it to a waiting teammate along the half boards or on the point;
b) And Holmstrom actually put a tremendous amount of time and video work learning how to emulate the movements of the goaltenders he would plant his ass in front of and then "tripod" by placing much of his body weight on his stick, allowing him to attempt to play goal in front of the goalie--except for the, "I want to tip pucks past him and let them go by me" part of the equation, all while battling off opposing defensemen. The Wings' forwards still try too hard to first get in the goalie's line of sight with their sticks at their sides, and then they try to get out of the way of the shots heading for them, and that's not what Holmstrom did. He was wonderful at being a terrible goalie and he was wonderful at planting his butt outside the crease and using his stick to stay there, and no Wings forward seems to have figured out what made Holmstrom great.
It's time for Holmstrom to teach the Wings' forwards that power play success for a "net front" man doesn't simply involve tipping shots.
- I sure hope that Andrei Vasilevski--the player the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted with the pick they acquired from the Colorado Avalanche for Steve Downie, the pick that was the Wings' first-rounder before they gave it up to acquire presumptive Brad Stuart replacement Kyle Quincey--never pans out, because Quincey's been terrible since he got here, and his start to the 2013 season has been predictably bad. If I was the coach--and I'm not--I'd get him off the pairing he's sharing with Brendan Smith to start, because the two have no chemistry whatsoever, and then I'd make him watch clips of Brad Stuart play for a couple of hours and say, "Play like that. Stop imitating Patrick 'Breeze-by' Brisebois!"
- I'm not surprised by Brian Lashoff's play. He's been a Brad Stuart/Bob Rouse clone in the making for years now, and he' possesses a remarkable amount of experience as a top-four defenseman who's supposed to play the shut-down and/or "safe and steady partner of a puck-rusher" roles since he played for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. At what is a Wings-quality "tender age" of 22, he's matured into a a solid skater who's excellent positionally, he's got an edge to him, he can block shots, play on the PK, and he can keep up with the Wings' puck possession game. I'm very happy to see one of the nicest, most humble and grounded human beings I've ever met "make good" in the NHL.
- Kent Huskins? Good signing, at least for depth purposes. Big (6'4?" A giant by Wings standards!), mean, steady bottom-pair defenseman. And as his name is Kent, the Wings should totally play this clip from Real Genius during games:
- Jimmy Howard hasn't had much help from his defensemen over the first four games, but I don't like the number of goals he's given up while "swimming" in his net. He's still leaving his feet too early and losing his positioning from time to time.
- Damien Brunner may still be adjusting to the NHL, but there is one thing he is that nobody mentions: he's fearless, absolutely fearless.
- I am worried about the state of Valtteri Filppula's knee. You should be, too.
- Regarding injuries? Well, let me put it this way: Detroit has a strong interfaith community, and we've got churches from the late 18th and early 19th century dotting Downtown Detroit. I would strongly suggest that the Wings find a priest, a minister, a rabbi, an imam, Buddist, Hindu and Sikh priests/ministers and especially a shaman and witch doctor or three to bless the Joe and banish the evil spirits from the Wings' training room.
Seriously, given the number of injuries the Wings have suffered thus far--with Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Mikael Samuelsson, Jan Mursak, Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White, jakub Kindl, Jonathan Ericsson and Jonas Gustavsson all missing time--the Wings ought to be reviewing their fitness training practices, their rehabilitation protocols and even the supplements their players take, because this team has been beset by "fluky" and non-fluky injuries for an extended period of time now. Something's going wrong here, and it needs to "get fixed."
- I'm surprised that the "Fire Babcock" movement only has one proponent in the "kinda sorta" sense in the Hockey News's Adam Proteau thus far, with even Proteau admitting that the Wings have personnel issues more than coaching issues (ya think?). But I thought that this team was totally going to struggle through the first 10-20 games of an 82-game season and then slowly but surely find their identity thanks to Tom Renney's new ideas, a month or two to truly expose the youngsters to game action to find out who's ready for prime time and who's depth or trade fodder at this point (see: Kindl, Mursak, Cory Emmerton) and to determine what exactly the team needs to add at the trade deadline (see: another top-six forward or a top-pair defenseman, depending on who's available and what costs are involved).
Instead, this Wings team finds itself at a tremendous competitive disadvantage, and they realy need to either find their identity with its current personnel or start waiving forwards to call up the Nyquists, Tatars, Anderssons and Tinky Winkies in short order, with trades soon to follow, by my 35th birthday on February 5th.
By the time the Wings welcome Happy Hudler back to the Joe and tangle with the Flames on Tuesday the 5th, they'll have played 8 of their 48 games, or about a sixth of the schedule, which is the equivalent to 13 and 2/3rds games (or a good month) of 82-game season play.
If they are still struggling as mightily as they are now in 11 days, changes will have to be made to the team's personnel, and even accounting for the fact that losing Ian White and Carlo "I looked a lot better than you thought I would, didn't I?" Colaiacovo to injuries means that the team will get a blueline boost via natural means, the team's going to seriously have to consider bringing new faces in via call-ups and then trades.
With that, I'll conclude the first edition of "Radon Thoughts." Let me know what you think, and whether you might want to see some plain old musings more regularly.
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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.