The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/18/13 at 01:31 PM ET
I haven't slept since a pre-game nap prior to the Red Wings' rather wretched 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames last night for reasons mostly not involving the game, but given that I came home from a 100-mile round trip of ferrying the mom to an appointment with 60+ "You've Received a Comment" notifications, I'm just going to guess that more than a few of you are still mightily pissed off about the Wings' struggles, and that you're not thrilled with my, "Last night's loss is on the players" take on the defeat.
Regardless of who is or isn't held responsible for in-game situations and who is held culpable for making or not making the personnel tweaks available and/or necessary to provide the coaching staff and players with the best possible opportunity to win, the Wings face an incredibly stiff task ahead.
If the Columbus Blue Jackets keep winning, and we are to believe Mickey Redmond's optimist's take on the number of points a playoff team will need to secure to control its own destiny, the 9th place Wings, who possess 47 points, need to earn another six points over their last five games to hit 53 points.
If you believe Ken Daniels' slightly more pessimistic and realistic take, the Wings need to earn 8 more points over their last 5 games to hit the historical average for playoff teams as averaged out over a 48-game season, approximately 55.7 points.
To keep up with the other teams battling for the 8th spot in addition to Columbus (the Wings do hold a game in hand on Columbus, which has played 44 games to the Wings' 43, and the Wings own the Regulation-or-OT-Win tiebreaker 18-16) in the Dallas Stars (2 points back, 21 wins to the Wings' 20, 19 ROWs to Detroit's 18, they have only played 42 games, and they play Vancouver tonight) and Phoenix Coyotes (4 points back, 18 wins, 15 ROWs, 42 games played)...
The Wings need to win either three games in regulation or overtime, including their meetings with the Coyotes on Monday and the Stars next Saturday, and earn a point in a fourth game, or they plain old need to win four of their five remaining games in regulation or overtime (@ Vancouver on Saturday, vs. Phoenix on Monday the 22nd, vs. LA on Wednesday the 24th, vs. Nashville on Thursday the 25th and @ Dallas on Saturday the 27th) to get in without significant "help" in terms of other teams putting serious-ass dents in the Blue Jackets, Stars and Coyotes' hopes.
The Red Wings do have a game in hand on the Blue Jackets, and they’ve got the tiebreaker as well. (Dallas has the tiebreaker on both of them.)
As for remaining schedules…
Detroit: @ Vancouver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Nashville, @ Dallas
Columbus: @ Los Angeles, @ San Jose, @ Dallas, Nashville
Dallas: Vancouver, @ St. Louis, @ Los Angeles, @ San Jose, Columbus, Detroit
From a league-wide perspective, the big story will be the Red Wings, a team that’s made the playoffs 21 straight seasons. (Not to dismiss the Dallas and Columbus underdog stories, both of which are compelling.)
Detroit’s next game is Saturday in Vancouver — a tough assignment, to be sure. But the Wings have beaten the Canucks twice this season, once 8-3 and the other 5-2.
“You’ve got to win your way in,” Wings head coach Mike Babcock told NHL.com. “You can’t watch your way in. You’ve got to win your way in.”
Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski is also pegging the Wings' chances at 40.2%...
And as Paul noted, ESPN's Scott Burnside finds the Wings' precarious situation to be an intriguing story (screw intriguing, it's been painful to watch, if you'll excuse me for being blunt)...
You can look at games in hand and the upcoming schedule and project all you want, but at this time of year, the results are the results and the standings are the standings.
And so it is that on Thursday morning, the Detroit Red Wings, playoff participants every season since 1990, find themselves on the outside looking in. The shocking state of affairs in the Western Conference comes as a result of a gritty comeback win by the Cinderella Columbus Blue Jackets, who edged Anaheim 3-2 in overtime Wednesday night as the Wings folded 3-2 to the lowly Calgary Flames at the Saddledome.
Credit goes to the Blue Jackets, who trailed 1-0 and 2-1 to the playoff-bound Ducks before Fedor Tyutin gave Columbus the win in overtime. The Blue Jackets refuse to be bowed, in spite of the fact they are in the middle of a playoff-busting six-game road trip. They have won five in a row, the past three in either shootout or overtime. They still have to visit Los Angeles, San Jose and Dallas before closing at home April 27 against Nashville, so their work is not nearly done.
But what of the Red Wings, who have but one win in their past five games and three wins in the past 10? Yes, the Wings’ injuries, especially along the blue line, have been well-documented, but this is a battle-tested group led by Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, who aren’t getting it done offensively. The Wings have managed just 18 goals in 10 games. The power play has dried up, going 3-for-23 in six games, including 0-for-5 against the Flames. The Wings outshot Calgary 38-17, but still couldn’t close the deal against one of the league’s weaker teams.
The Wings still very much control their destiny as they trail Columbus by two points with a game in hand. They also own the tiebreaker in terms of the number of regulation or overtime victories. But those factors mean little if you don’t win, and losing to the Flames -- who are tied for 13th with Nashville for the second-lowest point total in the Western Conference -- is the kind of result that will loom large. The Red Wings have five games remaining, three at home, but unless they can find the back of the net, all of that will be moot, as will a postseason streak that dates back almost a generation.
ESPN also kinda rubbed things in via its "Morning Jam"...
Flames 3, Red Wings 2
* Steve Begin (bay-ZHIN) (CGY): 2 goals (4), 3rd career multi-goal game (first since Nov. 21, 2007 for Canadiens vs Islanders)
* Johan Franzen (FRAN-zehn) (DET): Goal (10); on 4-game point streak (3 G, 1 A during streak)
* Red Wings: 1-2-2 in last 5 games
* Flames: only 2nd win in last 6 HOME games (2-4-0)
Remaining Schedules, Red Wings & Blue Jackets
Red Wings (47 points) Blue Jackets (49 points)
Saturday at Canucks Thursday at Kings
Apr. 22 vs Coyotes<< Apr. 21 at Sharks
Apr. 24 vs Kings Apr. 25 at Stars<<
Apr. 25 vs Predators<< Apr. 27 vs Predators<<
Apr. 27 at Stars<<
>>Opponent currently out of playoff position
Somewhat thankfully, the Red Wings chose not to practice today, so we won't hear what they have to say about the reality that is having to win 3 or 4 of their remaining 5 games--preferably 4--until Friday, when the hype machine builds ahead of a Hockey Night in Canada match-up against a Canucks team that will doubtlessly start Corey Schneider opposite Jimmy Howard on Saturday night.
For this afternoon, you "need to know" that the Grand Rapids Griffins are selling playoff tix on Friday as they have clinched a playoff spot, it's pretty nifty that Ryan Sproul was named the OHL's defenseman of the year and Patrick Eaves was nominated for the Masterton Trophy by Detroit's members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association...
In the prospect department--because I've got nowhere else to put this--EMC Perth's (Ontario) Caitie McRae spoke to new Red Wings signee and Perth, ON native Jared Coreau (who McRae lists at 6'6!") about the reasons why he chose to sign with the Red Wings ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and New York Rangers:
Former Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, a scout for the team and goaltending development coach, began appearing in the stands at Wildcats games, along with general manager Ken Holland and assistant general manager Jim Nill. It was a toss-up, as Coreau's agent Jerry Buckley informed him that both teams were impressed with his performance. But it was a formidable mix of heritage and greatness that convinced Coreau he'd like to call Joe Louis Arena home one day. "It just came down to history and culture," Coreau said. "The Red Wings are an original six team, so the atmosphere there is rich."
He also mentioned Jets personnel explained they were looking for young, proficient players to grow their franchise, something Coreau was hesitant about.
"I understood what they were saying but I wasn't looking to be on a team that wanted to grow their players. The Red Wings are already there, they're already great," he said.
He found out in mid-March that the Red Wings wanted to sign him, the deal was finalized just a couple of weeks ago.But Coreau is far from having his head up in the clouds, becoming too big for his britches.
"The best advice I got was from my (Wildcats) head coach, Walt (Kyle)," said Coreau. "He said 'Jared, you've got to invest your money from your first contract like you're going broke,'" he recalled. "Walt's always full of wisdom."
With level-headed advice like that, Coreau is sure to stay grounded when he starts between the pipes for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings' AHL affiliate, this fall.
For now, he's hunkering down in Detroit hotels, waiting out the Red Wings season, before returning home to Perth for a long-awaited visit with friends and family. After that, he'll compete in a prospects tournament of AHL players in Traverse City, MI in early September before moving into the Van Andel Arena to begin his AHL career. He'll be splitting netminding duties with Petr Mrázek, a Czech native and former goalie for the OHL's Ottawa 67's.
The story continues and McRae lends insight into Coreau's upbringing, college background and his future goals, so it's worth your time...
And in the charitable news department: A certain Mitch Albom is holding a special showing of his play about Ernie Harwell's life, "Ernie," at the Hockeytown Cafe's City Theatre on June 19th, with all proceeds to benefit the Shawn Burr Foundation.
Burr's apparently won his second bout with leukemia, and his foundation increases awareness of the benefits of bone marrow donation and joining bone marrow registries as they're lifelines for people who battle blood cancers.
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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.