The Malik Report
Red Wings early overnight report: Babcock dissects Wings’ problems; on hockey bios & Star Wars Night
by George Malik on 10/28/13 at 08:29 PM ET
Updated 3x at 2:16 AM: Some of this will be a bit repetitious, but there's a reason for it: it appears that no one captured what Red Wings coach Mike Babcock had to say after the Red Wings' practice on Monday, and that's disappointing--because Babcock very bluntly critiqued both his players and his coaching staff's performance over the past four games, essentially outlining a) what he believes his team's doing wrong and b) what the team needs to do to snap its 4-game winless streak.
The Detroit News's David Goricki captured the vast majority of Babcock's comments...
"When I look at our team play, if I came from the outside and watched our team play I'd say they didn't have a coach, and that hurts my feelings," Babcock said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. "But, it's the fact and I told the guys that today. We're not organized. We're not efficient.
"Face-off plays -- during a stoppage it's like football. You should be able to execute off a stoppage. You have to know what you're doing. So, we asked again, do we know what we're doing? Yeah, we know what we're doing. Well then, we better darn well do it."
Babcock went on and on about other areas of the game, asking players, "Do you know what you're doing?" The players' reply, "Yes, we do."
Babcock wants the Red Wings to tighten up defensively and take more shots at the offensive end.
"Let's work harder, let's work smarter, let's be more efficient, let's get more prepared and let's pay a price to win," Babcock said. "And, we don't score any goals, at least as far as I have seen. So let's not give up 40 shots, let's give up 20 shots, let's win 2-1.
"You can't continue to give up 40 shots a night and hope you're going to win. I said it earlier when we were winning with (Jonas) Gustavsson in the net there: It was fool's gold, and that's exactly what it is. There's a right way to play and a wrong way to play and we're cheating the system and we're paying for it."
And MLive's Ansar Khan offered a slightly different but no less noteworthy Babcockian take on the team's issues in an evening column:
“If I’m coming in from the outside and watched our team play, I’d say they didn’t have a coach,’’ Babcock said. “That hurts my feelings, but that’s a fact. I told that to the team today, we’re not organized enough, we’re not efficient. When I go watch a team play and they don’t play well, I go, ‘I wonder what they’re doing out there.’ ’’
Even when the Red Wings were 6-2, including wins at Boston and Colorado, Babcock didn’t believe they were playing the right way, calling the record “fool’s gold’’ and knew it could catch up to them.
“There’s a right way to play and a wrong way to play,’’ he said. “We’re cheating the system and we’re paying for it. We don’t spend enough time in the O-zone because we’re too light on the puck. We don’t get enough shots because we won’t shoot the puck. We don’t get through the neutral zone good because we don’t execute.’’
That’s not a lot of positives, but he added, “When I go through the tape, rewind it, fast forward and back and forth, we’re not that far away, but we’re a million miles away if we don’t execute, and that’s us right now.’’
Babcock's players agree with their coach, as Jimmy Howard told Khan...
“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,’’ goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We’re making a lot of silly mistakes and they’re costing us games.’’
And the Red Wings' captain was blunt about the fact that words matter little at this stage of the game:
“There’s no big panic button that is pushed,’’ captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It doesn’t matter what we say, it doesn’t matter how many meetings we have, it doesn’t matter what we’re telling the other guys to do, everyone has to look at themselves and do a better job. In the end, we’re going to be fine. We are a good team and we will play like a good team. We just got to stick together and believe in what we’re doing.’’
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted Babcock's take as to where the Wings are faltering...
“The bottom line is the second period is the hardest period,” Babcock added. “When we’re playing good it’s where we always eat the other team alive. They can’t get their people on the ice and we wear them out. We gave up 10 scoring chances. When you think of our team, we don’t execute coming out of our own zone so we spend too much time in our own zone in the second period and that means you end up out there tired.
As well as his take on the team's inability to score goals...
“We don’t score any goals, at least not what I’ve seen so let’s not give up 40 shots, let’s give up 20 shots, let’s continue to score no goals and let’s win 2-1,” Babcock said. “How’s about that. Sound like a plan.”
Babcock ended his interview with a CliffsNotes version of how his team has been, “We’re not very good right now, we’re going to be.”
And Pleiness also noted Babcock's take on the team's personnel issues--Jonathan Ericsson's already out due to a partially dislocated shoulder; Drew Miller left practice early due to "the flu"; and Johan Franzen's "unspecified injury" prompted the team to recall Luke Glendening from Grand Rapids ahead of the team's Western Canadian Swing through Vancouver (on Wednesday), Calgary (on Friday), Edmonton (on Saturday) and Winnipeg (on Monday), though it's expected that Franzen will only miss one game:
“I’m not even thinking about that,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said when asked about [Darren] Helm’s status. “When they tell me he can play. He didn’t look like he was playing to me today.”
Babcock didn’t reveal what his lines would be against the Canucks, but did say Patrick Eaves will be in the lineup.
“Eaves will be playing,” Babcock said. “He’s smart and he shoots the puck cause we don’t shoot the puck I need someone to shoot the puck and I need someone smart. If he’s looking at the bigger picture and if he’s looking for a larger chunk of cheese there’s lots out there cause lots of guys have left it out there for him.”
If Eaves doesn't earn his "chunk of cheese," when the Wings activate Darren Helm, they're going to have to move a player off the roster (Glendening's recall is likely accommodated by placing Ericsson on the IR) and clear cap space, so both Tootoo and Eaves may be endangered species at present.
Khan reported that the Wings employed the following lines in practice...
Center Luke Glendening was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins, but did not skate after playing three games in three days.
Here are the lines they skated with today, but Babcock indicated this isn’t necessarily how they’ll line up on Wednesday:
Tomas Tatar-Pavel Datsyuk-Daniel Cleary
Justin Abdelkader-Henrik Zetterberg-Daniel Alfredsson
(Darren Helm working in on the top two lines)
Todd Bertuzzi-Joakim Andersson-Patrick Eaves
Mikael Samuelsson (for Drew Miller)-Stephen Weiss-Jordin Tootoo
The defense pairs remained the same:
Niklas Kronwall-Brendan Smith
Danny DeKeyser-Kyle Quincey
Brian Lashoff-Jakub Kindl
And Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner took note of Zetterberg's comments...
"No one is happy with the way we’re playing, and we’re just trying to do the right things out there," Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "But when you start losing -- three, four games in a row -- everything just builds up. And parts that aren’t that bad become really bad, and you focus on the wrong stuff. We need a win. If we get a win, everything becomes a lot easier."
Zetterberg also said that the Wings never will press the panic button because they thrive on the pressure of playing in a city and for an organization that settles for nothing but the best from their hockey team.
"In the end, we’re going to be fine," Zetterberg said. "We are a good team, and we will play like a good team."
The revolving personnel door...
Forward Johan Franzen won't play Wednesday night in Vancouver because of an undisclosed injury. Babcock told reporters that Franzen will be re-evaluated after Wednesday and could be ready for Friday night's game in Calgary.
With Franzen out of the lineup, the Wings have recalled Luke Glendening from Grand Rapids. Babcock is unsure if Glendening will play Wednesday; however, Babcock did say that forward Patrick Eaves will make his season debut against the Canucks.
"I’m sick of watching hockey," [Eaves] said. "Ready to play. Hopefully, I can jump in and help the team a little bit."
And he noted that Darren Helm's making slow but steady progress as he recovers from a groin injury. Helm hopes to return during the Western Canadian trip, and given that he's a native of Selkirk, Manitoba, I'd imagine that he really wants to get into the Wings-Jets game:
"I feel good," Helm said. "Had a good skate (Saturday). Get a couple more good ones Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, see what happens Friday."
Otherwise...In Sweden, Mattias Janmark scored 2 goals, took 5 shots, finished at +2 and played 21:50 in AIK Stockholm's 5-3 win over the Vaxjo Lakers. AIK rallied from a 3-1 deficit;
Closer to home, and in promotional news: near the Doylestown-Buckingham-NewBritain Patch's (the newspaper's real name) Kara Seymour reports that Mark Howe will be signing copies of a new autobiography--one I didn't know he'd written--in Doylestown, PA (about 30 miles north of Philadelphia) Sunday, November 3rd:
A former Philadelphia Flyer and Hall of Fame hockey player will be signing books in Doylestown this weekend. Mark Howe will be signing copies of his new autobiography, “Gordie Howe's Son: A Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey” Sunday at the Doylestown Bookshop.
Howe will be at the local store from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Howe, who went on to play seven seasons alongside his father, Gordie, and brother, Marty, was a four-time NHL All-Star with the Philadelphia Flyers.
In Howe’s autobiography, he describes his experiences as an Olympic silver medalist at age 16 and a member of the Memorial Cup champion Toronto Marlboros.
Howe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. He had a 22-year professional hockey career.
"Recollections of teammates, injuries, game experiences, deaths and his life as a child athlete make 'Gordie Howe's Son: A Hall of Fame Life in the Shadow of Mr. Hockey' a must-read for all hockey fans," according to the book description.
Howe is currently the director of pro scouting for the Detroit Red Wings and lives in New Jersey.
The Doylestown Bookshop is located at 16 S Main St., Doylestown.
According to Amazon.com, the book comes out on November 1st, and it was co-written by the Philadelphia Daily News's Jay Greenberg. It also includes a foreword from Wayne Gretzky;
Darren McCarty's book, "My Last Fight: the True Story of a Hockey Rock Star" was co-written by USA Today's Kevin Allen, and it's coming out on December 1st;
I did not know this, but the Windsor Star's Bob Duff co-wrote "Marcel Pronovost: A Life in Hockey," and while Pronovost is a scout for the New Jersey Devils, he lives in Windsor and is arguably one of the Red Wings' best-ever defensemen. The Pronovost biography's been out for a year;
And as reported on Saturday, we should expect "5: A Salute to Nicklas Lidstrom" to be ready for March 6th's Lidstrom jersey retirement ceremony, and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose wrote "5";
In promotional news of a different sort, the Toledo Walleye report that they're celebrating "Star Wars Night" on November 2nd by wearing special commemorative jerseys:
The battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Dark Side will take to the Huntington Center ice on 'Star Wars Night', Saturday, November 2. The Walleye will wear "X-Wing Pilot"-themed jerseys and the Kalamazoo Wings will be wear "Darth Vader"-themed jerseys!
Both teams jerseys will be auctioned off immediately following the game. Proceeds from the Walleye "X-Wing Pilot" jerseys will benefit the National MS Society. Proceeds from the Kalamazoo "Darth Vader" jerseys will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
More out-of-this-world Star Wars fun on Saturday, November 2:
- Fans are encouraged to come in their best Star Wars outfits and prizes will be awarded to the best costume
- Special Star Wars-themed dining options to include Chewbacca Bacon Burger, Jedi Juice, Yoda Soda, and more
- Star Wars-themed video board elements and sounds will be taking place throughout the game
- Star Wars characters - including Chewbacca, Stormtroopers, Biker Scouts, Tusken Raiders, Clones and Jedi - will be available for fan photos on the main concourse
- Much more!
Image courtesy of the Toledo Walleye
And I suppose this is inevitable: Three lists of power rankings came out today. I already posted ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's assessment of the Wings, which reads as follows:
14. Detroit [record] 6-4-2 [down] 4 Last Week: 10 Ooof, a four-game slide has fans with long faces in Hockeytown, USA. Stephen Weiss with only two goals and no assists in 12 games.
This evening, TSN's Scott Cullen weighed in--and it should be noted that the four teams Cullen ranks ahead of the Red Wings have losing records:
This Week: 20 Last Week: 17 Detroit Red Wings [record] 6-4-2
Winless in four, the Red Wings have a major issue with their lack of production from the supporting cast. Beyond their top three forwards (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson, by minutes and points), Johan Franzen is the only one with more than four points in 12 games, and he has five.
Key Injuries: D Jonathan Ericsson (upper body).
And CBS Sports' Brian Stubits also posited a slate of power rankings:
15 [Red Wings] [Down 6, Last Week 9] The Wings have lost four straight, being outscored 15-5. Fortunately they still got two points out of it. Stephen Weiss thus far has been a big disappointment.
Technically, it should be, "Stephen Weiss has been a big disappointment thus far," but what do I know. Despite my numerous conscious grammatical and syntactic errors, I do actually write these entries spending significant amounts of effort making sure that they "read well," making sure that I've picked the proper nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositions (as well as prepositional objects--I believe that much of "advanced English writing" consists of mastering prepositional phrases), and making sure that there's some sort of narrative flow to what I've cobbled together.
This is an unfinished work, however--I'll be adding more news overnight if that's OK with you--so I'll teporarily call this a "night" with a quartet of noteworthy Tweets:
Update: The Free Press's George Sipple penned another article about the coach's self-critique. From afar...
“I’d say they didn’t have a coach,” Babcock said. “OK, that hurts my feelings. But it’s a fact. I told the guys that today. We’re not organized enough to look like we’re — we’re not efficient. When I go watch a team play and they don’t play well, I go, ‘I wonder what they’re doing out there?’ ”
Babcock has been wondering about his own team and he reiterated a few important points over practice Monday, before the team left for a trip to western Canada that begins Wednesday at Vancouver. Babcock said he asked the players whether they knew what they were supposed to do in certain situations and was told they knew what to do.
“Well, then we better darn well do it,” Babcock said. “We don’t look good enough. So let’s work harder, let’s work smarter, let’s be more efficient, let’s get more prepared, let’s pay a price to win.”
Babcock said the team can’t continue to give up 40 shots, as it has done recently. He’d prefer the Wings cut down the opposition’s shots to around 20 a game. More than anything he stressed the need to be harder to play against.
“The second period’s the hardest period,” Babcock said. “When we’re playing good, it’s where we always eat the other team alive. They can’t get their people on the ice and we wear ’em out. We don’t execute coming out of our own zone, so we spend too much time coming out of our own zone. In the second period, that means you end up out there tired. We don’t spend enough time in the O-zone because we’re too light on the puck. We don’t get enough shots because we won’t shoot the puck. We don’t come through the neutral zone good, we don’t execute.”
In the Twitter department:
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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.