The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/06/13 at 12:34 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings opened their slate of round-robin games at the prospect tournament with a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. The game included a pair of scraps--Tyler Bertuzzi more or less played "tug and pull" with Carter Sandlak, and Richard Nedomlel got some serious pops in on Kurtis Gabriel--and then there was this moment with Wild prospect Oliver Archimbault...
But the Wings carried the day, with Andreas Athanasiou scoring two goals, Riley Sheahan scoring another and Jake Patersson pitching a shutout for almost 58 minutes, and eventually stopping 20 of 21 shots while the Wings fired 35 at Johan Gustafsson. With a big game against the heavily-favored Dallas Stars (who defeated
Buffalo St. Louis 5-2 on Thursday) set for Friday evening, the first of three round-robin games
The Red Wings posited the following Tweets...
The Wild.com's Kelly Erickson offered the Wild's side of the story...
Forward Andreas Anthanasiou led the way, scoring Detroit’s first two goals of the evening at the 17:26 mark of the first and the 2:56 mark of the second respectively. Riley Sheahan netted their final score of the night 31 seconds into the final frame.
While [Wild Assistant GM Brent] Flahr noted the guys played stronger as the game went on, their shortcomings were simply a result of not executing.
“We had a tough time just making plays. Whether it wasn’t moving our feet or not making passes at the right time, or turnovers,” Flahr said. “That’s kind of expected this time of the year, the first game. The guys are nervous and haven’t skated together before. It was a little scrambly both ways, but we had a couple opportunities to score, a couple power plays, and we didn’t bear down our chances and it cost us.”
Flahr also noted that prospects like [goaltender Johan] Gustafsson, defenseman Matt Dumba and forward Zack Phillips played well, just as he expected. With some tryouts on its roster, forward Cater Sandlak stood out early — taking a major penalty for fighting in the first — and was credited as Flahr’s tryout star.
“He had five or six big, big hits and the fight which got our team going,” Flahr said. “He brought some leadership too so it was good to see.”
Eventually the Wild got on the board at the 17:59 mark of the third period, capitalizing off a turnover created by forward Kurtis Gabriel. Fellow forward Tyler Graovac tapped in a pass from Oliver Archambault from behind the net.
“It was a nice goal,” Flahr said. “Nice puck movement and something that we’re trying to do and to get rewarded.”
While he wasn't in attendance as far as I know--though there were fans packing the rink, scouts all over the damn place, and the Wings' "suite" was stuffed full of GM Ken Holland, assistant GM Ryan Martin, director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright, chief scout Jeff Finley, director of player development Jiri Fischer, executive and defensemen's mentor Chris Chelios, special assistant to the GM Kris Draper, Wings goalie coach Jim Bedard, Wings coach Mike Babcock, assistant coach Tom Renney and a few other folks who I couldn't recognize--MLive's Brendan Savage penned a recap as well:
Athanasiou, the Red Wings fourth-round pick (110th overall) in the 2012 NHL entry draft, scored in each of the first two periods while Riley Sheahan tallied in the third. Sheahan was Detroit's first-round pick (21st overall) in 2010 out of Notre Dame.
Athanasiou is scheduled to return to Barrie of the OHL this season while Sheahan is slated to play for Detroit's top farm team in Grand Rapids.
Goaltender Jake Paterson, the Red Wings' third-round pick (80th overall) in the 2012 draft, blanked the Wild until Tyler Graovac scored with 2:01 left. Paterson, who plays for the OHL's Saginaw Spirit, made 20 saves.
The Red Wings were 0-for-2 on the power play but their penalty killers were a perfect 3-for-3. They outshot the Wild 35-21.
In Thursday's other games, Carolina beat the New York Rangers 4-3, Buffalo beat Columbus 3-2 and Dallas beat St. Louis 5-2.
The Wings' prospects also posited a few Tweets...
(Technically speaking, Jake Paterson, whose goalie gear is pretty banged-up, re-Tweeted this one)
And I of course did the audio thing...
And hell, Traverse City's 9&10 News posted a partial highlight clip!
The Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau posited a photo gallery, too.
So I can totally go to bed after an incredibly long pair of days, right?
Of course I can't. Not yet, anyway.
In terms of the game's narrative, the Wings looked a little wobbly early, as you might expect of a team largely consisting of draft picks and players turning pro as opposed to AHL vets--and the Wings' prospect tournament team is very, very young by tourney standards, but they stabilized by the halfway mark of the first period.
Bertuzzi got in his compulsory fight, slashing Carter Sandlak's stick out of his hands (so he got 2 and 5) before mostly wrestling Sandlak, 6:41 in, but it took another eleven minutes until Andreas Athanasiou took a diagonal pass from Max Nicastro, spanning the neutral zone from the Wings' blueline to the Wild's blueline, and came roaring in on Johan Gustafsson like a freight train, carrying the puck with him. Gustafsson is a huge goaltender, but Athanasiou found a hole at the 17:25 mark.
Marek Tvrdon's assist was more of a "courtesy puck possession" thing than anything else.
Richard Nedomlel got into his fight with Kurtis Gabriel with all of 33 seconds left in the 1st, and just as the Bertuzzi fight had little effect on the game, the same could be said for Nedomlel's scrap.
The Wings took a 2-1 lead early in the 2nd when Athanasiou took a slick blueline-to-slot pass from Xavier Ouellet and went to his backhand 2:56 into the 2nd, and while the Wings had 2 power plays--with coach Jeff Blashill (flanked by Spiros Anastas and Jim Paek) choosing to use Calle Jarnkrok and Marek Tvrdon on the point--they couldn't convert. Marc McNulty took a pair of penalties in the 2nd and 3rd as well, but they had little effect on the game...
But Rley Sheahan's gorgeous sniper's shot off a superb, 25-seconds' worth of cycling with Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen all of 31 seconds into the 3rd did the Wild in.
It stank that Paterson was hung out to dry by a dippy defense late in the game, with Tyler Gracovac splitting Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet before putting a high backhander over Paterson's glove, but he was otherwise impeccable.
Blashill mostly stuck to his lines, the Wings won more faceoffs than they lost and Max Nicastro, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco wore the "A's" as NO ONE but the Red Wings' captain wears a "C."
Phillipe Hudon and Jordan Maleta, defenseman Michal Plutnar and goaltender Cam Lanigan did not play.
I need to say this right off the bat, and then I'm going to try to do a line-player evaluation: the vast majority of the Wings' prospects who had never faced NHL or AHL-level competition before, even if they'd practiced with the Griffins, had, "HOLY SHIT THIS IS FAST" games full of decision-making and levels of hesitation and mistake-making that won't cut it at the pro level.
This is COMPLETELY NORMAL and it is highly likely that most of the players will improve significantly by the time they've practiced together 5 times and played in 4 games--never mind once they've taken part in skates with the main campers.
Tomas Jurco #26-Riley Sheahan #15-Teemu Pulkkinen #56
Riley Sheahan was really the hero of the day, despite Athanasiou's goals. He played on the power play, he played on the PK, he helmed the first line at even strength, by the end of the game, he must have played at least 20 minutes, and he was excellent in all three zones. He scrapped and ground things out defensively with a physical edge in his own zone--often switching positions with Tomas Jurco as "who has the best position?" won out over, "I'm the center and you're the winger"--he lugged pucks up ice, and he smashed and crashed and plowed his way toward the net with a physical edge I haven't seen him display before. He played like he was the team's leader, and his goal was icing on a cake made of hard work.
Tomas Jurco: Jurco didn't "snipe" very often, but he displayed excellent form as a playmaker, as someone who may not have filled out yet physically, but someone who can more than keep up in traffic, as someone with superb speed, excellent vision and an eye-opening ability to haul ass back into his own zone to take care of the puck and get it out of trouble. He was understated but just excellent from start to finish. He just didn't unleash his shot enough.
Teemu Pulkkinen: Pulkkinen, the only player I've ever seen who has his visor tilted DOWN to protect his face (and possibly clear his field of vision, as Octopus Thrower on Twitter suggested; and that being said, he cuts out all of the cuff protection from his gloves), isn't big by any stretch of the imagination, but he skitters up and down the ice like a water-bug, actively skating into high-traffic areas and taking hits as necessary in order to grind out the puck, make plays and especially unleash his wonderful, fluid one-timer. His sights were off in terms of his shooting, but he kept rolling off hits when players tried to intimidate him and kept a great cycling game going with Jurco and Sheahan.
He was not fantastic defensively, but that's something he has to learn, and I can sure tell you this: those who try to intimidate him forget that he's played in Europe's toughest, most fight-happy league over the past three years.
Anthony Mantha #39-Calle Jarnkrok #70-Martin Frk #42
Anthony Mantha: Mantha had a serious "OH SHIT" game. He looked like somebody's gone and put a V6 in a frickin' Dodge Viper. His get-up-and-go got mashed out of him, he was indecisive, he didn't shoot very often and he wasn't in the right position. This was mostly due to the fact that he's an 18-year-old kid whose 6'4" frame is anything but filled out, and because he's never played at the level of intensity or execution that he experienced on Thursday.
Does Mantha still have all the tools of an elegant natural goal-scorer with size? Yep. Did his sniper's skills show up at all on Thursday? Nope. Is he two-and-a-half months from being drafted? Yep. Should you panic? No way.
Martin Frk: Ditto. Frk had a bit of a rough go, mostly because the Hunchback of Halifax played like he had Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon on his line, and he played like he was back in the QMJHL, where you can over-pass and over-pass and still get "cute" opportunities to score.
Frk was good in traffic, he kicked pucks up to his stick and even blocked a shot or two in the defensive zone, he worked hard, but he was just quiet. He didn't shoot, and if you're as gifted a power forward as Martin Frk is, when you're hesitating and trying to pass back to your center instead of unleashing that slithery wrist shot off his short, 75-flex stick, you're not going to be very effective.
Calle Jarnkrok: As such, Jarnkrok was essentially muted by his linemates. I do not know whether Jarnkrok is going to take half a year to adjust to the North American game, and he is still very undersized physically, even after spending this past summer bulking up in Gavle...
But holy pants, man, is he slicker than glitter on a stripper. He's very, very polished defensively, he's just got fantastic vision, he carries the puck up ice, he knows when to pass it instead, he shoots well, his tenacity is excellent as he's been a go-to guy in the Eliteserien for three years now, his instincts are excellent, and he was hampered by two linemates having, "Oh shit!" games. He was nothing less than elegant, and while he is not going to have a slippery smooth ride toward stardom, he looked like a player.
Marek Tvrdon #60-Andreas Athanasiou #72-Zach Nastasiuk #62
Marek Tvrdon: Tvrdon still puzzles the *#$%@& out of me. He is indeed big, he does indeed have a wonderful heavy shot, he is in fact a good playmaker, a good skater, and as it turns out, he did a great job playing point on the power play, never surrendering an opportunity against, but is he a Tomas Kopecky-style Slovakian power winger in the making? Can he harness more of that natural goal-scorer's ability? Or have three mostly injury-filled campaigns become too much for him to overcome?
One game won't tell that tale.
Andreas Athanasiou: If Jarnkrok is polish, Athanasiou is just naturally-talented athleticism on skates. His leg strength is remarkable, he's blazing fast through the middle, he's got a great, great shot regardless of whether he's one-timing, backhanding, wrist or slap or one-time-shooting it, he can make plays, his head is always up and he's so aware of puck feel that he told me that he's quite happy with half of the palm torn out of the glove on his upper hand. He's also almost as fearless as Pulkkinen, which is fantastic.
But the flashes of brilliance and the fact that he's about to have a dominant year with the Barrie Colts don't tell you that he's still got some core strength issues to work out, or that the reason he's not a "top prospect" is that he turns the afterburners on and plays like a star, and then he turns them off and looks merely like a 3rd-line center with some superb offensive panache.
Zach Nastasiuk: Nastasiuk was literally and figuratively on the margins, crashing, banging, grinding and mucking with I would say not-quite-reckless abandon, taking care of his defensive game for the most part and showing that the step I thought was missing in his skating during the summer is in fact there when he's told that he's competing for something. He, like Athanasiou, looks like someone who's got the athleticism and seeing-eye ability to already suggest that he may be a pro-contract-caliber player down the line, especially because he's got a nose for shoveling pucks from the side boards or behind the net to the slot, but after limited viewings, I can only say that he's Kirk-Maltby-esque.
Tyler Bertuzzi #59-Barclay Goodrow #82-Rasmus Bodin #67
Barclay Goodrow: Goodrow did well. He eventually earned some time on the PP and the PK because he plain old works his ass off, every shift. He's not the fastest player, his hands are not the best in the world and he is not a natural scorer per se, but he keeps up with even top-tier talent, and mostly he knocks the hell out of people in a very conscientious and mostly legal manner, out-competing them and out-wanting the puck, out-wanting through sticks and legs and arms and whole and even multiple bodies.
But he didn't play that much, and again, if there is room for him, it'll be on an AHL deal, because what he looks like is Trevor Parkes, the kind of player who can score in junior but projects as a "power checker."
Tyler Bertuzzi: Bertuzzi got in the compulsory fight. Bertuzzi had the compuslory, "I knocked that guy's ass into our bench" hit. Bertuzzi wore his helmet loose, his chin strap as long as his uncle's and his visor cocked back.
When he gets out of his way and stops trying to be Mr. Instigator, however, it turns out that the Red Wings were not crazy to draft him as high as they did (58th overall). Lanky "Little Bert" is a fluid skater, he's got a Goodrow-esque compete factor when he's on his game and his passing and shooting are very, very good. There is significant "upside" in his game and he really could be more than a pest. The problem is that being a pest preoccupies him.
Rasmus Bodin: A ditto here. When Bodin gets out of his way and just plays, he's frickin' huge at 6'6," he's still not all filled out at 207 pounds, he and Bertuzzi's mullets flutter behind them when they're skating up ice and hunting people down, and he can do more than marginally handle the puck to get it to his teammates or chip in the occasional shot. He's still a very big, very powerful and very smart support player. He just doesn't focus very well.
Xavier Ouellet #61-Ryan Sproul #48
Xavier Ouellet: Ouellet is never going to be considered an elite defensemen by the fans who watch him because he is far too quiet, but that's exactly why coach Blashill praised Ouellet so very much.
Of all of the Griffins' pro-turning players, Alexei Marchenko's 2 seasons with CSKA Moscow included, Ouellet needs neither time, space nor thought to make the simple, safe and steady play, moving the puck smoothly with a white-taped blade whose bottom perimeter is darkened by "Gordie Howe tape" to blend in with the puck. Ouellet, like his stick, blends in so much that you barely notice him, especially along the big, hulking and bombastic Sproul, but that's the whole point. Ouellet's outlet passes and puck-lugging abilities are excellent, he's got a hard, low shot and he may not hit people much, but he already acquitted himself quite well in traffic against the Wild's heavy bodies--and he just never panics.
The only issue is that Ouellet is a little slow-footed at times, so if he is caught not being smooth, he can occasionally be seen "Murphying" behind a forward who's beaten him simply because he doesn't transition well from front to backwards skating. His lateral mobility is perhaps his best skating skill. He just doesn't have that explosive first stride.
Ryan Sproul: Everything a prospect-watcher wants. Big hits. Taking big hits. A wickedly vicious slap shot, and a similarly sinister wrist shot. Great ability to lug the puck up ice, play give-and-go with Ouellet or a forward, to hold the blueline (like Ouellet), clear the zone and take control of the play.
But he's mistake-heavy, at least from a pro standpoint, after having so much time and space in the Soo, and he's still far too accustomed to being the biggest and meanest kid on the block to know that if he waits that extra half-second that almost all junior-graduating players do, he's gonna get his block knocked off.
The potential for top-pair defenseman's status is there, just as it is for Ouellet. In Ouellet's case, it's about a little more concentration and smoothing out the very few rough edges in his game. In Sproul's case, it's about taking all of those edges and making them work together while playing simpler and more efficient hockey.
Marc McNulty #54-Alexei Marchenko #47
Alexei Marchenko: Marchenko's an intriguing fellow. He's just turning "North American pro," but he spent one season as one of CSKA Moscow's top-six defensemen and another half-season as a regular skater before he was kicked into the 8th defenseman's spot (and Russian teams dress 8 sometimes!) after a late-season trade. He's big, bulky, skates very well and has those classically European polishes to his game in terms of point-to-point passing, a low, hard shot and surprising ability to keep up in traffic and even levy the hard physical blow.
He makes mistakes on the smaller ice, however, but in the however there's also a double-contradictory "but"--because Marchenko also happens to bail himself out of most of the mistakes he makes, tenaciously charging back to assuage a poorly-chosen pass or making a simple, smart, Ouellet-like poke check to get the puck out of harm's way.
We'll see how he pans out over time.
Marc McNulty: On the other end of the spectrum, McNulty is gigantic at at least 6'6" and near-stick-thin at a reported 189 pounds, he looks like he's 15, makes decisions like he's in his draft year and has never played against pros, and yet...He'll knock down pucks with his stick or his feet and chip them out of harm's way, he skates fantastically well for a big man and he pushed, shoved, slashed and hacked right back at the players who tried to intimidate him.
#77 Richard Nedomlel-#58 Max Nicastro
Richard Nedomlel: I hope it was slow-start syndrome for Richard, because there were times when the hulking 6'5," 230-pound stay-at-home defenseman looked like an absolute rock, and there were other times when pucks would skitter through him and he'd find himself skated around like a pylon. He's got all the physical tools he'll ever need, his stickhandling is much better than it used to be and he knows how to play meat-and-potatoes defense, but even after practicing with the Griffins, he had quite the "Oh shit!" game.
Max Nicastro: Despite having to bail out Nedomlel and occasionally getting beaten himself, Nicastro played quite well. He's still filling out--remarkably--at 6'3" and 225 pounds, he's a powerful skater, he blocks shots, he hits hard, he knows how to make his stick do the work for him and he's really someone who grew up as a speedy, puck-moving and puck-rushing defenseman, but has adapted himself to play a more stay-at-home game at the pro level, and on a regular basis, you see the flashes of more to his game.
He's kind of the Kirk Maltby of defensemen, if that makes any sense, and that's encouraging.
Jake Paterson #57: Paterson was awesome. He loves moving the puck instead of just grabbing it and waiting for a faceoff, which really helped the Wings keep their pace of play up and got the puck out of trouble much more often than it got him into trouble.
Even when he lost his stick and McNulty lost his at the end of the 2nd period, Paterson's positioning was impeccable, his glove is excellent, his toes are sharp, his blocker is steady and he knows how to drop into the butterfly and absorb the energy from shots to prevent rebounds that aren't kicked out to where he wants them to go.
He was not, however, exposed to any sort of high level of traffic, and there are still moments where he gets off his near-perfect positioning and he looks like a fish out of water. But he's still learning.
Forward Daniel Cleary confirmed via text Thursday night that he will skate with his former Red Wing teammates at Joe Louis Arena on Friday. He would not confirm if he would accept the open invitation Wings general manager Ken Holland made to attend Wings’ training camp on a professional tryout in Traverse City next week.
The Wings are already over the roster limit by two and slightly over the salary cap.
General manager Ken Holland has said he would not add players until other players are moved or salary is shaved.
The Wings, who signed Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss once free agency opened, currently have 16 forwards under contract. They have 25 total players under contract which is two over the roster limit and $637,000 over the salary cap.
Cleary, who had nine goals and six assists in 48 games during the lockout-shortened season last year, has flourished since he joined the Wings for the 2005-06 season. He’s spent eight seasons in Detroit and has reached the 20-goal plateau three times.
If you want to read or watch more people yelling about the Wings' rink development at a City Council meeting, WDIV, WXYZ, the Detroit Free Press's Matt Helms and Fox 2 provide you with your needs--and at least the neat part was that MLive's David Muller found out the following:
The Detroit Free Press reported in December that Mayor Dave Bing and a top aide believed Ilitch’s Olympia Entertainment could owe the city some $1.5 million in unpaid taxes on the Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings currently play.
But George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, which staffs the DDA, told the press after the hearing that, as far as he knows, there is no outstanding money owed by the Ilitches.
The Detroit News duly noted that fans can vote on next year's Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction class, and Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Chris Chelios are up for induction;
RedWingsFeed provides us with nuggets of joy...
If you missed the NHL.com video in which Mr. Howard, taking part in an NHL/NHLPA-sponsored media tour of New York to promote the Winter Classic(s), stated that his family is building a home in Detroit, I finally found the video's embed code...
And the CTV News's Jon Woodward confirms that British Columbia is a strange place:
The subject of a new Canada Post stamp bears an uncanny resemblance to former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi – and the coincidence is raising eyebrows among local collectors.
The $0.63 stamp is one of several NHL stamps recently released by Canada Post.
According to All Nations Stamp and Coin owner Brian Grant Duff, the hockey players depicted on the collectibles are meant to be generic-looking composite images.
But when Grant Duff got his first look at the Canucks’ stamp Tuesday morning, his first reaction was “Whoa, that looks like Bertuzzi.”
To confirm his suspicions, he asked others for their opinions.
“I quietly showed the image around without suggesting who it might look like and said ‘Hey, what Canuck do you think this looks like?' Most people said Bertuzzi,” Grant Duff said. “So it’s curious that the composite…resembles a famous Canuck and an infamous Canuck whose ghost haunts us all a little bit.”
A spokesman for Canada Post later confirmed the stamp “was not intended to reflect the likeness of Mr. Bertuzzi and that any resemblance is purely coincidental.”
I'm exhausted. I need to take a shower and go to sleep.
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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.