The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/04/13 at 08:52 PM ET
A pair of Red Wings stories popped up after the practice post that simply shouldn't "wait" for the overnight report, because their content gives us an insight into the Wings' mentality heading into a very busy slate of games (7 over the next 14 days), starting with tomorrow night's tilt against Colorado.
The Wings' players and coach told WXYZ's Brad Galli that they're resigned to the concept that this season will be something of an identity-finding grind...
"We're not as good a team as we wanna be, but we're making significant strides," head coach Mike Babcock said.
12 teams are separated by just six points, and a shortened schedule makes every game that much more important. Looking at the Red Wings play the last two weeks, they have taken steps towards being the team fans are used to seeing the past two decades.
"Everybody in here feels good about the way we're playing most of the nights,'' defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
After a five-game winless streak, the Red Wings have won three of their last five, with points in four of the games.
"We're playing tighter. We realize we're not gonna score five goals every night. We're gonna score maybe two, hopefully three," Johan Franzen said. "This is the way we want to play. We've played like this for years. Sometimes you get a little loose. We got away from it, and things get a little 'loosey goosey.'"
Babcock said lineup changes because of injuries have hurt the team and took days to adjust. In the 48-game season, days become games, and at first, the Red Wings suffered through that adjustment period.
"We've won on an inconsistent basis, but I think we've been consistent," he explained.
Franzen said the team's recipe for success is winning low-scoring games by counts of "2-1, 3-2. If we can minimize our mistakes, we give ourselves a better chance to win. We can beat any team in this league," he explained.
The Wings continued while speaking to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“The way I look at our group, we’ve got to continue to get better defensively and if we do that we’ll get offense in the end,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “A few weeks ago we scored more goals, but I sure like the way we’re playing better right now. To me, you can’t outscore your mistakes, and we’re trying to limit them. Even yesterday when we never touched the puck, (Chicago) wouldn’t let us play with it in the first, we were on the inside,” Babcock continued. “When we go through the scoring chances, they were muddy pucks around the net, but they didn’t have many clear chances, so that’s what we need to continue to work on.”
“I think we’re going to be all right the rest of the way,” forward Drew Miller said. “(Jimmy Howard) is playing really great and our D is coming along really well. The forward lines aren’t scoring as much as we’d like to, but we’re getting a lot of good chances. Everyone needs to chip in more,” Miller added. “Our line, I know we’ve had some success in the past, but the last little while we haven’t been able to find the back of the net. That’s something we have to pick up too.”
Detroit’s last three goals have come from a defenseman, Kyle Quincey, and two bottom six forwards, Patrick Eaves and Tomas Tatar.
“I think we’ve actually played some good hockey and I think we’ve generated quite a few chances,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “Last half of game yesterday we had some point blank opportunities, great opportunities in the slot, just couldn’t bear down. We just have to find a way to get those in the net and we win games, but at the same time, keep playing solid defensively.”
The Wings have been getting shots on goal, 33 in two of the games and 34 in the shootout win over San Jose. They had just 23 shots when they put eight by Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
“They’re not all scoring chances, usually it’s just trying to create scoring chances, that’s where most shots come from,” forward Johan Franzen said. “We know it’s hard to score off the rush, it’s been hard for a while now. Just crash the net and throw pucks in there and hope for the best. When you struggle for a while, once everything gets going, everything seems easier.”
Jimmy Howard also told Pleiness that the Wings don't plan on underestimating this week's opponents--the Avs, Oilers and Blue Jackets (twice, oh joy)
Goalie Jimmy Howard on the Wings’ four-game stretch against teams in the bottom part of the Western Conference standings.
“They’re really not all that far off,” Howard said Monday. “They’re all grouped together from fourth all the way to last, so it’s tight and going to continue to be that way all the way to the end of the season. You just have to find a way every single night to get points.”
Detroit hosts Colorado (13th) and Edmonton (14th) before playing a home-and-home series with Columbus (15th).
In terms of tomorrow night's opponent, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an "At a Glance" Avs preview, and the Denver Post's Mike Chambers offered a Tweet and an article updating their status. The Avs dropped a 2-1 OT decision to Columbus on Sunday, and since they rattled off a pair of wins on February 18th and 20th, they've got a 1-3-and-1 record:
Here's Chambers' update:
Another two-flight day for me. Everything through Chicago. Minnesota to Columbus on Sunday, through Chicago, and Columbus to Detroit today, through Chicago. I arrived here far too late today to attend Avalanche practice at Joe Louis Arena, but coach Joe Sacco was kind enough to give me a shout on the phone.
He said Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who is back with the team after attending his mother’s funeral in Montreal, will start Tuesday against the Red Wings, with Seymon Varlamov in the paint Wednesday at Chicago. I previously posted this about Giguere’s mother.
Defensemen Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson (orange sweater) again practiced hard with the team today, but Sacco said neither will play against the Red Wings. However, he’s not ruling either of them out Wednesday against the bonfire-hot Blackhawks. Obviously, the Avs will have to make moves to accommodate Johnson and Wilson on the 23-man roster, and among the seven D on the roster right now, Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott are the only ones on two-way deals. So they won’t have to go through waivers to be sent down to Lake Erie.
Tomorrow’s story — which will be available online late tonight — will look at what Sacco might do about his D-corps. Barrie’s playing a top-four role right now, so big decisions are on the horizon.
The AP's Alan Ferguson has already posted a Wings-Avs preview...
Colorado has scored seven goals in its last four road games but has earned one point in each of the past three. [Ryan] O'Reilly, though, could be the key to the Avalanche (8-8-4) snapping their 0-2-3 skid away from home Tuesday. He had three assists in the most recent game against Detroit, a 4-3 win at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 25, 2012, and scored twice in a 4-2 home victory over the Red Wings on Dec. 4, 2011.
The Avalanche will need all the help they can get against a Detroit team that nearly ended NHL-leading Chicago's record point streak Sunday. Tomas Tatar gave the Red Wings a lead early in the third period but they allowed a power-play goal with 2:02 remaining in regulation en route to a 2-1 shootout defeat.
"We were close but not close enough," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "We just have to forget about it. We just have to come back here, work hard and win the next game."
Detroit (10-8-4) has gone 2-0-1 in its last three at home after a three-game losing streak there. The Red Wings have also outscored opponents 15-7 during a 3-1-1 overall stretch.
"There are a ton of positives," coach Mike Babcock said of Sunday's game. "I thought our defense was good again, and they're getting better and better. ... I thought we played hard as a group. In the end, we just didn't execute enough to get it done."
Along with another solid defensive effort, Babcock is hoping for Johan Franzen to continue his outstanding play against the Avalanche. The winger has 11 goals in his last 11 games versus Colorado, though he's gone six games without a point.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has three goals and two assists in his last three contests against Detroit.
Colorado hasn't dropped six straight on the road since an 0-8-1 skid Oct. 26-Dec. 15, 2011.
Via RedWingsFeed, Wings GM Ken Holland got something of a "shout out" as one of the top 5 GM's in hockey by the Score's Justin Bourne...
Detroit Red Wings
GM: Ken Holland
Cost: 13th highest cap hit ($7,781,864 in cap space)
Ken Holland is in the select group of GMs (along with Ray Shero and Peter Chiarelli, I’d say) that seem to have universal respect around the hockey world. They rarely dive in and go crazy on free agents, and they keep their talent without over-paying it. The Red Wings are the rare team that’s just consistently competitive, year in, year out for over a decade now. Currently, they only have two legitimately high paid players, and Pavel Datsyuk ($6.7 per through 2014) and Henrik Zetterberg ($6.083M through 2021) are both undeniably worth it. The rest look more like:
* Johan Franzen: $3.94M through 2020 (gotta love that)
* Valtteri Filppula: $3M this year
* Darren Helm: $2.125M through 2016
* Todd Bertuzzi: $2.075M through 2014 (another rescue dog story that turned out well)
* Jordin Tootoo: $1.9M through 2015 (not bad for an effective grinder)
* Justin Abdelkader: $1.8m through 2016
* Nicklas Kronwall: $4.750M through 2019
* Jimmy Howard: $2.25M this year
And then of course, there’s the entry-level deals to guys like Damien Brunner and Tomas Tatar that help them out.
And I'd prefer to get to this week's first crop of power rankings later tonight, but I suppose I might as well post 'em now and let you complain about repeats in the overnight report.
ESPN's Scott Burnside's take on the Wings reflects their record...
20. Detroit [record] 10-8-4 Last Week: 11 The Wings still occupy a spot in the top eight in the Western Conference but suffered a tough loss Sunday to Chicago and they have only three wins in their past 10.
TSN's Scott Cullen offers an intriguing set of stats...
This Week 14 Last Week1 3D etroit Red Wings10-8-4
Who is going to join the Red Wings' big scorers to provide complementary offence. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Damien Brunner and Niklas Kronwall have combined for 81 points on 61 goals, leaving little production from the supporting cast.
Key Injuries: RW Mikael Samuelsson (groin), RW Todd Bertuzzi (back), C Valtteri Filppula (shoulder).
Fox Sports' A.J. Perez offers a tongue-in-cheek take on the Wings' inability to score of late...
16 .Red Wings [down] 6 [highest/lowest] 9/18: Detroit is scoring. It’s mostly against Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo on Sunday (eight goals). The Wings also scored four off Preds goalie Pekka Rinne on Saturday.
But Sportsline's Brian Stubits agrees with the Wings' players and coach in suggesting that the team is making progress...
11 [Red Wings, last week 10] It's tough for a team to look much better than the Wings did in a loss to the Blackhawks on Sunday. They had plenty of scoring chances and were selling out to block shots. Play with that effort every night and they'll be very successful.
Though the New York Post's David Satriano points out that the Wings' "margin for error" is particularly slim:
13) Red Wings (10-8-4) (10): Lost to the Kings and Blackhawks last week, each by one goal, and beat the Sharks in a shootout. Life’s never easy in the Western Conference.
(That's why the Wings can't sit on those one and two-goal leads and simply stop pressing offensively...)
And the Wings may sit in eighth place in the Western Conference going into tonight's games, but NHL.com's Dave Lozo kept 'em in his "Super 16":
11 [last week] 12 Detroit Red Wings: It's hard to punish the Red Wings when they came as close as anyone to beating the Blackhawks in regulation Sunday. Still, it was an impressive showing that came without the services of several injured key contributors, including Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm.
Finally, again, via RedWingsFeed, this made me laugh, and given that Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi are a month out, my response to Kris Draper's Twitter quip is, "Hell, why not? Give him a try-out..."
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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.