The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/13/13 at 11:50 AM ET
Updated 3x at 2:43 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will attempt to win their first home game in seven tries and rebound from Tuesday's loss to Winnipeg when the Wings host the 9-8-and-1 Washington Capitals visit the Joe on Friday (minus Mike Green, according to NHL.com). The Capitals defeated Columbus in a 4-3 OT decision on Tuesday (they won't play again until Friday's game, just like the Wings), and RedWingsFeed noted that Capitals coach and former Red Wing Adam Oates comes to town...
Bearing compliments galore for a former adversary in Chris Chelios. Oates praised Chelios's
legendary status as a mean, vicious pain in the ass, I mean competitiveness, while speaking with Comcast Sportsnet Washington's Chuck Gormley:
“For me, during my career because we overlapped, he was the hardest guy ever to play against,” Oates said Tuesday. “I was a right-shot center and I went down the left side and he was always there. He was really difficult to play against, a fantastic player.”
Chelios, 51, broke into the NHL two years before Oates and stuck around for parts of 25 seasons, finally retiring following the 2009-10 season. He ranks fifth on the NHL’s all-time games list with 1,651, behind only Gordie Howe [1,767], Mark Messier [1,756], Ron Francis [1,731] and Mark Recchi [1,652].
Oates, now 51, played alongside Shanahan, 44, for one season, when they both played for the St. Lois Blues in 1991-92 .Shanahan went on to record 656 goals and 698 assists for 1,354 points in 1,524 career games in the NHL
“A rare guy in the sense he could score and be tough,” Oates said. “He could really snap the puck. And a real competitor.”
In terms of Red Wings-Jets tailings, MLive's Brendan Savage took note of the fact that the Wings still feel that they're heading in a positive direction despite losing six straight at home, having out-shot the Jets 43-21, having gotten the power play back on track, having dramatically cut down their turnovers, and plain old having out-played the Jets by playing efficient, speedy puck possession hockey--i.e. "Red Wings hockey"--for the vast majority of the game:
"We didn't win but I thought we played good," said coach Mike Babcock. "I liked our game today, start to finish. We made some mistakes ... but I liked our penalty kill, I liked our power play, I liked our game. I feel real good. To me it's going in the right direction. It's real positive game for us. I'm a big believer that you keep plugging. Sometimes you win games when you're playing real well that you should probably lose. I thought this was a game we could have won easy tonight. To me, that's going in the right direction. We just got to be positive about what's going on and keep plugging."
But there were also some concerns, especially when it comes to scoring goals. The Red Wings continue to struggle offensively as they've scored just nine goals during their last four games. Not surprisingly, they have an 0-1-3 record in that stretch.
They're still struggling to get secondary scoring as the top line has been on the ice for eight of those nine goals. That included both goals vs. Winnipeg. Pavel Datsyuk has three of the aforementioned nine goals – including both vs. Winnipeg – Henrik Zetterberg also has three, Todd Bertuzzi has one and defenseman Adam Almquist picked up the other while playing with the top line.
"It's tough when we don't get two points," Zetterberg said. "We did a lot of good things and today I think we played solid defense, created enough chances to win and (Jimmy Howard) played good enough to win the game. But we can't find a way to go all the way. It's frustrating. It's tough. We want to win, but right now we can't find a way.
"You have to take positive things now. It is tough when you can't get a W. We did a lot of good things. We played good in our own end. We played a little tighter. We had better forechecks, we scored two on the power play, we played good on the PK. Obviously you're going to find things that aren't good that will happen in games, but we just have to keep plugging away and get ready for the next game. That's all we can do right now, keep sticking together, believe in what we're doing and eventually we will get rewarded for our play and we'll get some wins."
"During the season you're going to have your ups and downs and right now we're in a bit of a slump," said defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "Tonight everyone really worked hard, we kept going after them, going after them. It didn't matter if we were down by a goal, we kept going after them. I think tonight was a step in the right direction. We played decent hockey for 60 minutes. If we keep playing like this, more often than not we're going to come away with two points."
The loss was also the Red Wings' 10th straight at home in overtime or a shootout. That's the longest streak in the NHL since 1986-87.
Savage does a fantastic job of outlining the Wings' "pluses and minuses," if you will, and I highly suggest that you read the balance of his article.
And there's this from the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:
Duff penned a day-after-the-game article about the 2nd-in-the-East-or-9th-in-the-West Red Wings' defense, noting that while Brendan Smith and Jonathan Ericsson are--depending on the results of today and tomorrow's practices--on track to return to the lineup on Friday, the Wings have to feel pretty good about the state of their blueline to come given the performances of mighty mite Adam Almquist and the smooth and steady Xavier Ouellet, who was superb despite missing a significant chunk of last night's second period with an equipment issue(?):
“I thought he was really good,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said of Ouellet after Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout lost to the Winnipeg Jets. “He makes good decisions with the puck, and doesn’t get himself in any trouble.”
Called up for the second time this season and skating in just his third National Hockey League game, Ouellet, 20, saw 8:50 of ice time, was even and delivered three hits.
“Ouellet played fantastic for us and we didn’t miss a beat,” said Wings centre Stephen Weiss, currently out with a groin injury. “That’s a testament to how they draft here and take care of their young guys.”
Babcock compared Ouellet’s poise and calmness to that of another rookie defenceman, teammate Danny DeKeyser, who broke into the Detroit lineup late last season with similar silky smoothness.
“We’ve got an inexperienced back end in lots of ways because of our youth back there,” Babcock said. “DeKeyser’s been absolutely unbelievable for us, so it’s not necessarily the experience that you have, it’s the ability that you have and how intelligent you are. Smart players, players with hockey sense, don’t tend to make a whole bunch of mistakes, so they don’t put a spotlight on them. That’s what Ouellet seems to do when he plays here.”
Ouellet admitted that the faith the team has shown in him so early into his NHL career makes it easier for him to relax and just play when he’s on the ice.
“It means a lot,” Ouellet said. “It feels pretty good. I don’t know really what to say. It’s just a good feeling to know the coaches trust you.I’m pretty proud of that.”
If you wish to relive last night's game, Michgian Hockey just posted a photo gallery from the Wings-Jets affair...
And in news at the managerial level, the Toronto Star's Kevin McGran notes that Ken Holland did his best to advance his belief that overtime should last for a longer period of time than its current 5-minute incarnation, and that introducing 3-on-3 play may facilitate fewer shootouts...
Among those in favour of making NHL games longer, Detroit GM Ken Holland has been a long-time advocate of tacking on a period of 3-on-3 overtime to the current five minutes of 4-on-4. On Tuesday he said he’s never felt more traction for getting his idea implemented than he did on Tuesday.
Still, there appeared to be varying opinions on the best way to extend OT. There was talk that an eight-minute overtime would be more practical than a 10-minute one. There was talk of changing ends at the end of the third period to make it a longer skate to the bench that would encourage longer overtime shifts. There were concerns over deteriorating ice conditions and what to do about them. Leafs GM Dave Nonis said he looked forward to further discussion on the issue when next the executives meet. Still, if you were betting, it sounded like a decent punt that, come the 2014-15 season, there’ll be at least a few more minutes of overtime before the shootout settles all.
And ESPN's Craig Custance, penning an Insider-only article, also took note of Holland's proposal...
Where there's disagreement is whether or not to play 3-on-3 hockey in a second overtime session. Before the season, we wrote about how 3-on-3 overtime successfully played out during Holland's prospect tournament in Traverse City to strong reviews from executives in attendance.
But there's a legitimate question being asked right now: Is 3-on-3 any less gimmicky than the shootout?
"Very rarely do you see it in a 60-minute game. Very rarely do you see it in overtime," Blues GM Doug Armstrong said. "I'm a little concerned about the goaltenders there. If you're stopping 2-on-0s, are you asking someone to stretch themselves in a position? ... I just don't think it's a big enough part of our game. I think the penalty shot is more a part of our game than 3-on-3."
The 3-on-3 session essentially becomes a series of odd-man rushes, which basically happen anytime a player leaves the ice on a change. There have been some players who expressed concern about the physical wear it might introduce if teams play too many of these session during the course of a grueling regular season. It's a challenging rule to introduce without more on-ice testing, which is why additional 4-on-4 time appears to be the more likely overtime change when the GMs reconvene in March.
As well as the GM's concerns about the fact that the present playoff format a) involves almost all intra-divisional play unless b) you're a "Wild Card" team, and you cross over to the other division in your conference:
A refresher: The top three finishers earn the first 12 playoff spots. Each conference has two wild card berths that will be given to the next two highest point-earners, regardless of division. In the first round, the division winner with the best record will play the wildcard with the lowest number of points. In theory, it sounds great, and it helped alleviate concerns some players had about competitive imbalance that might come with unequal divisions.
The concerns among GMs I spoke with? For one, the division playoff format was created to help increase inter-divisional rivalries. Playing a cross-over wild card team in the first round doesn't accomplish that. The second concern is with travel.
Let's say the Blackhawks win the Central with the highest point total in the West, and Vancouver sneaks into that last spot, setting up a first-round series between the Canucks and Blackhawks. It's great for us, because those two teams make for a compelling playoff series. It's not so great for the Blackhawks, who would get hit with a grueling travel schedule that this playoff format was set up to help eliminate.
"That's part of the reason why we went to two divisions in each conference," said Red Wings GM Ken Holland. "To build rivalries, less travel."
Update: I'm a little confused as to how the NHL's chosen to promote the Wings-Leafs Alumni Showdown by posting videos of Brendan Shanahan and Wendel Clark sans commentary, but I guess it works for 'em...
Update #3: MLive's Brendan Savage surveyed this week's slates of power rankings...
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (Detroit Red Wings): Ericsson is an effective 6-4 defenseman with bite to his game. He has blossomed into a high-quality shutdown guy. The Red Wings have improved dramatically defensively over the past two seasons, and Ericsson, 29, has played a significant role in that evolution. He has grown up in the Red Wings organization and is very comfortable in Detroit. Prediction: Will re-sign.
If you really wish to read TSN 1290's Wade Beyak's take on last night's Jets win, you may most certainly do so;
And here's ESPN's Pierre LeBrun's take on the Wings' struggles:
Jim (Grand Rapids, MI): Why is Detroit sputtering at home of late? Z and Dats are playing great, but the rest of the team seems to be lagging behind. Thoughts?
Pierre LeBrun: Still not happy with secondary scoring on that team. Need more from Weiss, Aflie, etc
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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.