The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/07/14 at 10:37 AM ET
As the 2013-2014 season winds down, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's name has popped up pretty regularly in discussion of potential Jack Adams Award candidates--and the NHL's coach of the year award is voted upon by broadcasters, not journalists--but those who predict how awards races will go haven't changed their consensus picks.
At present, it appears that Babcock might finish in the top 3, but Lightning coach Jon Cooper, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, Bruins coach Claude Julien, Flyers coach Craig Berube, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and, most regularly, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy have received more nods as the consensus picks.
NHL.com's Brian Compton praises Babcock's work in pushing an injury-decimated Wings team toward the playoffs, but only after suggesting that Roy should win the award..
Mike Babcock, Detroit Red Wings -- Yes, the Red Wings always make the playoffs; they're on the verge of clinching a postseason berth for the 23rd consecutive season. But the adversity Babcock and the Red Wings have managed to overcome in 2013-14 to fight their way into the playoffs is downright impressive.
Babcock, who coached the Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2007-08, has played long stretches without captain Henrik Zetterberg, forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Darren Helm, and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. Jimmy Howard, their No. 1 goaltender, missed nearly three weeks in December. Zetterberg, who has been out since sustaining a back injury during the Olympics, hopes to return during the postseason; Datsyuk returned last Friday after missing 16 games with a knee injury.
But thanks to Babcock's guidance and a remarkable second half from forward Gustav Nyquist, the Red Wings are where we always find them this time of year -- in a playoff position.
"[Babcock] has done a great job," Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader said. "He expects to win each night, no matter who's in the lineup. It doesn't matter … whoever's in the lineup. He expects us to go out, compete hard and give ourselves a chance to win."
And the Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek mentions Babcock while defending his preseason pick of Roy as the likely award-winner, explaining why he doesn't believe that Babcock will earn his first(!) coach of th year award:
There is something about supporting consistent year-over-year coaching success that the voters tend to dismiss.
So, for example, the Detroit Red Wings’ Mike Babcock is finally getting some notice for the Jack Adams trophy this year because Babcock has his injury-gutted team in contention for a playoff spot. Last Friday, Babcock earned his 413th win with the Red Wings, tying him with none other than Jack Adams for the most in franchise history. And yet he has never won the Jack Adams trophy. Some believe this may be Babcock’s finest coaching effort, but it still might not be enough to get him a coach-of-the-year award.
Detroit is remarkable because it has made the playoffs in 22 consecutive years. Next on the list is the San Jose Sharks, who have had Todd McLellan behind the bench since the 2008-09 season. McLellan’s Sharks are also a model of consistency, and currently chasing the Anaheim Ducks for top spot in the Pacific.
The rest of Duhatschek's notebook doesn't involve the Wings...
1. Detroit Red Wings: With the way the Red Wings are playing right now, you have to wonder if Mike Babcock’s approach to the regular season is similar to his approach to an Olympic tournament, because as he did with Team Canada, he has the Red Wings playing their best hockey at the perfect time. In this case, he’s doing it without some of his biggest horses. When I posed the question of which bubble team they’d least like to face, scouts didn’t hesitate.
“Start with the Wings,” said an Eastern Conference scout. “They definitely can [win the round]. You could argue they’re playing their best hockey of the season. They seemed to have gotten a lot of confidence.”
Young players like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Tomas Jurco have been instrumental in helping Detroit surge into a playoff spot, and in the process proven they can compete at the highest level. That’s invaluable experience as Detroit’s regulars get healthy.
“I won’t go back to what I was before,” Tatar said when we chatted recently. “I knew I can play at this level. I feel better. I’m not sure how the [production] will go because you won’t get the minutes you will now but the game won’t change for me. I know what I can do.”
Many of these Red Wings don’t have NHL playoff experience but they believe their experience in winning a Calder Cup last year in the AHL helps provide framework on what to expect, and they don’t expect to go in and roll over if they make the playoffs.
“You go in and anything can happen,” said Glendening, who signed a three-year extension over the weekend then scored his first NHL goal. “You have to go in with a positive attitude. You’re ready to take on anyone you face.”
Custance continues and notes that the Wings are missing Jonathan Ericsson more than anybody assumes they are...
In terms of "odds," MLive's Brendan Savage reports that the sports betting site Bovada estimates that the Wings have a 1-in-33 chance of winning the Stanley Cup (I could've sworn that the odds of a team that makes the playoffs winning the Cup are 1 in 16)...
And Yahoo Sports' Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski says that the Wings have a 55% chance of earning the first Wild Card spot and a 33% chance of earning the second spot--which translates into SportsClubStats estimating that the Wings have an 89.1% chance of making the playoffs.
Otherwise...Third String Goalie wishes Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek a happy birthday while chronicling the winding road that Paek took through professional hockey before ending up with the Griffins--and Paek is truly a "salt of the earth" human being, the kind of person who makes the organization better simply because he's here;
And Tyler Bertuzzi scored a goal for the Guelph Storm last night, and DRW Prospects on Twitter found a highlight clip which features said marker:
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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.