The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/05/14 at 05:20 PM ET
Amongst your Red Wings-Canadiens pre-game reading (the game starts at 7 on FSD, the CBC in limited areas, the NHL Network U.S., RDS and 1270 AM):
As Paul noted, it Daniel Alfredsson and Pavel Datsyuk will probably play tonight, as MLive's Brendan Savage noted...
Babcock says Datsyuk and Alfredsson will be game time decisions after taking warm ups
Babcock on @Datsyuk13 : "I talked to him on the plane last night and he said he was going to be ready to go today and be better today."
And NHL.com's Apron Basu offered a no-game-day-skate update:
A Red Wings win against the Canadiens coupled with a Maple Leafs loss in regulation at home to the Winnipeg Jets would make it impossible for Toronto to catch Detroit. If the New Jersey Devils also were to lose at the Carolina Hurricanes and the Washington Capitals do the same at the New York Islanders, that 23rd straight playoff spot for the Red Wings would be all but assured.
Standing in the way will be the Canadiens, who are competing with the Tampa Bay Lightning to claim home-ice advantage in the likely first-round series.
Montreal has won nine of its past 11 games to clinch its sixth playoff appearance in seven years.
The game will feature two of the hottest scorers in the NHL.
Detroit forward Gustav Nyquist had a three-game goal streak snapped against the Sabres but has 12 goals in his past 11 games. Montreal forward Max Pacioretty had three goals and two assists in a 7-4 win on the road against the Ottawa Senators on Friday and has scored eight goals in his past seven games.
Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will start against Montreal after Jimmy Howard played Friday against Buffalo. Carey Price is likely to be the starting goaltender for the Canadiens after Peter Budaj played Friday.
"Glendening definitely earned himself a contract...now he's set up to be a Red Wing." - Mike Babcock #RedWings
"Obviously, it's very exciting to know that I get to be a part of this organization for 3 more years." - Luke Glendening #RedWings
"If you told me this would happen a year ago, I probably would've laughed." - Luke Glendening #RedWings
I wonder which player has an ice bag on his hip...
On This Day in Red Wings' History...On April 5, 1955
Ted Lindsay scores four times in the Red Wings’ 7-1 win over Montreal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals.
As well as Ken Kal's Keys to the Game:
Avoid Cute-itis - As Babcock would say, avoid "cute-itis"; don't be too fancy, play a blue collar game, do the dirty work and you'll be rewarded.
Win the Battles - The one-on-one battles and the 50/50 battles add up in the end.
Support Gustavsson - Montreal is really starting to score. Play well in front of Monster and give him some help tonight.
The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article about Glendening's contract extension...
“I’m excited, it’s a neat opportunity,” Glendening told the Free Press today. “I feel like I still have a lot to prove — it’s my first year, and even though I’m not a huge point guy, I need to produce more.”
It’s Glendening’s defense that’s endeared him to his coach. When asked 10 days ago to name the team MVP, Mike Babcock replied, “Luke Glendening” — and he was only half joking. Glendening, a former Wolverine, has been a reliable role player because of his speed and work ethic. Babcock wanted Glendening, 24, on the Wings coming out of training camp, but there wasn’t room. Steadily mounting injuries meant Glendening popped up from the minors on and off in the first half of the season, and he’s now stuck since January.
That, however, has also translated into a historical tidbit Glendening wishes he hadn’t accomplished. When he passed 45 games without a goal, he set a team record for longest among team rookie forwards without scoring. Glendening’s drought was at 51 games as the Wings headed into Montreal for tonight’s game (7 p.m., FSD, CBC).
“It’s frustrating not to score,” Glendening said. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t eat at me at times. It affects sometimes my psyche on the way I play.
“Everyone loves to score goals, you want to score goals, everyone when I go home is like, oh, have you scored? No, I haven’t. So it’s something that’s on my mind, but I just want this team to win, that’s the important thing, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to contribute by chipping one in. Right now, whether it’s a faceoff or a penalty kill, I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
MLive's Brendan Savage's game-day article offers an intriguing question--asking readers which one of the Red Wings' actual Calder Trophy-eligible rookies has been the team's best one...
The Red Wings have had eight players who made their NHL debuts this season – Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Teemu Pulkkinen, Landon Ferraro, Xavier Ouellet, Adam Almquist, Alexey Marchenko and Mitch Callahan.
Glendening and Jurco have played significant roles as Detroit has battled a rash of injuries and Glendening was rewarded Saturday, when the Red Wings signed him to a three-year contract.
They're also among four rookies who have become regulars this season, the other two being Danny DeKeyser and Riley Sheahan.
Sheahan leads the rookies with 21 points, Jurco's seven goals are tops among the first-year players, Glendening has six assists while filling a key defensive role, and DeKesyer has become one of the Red Wings' top defensemen after appearing in 11 games a year ago.
Of those four, which one has been the club's Rookie of the Year?
And Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner suggested that Jonas Gustavsson deserves some "team MVP" talk as well:
His 16-4-3 record, 2.55 goals-against average and .912 save percentage are incredible when you look at his numbers from last season -- his first in Detroit. Battling injuries a year ago, Gustavsson appeared in only seven games and posted a 2-2-1 record, 2.92 goals-against average and .879 save percentage.
Heading into this year, backup goalie was a chief concern for the Red Wings. Gustavsson was aware that his spot on the Wings wasn't a sure thing when he arrived at training camp back in September.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock even let it be known that if Gustavsson wasn't up to the task, they would find somebody who was. Sensing that his NHL career was in jeopardy, Gustavsson hired a personal trainer last summer for the first time. His stamina has always been questioned, and the lanky netminder was determined to improve his endurance and overall physical fitness.
It worked, and all parties have benefited from Gustavsson's commitment to get into better shape.
Out of the Wings' six remaining regular-season games, they play back-to-back games twice, so Gustavsson will see some action before the playoffs begin.Based on what he's done this season, it would be fitting to see him in net for the Wings' playoff-clinching game.
Even if that doesn't happen, his goaltending was a significant factor in getting them to that pinnacle.
Yes, his nickname is The Monster, but he's been anything but scary in goal. In fact, he's been Detroit's saving grace.
On the Habs' side of the ice, TSN's John Liu filed a pre-game report that you have to click on to watch, the Canadiens filed a lineup note...
And the Montreal Gazette's Dave Stubbs filed several Tweets:
Jersey-hang a #RedWings tradition dating to long-ago trainer Lefty Wilson. Players should see names first after a loss, Lefty said #HabsIO
Do this job as long as I have & few things buckle your knees. Then you walk into a perfectly still #RedWings room, winged wheels hanging
Babcock pre-game, laughing with media: "I'm just having a conversation with you because they're making me." #HabsIO #RedWings #Habs
#Isles, #NHLJets and #Canucks are scouting tonight's #Habs vs #RedWings game. Don't ask me why. #HabsIO
#RedWings Mike Babcock is tied w/ late Jack Adams at 413 W behind Detroit bench. Win makes Babcock RW's all-time winningest coach #HabsIO
Tonight is #RedWings Babcock's 700th reg-season game coaching Detroit, with 413 wins. Adams had his 413 W in 964 games #HabsIO
And just as I was about to post "submit entry"...
Quickie update: MLive's Savage just filed a Glendening article, noting that Glendning was a walk-on at the University of Michigan, where he became the team captain, and was signed to an amateur try-out by the Grand Rapids Griffins, earning a pro contract--an AHL-only deal--before earning his NHL spot with the Wings:
"Obviously it's very exciting," said Glendening, 24. "I'm excited to know I'll be a part of this organization for another three more years. But the timing is a little weird. Obviously we have some huge games coming up so I'm trying to make sure it's not a distraction."
Glendening said the obstacles he's overcome have made him the player he is today.
"I think it's just been part of the journey," said Glendening, who has yet to score his first NHL goal but has been a big part of the Red Wings as a checker and penalty killer. "Every step has been good for me and I've learned a lot every step of the way. I don't think I'd be where I am today without the things I've gone through. I'm excited to be here. I think I'd be excited to be here either way. It's a neat opportunity and I've tried to make the most of it."
He's also an East Grand Rapids native and, if you count Drew Miller (born in Dover, NJ but raised in East Lansing), he's the 5th Michigan native on the Wings' roster:
"It was always a dream of mine but when you're a kid, it's everyone's dream," he said. "As I moved up further I realized how hard it was going to be and I'm fortunate that some of the opportunities I've been blessed with. If you had of told me a couple years ago, probably in the last year, that this would be happening, I would have probably laughed. But to be in this situation, I'm excited."
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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.