The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/02/13 at 05:59 PM ET
This afternoon produced another entry-worthy crop of Red Wings-related news, and we'll lead things off with yet another bit of recognition for Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha, who was named to Canada's World Junior Selection Camp roster today (as was Jake Paterson). Per the QMJHL, and via RedWingsFeed:
Monday, December 2, 2013 - Émile Poirier, Domenic Graham and Anthony Mantha were name the TELUS three stars of the week today for November 25 to December 1st.
In 3 games on the road with the Val-d’Or Foreurs, Anthony Mantha is the third star of the week. He scored 5 goals and added an assist, while maintaining a +5 rating. Friday in the first of three straight wins this weekend, the Foreurs had 5-3 victory in Saint John. Mantha made 10 shots on goal including his 26th goal of the season. Saturday in a 6-2 win against Moncton, he scored what proved to be the winning goal, completing the game with 2 points. Finally on Sunday, he got his fourth 3 goal game of the season in a 6-1 win over Acadie-Bathurst. His point production this season is now 30 goals and 32 assists in 28 games, making him the leading point getter with 62 points; a 15 point lead over his nearest rival Jonathan Drouin (HAL | 47 ).
Sticking with "future Wings," HockeysFuture's Adam Schnepp posited a list of the best Red Wings prospects not yet playing professional hockey, and this trio of prospects has really stood out to me over the course of the last six-or-so months:
Marc McNulty, D, Prince George Cougars
Acquired: 6th round (169th overall) in 2013
Though he may stand 6'6, McNulty's biggest asset is not his height; it is his stick checking skill. The surprisingly nimble defenseman needs to work on his defensive positioning, but his stick skill allows him to be out of position and still make a play on the puck. McNulty has six goals and 14 points in 26 games, leading the Cougars defensemen in both goals and points. Like fellow 2013 draft choice Mitch Wheaton, McNulty has until 2015 to be signed to a contract.
Andreas Athanasiou, LW, Barrie Colts
Acquired: 4th round (110th overall) in 2012
Athanasiou has harnessed the speed and skills that he has always had and pulled them into a more consistent, cohesive package in 2013-14. The Red Wings organization seems to agree with this sentiment, as Athanasiou was signed to a three-year, entry-level contract in November 2013.
The 2012-13 season saw a sort of rejuvenation in Athanasiou's career after being traded from London to the Barrie Colts, as he produced 67 points in 66 games. Athanasiou is on an even more torrid scoring pace in 2013-14, netting 12 goals and 20 assists in 26 games. His world-class speed is his best asset and is responsible for creating some of his offensive opportunities, but Athanasiou does have good, balanced offensive instincts. He can shoot and set up teammates, skills that should serve him well when he turns pro.
Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, Guelph Storm
Acquired: 2nd round (58th overall) in 2013
Many questioned why Detroit would take a player ranked 207th by Central Scouting with the 58th overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, but the potential that the Red Wings saw in Bertuzzi is already starting to shine through.
Bertuzzi is an agitating winger, and as recently as Detroit's summer development camp, he showed that he sometimes crossed the line and picked the wrong spots to display his penchant for physical play. That has changed over the course of the regular season, as Bertuzzi has shown a far more well-rounded game. Bertuzzi is a good passer, and while his shot is not spectacular, it is sufficiently powerful. The staple of his game is still forechecking, but Bertuzzi's offensive upside has been readily apparent in 2013-14. Offensive and defensive skills have come together nicely for Bertuzzi, who has seven goals and 25 assists in 26 games.
Shifting focus to the more immediate future, the Hockeytown Winter Festival, the Alumni Showdown and the Winter Classic itself aren't far off, as illustrated by HBO 24/7's four promos released today, and a pair of Tweets popped up reminding us that time's drawing nigh...
And DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson reports that Kris Draper's training camp for the Alumni Showdown got underway at Joe Louis Arena today, and they entertained a special guest:
One by one they stepped onto the ice – Chris Chelios, John Ogrodnick, Larry Murphy, Dino Ciccarelli, Jason Woolley, Jiri Fischer, Kris Draper, Eddie Mio, Mickey Redmond, Joe Kocur, Doug Brown, Paul Ysebaert. With only 29 days until the Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings Alumni Showdown, these former Red Wings reported for practice at The Joe Monday morning. It was go time.
“I thought guys looked good,” said Draper, who organized the practice. “No matter what you do in the gym or whatever you do, there’s nothing like training skating legs. I think we’re probably going to try to skate about 2-3 times per week right up to the Classic. Guys want to do it, guys are excited about it, Al Sobotka’s great at getting us ice and we’ll come out and guys will make a good commitment to come.”
The scrimmage’s pace, line changes and breakaways weren’t quite as quick as those of their glory days, but between the laughs, whacks and traditional trash talk, there were moments of brilliance serving as reminders that these were some of the best players to ever wear the Winged Wheel.
Nelson continues (the rest of her article's worth your time), and notes that at least #13 was skating with the "old-timers"...
“I played a little keep away with Pav (Datsyuk) and he put me in my place, but I didn’t expect to feel good today,” Chelios said. “I said I wasn’t going to skate too much before just because of my knee and it felt as good as could be expected.”
Pavel Datsyuk joined the alumni practice, skating amongst former teammates and other legendary Red Wings who had never skated with him before. The Wings’ center has missed the last four games with a concussion when he was elbowed in the jaw by Ottawa’s Jared Cowen on Nov. 23.
“He helped the red team out a lot,” Draper said of Datsyuk’s participation. “He’s a pretty good player. I think it was fun especially for guys who haven’t had the opportunity to skate with him, just some of the stuff that he does, it’s magic what that man can do with a puck, a lot of fun. He kind of toyed with Cheli and I. We wanted to try to make it (keep away) two versus one, but it ended up being one versus two with how good Pavel is. It was just a lot of fun to be back on the ice, I think guys are looking forward to it.”
The Wings posted an alumni-related video--of a sort, anyway--as well...
And Darren McCarty also spoke on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Drew Lane show this afternoon, and Lane and crew chatted with McCarty for FORTY-THREE MINUTES.
Wings general manager Ken Holland said, via text message, that Datsyuk, who’s suffering from concussion-like symptoms, will need a good week of practice before being cleared to play.
Holland didn’t know if Datsyuk would be able to practice with the team Tuesday. He last skated last Wednesday before leaving the ice after roughly 10 minutes.
“(I’m not where) I am supposed to be,” Datsyuk said last week. “I’m starting slowly, going with the program.”
Datsyuk, who won’t play Friday or Sunday, skated roughly 15 minutes Wednesday before many of his teammates got on the ice.
Datsyuk did not make the Wings’ recent two-game road trip and will miss his fifth straight game when Detroit hosts Philadelphia Wednesday. Datsyuk suffered his injury on Nov. 23 after taking an elbow to the jaw late in third period by Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowan.
Holland also said that Todd Bertuzzi could probably return to play this week.
And Pleiness also took note of Mike Babcocks comments about the Wings' leadership corps helping the team weather its difficult November times, as noted in both the mid-day post (by Ansar Khan) and the Wings-Senators wrap-up:
“It’s easy to let doubt creep in and it’s easy to lose focus and start blaming people,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Our guys didn’t do that.”
Detroit, which is third in the overall Eastern Conference standings, also has endured a winless stretch of eight straight on home ice (0-2-6).
“They just kept working and I think we’re probably a better team for the adversity now,” Babcock said.
The Wings’ current four-game win streak has also being done without Pavel Datsyuk, who’s still the team’s second leading scorer with 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists). In the last four games, Detroit has also scored its opponents 18-4.
“(We’re) just playing patient and suddenly we’re scoring,” Babcock said. “We didn’t score in the ocean.”
“You’ve got to give (Henrik) Zetterberg and Datsyuk and (Niklas) Kronwall and the leadership group lots of credit,” Babcock said. “When things went bad four our team we stuck together and just kept going.”...
“We knew the secondary scoring was going to come,” [Drew] Miller said. “It wasn’t there the first part of the year. (We just had) to stick with it, keep working hard and that’s what our third and fourth lines have been doing. With Pav and (Todd Bertuzzi) out now it’s even more a big thing for our lines to step up and get some goals.”
In the land of whimsy and rambling...I mean, oh joy, here come this week's first slates of power rankings. ESPN's Scott Burnside posited this assessment of the Wings....
11. Detroit [record] 14-7-7 Last Week: 13 The Red Wings are getting it together as they've won four in a row, including a big beatdown of Boston and a nice win in Ottawa for Daniel Alfredsson on Sunday afternoon. The Wings have outscored opponents 18-4 in this stretch.
CBS Sports' Brian Stubits echoed Burnside's remarks...
13 [Red Wings; last week 17]: Now that week was more like it for the Wings. Detroit has won four straight, a stretch that included a beatdown of the Bruins. Those four wins came by a combined 18-4 margin.
And TSN's Scott Cullen finally gave the Wings a promotion--while giving them a jab in suggesting that the Wings have only been winning because they're playing inferior competition:
This Week 12 Last Week 18 Detroit Red Wings14-7-7
Hit a soft spot in the schedule at just the right time (as in, when they are missing Pavel Datsyuk), outscoring the Sabres, Bruins, Islanders and Senators by an 18-4 score.
Key Injuries: C Pavel Datsyuk (concussion), RW Todd Bertuzzi (upper body).
And in the FYI department:
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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.