The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/18/13 at 11:06 AM ET
Updated with AHL news at 12:19 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to right their ship by bouncing back from Game 1's third-period meltdown today as they face the Chicago Blackhawks in a matinee affair (1 PM EDT, NBC/CBC/97.1/post-game on WDIV and FSD), and there's little news on the player personnel front save the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton, NHL.com, the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus, ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers, Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers and probably seven or eight other Chicago sources stating that Michal Handzus (back) will play for Chicago today, but Viktor Stalberg (healthy scratch) will not...
So enjoy Ken Kal's game-day preview from the Wings' website. It features Drew Miller, who may or may not play today, depending on whether coach Mike Babcock believes he's ready to go based upon his play in warm-ups...
And it's a day late, but Wings coach Mike Babcock's colorful and somewhat combative Friday afternoon presser should put you in the mood for hockey:
The Wings' website also offers a historical note, and this is a "warm fuzzy" moment for me as I took this milestone in while on a trip to Connnecticut to visit my pal Beckee 12 years ago (and it was a Saturday, too):
On This Day in Red Wings History...On May 18, 2002
Darren McCarty scores a hat trick against the Colorado Avalanche in the 5-3 win in Game 1 of the conference finals.
On the way home (Game 2, Forsberg scores shorthanded and the Avs win), the flight crew from Westchester to Detroit was "Detroit-based," so back before the interweb was a wireless beast, the flight crew was literally getting scoreboard updates from Cleveland Center and Detroit, and they'd relay them to the cabin.
Shifting focus back to the present moment, Ken Kal offers his three keys to today's game...
Spend More Time in Offensive Zone - Be more aggressive today. Get traffic in front of Corey Crawford and create multiple opportunities to score and win the game.
Pucks to the net and butts in front...
Get the Puck Quickly out of Defensive Zone - The defensemen need to get the puck to the forwards. They'll need a good first pass to get them on their way.
Get Solid Goalkeeping - Jimmy Howard played well in Game 1. He needs to be great again in Game 2 against this potent Hawks offense.
And MLive's Ansar Khan and Brendan Savage ponder whether today's game is a "must-win affair" in their game-day debate:
BRENDAN SAVAGE: If the Red Wings want to win the series they absolutely have to go back to Joe Louis Arena tied 1-1, making a victory today a must.
While anything can happen in sports, does anybody truly believe they could win four of five against a team like Chicago? Especially after losing Game 1 the way they did?
I'm sticking by my prediction of Chicago in five but if the Red Wings get dominated today and lose to fall into an 0-2 hole, a sweep isn't out of the question at all.
ANSAR KHAN: You can't label Game 2 of any seven-game series as a "must-win situation,'' regardless of how improbable it is that the Red Wings could beat the Blackhawks in four of the final five games.
You can analyze and pick apart what the Red Wings need to do to win, and we have. But consider this: Chicago has won eight in a row from Detroit, dating back to the 2011-12 regular season. That streak has to end sometime soon, you would think.
As a FTR, the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Toronto Marlies 4-1 last night and can advance to the AHL's Western Conference Final if they defeat Toronto tonight at Van Andel Arena, and if you receive Sportsnet in Canada, Martin Frk's Halifax Mooseheads open their Memorial Cup campaign via a round robin game against the Portland Winterhawks tonight at 7 PM EDT...
After finishing third in penalty killing during the regular season, the Blackhawks are a perfect 20-for-20 in the playoffs. No other team has yet to allow a power-play goal in the postseason.
"We don't become aware of it until you say what you just said," claimed captain Jonathan Toews. "We're not thinking about streaks. When things are going well you keep working hard at it, you don't get satisfied. Keep looking for ways to improve. That's what we've done with our penalty kill. We definitely want to stay out of the box against this team because that's how they can gain momentum, by being on the power play. They can create a lot of chances no matter what we do but we know it's an important part of our game against Detroit.''
The Blackhawks, who killed all three penalties they took Wednesday against the Red Wings in a 4-1 victory in Game 1, allowed the fewest power-play goals in the NHL during the regular season.
They killed penalties at 87.2-percent clip to finish third in the NHL behind Ottawa (88.0) and Toronto (87.9) but their 18 power-play goals allowed were tops among the league's 30 teams.
In the first round of the playoffs, they blanked Minnesota on 17 power plays while ousting the Wild in five games.
"For sure you try to follow the numbers a little bit, but this is a new series against Detroit," said sixth-year forward Michael Frolik. "It's a little different team than Minnesota. They got so much skill. They are a very smart team. You have to be careful with these penalties. The first one (Wednesday) they got a few chances, we have to be sharper. When I got here I didn't play that much and since I got there I got a good opportunity on the PK. It's kind of my role right now and I'm glad I can be in that position. So far it's working good. We still want to improve and get better.''
Danny DeKeyser's status, from Khan...
DeKeyser had surgery May 7 on his broken right thumb, which he sustained in Game 2 of the opening round against Anaheim.
“The last couple weeks have been pretty tough,'' DeKeyser said. “I haven't been doing a whole lot, barely in the weight room as it is. It's nice to get clearance to skate and keep the heart rate up and get a good sweat in. I couldn't really handle the puck too well. It's hard to even hold my stick right now, so I know I can't pass the puck and for sure can't shoot right now.''
He said he has no window for a return. He was told he would be out six-to-eight weeks from the time he had surgery.
“I'm trying to get back as soon as I can without risking further injury,'' DeKeyser said. “I'm just kind of taking it week-by-week and day-by-day, seeing the doctor every five days or so, taking X-rays.''
He will have a cast on for another week or two. He has been working out his thumb by stretching a rubber band.
“A little more movement holding the rubber band, kind of move my thumb around, trying to do every little thing I can to make sure that it gets better as quick as it can,'' DeKeyser said.
And Savage pointed out something...Well, I pointed out on Friday. Sometimes praise comes from strange places, and the Denver Post's Adrian Dater, penning a column for SI, named Joakim Andersson of his "'undersung' players of the eight remaining playoff teams (is "undersung" a word?):
Joakim Andersson, center, Red Wings: Looking for an overlooked reason why the Red Wings upset the Anaheim Ducks in the first round? Look toward the face-off circle when Andersson, 24, lined up for draws. After winning just 46.5 percent during the regular season, he succeeded at a 53-percent clip against Anaheim. For a Wings team that still heavily relies on getting the puck first and playing its possession game, that was huge. In Games 6 and 7, he won 20-of-35 face-offs. Like a lot of other guys on this list, Andersson gets little of the sexy ice time, rarely starting a shift in the offensive zone. But as they always seem to do, the Wings have successfully incorporated another little-known Swede into their system. He's certainly not flashy offensively, but it looks like the Wings will have a strong checking-line center for years to come.
I'd argue that the Gustav Nyquist-Andersson-Damien Brunner line hasbeen the Wings' most impactful forward line not including a player named Datsyuk or Zetterberg--both positively (in terms of scoring game-winning goals) and negatively (committing devastating mistakes), if not its most important forward line not including a player named Datsyuk or Zetterberg, but that's just me.
And as this is my blog, I'm going to offer some "pre-game music" in the form of the Queens of the Stone Age's second revealed song from their June-released album, "Like Clockwork," a little tune called, "If I Had a Tail":
Quickie update: Calle Jarnkrok's only played a minor role in Sweden's attempt to secure a World Championship on home ice, and he didn't play a minute today as the Swedes have loaded up on Sedin power, but Sweden did defeat Finland 3-0 in one one of the Worlds' semifinals today, and they'll face the winner of today's U.S.A.-Switzerland semifinal in the gold medal game tomorrow evening.
I'm still a bit pissed off about the Swedes' insistence that the Wings both refrain from bringing Jarnkrok up to the NHL and return him to the Swedish national team at the end of a 9-game stint with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins given that Jarnkrok's played on the fourth line when he's played at all, but that's just me.
Update fo realz: This is interesting. The Grand Rapids Griffins can add as many amateur try-outs as they want to their playoff roster, so they've brought Teemu Pulkkinen and Richard Nedomlel into the fold, they just signed Nick Jensen to an ATO, and now they've inked Andreas Athanasiou, who will likely return to his junior team, the Barrie Colts, next season (Saginaw Spirit goalie Jake Paterson practiced with the Griffins for a couple of weeks, but will play with the Spirit for one more year; the Wings hope to sign Alexei Marchenko, who also practiced with the team, to an entry-level deal, but negotiating with both Marchenko and CSKA Moscow might be difficult) , to an ATO:
GRIFFINS SIGN ATHANASIOU TO TRYOUT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins have signed left wing Andreas Athanasiou (ath-ah-nase-SEE-you) to an amateur tryout.
Detroit’s third choice (110th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Athanasiou skated in 66 games with the OHL’s Barrie Colts this season, finishing fourth on the team with 67 points (29-38—67). After capturing a league championship and the 2012 CHL Memorial Cup last season with the London Knights, the Woodbridge, Ontario, native was traded to Barrie and helped the team reach the OHL Finals against his former club, falling short in Game 7. The 6-foot-2, 187-pound forward has 126 points (62-64—126) and 73 penalty minutes in 186 career OHL games.
Up 3-1 in their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Toronto Marlies, the Griffins will look to end the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals tonight as they host Game 5. Tickets are available at griffinshockey.com.
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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.