The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/03/13 at 03:36 AM ET
First and foremost, beware: auto-play videos lurk within!
Five days after the Red Wings' season-ending loss to Chicago and two after the team's locker room clean-out day, I'll admit it: I'm still pissed off. I'm still pissed off about the way the series unraveled and I'm still pissed off about the fact that the even-up refereeing gods as well as the outside-of-Detroit-press's insistence that the "hockey gods" both intervened in determining the outcome of Games 6 and 7.
I'm not thrilled with the fact that the lack of any sort of standard of officiating, and the complete and total absence thereof after whistles, are turning "scrums" from discipline-defining exchanges to sidehows. But that's beside the point.
The Blackhawks are still standing, and, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Adam L. Jahns, the Blackhawks have raced out to a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings because they're not letting the Kings frustrate them the way the Wings did:
[H]ere were the Blackhawks, almost reciting from the same quote sheet. The adversity and lessons learned from their dramatic comeback against the Detroit Red Wings — the Game 7 overtime victory, the rally in Game 6, landing in a 3-1 series hole, the emotions, the effort — would propel them. They all said it. So proof was needed.
Words needed to be transformed into puck possession, consistent traffic around the opposing goal, aggressive forechecking, smart plays in the neutral zone and, most importantly, goals. On Sunday, the evidence might have appeared. The Hawks chased all-world goalie Jonathan Quick and thumped the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center.
For a team that often speaks of Stanley Cup dreams, the Hawks finally are playing at a Stanley Cup-worthy level. They just put the defending champs into a 2-0 series hole. There was no second-game letdown like there was against the Red Wings.
“This time of year you try to carry momentum as long as you can,” Patrick Sharp said.
But this all goes back to Detroit. That’s where the momentum began. The Hawks still were talking about what that series meant to them after two games against the Kings. In some ways, the Red Wings have become this year’s version of the Nashville Predators in 2010.
“It was frustrating early on in that series against Detroit, but we learned a lot there,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “It’s best to keep learning from those things that we learned in that series and keep focused here.”
Focus. Discipline. That's what Chicago's about, right?
Back here in Southeastern Michigan, the Red Wings' players will begin to engage in their exit interviews with the team's coaches and management today at Joe Louis Arena. On the other side of the rink from the locker room, training room and coaches' offices, the Detroit Free Press reports that another group of Wings employees will be busy building a foundation for a successful 2013-2014 season, too:
With their season finally over, the Detroit Red Wings — like every pro franchise — can turn their attention to the most important business of any off-season. Selling season tickets.
Over the next few months, especially after the 2013-14 schedule is announced, expect to hear plenty about the NHL Winter Classic, Hockeytown Winter Festival, the move to the Eastern Conference and retiring Nicklas Lidstrom’s No. 5 jersey. Those will be the franchise’s biggest selling points, besides having a young team coming off an inspired playoff run.
The Wings recently mailed brochures to former season-ticket holders that touted these schedule highlights. The brochure’s title? “Hockeytown is calling ... Let’s get realigned.”
One section dealt with the Original Six rivalries and how the other five will make at least one appearance at Joe Louis Arena. And it pointed out the Wings’ history with the Toronto Maple Leafs (who lead the all-time series, 276-275-93), the Boston Bruins (Wings lead, 294-234-95-1) and Montreal Canadiens (Habs lead, 271-201-96).
Fans who purchase a full season-ticket plan are guaranteed the chance to purchase two tickets to the Winter Classic for each seat on their account. The Wings will play the Leafs on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium. Fans also are guaranteed the chance for tickets to the Winter Festival, which will feature alumni games between the Wings and Leafs at Comerica Park.
Fans who purchase a 20-game ticket plan also have a shot at the two events before tickets go on sale to the public.
No news about the lottery for the general public, but you can assume that less than 10,000 tickets will be available to both Red Wings and Maple Leafs fans.
The Wings said full-season plans start at $1,188 and 20-game plans at $620. For information: http://www.detroitredwings.com.
In terms of the Sunday sports talk shows, 97.1 FM's Mike Stone accused the Wings of "choking away" their series against Chicago while appearing on WXYZ's Sunday Sports Update...
And the Detroit News's Bob Wojnowski and the Detroit Free Press's Jamie Samuelssen, who also happen to co-host a show on 97.1 FM, suggested to Fox 2's Woody Woodriffe that the Wings "overachieved" instead, though both agree that the Wings are still engaging in a "rebuilding-on-the-fly" process which requires adding an impact player or two via free agency, with scoring up front perhaps overriding the need to add a top-four defenseman. Samuelssen believes that the free agent market is currently so thin that the Wings will have to trade players to acquire what they need:
In other "broadcast news," the Detroit Free Press's best announcer in Michigan sports showdown's final faces Fox Sports Detroit's Mario Impemba vs. Wings play-by-play man Ken Daniels;
In Swedish, Joakim Andersson told Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom that the Grand Rapids Griffins' power play has placed the Griffins in superp position to close out the Oklahoma City Barons in Game 6 of the AHL's Western Conference Final on Tuesday in Grand Rapids--after taking the Barons out via a 3-0 tally on Sunday--but he duly notes that the Griffins have been out-shot pretty severely;
And KCRG TV9's Josh Christensen reports that Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spent the weekend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, watching his son Michael Jr. attempt to earn a full season with the USHL's Cedar Rapids RoughRiders:
Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock was in Cedar Rapids this weekend for the RoughRiders prospect camp.
While he was checking out some future NHL players, he was also watching his son Michael play on the ice. Michael played for the RoughRiders near the end of last season and is hoping to come back this next season.
Babcock also talked about former RoughRider Justin Abdelkader who is thriving with the Red Wings. He scored 10 goals this past season, a career high. He's improved so much, Babcock has put Abdelkader on the Red Wings top line.
Cue the video!
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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.