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Red Wings-Islanders game-day articles: Mrazek starts; Howard ready to get going in GR

Updated 3x at 1:37 PM: The slumping Red Wings face a red-hot Islanders team this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/MSG Plus/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM), and the Red Wings' morning skate revealed no personnel changes save Petr Mrazek starting in goal, as the Free Press's Helene St. James noted:

Petr Mrazek is slated to get the start in net. The Wings sure could use a big game from him, but they could use a big game from almost anyone. They embarrassed themselves with how they started Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils. For the 30th time this season, their opponent scored the first goal.

The Wings have shown that they can be good -- remember the 4-0 shutout at Los Angeles? And blanking Montreal last month? And running over Pittsburgh, 6-3?

Based on today's morning skate, Henrik Zetterberg is with Gustav Nyquist and Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen with Tomas Tatar and Dylan Larkin, Darren Helm with Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek, and Riley Sheahan with Luke Glendening and Justin Abdelkader.

The defense pairs are Danny DeKeyser with Mike Green, Niklas Kronwall with Nick Jensen, and Jonathan Ericsson with Xavier Ouellet.

The Islanders come to town on a three-game winning streak.

And St. James added some quotes to the mix:

The Wings host the New York Islanders, another mediocre opponent, at Joe Louis Arena (7:30, FS-Plus). The Wings (20-21-9, 49 points) beat the Islanders (22-17-9, 53 points) in overtime when they met in December in New York.

“We went through a stretch where we were playing really good,” coach Jeff Blashill said after the morning skate. “I didn’t think we played as good the last couple of games.

“We have to make sure we are better defensively. We’ve scored well 5-on-5. Our power play has to be better if we want to go on a run. Do I think we are capable of going on a run? I know 100% we are capable of going on a run.”

After the morning skate, the Red Wings' players were busy...

Including Jimmy Howard, who spoke with MLive's Ansar Khan regarding his imminent conditioning stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins:

 

And Newsday's Laura Albenese covered the Isles' skate:

Kicking off morning skate here at the Joe. Both Clutterbuk and Hickey here and skating. #isles

Clutterbuk and Hickey in, Prince and Mayfield out.

...

Chimera on younger players wanting to get to 1,000 [games] - "ears open, mouth shut." Parents, wife and friend he hadn't seen in 9 yrs coming.

As did the Islanders' Twitter account:

Doug Weight: Greiss in goal tonight. Clutterbuck in for Prince. Hickey in for Mayfield. #Isles

I hate to cherry-pick, but Wings coach Jeff Blashill made what we'll call an ironic comment to ESPN's Joe McDonald about the lessons he's learned from watching New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, and this seems...a little contradictory:

Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn't know Belichick personally, but they have a mutual acquaintance. Blashill, who has coached in the NHL for only two seasons, understands the importance of preparing a team, and that's what he sees when he watches the Patriots.

"It appears, from what I've seen, that there are no details missed. It appears, from what I've seen, he treats people right but he's very demanding, so he's hard but fair," Blashill said. "The one thing I'd say I've learned from Bill, without question, is learning that with the media it's much better to say less than more. There's no doubt, and honestly, when you talk lots there's way to contrive what you say, and certainly I've learned less is more from him."

Update: Here's MLive's Ansar Khan's morning skate report:

"I think we went through a stretch where we were playing really good. I didn't think we played as well the last couple of games (4-0 loss to Toronto, 4-3 loss to New Jersey)," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "From a chance standpoint, both of the last two games actually have been right even, which usually means you'll win one, you'll lose one. But I have felt like within those chances there's been too many big-time chances, so you can't win giving up big-time chances. We got to make sure we're better defensively. 

"We scored really well five-on-five, I think we're 11th in the league, which is a big stretch from where we were at the beginning of the year. The other thing would be our power play (last in the NHL) and that's just been something that I'm not going to walk away from. It's something that hasn't been very good and we got to be better at it if we want to go on a run.

"Do I think we're capable of going on a run? I know 100 percent we're capable of going on a run. How do I know that? One, we played really good hockey at times. Two, I look around the league and lots of teams go on runs. That's the way the league is right now. We got to make sure that we're limiting our chances against and we got to make sure that our power play starts to get hot."

The Islanders are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, going 6-0-1 in their past seven, including a 5-0-1 mark under interim coach Doug Weight, who replaced the fired Jack Capuano on Jan. 17.

"I think teams are so close right now that things like confidence become a big deal and they've got lots of confidence," Blashill said. "We've got to make sure that we make it a hard game for them. We've got to make sure that we don't give them anything easy to build that confidence upon. I know it's going to be a hard game, I know they're playing very well. They've got a few D-men out (Travis Hamonic). But even with those guys out, they still got a real good D corps that can skate and they've got a number of forwards that can be dangerous and one of the better players in the world in Johnny Tavares."

 

Update #2: ESPN asked NHL players how the condensed schedule has affected them:

Frans Nielsen, C, Detroit Red Wings: "It's almost [like] you haven't had time to think about it all. You've just been going. It's been a lot this year. I started out in Minsk playing the Olympic qualification and I went straight to the World Cup, and then missed camp and came right [in] and pretty much dropped the puck when we got here after the World Cup, and then it's just been going every second day. It's been hard this year. But you know what? Some ways, it's more fun playing games than practicing. It's been hard but it's the same for everyone so you can't make excuses from that. I think it's been all good."

 

Update #3: Among the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's notes:

After Coreau was unimpressive in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to New Jersey coming out of the All-Star break, Blashill has gone back to Mrazek in hopes of seeing the Petr Mrazek that took the NHL by storm in the middle of last season.

“I’ve seen Petr at his very best, people in this (media) scrum have been Petr at his very best,” Blashill said. “January of last year, it was as good a performance as any goalie has put up. He’s done things for me in the NHL and American League, there’s no question he can get hot and go on a run.”

Mrazek felt he was nearing that stage after relieving Coreau against Boston Jan. 18 and helping the Red Wings rally to a shootout win (23 saves) and then earning a point in a 4-3 overtime loss in Buffalo (34 saves) Jan. 20.

But Blashill decided to go with Coreau the next two starts — both overtime losses — before Mrazek returned in a 4-0 loss to Toronto before the break.

“I had some good games after Boston and Buffalo, but then I didn’t play for a while,” Mrazek said. “It’s tough, but when you get the call (to be) in net, you go and (be ready) to play. Everyone would be disappointed, after you have a stretch of good games. Boston, you come in and we were down 3-0 and won the game, and in Buffalo, it was a pretty good performance by me and then not play for three games, it was disappointing but just work hard and when I get the call, I try to do my best. The most important thing is come back after playing a good game and have a good run and have a few good games in a row.”

Kulfan continues, and he notes the following:

Frans Nielsen gladly accepted the role of “You Can Play” ambassador for the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” message this month. The NHL will sponsor activities aimed at putting a spotlight on LGBTQ issues, including a Pride Night Feb. 15 at Joe Louis Arena. Nielsen held a similar position when he was with the Islanders.

“It’s important,” Nielsen said. “It doesn’t matter what you believe in, everyone should be allowed to play, to play hockey, or be part of anything. It shouldn’t matter. Hockey should be for everyone. Whatever I can do, I would love to help.”

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Just an update on Dennis Cholowski:  26 GP 1G 9A 10PT -8

Posted by Wisconsindale on 02/03/17 at 12:18 PM ET

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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.