The Malik Report
by George Malik on 07/22/13 at 10:27 AM ET
As we await Hockey Canada's announcement that Mike Babcock will helm the team for the 2014 Olympics, and that Jimmy Howard will attend Team USA's summer orientation camp, joining a plethora of pinatas, I mean Red Wings players who have or will take part in said camps (Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist)...
The Red Wings' first season in the Aqua Divison, I mean Atlantic Division, will seriously test the loyalties of fans whose "other favorite teams" include Steve Yzerman's less-than-angelic Lightning and the trap-happy, viciously physical Boston Bruins. MLive's Ansar Khan penned an absolutely exhaustively thorough analysis of the Bruins this morning...
Bruins' strengths: They have a good mix of skill, size and toughness and can be difficult to play against. At age 36, 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara remains a dominant anchor on a blue line with a solid top four that includes Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton. Goaltender Tuukka Rask, the former backup to Tim Thomas, flourished during his first season as a starter and his career 2.15 GAA and .927 save percentage earned him an eight-year, $56 million contract extension. The Bruins are strong up the middle with Patrice Bergeron -- one of the better two-way players in the league -- as well as David Krejci -- their leading playoff scorer -- Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell. Loui Eriksson was a consistent 25-to-30 goal scorer and 70-point producer in Dallas. Jarome Iginla will provide scoring, abrasiveness and leadership. Small but irritating Brad Marchand led the team in goals and points. Chara and Milan Lucic are two of the best fighters in the league. The Bruins were fourth in the NHL in fighting majors last season (32), according to hockeyfights.com, and ranked second in each of the previous two seasons.
Bruins' weaknesses: Scoring was an issue at times last season, in large part because their power play was among the worst in the league. It would help if Lucic regained his 30-goal, 60-point form of 2010-11. The No. 5 and 6 defense spots are suspect. Backup goalie Chad Johnson has appeared in only 10 games over four seasons.
Bruins outlook: They underwent some significant changes after reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three seasons. But they're still loaded up front with players who can score as well as crash and bang. They should be the favorites to win the Atlantic Division and have a good chance to reach the Cup finals again.
And boy howdy, does he continue at length.
Dec. 1: Daniel Alfredsson returns to Ottawa: After a franchise-record 1,178 games with the Sens, Alfie might be greeted with a bit of a mixed reception after opting to chase a Cup with the Red Wings. The Swedish winger had been the team's captain since 1999, and also holds franchise records in goals, assists and points.
Dec. 10: Stephen Weiss returns to Florida: A steady performer for the lowly Panthers for years, Weiss now holds the franchise records in assists and games played. He'll return to Sunrise with the Red Wings.
Looking back and looking forward...
- Almost one week ago to the hour, the Red Wings wrapped up their summer development camp, and Michigan Hockey posted a gallery of pictures taken by Jennifer Leigh;
- DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose offers a "By the Numbers" examination of Patrick Eaves' 2013 season, and, via RedWingsFeed, the Wings posted a highlight clip showcasing Eaves' best 2013 season moments as well:
419: Days that he was on injured reserve after being struck in the head by a Roman Josi slap shot on Nov. 26, 2011. Eaves recovered from the broken jaw and post-concussion syndrome that sidelined him for more than 14 months.
10: Consecutive games played from Feb. 23 to March 13, which was a season-high for him. During that stretch the Red Wings were 5-3-2 while Eaves produced a goal and three assists with a plus-4 rating.
2: Was his plus/minus rating in a 4-0 win over Nashville on Feb. 23. As a fourth-line grinding forward, it was his best plus rating in more than two seasons.
3: The number of consecutive games that he registered four shots on goal. All three games resulted in Red Wings' wins over Los Angeles (Apr. 24), Nashville (Apr. 25) and Dallas (Apr. 27).
- Via Plymouth Whalers director of communications Peter Krupsky, if you're interested in sending your budding NHL superstar to a hockey camp in Metro Detroit's backyard, the Whalers are hosting numerous camps starting on the 29th:
The Plymouth Whalers annual hockey schools start with a three-day session starting Monday, July 29. Various schools will run from that point on until Friday, August 16.
Spots for the various schools are going quickly, but some openings remain.
Compuware Arena is a cool place to visit in the middle of summer and gives young hockey players the opportunity to get a jump-start for the upcoming season.
- NHL.com's already posited capsule previews of Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic's possible Olympic rosters, which would be a little easier to digest if they didn't include THIRTEEN possible forward lines, TEN-AND-A-HALF defensive pairs and NINE goaltenders...
- And finally, let's all be surprised that Tigers Stadium was named Metro Detroit's best sports venue--ever--by the Free Press's readers, beating Ford Field and leaving Joe Louis Arena and Olympia Stadium relegated to "elite eight" status.
Update: NHL.com's Swedish Olympic hockey preview is spectacularly...Unspectacular.
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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.