The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/11/14 at 03:50 PM ET
Updated 3x at 6:54 PM: A significant slate of catch-up articles = I ran out of room in the Red Wings-Hurricanes game-day update post, so, ahead of tonight's tilt between the teams (7:30 PM EDT on FSD Plus/FS Carolinas/97.1 FM), here's the Red Wings' Game Day Preview...
And as so much of today's Wings talk, radio interviews (now including Ken Holland on WDFN), Nyquist talk, discussion of Holland's take on player development, etc., Wings coach Mike Babcock's comments to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness may have been overlooked...
Wings coach Mike Babcock on what Daniel Alfredsson and David Legwand has brought to the team.
“I don’t to take anything away from Pav or Z, because they’re huge parts of our team, but Nik Kronwall set the tone for this team this year because he did it every day, all the time. Alfredsson gave him another support guy, along with the Mule, in my opinion, because those other guys weren’t available to us.
“When you look at that group right there, to me they did the most of the work leadership wise,” Babcock continued. “That’s so critical. We all want to rave about our kids, but we don’t make the playoff unless Ken makes that deal at the deadline. If we don’t Legwand we don’t get in the playoffs.”
And while the CBC's Mike Brophy and other professional hockey writers have no say in the voting for the Jack Adams Award, which is decided upon by the NHL's broadcasters, Brophy's joining a chorus of voices who've suggested that Mike Babcock's out-coached Patrick Roy this season:
There were nights when the Red Wings had as many American Hockey League players in the lineup as NHL players. Many teams could not withstand this type of substantial departure from the lineup, but the Red Wings pressed forward and qualified for the playoffs for the 23rd year in a row.
With so many experienced players sidelined, Babcock turned to the likes of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Tomas Jurco, among others. Nyquist, it should be noted, would have started the season in the NHL, but because the Red Wings had salary cap issues, he was the only player they could send down without exposing him to waivers. He has played superbly, scoring 28 goals and 48 points in 55 games.
The kids did not disappoint, and Babcock said one of the main reasons is because they learned their craft in the minors. The Red Wings, who are known for picking gems late in the draft, expect their youngsters to serve an apprenticeship in the AHL before being promoted.
Babcock was asked about the organization making the playoffs 23 straight seasons.
"I don't think about that much," he said. "I think about this year and this group of guys has worked really hard and they have been rewarded for it. This 23 thing is a great thing when you have been in the organization forever and when you are marketing your product, but do you think Tomas Jurco and Tatar and Nyquist care? They're just playing. They just want to play and I want to coach them. We're in it to play longer."
It would be ridiculous for Mike Babcock to go his entire NHL career without winning the Jack Adams Award. With all due respect to Roy and other coaches who have had wonderful years -- Ken Hitchcock of St. Louis, Jon Cooper of Tampa Bay, Todd Richards of Columbus and Craig Berube of Philadelphia among them -- they will have other shots at the Adams.
"The Kids" spoke with DetroitRedWings.com's Andrea Nelson about their playoff expectations...
“Obviously it’s huge,” said Riley Sheahan, who joins teammates Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco as the only players on Detroit’s roster who have not appeared in the NHL’s postseason. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for us and I think last year being in the AHL Calder Cup run, that was a lot of fun but this is just on another level. We’re happy where we are going in and it’s a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of fun so we’re going to enjoy it.”
Although the three youngsters have yet to play in their first NHL playoff game, that doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable postseason experience under their belts. Glendening, Jurco and Sheahan were all part of the Grand Rapids Griffins Calder Cup championship in 2013, and know that experience will only help them when the Red Wings begin their hunt for the Stanley Cup next week.
“Just being in that playoff atmosphere, being in tight situations in front of crowds that are loud and arenas that are packed, it definitely helped a lot,” Sheahan said. “Those pressure situations you get in, you've got to keep level headed and I think we did a good job of that last year, so hopefully it will work out for us again this year.
Even though Nyquist has experienced two more playoff runs than his three teammates, the forward will take a backseat when it comes to offering any advice.
“I don’t think I’m going to give them any advice I think they’re doing a great job by themselves,” Nyquist said. “We’ll see what the veterans do in this locker room. We have such great leadership and I’m not one of the veterans so I mean guys in this locker room have gone through this before, they’ve won it before, they know what it takes. Even if it’s my third year in the playoffs I still have a lot to learn and it’s a great environment to be around.”
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Tomas Jurco regarding his accommodations...
Tomas Jurco is still staying at the same local hotel he checked into when the Red Wings called him up in late December. But he doesn’t mind. And he’s not doing it out of fear he will be sent back to Grand Rapids.
“It was nothing to do with sending down (to the minor leagues), I just didn’t see the reason (for) moving,” said Jurco, whose performance long ago abolished any thought of returning to the minor leagues. “Just stay at the hotel, it’s a big room, actually two rooms connected, so I’m good with that.”
For a 21-year-old, it really doesn’t get much better, and Jurco doesn’t need much.
“I brought my Xbox, they brought in a huge television for me, and I set it up in front of my bed,” Jurco said. “It’s nice when I leave for practice and I come back and my bed is set up again nicely. I eat here in the morning, but sometimes at night I’ll get room service.”
And the Wings' coach regarding the playoff system...
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, like many other NHL analysts and fans, isn’t a fan of the new playoff system. Babcock doesn’t feel it’s right that teams with over 110 points — such as the Western Conference Central Division second- and third-place teams — will meet in the first round rather than facing a lower-seeded team.
“When you do the math, it doesn’t add up,” Babcock said.
And as the Hurricanes didn't hold a morning skate--though they did recall Zach Boychuk from the AHL's Charlotte Checkers (who Wings recall Petr Mrazek played last night)--NHL.com's Brian Hedger posited a prospective Hurricanes lineup...
Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Alexander Semin
Jeff Skinner - Elias Lindholm - Jiri Tlusty
Andrei Loktionov - Riley Nash - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Manny Malhotra - Radek Dvorak
Justin Faulk - Ron Hainsey
Brett Bellemore - John-Michael Liles
Jay Harrison - Mike Komisarek
Scratched: Zach Boychuk
Injured: Andrej Sekera (lower body), Nathan Gerbe (upper body), Joni Pitkanen (heel)
And he noted that the Wings don't plan on continuing to back into the playoffs, even though a scenario in which the Blue Jackets overtake the Flyers for 3rd in the Metropolitan Division would assure that the Wings would play the Peguins in the first round:
"We want to keep winning," Red Wings veteran forward Johan Franzen said after the morning skate. "We want to win these last two games and maybe climb up a spot. So, that's our focus right now."
Detroit will conclude the regular season Sunday at the St. Louis Blues, who are suddenly locked in a battle with the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Central Division. The Red Wings won't get one of the top three spots in the Atlantic Division, but will occupy one of two wild-card openings in the Eastern Conference.
Who they'll face in the first round depends on which spot they get. Detroit will start the postseason at the Boston Bruins with the second wild card and at the Pittsburgh Penguins with the top wild-card slot.
"I think it's more we want to keep the winning going and come into the playoffs with a good feeling," Franzen said. "Even if you say a loss [in these two games] doesn't matter, it's still a loss and we all want to win all the time. You feel worse after you lose than after a win, so we want to keep building our confidence and keep playing good."
MLive's Brendan Savage also wondered aloud whether the Bruins or
Hurricanes Penguins would present a better first-round match-up...
Now that the Detroit Red Wings are in the playoffs, the only question that remains with two games left in the regular season is who they'll play.
Boston or Pittsburgh?
As it stands today, the Red Wings would play Boston.
The Bruins have clinched the Eastern Conference title and although the Red Wings are tied for seventh place with Columbus at 91 points apiece, they'd lose the first tie-breaker (regulation/overtime wins).
If the Red Wings can finish ahead of the Blue Jackets, they'd face Pittsburgh in a rematch of the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
Which team would the Red Wings be better off facing in the first round?
Winging it in Motown's SlapShotGoal noted that Holland made an appearance on the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast...
Holland talked about the kids (of course), injuries, the Legwand trade, the Wings overall performance this season, Anthony Mantha (Ken expects him to be on the Wings in a year and a half if not sooner), Gustav Nyquist, what makes Mike Babcock such a coach, and the shoot out.
Marek asked Holland about how much advanced stats figure into his valuation and evaluation of a player. Jeff then tweeted out a partial quote that garnered a bit of attention and even some ridicule.
"The analytics we use are gut analytics" - Wings GM Ken Holland on #MvsW moments ago
On the surface it sounds like Kenny was pulling a "get off my lawn" and poo poo'ing advanced stats and analytics. The entirety of what Kenny said however paints a little different picture.
[We use them] a little bit, but we're just slowly getting there and dipping our toe in the water. The analytics that we use are guy analytics and experience. Certainly I think there's a place for numbers in our game. I still think it's different in baseball with pitcher vs batter.... What you do here as a player on the ice, with four other player with you and you go from team to team against five other players, so... We think analytics can weigh into your decision [along with] what your pro scouts see, what you see and feel, and you go through the whole analysis and ultimately you're trying to be right 70% of the time. It's impossible to be right 100% of the time because we're dealing with people. So analytics play a little part, we do have it, we do look at it, but I wouldn't say it's got a big big factor in our decision making yet; but we're still exploring and talking about it internally to figure out how it can best help us.
Which you can listen to here...
And in the Twitter department:
It was mid-February and the Red Wings couldn't string together any good luck -- or good fortune. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk both came back from the Olympics with long-term injuries, and the Red Wings were on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. That's when Detroit's head coach stepped in front of his team and made a proclamation.
"I told them right after the Olympic break, 'We're getting in,'" Babcock revealed on Friday.
Every day after that, he sent the same message.
"I said to them, 'I've been around a long time. If we just do it the Red Wing way, we're gonna get in.'"
Now that Detroit has clinched a playoff spot, the players shared details about the meeting that changed the tone of the season.
"It's pretty impressive that Coach was that adamant about it," Brendan Smith said. "I'm talking 20 games ago, that we said we were getting in. We were in a rut."
"He sounded pretty confident," Tomas Tatar said. "I think that helped us to hear that. Next thing you know, we're really in (the playoffs)."
It wasn't a matter of "if" or "maybe." Babcock instilled a confidence in a group that was missing its superstars, clinging to every point, and waiting for breakthrough performances.
Update #2: The Free Press's Helene St. James also spoke with Jurco...
And she posited an article about her conversation:
Three months into what looks to be a promising career, Jurco is enjoying a 10-minute commute to Joe Louis Arena, where he’s found work with the Wings as a budding power forward. He’d established a nice little scoring streak as the Wings prepared to host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight (7:30 p.m., FSD-plus), with five goals in the past five games.
His success has come as he’s figured out when to look for a shot and when to create chaos in front of the net, a place ripe with potential rebounds.
“There’s more confidence with the goals,” Jurco said. “It just started going in for me a little more than it used to. I’m trying to go to the net and maybe get some rebounds. I was shooting more and I guess I couldn’t score, so I went to the net to try to get some rebounds. It’s going pretty well.”
This past week, Jurco has helped form what looks to be a terrific third line, playing left wing next to speedy center Darren Helm and right wing Daniel Alfredsson, one of the smartest players in the game. Having them as a follow up to the two scoring lines could be a huge plus as the playoffs approach.
“You’ve got two kids that fly around and then Alfie who can make plays and really change the pace out there, makes small things happen,” Johan Franzen said. “It’s a good line.”
Mike Babcock uses Jurco on the power play, and late in games when needing a goal, because Jurco is both skilled and capable of being physical. “He’s got such great pace and such great strength and then he’s got great hands in tight, that he’s going to be effective,” Babcock said.
Update #3: Via RedWingsFeed, here's WXYZ's Galli on video:
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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.