The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/20/13 at 12:41 PM ET
Updated 13x at 3:46 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena to prepare for Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (7:30 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, post-game on FSD), and the Wings' morning skate was relatively uneventful:
After the Wings' skate wrapped up, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a video of Drew Miller talking about the slash guards he's wearing on his gloves...
And he penned a pre-game story based upon quotes from Sunday:
Against the Ducks, the Wings fell flat on their faces in Game 3 at were shut out, a fate they hope history will teach them to avoid Monday.
“I think we learned a little bit about ourselves in round one,” Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard said. “After we went a couple of games, we sort of took our foot off the gas in Game 3. It’s a big game. What happened (Saturday in Game 2) is over and done with. We’ve got to come out and keep with the gameplan.”
That’s been a bit of a problem for the Wings this season, who road an up-and-down roller coaster to a seventh-place finish in the West.
“We have to keep playing the way we did the last game,” Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall said. “We can’t sit back and be satisfied with what we did last game. We just have to keep going after them. That’s the only way you can move forward.”
While the Blackhawks burst from the gate and cruised to the Presidents’ Trophy title as the NHL’s best regular-season team, the Wings took quite some time to find their identity as a team.
“We weren’t very good,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of his club for much of the regular season. “A good month for us was one-over (.500). Our guys have gotten better; you’ve got to give them a lot of credit.” In order to have success, you got to be good enough to do it. We worked on it since Day 1. We were a work in progress. It took us a long time to figure out where everybody fit best.”
The Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton took note of the Wings' morning skate comments...
"They were better than us Game 1, we were better than them in Game 2," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the team's morning skate. "So the series starts all over today."
The dynamic is different, though, with the Red Wings holding home ice advantage and the momentum of an emphatic, dominating victory in enemy territory in Game 2.
Lose that, and the urgency to win at home might have been suffocating. Instead, it becomes motivation to put a stranglehold on the series with two games at Joe Louis Arena.
"That was a big thing to do, winning Game 2, coming back with a tie series," Red Wings center Damien Brunner said. "It takes the pressure off. You don't come home being two games down. It's obviously a better chance."
The Red Wings lineup, not shockingly, looked the same during the morning skate. So a club that was energized and aggressive on the forecheck in Game 2 will seek to amplify that in front of a friendly crowd Monday.
"Now it's a best of five," Red Wings winger Justin Abdelkader said. "Each team has won a game, and now we're coming back home and we're excited to come back home and play in front of our fans. They're going to bring a lot of energy and hopefully we can feed off that and have a good start."
And the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness took note of Miller's bulked-up gloves...
Drew Miller will be playing in his second straight game since returning from a broken right hand.
He had to add some extra padding to the outside of his glove to help protect it.
“It doesn’t really add too much to it, it’s got little shock absorber things in it – honey comb type things – to help absorb any shots it takes,” Miller said. “The biggest thing mentally is that I see the bone’s healed well enough. I feel good playing out there. That’s the biggest mental part of it.”
Damien Brunner having lost a bet...
There were a number of joyful Wings in the locker room, recalling Sweden’s title at the World Championships on Sunday.
Both Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson had brothers playing on the team.
“Obviously both of us are really proud today,” Kronwall said. “I think all Swedes are, really.”
Jimmie Ericsson had one goal in seven games, while Staffan Kronwall had an assist in 10 games.
After the win the Swedish players all put on gold helmets.
“That’s a tradition back in Sweden, anytime someone wins the championship at home the winning team always gets the gold helmets,” Kronwall said. “It’s something that’s been around for quite some time. It was cool seeing them out on the ice with them.”
Sweden beat Switzerland, 5-1, which meant Damien Brunner had to pay up on bets, which was buying dinner.
And the Wings' takes on their tasks at hand...
“We definitely expect a push back and a response from them,” forward Drew Miller said. “I think we want to keep playing better and keep playing our brand of hockey, too. This is a big rivalry. I think fans and everyone else shouldn’t expect anything less than a really good game.”
“It’s like us after the first game,” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “We played better than them in the second game. We felt like we wanted to come back, play a full 60 minutes and I’m sure that’s what they want to do now. We know what it takes to win. We have to be prepared for tonight, we’re going to play for 60 minutes and give them a hard time.”
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall wants the team to act on it and not just talk about playing a full 60 minutes.
“We have to make sure that we go out there and do it,” Kronwall said. “We have to make sure that we’re prepared and ready to go when the puck’s dropped. Try to get the pace up as much as we did the last game and do the little things.”
The Wings’ win snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Blackhawks.
“We always have a good crowd, but playoff time is different,” Ericsson said. “It’s just an amazing feeling when the crowd gets into it. They’re loud for a full 60 minutes and that lifts us up. We play more aggressive out there. If feels almost like we have an extra player out there. I’m looking forward to tonight.”
Which the Free Press's Helene St. James also noted:
Now it's a best-of-five," coach Mike Babcock said after the Wings' morning skate. "Not much to pick between the two teams the first two games. They were better than us in Game 1. We were better than them in Game 2. Series starts all over here today, and I imagine you'll have to up the ante to win here today.
"We're excited to play at home, as usual. We have good fan support."
Babcock isn't planning to make any lineup changes; why would he, consering the group that played Saturday in Chicago put on a blueprint of how to beat the top-seeded Blackhawks?
The Wings will be traveling back to Chicago on Friday afternoon for Saturday's Game 5, so Friday night might be pay-up time for Damien Brunner, who incurred a few debts after betting several of the Swedes that populate Detroit's dressing room on the outcome of Sunday's world championship finale. Sweden ended up topping Switzerland, 5-1.
"It's dollars and dinners," Brunner said, laughing.
St. James posted a game-day video, too...
And as I got home quite late from a mom-ferrying errand, I'm going to post the Hawks' lineup news via MLive's Ansar Khan, because all the Hawks' Tweets involved questions as to whether Viktor Stalberg's return to the lineup would bump Michal Handzus out, and the answer to that question is "no":
After spending a couple of games in coach Joel Quenneville's doghouse, forward Viktor Stalberg will return to the lineup tonight for the Chicago Blackhawks against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, NBC Sports Network, CBC). Stalberg will add speed and some offensive ability to the lineup. He had no goals and one assist in five games in the first round against Minnesota.
“I don’t think I’ll play any different from sitting out -- I want to go out and play the same way I have all year,'' Stalberg said. “If they didn’t think I did that the first round, so be it, but at the end of the day that’s what made us successful all year I’m just to keep playing the same way, try to be hard and tough to play against – use my speed to create something out there.”
Stalberg is expected to take his usually right wing position on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. Dave Bolland likely will move up to the second line, between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp. That would push Michal Hadzus down to the fourth line.
Daniel Carcillo is expected to be scratched.
“I think that (speed) is an asset that we really need on this team,'' Stalberg said. “I don’t think it’s just one player, but (Saturday) we didn’t play with much speed throughout the lineup. It’s going to be hard to be successful that way.''
Update: If you give a crap (and I don't) about reading another article discussing David Bolland's potentially Justin Abdelkader-like impact on the Kane-Toews line, the Chicago Tribune's Brian Hamilton provides one...
And the Hawks reporters' Twitter timelines read as follows:
NHL.com's confirming the Hawks' lineup news...
Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville confirmed forward Viktor Stalberg will return to the lineup Monday for Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Stalberg was a healthy scratch for each of the first two games of the series after recording one assist in the Blackhawks' five-game series win over the Minnesota Wild in the conference quarterfinals.
Quenneville also said forward Michal Handzus, who was not on any of the lines at the morning skate, will be in the lineup. He did not indicate who would come out to make room for Stalberg's return.
And the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus has penned a game-day update...
The Hawks defense was determined to redeem itself in Monday's Game 3.
"Absolutely," Seabrook said. "We weren't happy with the way we played defensively as a group of defensemen. We've got to come out and have a better effort and give Crow a better opportunity to make some saves, and give him the chance to play well in there and not leave him out to dry."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said the defensive problems went beyond the blue line. The Hawks' success this season has been built on team defense, from the forwards on back. But the Red Wings had their way in Game 2.
"Our whole team defensively was off," Quenneville said. "They attacked us well. And we didn't do a good job in certain areas of the rink. We gave up a lot more than we obviously did in the first game. We can be better in all areas, defensively."
In other news, Viktor Stalberg is indeed back in the lineup for Game 3, as Quenneville will reunite the highly successful third line of Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Stalberg. Stalberg had been benched for the first two games, with Dave Bolland playing center and Shaw moving to right wing. Bolland appears to be back on the second line with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane, while Michal Handzus drops to the fourth line, moving Marcus Kruger (who has struggled mightily with faceoffs lately) to right wing and bumping Daniel Carcillo from the lineup.
"We have some options in games," Quenneville said. "We'll see how things are going. We came out of that first series, I thought as a team we could be better. But that [third] line for the majority of the season played together, and I thought they did a good job throughout most of the season. Viktor gives them some speed to that line, as well, that unpredictability off the rush. They did have a lot of offensive zone time this year."
Said Shaw: "It's good to get back together. We played well this year as a group, and having Stally back gives us that speed. We're ready to go."
As has the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc...
“I think both teams feel this is a pretty important game moving forward here,” defenseman Johnny Oduya said following the Hawks' morning skate. “We obviously want to steal a game in this building. We know that's tough, but I think if we play good, we can do it.”
Added captain Jonathan Toews: "Regardless of the score of the last game we know we weren't good enough. There are no games where if we don't play our best that we're going to find a way to win. We need to play our best every single night. We know that's what it's going to take against this team. We're confident in each other that we're going to go out there and play for each other and respond to the last game."
The Hawks' lineup will have a different look as Viktor Stalberg will return after being benched in the first two games of the series. Stalberg, who skated on the third line with fellow winger Bryan Bickell and center Andrew Shaw during the skate, said he will have to temper his enthusiasm and stick to his game.
“That's always a challenge, you can be maybe a little too excited,” Stalberg said. “But I'll just keep it simple, play hard and use my assets to my advantage.”
Forward Michal Handzus, who hasn't been practicing but did play in the first two games, is scheduled to be in the lineup. Winger Daniel Carcillo was on the ice long after his teammates and appears to be the odd-man out. Normally a center, Handzus could be inserted on the fourth line on the wing along with Michael Frolik and then Marcus Kruger would be in the middle.
Here are the projected forward lines for the Hawks:
Saad -- Toews -- Hossa
Sharp -- Bolland -- Kane
Bickell -- Shaw -- Stalberg
Handzus -- Kruger -- Frolik
And ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers:
Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg will play in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday after being a healthy scratch in the first two games.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't reveal which player Stalberg would replace in the lineup following Monday's morning skate. Quenneville said forward Michal Handzus would also play Monday despite not skating with any of the top four lines during the morning practice. Quenneville said "we'll see" when asked if Daniel Carcillo would play.
Stalberg played in 47 of 48 regular-season games and in all five of the team's first-round playoff games. He had nine goals and 14 assists in the regular season and one assist against the Minnesota Wild in the first round. Stalberg said Monday he looked forward to getting another opportunity to play, but he didn't want to alter his game.
"I'll try to stay the same," Stalberg said. "Obviously, you're excited to get back in, and you always want to play. It's simple as that. No question about it. Maybe a little hungrier. I don't think it makes too much of a difference. I think I want to continue playing the same way I have all year."
Update #3: Aww...
In more game-day news, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan noted that the Wings expect the Hawks to come at 'em hard tonight...
"We definitely expect a pushback from them, a response from them," forward Drew Miller said after the Wings skated on Monday. "We want to keep playing our brand of hockey."
With the series tied 1-1, Game 3 could be pivotal, especially for the Red Wings, who also host Game 4 Thursday.
"Obviously, you get to come home and play where you play," coach Mike Babcock said. "Now it's a best-of-five series. There wasn't much to pick from the two teams in the first two games. The series starts all over. We're excited to play at home like we always are."
The Blackhawks faced little adversity while roaring to the NHL's best regular-season record. Falling behind in this series after three games definitely would be adversity for the Blackhawks.
For Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, the key for Game 3 is a better performance defensively. Quenneville isn't criticizing the officiating, unlike some of his players after the Game 2 loss.
"They (the Red Wings) were much better than us (in Game 2); it had nothing to do with the officiating," Quenneville said.
Amongst the Free Press's George Sipple's "scouting the enemy" notes...
“I think our game is a team game and a speed team game,” Stalberg said. “Not going to be one individual player, but certainly, I think it can help with that aspect. We need everyone skating and everyone going faster tonight if we want to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Playing at the Joe, on what is always considered one of the best ice surfaces in the league, is encouraging for Stalberg.
“Yeah, there is good ice here,” Stalberg said. “Didn’t feel great this morning, maybe because of the heat outside. But usually is one of the better ice surfaces, for sure. Makes the game a little quicker and the puck tempo better. I think both of our teams, both us and Detroit, are going to take advantage of that. I think we’re both puck-possession teams. I don’t think it’s an advantage for either team, but certainly makes the game a little quicker out there.”
It's going to be 87 degrees today, so the ice might not be "fast"...
And the Wings' website just posted Babcock's game-day presser:
Update #7: Via RedWingsFeed again, 97.1 FM's Jeff Riger posted a game-day story that includes video interviews with Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane (links instead of embedding because the videos rarely show up here on KK for some reason)...
Chicago forward Patrick Kane relayed the sense of urgency that his team is feeling after getting handled in game two of the series on Saturday in Chicago. “Of course there is, if there isn’t now there should have been a long time ago. Obviously you want to ramp up the intensity but at the same time if you worry too much about winning the game it’s not going to work out in your favor.” I asked the forward if too much was being made of the game two loss and he responded “yeah, but it was probably the same thing after game one where we were going to sweep these guys and we’re just going to roll through. That’s not the way it’s going to be.”
Former Wing Marian Hossa talked to a big throng of both Chicago and Detroit media and most of the chatter was about 2009 and the game 7 loss to the Penguins in Detroit. Hossa was asked about the comfort level of playing such an important road game at the Joe, he replied “when it comes to the rivalry, it’s almost like the atmosphere elevates and the people go crazy, it’s fun to be part of it.” I then asked Hossa if it still makes him laugh at the amount of boo’s he still receives in this building? “There’s going to be boos, you know, that’s how it is but it was funny because Patrick Kane told me he hopes he can experience something like that (the massive boos) once.”
And the Detroit News's Matt Charboneau talked about Viktor Stalberg's hope to inject some speed into his team's lineup:
"Come out there and work hard with my speed and try to create some tough matchups for them," he said when asked what he could bring to the lineup. "Take advantage of their D because sometimes they like to make plays. So I think just trying to work them hard and bring everything I can."
Stalberg missed only one regular-season game and played all five games in the first round against Minnesota before sitting in favor of Dave Bolland in the first two games against Detroit.
He should be back on the third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. Bolland likely will move up to the second line between Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp, pushing Handzus to the fourth line and making Carcillo the likely scratch.
"We came out of the first series and I thought we could be better," Quenneville said. "That line, for the majority of the season, played together and did a good job for most of the season. That gives us some speed with that line and some unpredictability off the rush. They did have a lot of offensive zone time throughout the year and hopefully can do some of that here."
Update #8: It's Jonathan Mumble:
Update #9: NHL.com's Corey Masisak has penned his game-day report:
"We all need to be better and we expect everybody to be much better," Quenneville said. "It is across the board. We need more predictability in our game and we need to better in certain areas of the ice."
The seventh-seeded Red Wings dominated the top-seeded Blackhawks in Game 2 at United Center, evening the series with a 4-1 victory. It essentially was a reversal from Game 1 -- Chicago dominated possession of the puck in the opener, but Detroit pushed back in Game 2 and did the same.
"I thought in the last game we had a big gap between the forwards and the defensemen," Chicago forward Marian Hossa said. "We couldn't get the pass from our zone really quick like in Game 1. In Game 1 we felt everyone was connecting, but [in Game 2] they did a good job in the neutral zone. We just have to get back on the same page with the forwards and the defense, maybe come back a little deeper. They are so quick, so we have to be even quicker. I think the first pass from our zone is really important for us."
Update #10: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan reports that the ice ain't great at the Joe today...
It was a common refrain around Joe Louis Arena on Monday as the Red Wings and Blackhawks prepared for Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals: The ice in Detroit is among the best in the league.
But even the playing surface inside Joe Louis Arena suffers when the temperatures outside are in the upper 80s and the humidity is high.
"It is good ice here," Chicago's Viktor Stalberg said after the team's morning skate. "But it didn't feel great this morning maybe because the heat outside. It usually is one of the better surfaces, that's for sure. It makes the game a little quicker and the puck tempo better."
And blah blah blah does Toews feel pressure to score blah blah blah from ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers:
"Again maybe a little added pressure given the situation," Toews said after Monday's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. "But I know it's one of those things that I got to keep working, keep trying to find ways to score and eventually it's going to come. Right now, just not letting it build up too much in my own mind.
"Sometimes you start squeezing the stick and the rest of your game kind of goes downhill, so not letting that happen. But I know that sooner or later, something's got to give. Hopefully, I'll be able to find a way to contribute in a big way for my team."Toews tied for Patrick Kane for a team-best 23 goals during the regular season, but he has no goals and three assists in seven playoff games.
Toews expressed frustration with the way the Red Wings and their captain Henrik Zetterberg physically played him in Game 2 and believes the Red Wings may have gotten away with a few penalties.
Heading into Game 3, Toews said the Blackhawks must do the same to Zetterberg and his teammates.
"Obviously, he's doing a lot of little things to take myself and my linemates off our game," Toews said. "I think he's a smart player that way. Maybe it's time to return the favor a little bit. A little frustrated after the game the other night, just sometimes you try to draw penalties and things aren't being called. I guess it's the nature of playoff hockey that sometimes they're going to let things go a little bit more often. It's time to dish that back a little bit and try and make things a little difficult for him and his linemates as well."
Update #11: The Edmonton Sun's Derek Van Diest got Toews-y as well, but I don't give a *#$%@&, so here's Pavel Datsyuk talking about tonight's game instead...
“This is an important game for us,” said Red Wings centre Pavel Datsyuk. “Like every team, every game in the playoffs is important for us. We shut them down in the last game, but they shut us down in the first game. So we’ll see what happens tonight.”
And here's DetroitRedWings.com's game-day preview video:
Update #12: Per popular demand, the Chicago Tribune's Abdelkader, Kane, Hjalmarsson, Hossa and now their Oduya and their less-than-wonderful 10:46 game preview with Chris Kuc and Steve Rosenbloom are links instead of embedded auto-play videos.
Update #13: NHL.com's Corey Masisak offers a World Championship bottom line from Swiss team and silver medalist supporter Damien Brunner:
"The Swiss guys -- I can't be more proud of this group," Brunner said. "They did everything this tournament. They went 9-for-9 to make the final. This was the first time were thousands of people waiting at the airport for the guys to come home. They achieved a great goal here, and even if they lost the final it was great for Swiss hockey to get on the map. A lot of young guys proved themselves, and maybe they can take the next step to come over and play in the NHL."
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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.