The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/31/13 at 10:36 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Chicago Blackhawks for a matinee game today (12:30 PM EDT, NBC/NHL Network Canada/97.1 FM), and the Blackhawks have made their lineup changes..
While the Red Wings are wishing Mr. Hockey a happy birthday:
Here are the Wings' lineup tweaks...
The Wings' website posted a game-day preview with Ken Kal...
And the Wings' game-day blog offers an obvious historical note...
On This Day in Red Wings History...On March 31, 1928
The legendary Gordie Howe was born in Floral, Saskatchewan.
As well as Kal's Keys to the Game:
Play with Energy - The first game back home after a long road trip is never easy. Detroit has to be mentally tough and fight off the fatigue factor.
Control the Neutral Zone - This is where the Hawks generate most of their speed. The Wings need to slow them down here by taking away their time and space.
Win The Special Teams Battle - Both games against Chicago have been one goal games. A PP goal could be the difference between winning and losing. The Wings need to be disciplined and stay out of the box, and take advantage of PP opportunities when they get them.
In the text department, MLive's Ansar Khan and Brendan Savage ponder whether the Wings have battled through the worst part of their regular season schedule (7 of 8 games away from the Joe) on a playoff-bound trajectory...
ANSAR KHAN: They're in good shape, thanks to that five-game road winning streak during the toughest part of their schedule. They still make two more trips out West, but they're brief and not daunting. And eight of their remaining 14 games are against clubs not currently in a playoff position.
They're getting healthier, too.
As long as they can stay ahead of Dallas, Nashville and Phoenix, they'll be fine.
BRENDAN SAVAGE: I've tried to never be a wishy washy person but I've been going back and forth on the Red Wings' playoff chances almost since Day 1, when they were blasted 6-0 in St. Louis.
Just when I've started liking the Red Wings playoff chances, they'll go out and lose a pair of games to the Columbus Blue Jackets. And when I want to write them off, they win 5-1 in St. Louis or beat the mighty Anaheim Ducks in back-to-back road games.
They've been a tough team to read, even with all the injuries. But the last eight games have convinced me: The Red Wings are playoff bound for a 22nd straight season.
NHL.com's Brian Hedger offers a game preview which also discusses Jimmy Howard's incredibly likely contract extension with the Wings...
Jimmy Howard will become an unrestricted free agent this summer if the Detroit Red Wings don’t reach a contract extension with him, but he does know what he wants to happen.
“I want to play here a long time,” Howard said. “It’s been hard to think about anything [other than playing games] because we’ve been playing so much, but it’s something I’d like to get worked out.”
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told NHL.com earlier this week that reaching a deal on a contract extension with Howard is his plan, so what’s left is actually negotiating the deal. Whether that happens during the season or afterward remains to be seen, but there might not be a lot of time for it to happen after the season ends if the Red Wings qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and go on any sort of extended run.
And Brendan Smith played for former Windsorite Mike Eaves at the University of Wisconsin, so he informed the Windsor Star's Bob Duff that he sees quite a bit of "Mike" in the elder Eaves' son, Red Wings forward Parick Eaves:
“That is pretty interesting, to play with Patty,” admitted Smith, whose Wings play the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena. “I kind of see some of the same mannerisms. It’s kind of funny. We’ll talk about some of the things that Mike would do. We joke about some of the stories that I had to tell him about his old man, and he’s got some similar stories. I’m going to be honest. I don’t think there are many players around the league who get the chance to do that. It’s quite interesting.”
Patrick Eaves isn’t surprised to hear Smith suggest that he’s a lot like his dad.
“I’m sure,” Eaves said. “He’s my father; we’re a close family, so it was bound to happen.”
They’ve shared stories about Mike Eaves, Smith’s from the point of view of one of his players, Patrick from the point of view of one of his children.
“It’s funny to see them and talk about them, and kind of keep some of them maybe secret from Mike,” Smith said. “It’s fun to see how it is. Just seeing Mike’s mannerisms in Pat makes me laugh. It’s quite a cool relationship I have with both of them.”
As much as they’ve talked, Patrick insists he’s discovered nothing new about his dad.
“I pretty much know him head to toe, but I think that’s a good thing,” said Patrick, who only briefly knew Mike as his coach. “My dad only coached me one year growing up, but we talked a lot about hockey and we still chat a lot about it. But this is the first time I’ve ever played with one of his players. I’ve enjoyed playing with Smitty. I can see a lot of my dad’s little details come out in his game. It’s great to see.”
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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.