The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/14/13 at 02:07 PM ET
Aside from expecting to get yelled at, things are relatively quiet here at TMR land as we all wait for the Red Wings to hit the ice in Edmonton and make their prerequisite comments regarding their 5-2 loss to Calgary and the Board of Governors' approval of the realignment plan that places the Wings in "Division C," but we already know what the Wings think about the latter issue, as noted by MLive's Ansar Khan...
The move will mean less travel for the Red Wings as well as more games against Original Six rivals like the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maples. All four clubs will be in the same division along with Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa and Tampa Bay.
Several Red Wings told MLive.com last month they like the new plan. It would not only reduce their travel – especially in the playoffs – but would also mean fewer late-night West Coast games on TV for fans.
“I think the travel sometimes takes years off all our lives,'' goaltender Jimmy Howard said in a Feb. 23 story on MLive.com. “I think (moving East) would be great for us from the travel, even though we’re all used to it now. It would be a lot of fun to play a lot of games in the eastern time zone. It would be great for our fans, too, not having to stay up until all hours of the night to watch us.”
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
“I like the travel,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Some of my favorite cities in the world are Toronto, Boston and Montreal.”
“That’s going to be pretty cool,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “The travel schedule is always tough on us because we’re having to travel so far a lot of times. It seems like we should be in the East. For me, to get to play Toronto more because it’s back home that’s pretty cool,” Smith continued. “I think some people think after you watch the game and turn off the TV you’re done. We maybe have an eight hour trip home. There is a lot of wear and tear on the body.”
“We’ve traveled back and forth, across the United States quite a bit,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “To move to the East I think that would be a lot of fun to play a lot of games in the Eastern Time Zone. It would be great for our fans too, not having to stay up until all hours of the night to watch us. I think the travel sometimes takes years off of all of our lives. It’s one of those things that you have to deal with.”
The Wings will be in Division C. Permanent names for the divisions will be given at a later date.
“Anybody that’s played in Detroit understands the rigors of going out west, and the hard part is coming home, when you lose that much time,” Cleary said. “We have one team in our conference in our time zone. It’s taxing but we’ve been doing it for a lot of years. It would be great to move over.”
“It won’t be hard to adjust to it at all,” Cleary said. “It’s not like we’re going to a harder conference, no offense. It’s different conferences. I don’t want to say one is easier than the other all I know is the West is a tough Conference. I’ve never played in the East so take that for what it’s worth.”
A Western Conference team has won the Cup in four out of the past six seasons.
“You see in the East there are a lot of high scoring games,” Smith said. “In the West it’s all low scoring and close one- or two-goal games. The styles are different. It won’t be hard to adjust. We just have to play our style and our team likes to dictate the game anyway.”
And the Free Press's Helene St. James...
The news is timely enough for the Detroit Red Wings: They officially are going to be traveling much closer to home starting next season. As expected, a realignment plan for the 30-team NHL was OK'ed by the Board of Governors this week, following last week's approval by the NHL Players Association. The news was announced today.
Instead of being one of two teams from the Eastern time zone playing in the Western Conference, the Wings will be in a new division with Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto -- a grouping entirely within the Eastern time zone.
The Wings are in western Canada right now, where they play Edmonton on Friday and finish up Saturday at Vancouver. They began the trip with a 5-2 loss Wednesday at Calgary.
The other Eastern division would have Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, the New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington. The Western Conference divisions would be one with Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg, and the other with Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Vancouver.
As Sportsline's Brian Stubits notes, however, the Chicago Blackhawks and Western Conference teams can't be thrilled with losing the Wings:
The Chicago Blackhawks: The Blackhawks are now the only Original Six team remaining in the Western Conference. Of course that means they don't have the Red Wings anymore.
Really, that's a shame for all of us. That has been one of the NHL's best rivalries through the years, particularly of late. They had a long history, they were both very competitive teams in great American hockey markets. The Wings won't be shook up over that because they have the Leafs and Canadiens to look forward to, but Chicago loses that.
The Hawks have a pretty good rivalry going at the moment with the Vancouver Canucks, but they're still not going to be in the same division where rivalries really take hold. That leaves St. Louis as the next best option for a truly hateful relationship.
At least from an American perspective, the Blackhawks are alone now in the West in terms of truly high-profile teams. Which brings us to our next point ...
Western Conference arenas: The loss of the Red Wings is something a lot of teams out West didn't want to see. No matter where they go, the Red Wings bring a large fan following with them. It was a guaranteed great crowd whenever the Winged Wheel comes to town even in place like Phoenix, where they struggle to get patrons.
Without Detroit that leaves pretty much Chicago and Chicago alone to be that draw in the West. Perhaps the Canucks could fit that profile in some places since they are a hated team across the league, but their window might not be open a whole lot longer.
But again, all might be forgotten at the gates with the greater chance of playoff berths. The playoffs are where teams really make the money. That's only consolation for missing on the Wings if you actually make the postseason, though.
The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo, writing for 97.1 the Ticket, states three obvious "things that need to change for the Red Wings--now"...
1. There is lots of talk about how the Red Wings are lacking defensively. Actually, their biggest problem is scoring goals. They had plenty of scoring opportunities in their 5-2 loss at Calgary Wednesday, but just don’t have the scoring touch.
2. Goalie Jimmy Howard can’t play every game, and when he doesn’t, the Red Wings need Jonas Gustavsson to perform much better than he did vs. the Flames.
3. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg are the Red Wings’ resident star players. It is time for them to impose their will on this season before it is too late and the Red Wings miss the playoffs for the first time in more than two decades.
Howard received a "pick him" fantasy hockey compliment from NHL.com's Justin Goldman...
Jimmy Howard – Red Wings: For the second straight week, Howard is trending up. He is 2-0-2 in his past four games, stopping 109 of his last 113 shots. He has now allowed just six regulation goals in his past five games, and is 9-4-3 with a 2.11 GAA and .925 SV% on home ice.
And as practice begins, there's good news:
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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.