The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/31/14 at 03:04 PM ET
The Red Wings took today off to a) attend Opening Day and b) recover from a nasty stretch of 9 games played over the course of 15 nights, yesterday evening's 3-2 win over Tampa Bay included.
Aside from some prospect news (including Griffins additions), the beat writers revealing their Masterton pick (Daniel Alfredsson) and the final Joe Louis Arena lease being approved by Detroit's City Council, it's been relatively quiet, but the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that tomorrow's practice might yield news regarding Pavel Datsyuk's status...
The Wings didn't practice today, standard practice after back-to-back games. They return to play Wednesday, when they host the Boston Bruins, who have clinched the Atlantic Division.
Forward Pavel Datsyuk is expected to practice fully Tuesday, the next step in his comeback from an inflamed left knee. General manager Ken Holland said he didn't have any updates on injured players, because none came to Joe Louis Arena.
And as the Wings' Wild Card playoff spot hangs upon its outings against Boston on Wednesday, Buffalo on Friday and Montreal on Saturday (for starters; the following week the Wings head to Buffalo on Tuesday the 8th, Pittsburgh on Wednesday the 9th, they host Carolina on Friday the 11th and wrap up the schedule in St. Louis on Sunday the 13th), DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose and Andrea Nelson penned previews of this week's games in their "Look Ahead in Hockeytown"...
WEDNESDAY – vs. BOSTON (52-17-6): Wednesday marks the third and final meeting between the Original Six foes. Detroit has won both matchups against the Bruins, a 3-2 victory in Boston on Oct. 14 and a 6-1 victory at The Joe on Nov. 27. … With a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals Saturday, the Bruins clinched the Atlantic Division title behind 108 points. Boston has been nearly unstoppable since returning from the Sochi Olympics, winning 14-of-17 en route to the team’s 28th division title and seventh straight playoff berth. … The Bruins are currently on a 16-game point streak (15-0-1), including a 12-game win streak from March 2-22. The club is 18-1-3 in its last 22 games and boasts a 23-2-4 record in its last 29. The Bruins have won their last nine road games, surpassing the longest streak in team history, and have taken points out of each of their last 16 road games (13-0-3). The team’s last regulation loss on the road was a 4-2 victory in favor of Los Angeles on Jan. 9. … Boston’s GF/GA differential of plus-82 leads the NHL and includes a plus-47 third period differential, which is higher than the overall margin of all but five teams. … The Bruins have allowed two or fewer goals in 48 games this season (excluding shootouts), earning a 46-2-0 record in those matchups. … Six Bruins players currently rank among the top 10 plus-minus ratings in the NHL, including the top four spots – Patrice Bergeron (37), David Krejci (36), Jarome Iginla (34), Johnny Boychuk (33), Brad Marchand (29) and Milan Lucic (28). With two goals in Boston’s 4-2 victory over Washington, Iginla reached the 30-goal mark for the 12th time in his career. The forward has earned 31 points in the last 25 games.
PLAYER TO WATCH: With a 4-3 shootout victory over Philadelphia Sunday, goaltender Tuukka Rask earned the 100th win of his career in the NHL. Rask made 28 saves for his seventh shutout of the season in Boston’s 3-0 victory over Chicago on March 27, a career season-high and the most in a season by a Bruins’ goaltender since Tim Thomas in 2010-11 (9). The goaltender currently ranks second in the league with a career goals-against average of 2.11 among all active goaltenders who have played in 25-plus career NHL games. Rask ranks second only to fellow Boston goaltender Chad Johnson (2.11) in the statistical category. – ANDREA NELSON
FRIDAY – vs. BUFFALO (20-45-9): Friday marks the third of four meetings between Buffalo and Detroit, and the second and final matchup at The Joe. The Red Wings have won both of the previous meetings against the Sabres this season, a 2-1 victory at home in the season-opener and a 3-1 victory in Buffalo on Nov. 24. … The Sabres rank at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 49 points, and have compiled a 1-10-1 record in their past 11 games. The club has struggled on the road this season, earning an 8-25-3 record away from First Niagara Center. … When trailing after two periods, Buffalo is 2-35-4, and has compiled a 1-17 record in three-goal games. But the team has experienced more success after regulation, as the Sabres are 9-9 in overtime and 6-4 in shootouts. … The club will arrive in Hockeytown amid a three-game road trip, as it will play in St. Louis on Thursday, Detroit on Friday and Philadelphia on Sunday. … Since Buffalo traded Ryan Miller to the Blues, the Sabres’ goaltenders have combined to post a save percentage of .927, including a .936 save percentage at even strength. … Center Tyler Ennis leads Buffalo in points (38), goals (19) and shots (178), while defenseman Christian Ehrhoff leads the club in assists (20) and shorthanded goals (3).
PLAYER TO WATCH: After being recalled on an emergency basis on March 27, rookie center Johan Larsson has earned two points (0-2-2) in Buffalo’s last two contests. Larsson’s recall was necessary after forward Torrey Mitchell sustained an undisclosed injury in Buffalo’s 2-0 loss to Montreal last Tuesday, and a back injury sidelined center Zenon Konopka for the club’s last three games. While Mitchell is out indefinitely, Konopka’s injury is day-to-day. Larsson was acquired from the Minnesota Wild on April 3, 2013, and has earned three assists in 23 games with the Sabres this season. – ANDREA NELSON
SATURDAY – at MONTREAL (43-26-7): This is the fourth game between the Red Wings and Canadiens. Detroit won the first two games, including a 2-1 overtime victory Feb. 26 at Montreal’s Bell Centre. The Canadiens have won five straight games and eight of the past nine to rebound from a stretch where they dropped four of five games. The winning streak has helped them ascend to second place in the Atlantic Division, two points ahead of Tampa Bay. … Montreal has 17 back-to-back games series this season. The Canadiens will conclude their 16th back to back when they host the Red Wings. So far, the Canadiens are 9-3-3 in the first games, and have an 8-7-0 record in the second games of the back-to-back series. … Goalie Carey Price registered his fifth shutout of the season with a 2-0 win over Buffalo (Mar. 25). He now has 20 shutouts over the past four seasons, becoming the first Canadiens’ goaltender to earn at least 20 shutouts over a four-season span since Ken Dryden did so during the final four campaigns of his NHL career. … The Red Wings’ all-time road record at Montreal is 70-173-43-0.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Max Pacioretty scored twice in the Canadiens’ 4-1 win at Florida Saturday, establishing a new career-high with his 34th and 35th goals of the season. He is currently riding a three-game goal-scoring streak, with his first tally Saturday standing as his 10th winner of the season to take over the NHL-lead. Pacioretty is the first Canadiens’ player to reach double-digits in winning goals since Vincent Damphousse scored 10 in 1993-94. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pacioretty is the fifth Canadiens’ player in the last 18 seasons to score 35 or more goals in a season, joining Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse who each produced 38 goals in 1995-96.--BILL ROOSE
And regarding passing certain Scotty Bowman in Red Wings coaching wins, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness duly noted that Babcock has no illusions as to where he stands as he prepares to tie Jack Adams as the winningest Red Wings coach ever:
With his win Sunday, Wings coach Mike Babcock is two wins away from tying as the all-time winningest coach in franchise history.
He moved ahead of Scotty Bowman on the list improving to 411-196-90 in Detroit.
“Scotty’s the greatest coach of all time in our business,” Babcock said. “The way the business was then and the way it is now, to have the amount of wins Scotty has is impossible and you’re not going to get to coach so many Stanley Cup champions. You’re not able to keep teams together like they used to.”
Jack Adams has 413 wins.
“Scotty should be in a class by himself,” Babcock said. “It’s not like I wanted to pass Scott Bowman, but I’m honored. He’s a good friend of my. I’m honored I get to talk about him. We haven’t been as good lately, but we’re grinding and finding ways to win games so let’s keep going.”
Pleiness also discussed Gustav Nyquist's goal-scoring pace...
With his highlight-reel goal Sunday against Tampa Bay, Nyquist now has 11 goals in his past nine games and 22 goals in his past 27 games.
“I feel pretty comfortable out there,” a very modest Nyquist said. “I think all the young gets are really stepping up.”
Nyquist, who had his six-game goal streak snapped last Thursday against Montreal, has at least one goal in eight of the last nine games.
“He’s feeling good about himself,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He creates space when he gets the puck. He’s faster with the puck then without it. He’s playing well for us.”
Nyquist’s team-leading 27th goal of the season was a thing of beauty Sunday. With Lightning defenseman Matthew Carle draped all over him after taking an outlet pass at center ice from David Legwand, Nyquist missed on the breakaway, but then swung back around and on an extremely sharp angle slide the puck just inside the goal post beat Ben Bishop.
“He’s been huge I think he doesn’t want to quit on anything and takes advantage of every chance he gets and puts it in the back of the net,” said Legwand, who centers the line of Nyquist and Johan Franzen.
“I was just waiting for the refs to call a penalty,” said Justin Abdelkader, who saw the play develop from the bench. “I didn’t see him put his arm up. He finally did and Gus just found a way to get that in the net. It’s one of those years for him right now, he’s been on fire, it’s been great for us with the guys we’ve had out, seeing him carry the load offensively. Hopefully he keeps going here.”
And TSN's Kerry Fraser addressed the would-be penalty to Carle (and this is just part of a longer "read the rules" spiel):
On Sunday, Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist scored what could very well be the goal of the year. As he broke in on the net he was clearly held and the ref had his arm up to call a penalty, or penalty shot, but allowed Nyquist to continue on his breakaway first. If a second infraction was committed on Nyquist, a trip or a slash for example, before he scored the goal, would both calls be wiped out or would the Red Wings be awarded the goal and a power play.
Thanks for taking the time to read my question.
After being fouled by Matt Carle on a breakaway, Gustav Nyquist demonstrated amazing patience, persistence and the hands of a surgeon in order to regain puck possession with both skates well below the goal line and then slide the disk into the net past Ben Bishop from what appeared to be an impossible angle. Not many players, past or present, possess the skill and instinct required to spin and thread the needle at full speed to score a goal from that location on the ice.
Your question, Matt, has several variables for us to consider. The assessment of a penalty shot is designed to restore a scoring opportunity which was lost as a result of a foul being committed by the offending team. On the initial part of this play all parameters of the rule were satisfied for referee Wes McCauley to impose a penalty shot once Gustav Nyquist was clearly fouled from behind by Matt Carle and denied a reasonable scoring opportunity. I am certain that McCauley intended to award a penalty shot to Nyquist had he not scored or other criteria were to develop during the delayed call.
As Wes McCauley demonstrated, the referee must delay the call until the offending team gains possession of the puck. If during this delay, Gustav Nyquist or any other Red Wing player had regained a reasonable scoring opportunity (or opportunities) yet no goal resulted, the initial penalty shot call would revert to the assessment of a minor penalty. The 'next to impossible' shot by Nyquist would not have qualified as him regaining a "reasonable scoring opportunity." A penalty shot would have been awarded if the puck had not gone in the net as specified in rule 24.8 (iii)—The fact that he (Nyquist) got a shot off does not automatically eliminate this play from the penalty shot consideration criteria. If the foul was from behind and he was denied a "more" reasonable scoring opportunity due to the foul, then the penalty shot should be awarded.
Here's the goal again:
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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.