The Malik Report
by George Malik on 10/08/13 at 02:08 AM ET
The NHL's schedule-maker giveth, and the NHL's schedule-maker taketh away, and as such, the Red Wings are going to "pay" for their CBA-mandated day off today and their 4-day break between Saturday's loss to Boston and Thursday's home game against Phoenix.
Starting with the Coyotes game, the Wings play a nasty stretch of 4 games in 6 nights (including tilts against Philly on Saturday, a Columbus Day matinee in Boston and a back-to-back tilt against the pesky Blue Jackets), then 6 in 8 (throw in a road trip to Denver and Phoenx), 8 in 14 (add in home games against San Jose and Ottawa) and a total of 10 games over the final three weeks of October--with 8 of them scrunched into a 2-week period of time.
The Red Wings have four days off before they return to action on Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes at The Joe. With the break the Wings began working on getting back to basics, which were missing on their 4-1 loss at Boston on Saturday.
“There’s some structural things – you could tell against Boston – that we weren’t doing right, it doesn’t look very good,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “There’s going to be nights where you don’t have your energy on top but you can fall back on your structure. It’s a lot easier. That’s something we have to keep working on as we move forward. That’s something you can never work too much on.”
The power play, which is 0-for-8, is another area that needs work.
“It can get better. We need to depend on it,” [Daniel] Alfredsson said. “We’ve done some good things, but we haven’t put the puck in the net and that’s what it’s all about.It’s not big changes, it’s small adjustments. It’s one of those things where I believe it’s a new look and all we need is a couple to go in and we’ll feel great. Last game against Boston we didn’t do a good job of getting zone time and then it’s tough to score.”
The Red Wings are still 2-1-0, but getting the offense on track sooner than later is key.
“It’s critical we keep taking steps,” Babcock said. “We made lots of mistakes, mental mistakes in Game 3 that you shouldn’t make. Was it because we were mentally fatigued, or was it that Boston was on us, who knows the answer to that question. I just know you can’t make them.”
But the team's third line's inability to gel (see: no points and a collective -8 for Todd Bertuzzi, Joakim Andersson and Daniel Cleary) also hurt the team's chances of rallying against the uber-trappy Bruins, and the gents addressed their shortcomings while speaking with the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:
“We started the first game pretty good I thought,” Andersson said. “We did play pretty good in the preseason together. None of us are really happy with how we played last game and maybe not the game before either. We know we can do a lot better. We need to play strong on the puck and play more down low in their end and get there more often. I’m not happy that we’ve been on the ice when the other team has scored.”
Andersson excelled last season centering a line with Gustav Nyquist and Damien Brunner, both who aren’t with the team this season. Nyquist was sent back to Grand Rapids, while Brunner got a deal with the New Jersey Devils.
“Bert and Clears are good players and both are strong on the puck,” Andersson said. “We should be able to create some scoring chances.”
“It’s been OK,” Cleary said of his line. “Obviously, you want to be good at both ends, but it’s three games in. (I’m) not that concerned.”
The line has a total of 11 shots between them.
“If we get down low and in their end more often we’re going to get more chances to shoot the puck so we have to start getting in their end more,” Andersson said. “It feels like when we’ve been out there the last two games it’s been kind of like ping pong, back and forth too much. That’s not the kind of game our line wants to play too much. I want to shoot as much as I can,” Andersson added. “We just have to find more opportunities to shoot the puck.”
As Pleiness notes Babcock conditionally endorsed the line's play, suggesting that the trio has the kind of size and physicality necessary to provide secondary scoring:
“We need to be physical, we need to be on the forecheck, we need to grind, we need to be at the net and we have to bang some pucks into the empty net,” Babcock said. “Do all those things and good things will happen to you. Bert and Clears have played on the power play most nights too. They’ve had opportunity.”
This is a ain't-got-much-other-than-repeats entry (a rare one at this time of year), so instead of offering ESPN or Sportsline's power rankings for a second time, or re-posting Mickey Redmond's fascinating 20-minute interview with Babcock, I'll toss off the CBC's Elliotte Friedman's most Wings-related entries in his "30 Thoughts" column...
1. Looked a little bit into Ken Holland's overtime suggestion: four minutes of four-on-four, followed by four minutes of three-on-three if still tied. Then a shootout if necessary. I love the idea, which was tried at the Traverse City rookie tournament the Red Wings host. One of the reasons against it is the league doesn't want longer games.
25. I'm one of those people who believes Steve Yzerman has the right to change his mind on fighting. Look, no one was tougher (or wanted a tough game more) than Colin Campbell, who once took on Bob Probert in a boxing match. If he can change his opinion, certainly Yzerman can. For what it's worth, I've been pro-fighting until recently, too. It's not just the punches, it's the way guys are hitting the ice. And, it's not going to be banned.
26. Every fall, the NHLPA goes on a "fall tour," where Donald Fehr and company meet with players on all 30 teams. In various stories last week, the impression was most players don't want stiffer penalties. Expect union leadership to discuss it more in-depth in those meetings. Paul Kelly was willing to address staged fights during his tenure, and there was major, major blowback. Remember: they have a vote on rule changes.
27. One owner said last week he thinks he and his brethren should really force the issue to protect themselves from lawsuits. He believes players should sign waivers indicating they will not sue if injured in a fight. That's a tough sell, for sure. But, I think it indicates the kinds of challenges ahead on this issue.
Speaking of "issues," one might say, "Visor?" regarding this:
Now that Kyle Quincey's keeping the "shield" on his face, the Wings have five non-visor-wearing players: Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen, Weiss, Jordin Tootoo and Jonathan Ericsson.
Hockey is back in the D and WWJ Newsradio 950 has your chance to win tickets to see the Wings at the Joe all season long! Every Monday, we have a Hat Trick of giveaways to upcoming Detroit Red Wings games.
Monday, October 14th - Listen for your chance to win tickets to see the Detroit Red Wings take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Joe Louis Arena on October 15th. Tickets are still available at Detroitredwings.com or by calling: 313-396-7575.
Click here for a complete Detroit Red Wings 2013 schedule.
Contest date: October 14, 2013, 8:00a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Prize details: Three (3) winners will receive two (2) tickets to see the Detroit Wings at the Joe Louis Arena on 10/15/13
Winner must be at least 18 years old
Click here for official contest rules
Maybe SI for Kids is smarter than its grown-up publication brother, because it's asking young sports fans to weigh in on the following question:
On New Years Day, 2014, the Detroit Red Wings will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the NHL's annual outdoor game, the Winter Classic. But that's not the only game that will be played outside this season. There will also be the Heritage Classic in Vancouver on March 2, and the Stadium Series, which will feature four more outdoor games all over the country: Kings/Ducks at Dodger Stadium in LA, Rangers/Devils and Rangers/Islander at Yankee Stadium in New York, and Blackhawks/Penguins at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Outdoor hockey is fun, but is it possible to have too much of a good thing? You tell us: Are there too many outdoor games this NHL season? Make your choice below and tells us why you made that decision — your answer could appear in the December issue of SI Kids!
And finally, I hate to repeat this one, but I will be absent for Thursday's game--and I'm not sure whether I'll write a recap--and will be completely incommunicado on Saturday as my friend Mark is getting married this Saturday, and his rehearsal dinner was ill-timed for Thursday.
I'm guessing that I'll offer some coverage of the Wings-Coyotes game-day skate and some sort of quick take, but Saturday's Flyers game will be Paul's department. :/
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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.