The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/22/13 at 10:32 AM ET
Updated 15x with a game-day video at 3:15 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will only "control their playoff fate" if they win each and every one of their four remaining games, including tonight's tangle with the Phoenix Coyotes (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/NBC Sports Network/TSN [take note, national broadcasts in both the U.S. and Canada = Center Ice/GameCenter Live blackouts yet again]/97.1 FM, and tonight is Team Tootoo night at the Joe), and at present, it appears that there are no surprises in the personnel department given the developments at the Wings' morning skate...
FYI, part 1:
FYI, part 2, from the Wings' Facebook page:
As part of Hockeytown Thanks Fan Appreciation Week, our partners at Fox Sports Detroit bring you a ticket deal for tonight's April in the D Nick Lidstrom t-shirt giveaway night.*
You can get a pair of upper bowl tickets for $40. Call 313.471.7575 or visit the JLA Box office.
*Nick Lidstrom April in the D t-shirts are available for the first 5,000 fans and can be picked up inside Joe Louis Arena at the following giveaway locations on the concourse: 106, 112, 124, East Doors
FYI, part 3, from the Grand Rapids Griffins:
The Griffins begin their playoff quest on Friday, April 28th when they begin a best-of-5 series against the Houston Aeros;.
Things get quiet after speedy morning skates, but that's to be expected at this time of year:
Here come the quotes:
No surprises here:
Also of Wings-related note this morning:
- NBC Sports' Ryan Dadoun penned a Wings-Coyotes game preview;
- I didn't mention this in the overnight report, but USA Today's Mike Brehm notes that it's not out of the realm of possibility that the Wings could finish as high as seventh place in the Western Conference if they both win every game and receive a significant amount of help from the Minnesota Wild's opponents:
Eighth in the West: This is the biggest battle, with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes alive. The Wild's playoff position isn't safe. Though the Blue Jackets have a three-point edge in eighth place, they have two games left. The Red Wings have four, the Stars three and the Coyotes four. The Red Wings hold the key with games against the Coyotes and Stars.
- EA Sports' NHL 2014 cover vote is going on right now, with voting as to which one of two possible players will represent the NHL's 30 teams slated to take place between today and Sunday, April 28th. Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard are the Wings' possible representatives.
The press release reads something like this, and the voting website's address is http://covervote.nhl.com/
The voting process will consist of two preliminary rounds, followed by a 16-player bracket as a field of 60 NHL players is narrowed down to one. The winning player will be revealed as the EA SPORTS NHL® 14 Cover Athlete during the 2013 Stanley Cup® Final*. Fans worldwide are encouraged to vote as often as possible at NHL.com/CoverVote to ensure their favorite player advances through the rounds.
This year fans can double their voting power by using these player specific hash tags on “Twitter Vote Thursdays.” Each player specific hashtag used on Twitter on Thursdays will be counted as two official votes. Fans can join the conversation about the cover vote every day by using #NHL14CoverVote on Twitter and Instagram.
NHL 14 Cover Vote Schedule:
· Round of 60 – April 22-28: Teammate vs. teammate. One representative from each team plus two wild card selections advance.**
· 32-Player Leaderboard – April 29-May 5: Fans vote for their favorite 16 candidates; top 16 vote-getters advance.
· 16-player Bracket – May 6 - May 26: Weekly round-by-round, single-elimination playoff bracket decides finalists.
· The Finals – May 27- June 2: Winner takes the NHL 14 Cover.
- And holy crap, if you think that any particular NHL team's goal horn and/or celebratory song is particularly offensive, check out the Halifax Mooseheads' clip of the noise and fury accompanying Martin Frk's double OT winner in Halifax's 5-4 win over Rouyn-Noranda on Sunday (Halifax leads its QMJHL Conference Final 2-0), per Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager:
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff posted a clip of Babcock's presser:
Update #1.5: The NHL's Game Day Blog states the obvious about the Wings' lineup for this evening:
When the Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes take the ice Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN) at Joe Louis Arena, both teams will be desperate for two points.
The Red Wings enter the game ninth in the Western Conference, three points behind the eighth-place Columbus Blue Jackets. The Coyotes are 11th, five points behind the Blue Jackets.
The Red Wings will use just about the identical lineup they went with Saturday in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks. The only change is on the fourth line, where Patrick Eaves replaces Drew Miller. Miller is out with a broken right hand sustained during the game Saturday.
Here is how the Red Wings will look Monday:
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Daniel Cleary
Gustav Nyquist - Joakim Andersson - Damien Brunner
Patrick Eaves - Cory Emmerton - Jordin Tootoo
Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey - Brendan Smith
Danny DeKeyser - Jakub Kindl
Injured: Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back), Drew Miller (hand), Mikael Samuelsson (pectoral)
Scratched: Brian Lashoff, Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White, Jared Coreau
Update #2. ESPN's Scott Burnside offers a worrisome stat in discussing the Wings' situation in his power rankings...
18. Detroit [record] 20-16-8 Last Week: 14 The Wings have not won two in a row in almost a month. No wonder it's nervous time in Hockeytown while Detroit tries to keep its monumental playoff streak alive.
MLive's Ansar Khan and Brendan Savage's game-day debate isn't much of a debate as Khan thinks that the Wings can make the playoffs and Savage thinks they won't. Depending on the hour, my opinion certainly changes...
ANSAR KHAN: I was fairly confident the Red Wings would make the playoffs after they won back-to-back games at Anaheim and then beat Phoenix on March 25 for their fifth consecutive road win, as they appeared to have turned the corner.
But, they've gone 3-5-3 since, and are close to missing the playoffs at any time since 1990. They have squandered far too many points that were there for the taking. When all is said and done, the loss that might sting the most was last Thursday's 3-2 setback in Calgary, when Steve Begin scored on a couple of botched plays in the third period.
And while the Red Wings control their own destiny, it's asking too much of this team to win four games in a six nights when it hasn't won more than three in a row all season.
The key is Columbus' game at Dallas Thursday. The Red Wings need the Stars to win, preferably in regulation. That would enable Detroit to finish ahead of the Blue Jackets if the Red Wings earn at least five points, including one regulation/overtime win, which they should.
Couple that with a Stars' regulation loss either Tuesday in San Jose or Saturday at home vs. Detroit, and the Red Wings are in.
I think it's doable.
But there are some constants in this world:
Thank you, Al Sobotka, thank you.
Update #3: The Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke to the Wings' players about the destiny-controling business:
“Essentially, it’s all up to us,” Detroit defenceman Jonathan Ericsson said. “If we win the rest of our games, we’re going to be in.”
Simple math proves that Ericsson is correct. Four wins would give Detroit 56 points. Columbus, currently holding the eighth seed with 51 points, has just two games remaining, and one of them is against the Dallas Stars, currently even with the Wings at 48 points. Detroit closes out its regular-season action Saturday at Dallas. The Stars have just three games remaining. If they lose to the Wings, the maximum points they could garner would be 52. The Coyotes, with 46 points, would need to sweep their final four games and get help from somebody else to earn a playoff spot.
At this point, the Wings still don’t require assistance if they take care of their own work.
“It’s nice to know we do (control their own destiny), but that doesn’t mean anything’s a given,” Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. “We have to go out and get the job done. It’s not going to be easy.”
The reality is that Detroit must find some offence to make that happen. The Wings have scored only 10 goals in their last six games.
“Of course we’re trying to score goals, but the other night (Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Vancouver), the puck didn’t really want to go in,” Ericsson said. “It bounced, we got a lot of rebounds but we just weren’t there at the right time to put them in and get those quick second chances. That was just one of those nights. But if we’re going to play like that the remaining four nights, I think we’ll be fine.”
And he gave Kronwall a "Quote of the Day" designation for the following:
Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall on their playoff hopes.
“We’re in the standings where we’re at for a reason,” Kronwall said. “We have to live in the now and make sure to find a way through it.”
Update #5: FYI:
And you might find this Wings-and-Canucks-assessment Vancouver Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said to the Vancouver Sun's Iain MacIntyre to be somewhat fitting:
"In this city, no one is happy if we're not winning," Henrik said. "We know that. But there have been very few games this year where you know the fans and the media and the players are all happy. We try not to listen to the fans and media.
"If you look at Detroit and the team they have, they knew they were going to have to fight for a playoff spot. But everyone thinks they're having a terrible year. It's the same thing here. (That perception) is something we have to fight in here on a daily basis."
Update #7: The Red Wings website's Game Day Blog offers a historical note...
On This Day in Red Wings History...On April 22, 2007
Johan Franzen scores the double-overtime winner to top the Flames in Game 6 and advance the Wings to the Western Conference semifinals
And Ken Kal's Keys to the Game...
Block Out the Fatigue Factor - The first game back after a road trip is always tough on a team. Find the energy fast and come out of the gate hard.
Find Ways to Score - Detroit had 72 shots in their last 2 games, but only 3 goals to show for their effort. If they keep shooting the puck it will go in, but time is ticking away and they have to do it now.
Play with Urgency - This is the final week of the season. With Columbus winning last night, the Red Wings are 3 points out of the playoffs. Start playing playoff hockey now. Every shift counts. Win the battles and go in with the 'win or go home' mindset.
Per the Red Wings website's game notes, Dan O'Rourke and Kyle Rehman will referee tonight's game, and Scott Cherrey and David Brisebois will work the lines..
And, for whatever reason, the Wings' website posted a "Best of Games 17-31" video on Saturday evening:
On the Coyotes' side of the ice...
And she posted a video of coach Babcock, Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall discussing the team's tasks at hand:
Update #9: The Coyotes' website posted Tippett's morning presser in Flash audio form, and the ever-charming Fox Sports Arizona broadcaster Tyson Nash Tweeted that he'll be on Yahoo Sports' Marek vs. Wyshynski broadcast this afternoon...
And the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's filed his game-day article:
"It's a big game for them and it's a big one for us — it should be exciting," coach Mike Babcock said. "Games around the league are pretty competitive right now. I don't expect this to be anything different."
Monday night's game is the start of a three-game home stand (Los Angeles Wednesday, Nashville Thursday) before the Red Wings close out the regular season Saturday in Dallas.
This is a different set of circumstances for the Red Wings, who have made the playoffs 21 consecutive seasons. Making it 22 years in a row will take a little doing.
"There's been pressure all along, every game has been kind of a playoff game," forward Justin Abdelkader said. "We have games on them (Columbus has played two more games than the Red Wings), and it's nice to know, but it doesn't mean anything is a given. We have to get the job done and it's not going to be easy. We need a whole team effort."
Update #10: The Red Wings' website posted some morning skate quips and quotes...
“Essentially, it’s all up to us. If we win the rest of our games, we’re going to be in. It’s up to us.”- Jonathan Ericsson
“We just have to play hard… just play hard because we are in a race, they are in a race. They are going to come out of the gate hard and they will play hard and play like it’s a playoff game too. It’s going to be a very exciting match.”- Jakub Kindl
“It’s exciting times and everyone is huge, obviously. It’s fun hockey to play, it’s playoff hockey and it’s tight out there. Everyone knows what’s at stake and we want to be prepared, for sure.”- Gustav Nyquist
“It feels like it’s the playoffs right now. That’s the type of urgency it feels like. You have to win every game to stay in. That’s how it is for us right now. If we don’t win, we’re not going to be in.”- Jonathan Ericsson
“We all know the position we’re in and obviously as a hockey player you want to be in a position where you control your own destiny"- Justin Abdelkader
“We have games in hand on all of them…We just have to play well on our home ice and take care of business.”- Justin Abdelkader
“We still have to do the job out there. Sure we’re somewhat in an OK spot right now, but every point is huge. We have to find a way through it.”- Niklas Kronwall
Update #11: NHL.com's Dave Lozo's last "Super 16" power rankings do not include the Wings...
Michigan Hockey noted the Michigan connections to EA Sports' potential NHL 14 cover athletes;
And the Grand Rapids Griffins' Twitter account points us toward an article in which the Grand Rapids Business Journal's David Czurak reports that the Griffins earned a significant chunk of change thanks to their winning ways:
On the ice, the 17th season for the Grand Rapids Griffins was a good one: The team qualified for the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009.
It was a good season for the business office, too. The Griffins finished fourth in attendance in the 30-team league by drawing roughly 290,000 to its home games at Van Andel Arena. The club averaged more than 7,600 paying customers per game, topping much larger markets such as Houston, Milwaukee and hockey-crazed Toronto in ticket sales.
“We thought that midway through the season this team could be special. They’re a very good hockey team, well coached with veteran leadership and good character in the room. In early December, the team was in first place and has been there ever since,” said Tim Gortsema, Griffins senior vice president of business operations....
That fit and a strong season, despite consistent player call-ups to the Wings, led to the attendance figure — and not just on weekends. Winning Wednesdays drew more than 5,000 to the arena this past year when 3,000 was the norm in previous seasons.
“Overall, it was great and was awesome on so many different fronts. In terms of the hockey team, we’ve had a good one that has been competitive all year. So that has been first and foremost. From a ticket-sales standpoint, any of our metrics, I would say, are up,” said Gortsema.
“Ticket sales are up probably 7 percent, corporate sales are up 7 or 8 percent. For the first time in the franchise’s history, we’ll do $1 million in group ticket sales, which is a phenomenal threshold to hit. This will be our third consecutive year of attendance increase and it’ll be six out of the last seven,” he added.“There is only one other team in the American Hockey League that has a better long-term trend line than us. So of the 30 teams in the AHL, Hershey (Pa.) will have an attendance increase this year, and that will be 10 out of 10 for them. After Hershey, we would be the next highest in consistent growth pattern.”
Gortsema said Friday home games probably were the best attended, with the highly popular $1 beer and $1 hot dog promotion from 6-8 p.m. leading the turnstile charge. Saturday games, which also were loaded with promotions, came in a close second. “It’s a weekend-driven league,” he said.
The beer and hot dog promotion will continue at all home playoff games, but the price will rise to $2. Playoff tickets also will go up by $1. It’s an increase the AHL mandates because the players get paid from gate receipts during the Calder Cup run.
Update #12: Yup:
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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.