The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/13/14 at 03:16 PM ET
If Red Wings fans needed a feel-good moment to close out what's been an incredibly frustrating and sometimes frustratingly disappointing 2013-2014 season, Sunday's 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues delivered that moment and did so in a big way.
The Wings rested Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard, and in their respective places, Todd Bertuzzi may have played in his last regular season game as a Wing, Joakim Andersson continued to have a difficult campaign, Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet looked nearly NHL-ready (though Adam Almquist may have something to say about that, it's certainly encouraging to know that if the Wings do nothing on defense save make room for the kids this summer--instead of going after an Ehrhoff or Edler--they may not be going the wrong way, especially given the encouraging season by Alexey Marchenko as well), and of course Petr Mrazek pitched a shootout while channeling his inner Hasek something fierce.
Sometimes the Wings got far too cute--Tomas Tatar could've gotten his 20th goal had he not deked himself out of a breakaway, and Gustav Nyquist and Darren Helm did the same thing--and between his sometimes-scary rushes and this big hit, Sproul reminded us that he's got some learning left to do...
But the Red Wings scored 3 goals in which they exploited the injury-decimated Blues via the kind of lightning-fast transition game and speed they're going to need to harness to not get checked into next week by the Bruins, with Justin Abdelkader deflecting a Brian Lashoff shot in after Pavel Datsyuk started the play with a superb rush 13:30 into the 1st period...
Despite the Wings' 0-for-4 power play status, Riley Sheahan scored via a gorgeous wrist shot and a steal-and-pass-it-up-ice play from Tomas Tatar, with 3:41 remaining in the 2nd period...
Jakub Kindl's steal-and-pass yielded another speedy rush by Datsyuk and his second assist as he helped Justin Abdelkader reach the 10-goal mark--with Abdelkader scoring a rare goal with his stick, with 7:17 left in the game...
And in between, when the Wings did commit defensive errors, Mrazek was there, pitching an earned 23-save shutout...
While definitely pulling some Hasekian moves:
One strong effort by "The Kids" does not, "Sit all the veterans, play all the kids RIGHT NOW AGAINST BOSTON!" case make--the Blues were without 9 regulars--but the Wings' youth continues to show promise for the future, and after giving some particularly half-assed efforts, the Lashoffs, Kindls, Anderssons, Legwands etc. seemed to understand that their lack of job security meant it was time to suck it up and play the kind of sound defense they need to play to keep their spots in the lineup...
And the entire Wings team played something of a "blueprint" game as to how they can avoid being checked to death by the Bruins, with Pavel Datsyuk looking hearty, hale and strong, the rest of the team looking speedy and the team showing little to no desire to engage the Blues at their game when things got nasty.
Now the Wings have
3 days off before they open the playoffs with games in Boston on Thursday and Saturday, and they can go into the playoffs feeling good about themselves because they ended the regular season on a high note.
Update: Twitter was quite lively today...
And we received a schedule update:
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About The Malik Report
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.