The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/26/13 at 01:30 PM ET
Updated 16x at 5:14 PM: The day after the Detroit Red Wings dropped a 4-1 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Wings doubtlessly gathered at Joe Louis Arena with more "even-keel" comments in mind as they prepare for Game 6 on Monday (8 PM, NBCSN/CBC/97.1, with a post-game show on Fox Sports Detroit), but the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reports that the coaching staff rather wisely decided to maximize its players' recovery time instead of skating the players into the ground in the middle of playing what will be three games over the course of five nights as of Memorial Day:
So did I, especially given Bickell's chicken shit hit on Kronwall (sorry, late in the series, my pretend professionalism wanes as well), who did indeed tell Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom that he would shake it off and play on Monday...
Via RedWingsFeed, grumble:
Update #1: "Hi, everyone, we're the Chicago Blackhawks, and we're delusional":
Via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a video of Justin Abdelkader speaking with the media:
Update #2: DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke with Jonathan Ericsson about the team's penalty-killing...
“We took too many penalties,” said Jonathan Ericsson, the only active Wings’ player not to take a penalty in the postseason. “We know they’ve got a good power play. That hurt us. We had chances to get the pucks out but couldn't execute. We’ve got to be more on our toes at the beginning. We didn't play the whole 60 minutes like they did and took too many penalties.”
The Blackhawks took advantage of the Wings’ poor luck to score a pair of power-play goals 2:39 apart in the second period to break a 1‑1 tie in Game 5. The first of Chicago’s power-play goals came after Pavel Datsyuk played nearly a minute and a half without his stick that had broken, and both goals came seconds after great individual efforts by Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa to prevent clearing chances by the Wings. Their actions led to goals by Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews, respectively.
“We couldn't get it out, especially when they scored the first power-play goal,” Ericsson said. “We had a few chances to get the puck out. When you don't get it out, it's going to hurt you. We got tired, they were working on us. They were shooting the puck but getting the puck back, too.”
The Red Wings are now 2-5 when allowing a power-play goal in the playoffs, including a 0-3 mark when yielding multiple scores. Detroit has allowed 10 power-play goals in the postseason, the most of any playoff team. The good news is that the Red Wings’ penalty kill is 14-of-16 (87.5 percent), and a perfect 7-of-7 against the Blackhawks, at Joe Louis Arena.
Home-ice has made a huge difference in the conference semifinals where the home team is 17-3 – that’s a .850 winning percentage – in the second round. Only Chicago, Ottawa and the New York Rangers have lost at home in this round. Saturday’s home teams – Chicago and Boston – both won games to improve to 47-20 (.701) in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. The Wings are 4-1 at home this postseason
“We'll be fine. Have to keep the room loose. Can't get frustrated,” forward Daniel Cleary said. “Monday's a game big, we'll stress the importance of a good start, the importance of getting it in behind their defense and being physical. We need to shoot pucks, get in front of (Corey) Crawford. Need to play a tight game.”
Update #3: You may read more warm fuzzies about Shaw from ChicagoBlackhawks.com's Bob Verdi if you wish to do so.
Update #5: The Chicago Tribune posted an auto-play video of Andrew Shaw being smarmy.
Update #6: Here's the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa's report about Kronwall and his teammates/coach:
"I think the first thing is just getting prepared to play right," said Mike Babcock, after his daily run and a Sunday morning meeting with the players, 13 hours after the end of the 4-1 loss in Chicago in Game 5. "We've talked about what we have to do. I mean, it's great that they played good, but it didn't have anything to do with us. We didn't do anything. I'm not trying to take anything away from Chicago. But we've got to play harder. We've got to be more desperate. We've got to be more organized. We've got to be more detail-oriented."
The Wings have some good news for fans. Despite a heavy hit into the end boards by Bryan Bickell, an immediate skate to the bench and some flexing of his right shoulder, Niklas Kronwall is feeling fine and will play.
"Yep, real good," said Babcock, who said there will be no changes in his lineup Monday.
"No, it's fine," Kronwall said. "No worries. You get a little bumps and bruises along the way. It's part of it."
"Yeah, you know, you take some and you deliver some. That's part of the game."
Kronwall said he purposefully took the hit to get the puck to Henrik Zetterberg, and keep the big forechecker off of him.
"I saw him coming. I just tried to hold on to the puck as long as I could before I gave it to Hank, so that guy couldn't jump Hank," he said. "A lot of times when you're hit, you've put yourself in a bad spot. I got caught in a bid of a bad spot, right there."
Update #7: The AP's posted its off-day story sans quotes:
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock says he hopes the team's next trip is to California.
For that to happen, the Red Wings have to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 on Monday night.
Seventh-seeded Detroit leads the second round series 3-2, putting the Red Wings a win away from advancing to the Western Conference finals to face the winner Los Angeles-San Jose series.
Chicago is counting on staving off elimination in Joe Louis Arena and making Game 7 necessary on Wednesday night in the Windy City.
Update #8: The Windsor Star's Bob Duff penned an article about Kronwall...
During the Stanley Cup playoffs, injuries are guarded like state secrets, though the gauze tightly wrapped around Kronwall’s right hand – which he unsuccessfully tried to camouflage by keeping his hand in his pocket while talking to the media – suggested there indeed is a problem.
Kronwall was crushed into the boards by former Windsor Spitfire Bryan Bickell midway through the third period of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Wings in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinal series Saturday at the United Center, but despite the apparent evidence to the contrary, he shrugged off any notion that he might be in some sort of difficulty.
“You get a little bumps and bruises along the way,” Kronwall said. “This is just part of it.”
When Bickell caught Kronwall behind the Detroit net, the force of the blow pinned Kronwall’s arm between his own body and the boards. He’s been icing his wrist for about a week now, suggesting that perhaps the hit further aggravated a pre-existing problem.
“You take some and you deliver some,” said Kronwall, normally the punisher. “That’s part of the game. I saw him coming. I just tried to hold onto the puck for as long as I could before I gave it to Hank (Zetterberg), so that guy (Bickell) couldn’t jump Hank. A lot of times when you hit – I’ve said it before – you put yourself in a bad spot. I got caught in a bit of a bad spot there.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock insisted that his team would make no lineup changes for Game 6 Monday at Joe Louis Arena and none of his teammates seemed the least bit concerned about whether Kronwall would be able the answer the bell and Wings, up 3-2 in this best-of-seven set, look to close out the Blackhawks.
“There will be physical hits in the playoffs,” Zetterberg said. “Kronner’s one guy that will play through that. I have no worries about him. He’s a fighter. I don’t think he feels that bad today.”
Update #9: Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji's off-day notebook focuses upon my favorite un-sung Wing:
"Andy's kind of, I would say, a typical Swede that's learned kind of how to play defense first," [Gustav] Nyquist said. "He's obviously really excellent defensively and that's how he's been throughout his whole career. I remember when we played on the junior national team together and he was our best centerman throughout all the years."
One of [Joakim] Andersson's top responsibilities as a center is taking face-offs. During the season Andersson won 46.4 percent of his draws. In the playoffs, Andersson has lifted his face-off percentage to 54.4.
"I always wanted to be a good face-off guy and I think I've been pretty good in the past," Andersson said. "Regular season was way too much up and down. I was good some games and awful some games but now in the playoffs I've been finding a way to win some more face-offs. That's what I need to do to help the team."
As a penalty killer, some of those face-offs come in the Wings' defensive zone and could make the difference between clearing the puck or trying to withstand offensive zone pressure. Andersson said he studies other centermen, including Datsyuk, to learn things he can use.
"I watch what guys are doing, from other teams, too," Andersson said. "I can see what they're doing so I can see maybe when I take a draw against them, I know what to do and maybe I can switch it up when I see what he's doing."
"We'd like to take care of business,'' Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader said Sunday. "We've just got to play desperate.''
"You got to put teams away, they're not going away," Babcock said. "It's not like they got a holiday booked somewhere they got to get to. They're competing to stay in it. I thought that was evident and it was a real good message for our team. We got to play harder, more desperate, more organized, more detail-oriented. We weren't a very good hockey team."
Babcock said he's sticking with his same lineup for Game 6, insisting there's "no chance" he'll insert a previously scratched player onto the ice. He might, though, juggle his lines by playing Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk together more than he has in the series.
The Red Wings will have the benefit of making the last change because they're at home and they'll have fans cheering for them, but Babcock said both of those facts are advantages only if the team is having success.
"When you play well in front of your home crowd, they got something to cheer about and they can help you along," he said. "When you don't play well, there's not much they can do for you."
Update #14: If you want to read Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers' praise for Brent Seabrook, you may do so on your own.
Justin Abdelkader is still fuming about Saturday. His two second-period penalties swung the tide the Blackhawks' way, and he isn’t happy about it.
“This is the time of year where everyone is excited," he said. "Everyone is trying to do what they can to try and help their team. You’ve definitely got to keep your emotions in check. Refs are looking to even things up all the time and call penalties against guys for whatever reason, so you’ve got to keep your head and play between the whistles. I’ve got to be smart about that (going after Dave Bolland after he took a shot at Pavel Datsyuk). He tries to bait guys into penalties. That’s how he plays. He tries to play on the edge.”
And MLive's Ansar Khan received blunt comments from Wings coach Mike Babcock:
“I knew it during the game, but when I watched it here this morning and on the plane, we weren't very good,'' Babcock said. “They were much more competitive than us, much quicker than us, way more desperate. We were poor.''
They've had poor games in the playoffs, mostly recently Game 1 of this series, and bounced back strong.
“It's way harder on your psyche when you play well and you get thrashed,'' Babcock said. “We weren't very good -- period. We skated better than in Game 1, but it was a lot like Game 1. They were good and we were watching.''
Asked about the possibility of reuniting Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, Babcock said, “We did that last night (later in the game) and it was no good. Was that just because the game was over? I don't know the answer to that. They've been really good together in the playoffs. We've had them apart and they've been really good. They're going to be really good no matter how we play them.''
Said Zetterberg: “It’s easier to control the match up when you have home ice. We’ll have it tomorrow and we’ll see what Coach wants to do. I think sometimes you can coach a little bit too much and try to match up too much, but I think also when you have a chance to have the last change, you should take advantage of it.''
Update #16: Comcast Sportsnet Chicago posted a 2:37 clip of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville speaking to the press before the Hawks left for Detroit.
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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.