The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/10/13 at 10:48 AM ET
Updated 11x at 3:10 PM: The Red Wings begin a difficult stretch of 5 games in 7 nights against an angry Phoenix Coyotes team this evening (7 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/NHL Network/97.1 FM), and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa reports that the Wings took to the ice early for their morning skate:
Oof, talk about two thirds full...
Tis the usual...
Khan also noted the Wings' power play issues (0 for 8) and the season re-set in an early-morning article...
“It’s almost like we’re starting the season over again with three (games) in four (days) and then four days without a game,’’ Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “But we’re looking forward to play again, and every time we play against Phoenix it’s good games.’’
This will be the Red Wings’ first game against a Western Conference opponent.
The Coyotes did not undergo many changes after missing the playoffs last season, finishing 10th in the conference, five points behind Detroit. Their most notable addition was playmaking center Mike Ribeiro, a player the Red Wings were interested in had they not landed Stephen Weiss. Ribeiro, who averaged slightly more than a point a game with Washington (49 points in 48 games) does not have a point in three games with Phoenix.
Coyotes longtime captain Shane Doan also is off to a slow start with no points. Goaltender Mike Smith has a 3.40 goals-against average and .904 save percentage.
...The Red Wings are 0-for-8 on the power play and, after going 7-for-7 on the penalty kill in their opener, have allowed three power-play goals in the past two games.
“It’s still early in the season, so you want to get the core things looked after,’’ Zetterberg said. “We want to have good structure, we want to do the right things and obviously the special teams as always have to be better,’’ Zetterberg said. “I think the first two games the PP was OK. We didn’t score any, but we created lots of chances. It was a little dip in Boston. We weren’t very good at all and we want to be better (Thursday).”
The Coyotes are 9-for-14 on the penalty kill.
“Obviously, they have good goaltending and they play a good system,’’ Zetterberg said. “You really can’t give them too much. They’re good when they get the odd-man rushes and you have to take care of the puck and play our system well and we will do fine.”
Phoenix Coyotes at Detroit Red Wings - Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was none too pleased after what transpired Tuesday night, and rightfully so. In the second of its five-game road trip, Phoenix was blown out in a 6-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Mike Smith was pulled after the second period, having allowed five goals on 20 shots. Detroit came out of the gate with back-to-back victories before dropping a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bruins last Saturday. Henrik Zetterberg leads the way for the Red Wings with two goals and an assist.
Howard will wear the mask, along with some new pink-trimmed Vaughn equipment, as part of the Red Wings annual Breast Cancer Awareness Night at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
Howard’s pink Vaughn equipment from the game is set to be auctioned off to benefit Detroit-area cancer organizations, and there’s bound to be plenty of interest. In addition to being for a great cause, with the Red Wings logos shaded subtly in white and grey behind the pink ribbons, it’s one of the best fundraising masks we’ve seen in a long time, if not ever. So kudos to Howard for the idea, and to Bishop for making it pop.
“Howie wanted the mask to have a large pink ribbon with a white background, so it could be seen and recognized from the stands easily,” Bishop told InGoal. “He was also looking for a way to incorporate the Wings logo – or elements of it – without them being the main focus of the design, so I sort of took it from there and ghosted in the Wings from the logo behind the large ribbon. I went with a pearl white base with sparkles and also ghosted in some smaller ribbons around the mask to sweeten things up a bit. I added the ribbon on the chin with the Old English “D” to further tie it in with the Red Wings, and to top things off we went with another pink ribbon on the back plate to bring it all home. All in all, I hope that it attracts a lot of attention on the ice this Saturday for their Cancer Awareness Game.”
And I'm no fan of power rankings, but Sportsnet's Luke Fox posted a set of 'em. Here's what he has to say about the Wings:
8 Detroit Red Wings: Taking two of three games against their new opponents in the East, Detroit (now with even more Swedes!) is looking like a solid middle-of-the-pack playoff team.
Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov comeback fan:
Update #2: Via RedWingsFeed again, NHL.com posted two quick quips of a conversation NHL.com's Kathryn Tappen had with Jimmy Howard, first about Daniel Alfredsson...
And then a question about the Winter Classic alumni games:
Update #2.25: Awkward:
Update #5: The Free Press's Helene St. James confirms the lineup and adds some quips from Babcock...
The Wings have been off since Saturday, which has afforded an opportunity to have two good, long practices, where the emphasis has been on the right way to play.
"We feel we've played light the first three games," coach Mike Babcock said after today’s morning skate. "We've got to be way heavier."
The Coyotes, coached by Dave Tippett, ride in on a two-game losing streak during which they've surrendered 10 goals and scored just twice. But the Wings can't take them for granted, of course.
"They've got a real mobile back end," Babcock said, citing Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Keith Yandle, David Rundblad and David Schlemko, who anchor a defense that can really move the puck. Mike Smith is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound behemoth in goal, and up front, Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan and Mikkel Boedker highlight an offense that has more potential than shown so far.
"They've got a good-looking team," Babcock said. "The last two games haven't gone the way they wanted. I've coached against Tippett a long time, and he does a real good job. They're not going to be playing like that for very long."
As well as something of a scouting report from Chris Osgood:
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose noted that the Wings are wary of a "trap" game...
“The last two games haven’t gone the way they wanted,” Babcock said. “I’ve coached against Tipper (Phoenix coach Dave Tippett) for a long time and he does a real good job and they’re not going to be playing like that for long.”
This week’s hiatus is the first of three four-day breaks the Red Wings will have prior to the league’s shutdown for the Winter Olympics in February. Will the layoff help or hurt the Red Wings?
“Well, I don’t know if rust is a concern,” Babcock said. “Our big thing is take advantage when they give you rest. Obviously, we would have liked not to play back to back. … We’ve had a chance to work on our game here and give our guys an opportunity to get fresh. We need to get started on time tonight and play a good game. We’ve got to improve as a team.”
For a veteran like Daniel Alfredsson, the schedule in an Olympic year is nothing new, and the Wings still need to use is as a positive.
“I think it’s a good situation. We played three games, now we had time to work on the things we needed to work on,” Alfredsson said. “It gives us a chance to evaluate and get some practice time. We know this year there’s the Olympic break for most of the guys. It’s always been like this. October is slow, November and December get a little busier and then it’s really hectic in January and February and March. You kind of know how to deal with everything. I think it’s very important to look at the positive side of it. We’re not the only team that’s going through this. Everybody is in the same boat, so make the most of it.”
As for tonight’s game, aside from right wing Radim Vrbata who recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 season-opening win over the New York Rangers, the Wings are in for a challenge against the Coyotes’ young lineup.
“Obviously, a real mobile back end, I mean, (Oliver) Ekman-Larsson I think is a real good player,” Babcock said. “(Keith) Yandle can really skate. (David) Rundblad looks like he’s going to be a player. (David) Schlemko they can move the puck on the back. (Mike) Smith can really move the puck and is a huge goaltender when he’s dialed in. Solid down the middle suddenly with (Martin) Hanzal, (Mike) Ribeiro and (Antoine) Vermette, should be real solid. They’ve got a real good looking team.”
And here's the Wings' game-day preview video:
Update #9: The Coyotes' game notes have Paul Devorski and Rob Martell reffing the game, and Ryan Galloway and Greg Devorski working the lines...
Both Morgan and the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan believe that Chris Summers has been waived to make room for Rostislav Klesla's return...
And here's the thrust of Kathryn Tappen's conversation with Jimmy Howard:
Update #9.5: Good news about Gustavsson per St. James:
The Wings will need Gustavsson to be ready on Tuesday if that's possible.
And he noted the phrase of the day from coach Babcock in "playing heavy":
“I don’t know if rust is a concern,” Babcock said. “Our big thing is take advantage when they give you rest. Obviously, we would have liked not to play back-to-back, to practice day and then play and have a day off and a practice day. That’s just not how the schedule works. We’ve had a chance to work on our game here and give our guys an opportunity to get fresh. We need to get started on time tonight and play a good game. We’ve got to improve as a team.”
During the practice time between games the Wings worked on the grind part of the game.
“Being heavy in both zones,” Babcock said. “You can’t work on it as hard in practice just because you can’t wear each other out, where we’ve been able to do that, which is real important for our team. We feel we’ve played light in our first three games and got to play way heavier.”
Update #11: Neat stat:
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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.