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Red Wings off-day news: on OT/SO losses, rankings, the Big House, 24/7, etc.

On the heels of discouraging news regarding Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (out 2-4 weeks with a sprained left MCL) and as we wait to find out the extent of Stephen Weiss's groin issues on this Salvation Army kettle bell-ringing Friday, and we wait to find out whether today's meeting between the Downtown Development Authority and Olympia Entertainment will provide a "big announcement"...

MLive's Ansar Khan penned an article that falls into the "tailings regarding the Red Wings' 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday" category (I'm the blogger, I can make these things up if I want to! cheeky), noting that while Wings fans may be frustrated as all *#$%@& get out by the team's 9 OT or shootout losses, the Red Wings' coach is still accentuating the positive:

“The way I look at all this stuff is, there’s nothing we can do about it, just keep on plugging,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “What we ask of our team is to compete and I think on most nights we really compete.I like our group, I like our process we’re in. We’re trying to get better and we’re working hard at it and keep plugging.”

This team’s 1-9 record in overtime/shootout games is puzzling. The Red Wings are 5-17 in OT/shootout games over the past two seasons.

The Red Wings (15-9-9) felt they played well against the Lightning, but couldn’t get any pucks past 6-foot-7 goaltender Ben Bishop in the six-round shootout.

“It can be very frustrating, but at the same time, getting frustrated, that way we’re just using our emotions and our energy in the wrong spots,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We have to stick to the game plan. I thought we played a pretty decent game. But again, we need a goal from the power play. We had some good looks, I thought we moved the puck better than we did in the past. We have to find a way to get that goal.”

Both teams went 0-for-4 on the power play.

“I thought it was a good game,” Babcock said. “I thought our team played real hard. They might have done more off the rush; we did more off the cycle and grind. I thought they might have had more tempo throughout their forwards, but I thought our team played really well.”

The Wings will wrap up the pre-Christmas part of their schedule by playing six games over the course of 10 nights, hosting Pittsburgh tomorrow evening, the Lightning on Sunday, the Ducks on Tuesday, and after practicing outdoors at Comerica Park on Wednesday the 18th, they host the Flames on Thursday the 19th. The Wings will then head to Toronto to tangle with the Leafs on Saturday the 21st, and they return home to battle the Islanders on Monday the 23rd.

Detroit has a very long Christmas break by team standards because they don't play on the day after Christmas for the first full season in about...I think at least half a decade, with the team's road games in Florida on the 28th and Nashville on the 30th serving as warm-ups for the Winter Classic on Wednesday, January 1st.

In theory, anyway, the Wings should have Darren Helm (shoulder), Danny DeKeyser (shoulder), Henrik Zetterberg (back) and possibly Jimmy Howard (knee) around the Panthers or Predators games, but that's all dependent upon how quickly they recover from their injuries.




In the land of arbitrary lists, MLive's Brendan Savage cobbled together a summation of most of this week's power rankings, but he does not include NHL.com's Corey Masisak's "Super 16"...

13. Detroit Red Wings (15-9-8) LW: 13

The Red Wings recently played a game without their top three centers. One of those guys, Stephen Weiss, hasn't been nearly good enough to this point. Goalie Jimmy Howard has struggled as well. And yet Detroit continues to hang around, and for all the struggles and injuries, the Red Wings could be two good weeks from the top spot in the division.

MUST READ: Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News writes about the constantly changing lineup for Mike Babcock because of the injuries.

Nor does Savage's article include a "Vezina Trophy Watch" quip from the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy:

10. Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit: Wild card alert! ‘The Monster’ is 8-1-2 and two of those setbacks came recently, but he only let in three regulation goals total in defeat. His 1.93 GAA and .931 save percentage numbers are fierce, now it’s just a matter of wresting more starts away from Jimmy Howard.

Uh...That's not going to be an issue for a couple of weeks.




In the Winter Classic department, MLive's Pete Cunningham posited what is the latest in a series of stories about the NHL's ice-making truck arriving at Michigan Stadium on Thursday...

With a beard as thick as his Canadian accent, National Hockey League senior director of facilities operations Dan Craig (informally known as the NHL's "Ice Man") pulled into Michigan Stadium with his 53-foot, 300-ton refrigerator capacity pride and joy Thursday. After completing a three-day trip from Toronto, Craig was clearly ready to begin preparing the surface where the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will face off New Year’s Day.

The NHL is expecting to not only break the world record for attendance at a hockey, game set at Michigan Stadium a the 2010 Big Chill, it’s planning on breaking the stadium’s overall attendance record of more than 115,000. It’s Craig’s job to make sure all those people have a proper hockey game to watch. He said the truck is the equivalent of having an NHL facilities operation on wheels.

Craig and roughly 200 workers will spend the next week preparing an NHL-caliber rink on Michigan’s football field and plans to have the first sheet of ice sprayed down by next Thursday. It will require 20,000 gallons of water to create a 2-inch ice surface, compared to a 1-1.25 inch thickness for an indoor NHL rink. The extra thickness is to deal with the extremes Mother Nature may bring in the next three weeks.

This is pretty cool, too:

“We’re going to do a large décor process in here which will take care of all the brick walls you see and some of the fascia on each side of the stadium,” Renzulli said.

He also noted that outside Gate 1 in the Crisler Center parking lot will be an entertainment stage with activities and an NHL-run tailgate that opens at 9 a.m. the morning of the game.

“A lot of people go out New Year’s and make it home late and I don’t think they’re really prepared to fill their car up with their grills and food and beverages and all that,” Renzulli said. “For people who don’t want to tailgate, we’re going to create that tailgate area for them out there.”

Inside the stadium, the skeleton of where the rink and entertainment stages already makes the Big House look far different than it did just two weeks ago. Renzulli said individual seat cushions along the benches will only increase the feeling.

“When you start to see that it will change the whole color of the inside of the bowl,” he said.

Regarding the HBO 24/7 phenomenon, I do NOT plan on going over the series with a fine-toothed comb when it premieres tomorrow night at 10 PM EST, but Puck Daddy, Sportsnet and other outlets sure as *#$%@& seem to believe that
the "spectacle" of the immersion experience will reveal deep, dark secrets about the players and coaches "real" personalities...

Every interaction I've had with the Wings and their coaches and management leads me to believe that Wings fans aren't in for many surprises. They've always been straight-shooters, and the people you see on TV and read about depicted with the personalities you're familiar with...They're going to drop some f-bombs and reveal some goofing around in the locker room, but other than that, I don't expect them to do anything that will surprise us.

Anyway, here's Wyshynski weighing in with 24 24/7 hopes/predictions, and I at least agree that the first one will be interesting to watch:

1. Hockeytown Vs. The Centre Of The Hockey Universe: One assumes HBO will latch onto the Detroit narrative here, the whole “Red Wings shouldering the load for a city that needs its heroes” narrative that we hear whenever a team in Detroit excels. But there is a fun juxtaposition here between Hockeytown USA and the Centre of the Hockey Universe in Toronto, from the media to the fans, who obviously will play a large role in filling 115,000 seats at the Winter Classic.


3. Mike Babcock Will Become a Star: Now, Babcock on the other hand will be a star. No question. He’s going to be equal parts of your favorite varsity coach, a hockey philosopher and an awkward goofball.


10. Please Don’t Make Pavel Datsyuk The New Bryzgalov: One of the most highly anticipated aspects of this “24/7” is the attention Pavel Datsyuk should receive, both as a wizard on the ice and as an insightful, charismatic character off the ice. How will his deadpan humor astute observations translate to HBO? Here’s hoping they aren’t turned into the loopy comic relief of Ilya Bryzgalov, just because someone with a funny accent is espousing them. Then again, we doubt Datsyuk will spend much time comparing the virtues of beautiful women and Siberian huskies.

Datsyuk's a brilliant, hilarious man, but he's no space cadet. He's grounded and humble.

13. Will They Revisit The Steve Moore Incident? Todd Bertuzzi is an interesting character on his own, but the notion that an NHL player has a trial date next year for one of the most infamous assaults in hockey history might be one to explore in a segment. It’s how many casual fans know Bertuzzi; but would the NHL allow HBO to go there?

The Red Wings won't allow HBO to go there and Bertuzzi won't allow HBO to go there. He's not allowed to speak about the incident.

14. Will They Get Into Faith? Reimer and Datsyuk are two players that are outward about their faith, and the role it plays in their lives. It’s a topic no previous “24/7” has gotten into all that much, even around the holidays.

You'll see the Eastern Orthodox icons in Datsyuk's locker, you'll see more of Datsyuk crossing himself three times before the start of each period and you may hear him talk about Russian Christmas, but one's faith is one's faith.

19. Daniel Alfredsson, Veteran Dude: The HBO cameras were already rolling when Alfie made his return to Ottawa. But beyond that drama, he’s also going to be that veteran player who’s looking for one last shot at glory. And that’s pretty much the easiest sell in the history of sells for sports editing.

He's also an incredibly humble person. You're going to like him.

20. Potential Breakout Stars: Dan Cleary and Frazer McLaren: Everything we’ve heard from the Wings indicates they believe Dan Cleary could be the most personable player on “24/7” this season. Add a little drama about his struggles this season, and this could be a compelling character to follow.

A fighter and a talker and someone that doesn’t exactly leap to mind when it comes to breakout stars. But with John-Michael Liles – our real choice – in and out of the lineup, Frazer McLaren could be that guy.

I'm going with the Wings' own picks: Brendan Smith riding the edge between delightfully enthusiastic and being an egotistical jerk, Tomas Tatar revealing equal arrogance and smarm that's grounded in a more blue-collar work ethic, Bertuzzi turning out to be something of a thoughtful "team dad" and Niklas Kronwall impressing the hell out of you with his leadership....

And this is simply accurate:

21. The Dec. 21 Game Will Be Treated Epically: The best thing HBO ever filmed for this series was the battle between the Penguins and Capitals in their lead-up game to the Winter Classic. It might still be the best documentary-style presentation of a hockey game ever aired. So when the Wings travel to Toronto to face the Leafs on that Saturday, the stakes will be high as division opponents and hopefully the drama is, too.




In the prospect department, Andreas Athanasiou Tweeted a video interview the CTV Barrie conducted with the Barrie Colts' forward. It's 3 minutes long and is solid enough, but I still find it weird that Athanasiou tells the American media that his name is pronounced Ath-an-ASS-ee-oo, but the Canadians almost inevitably pronounce it Ath-an-a-SYOO.

Good kid, very confident in his abilities, very forthright, very smart, incredibly talented;

And Canada.com's Daniel Newman noted that two of Athanasiou's fellow prospect tournament teammates in Jake Paterson and Anthony Mantha are taking part in Team Canada's World Junior Selection Camp in Toronto today, and ahead of a World Junior Championship that both players will participate in, Paterson faces significant pressure as one of only two goaltenders brought to the camp:

Paterson and [Montreal Canadiens prospect and Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Zachary] Fucale are roommates.

Paterson, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, was on the 2013 team that finished fourth, but did not play. Even still, he believes that experience will be an advantage.

“It makes you more comfortable. You know how the tournament works,” he said. “I got to see how tough the tournament actually is to win.”

Fucale, a Montreal Canadiens pick, won the Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads last year. He feels that will help him in Sweden.

“These short-term events, there’s no turning back,” he said. “You don’t have a second chance. Being able to play in these types of tournaments before, it’s going to help me certainly moving into this one.”




In the alumni department, it's Sergei Fedorov's 44th birthday today, and both Championat.ru and Sport-Express posited profiles of the CSKA Moscow GM, who probably won't return to the team as a player...

And as an FYI:



Now we wait to find out what's wrong with Stephen Weiss.



Quickie update: This is good!


Update: Sportsnet has gotten all Leafy as they're airing the 24/7 series, and Sportsnet's Ryan Dixon fondly remembers an event I'd love to forget as part of the build-up to Sunday's Canadian premiere of the HBO series:

Standing on a Toronto Maple Leafs bench that was emptying fast, equipment manager Brian Papineau blasted a water bottle in a moment of pure joy. On the Joe Louis Arena ice, a player whose total mass appeared to be 50 percent helmet and visor was bear-hugged by Toronto captain Wendel Clark after scoring the overtime goal that sunk the Detroit Red Wings in the seventh game of an epic first-round series. Nikolai Borschevsky had returned to the series just in time to notch the marker that gave his team an unlikely victory, and restored the shine to a franchise dulled by decades of dysfunction.

It’s not as though the Leafs had absolutely nothing to cheer about from 1967 through 1993. There were the odd playoff series wins in the 1970s and ’80s, but they amounted more to momentary blips of success than foundational building blocks. The 1992–93 squad, however, was different. Just a couple years after the passing of majority owner Harold Ballard, Toronto was benefiting from the clear direction provided by Stanley Cup–winner Cliff Fletcher in the GM’s chair, and the tough love of coach Pat Burns. From setting a new franchise record with 44 wins to Doug Gilmour establishing a new all-time Leafs mark with 127 points, the Blue and White were back. The return, however, had to be validated by playoff success, and nothing could have prepared Leafs fans, players and management for the varied emotions a fortnight of fighting with their Original Six rivals would bring.

For years, a third-place finish in the Norris Division meant a dubious berth in the playoffs that was more about the fact that 16 of the NHL’s 21 teams made the post-season than any reflection of competency. That’s how a couple Leafs outfits from the ’80s made the big dance despite a complete lack of fancy footwork. In 1992–93, however, the Norris was a powerhouse. Despite notching 99 points, Toronto finished behind two teams in its division, the Chicago Blackhawks leading the way with 106 points, followed by Detroit’s 103.

While only four points separated the clubs, the Leafs were decided underdogs versus a high-powered Wings squad that had scored more goals than any outfit in the league. Fletcher, meanwhile, had rebuilt the Leafs on the fly the previous year and a half, and nobody was quite sure what to expect from the Buds. “There was a lot of curiosity with our whole group just to see how we reacted to it,” says Fletcher.

The early returns were positively awful. Detroit ran over Toronto in the first two games at Joe Louis Arena, winning by a combined score of 12–5. Making matters worse, Borschevsky—who scored more goals than any other Leaf that season with 34—sustained a broken cheekbone in game one that forced him to the press box. “I remember coming back to Toronto,” Fletcher recalls, “and saying, ‘Our season can’t end like this. We’ll lose everything we’ve built up.’”

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DocF's avatar

The good news is good news, indeed.  While that sounds like it is a long time from now, Dec. 28 is just 15 days away.

Meanwhile, I like the way Datsuyk keeps his intense faith a personal walk with God.  Unlike so many sports figures, he does not wear his religion on his sleeve.  My preacher, who is not a sports fan at all watched a recent game at my behest and he noticed Datsuyk cross himself and pray before the start of a period.  He was impressed. 

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 12/13/13 at 04:54 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.