The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/17/13 at 12:49 PM ET
Updated 10x at 4:11 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice for a much-needed practice after a much-needed day off to allow the team to mentally and physically regroup from both their 7-game series against the Ducks and Wednesday's stumble against the Hawks, and while the schedule of the first four games may give the Wings a significant advantage tomorrow's essentially a re-set (1 PM EDT start on NBC, the CBC and 97.1 FM, and both FSD and WDIV are airing post-game shows), and the three-game break between games 3 and 4 also theoretically aids the cause of the underdogs (or "the nail," as it were)...
If the Wings' task in attempting to win four of the next six possible games wasn't enough of an uphill battle, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted that the Wings have a significant historical milestone marker serving as something of a millstone...
(the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa happened to pen an article regarding the rivalry between the Wings and Hawks from 1964-66, and the Wings advanced to the 66 Cup final and lost)...
And, via RedWingsFeed, the out-of-towners, this time in the form of ESPN's Barry Melrose, Steve Levy and Scott Burnside, are all but literally sticking with the "Hawks in three" prediction:
So it's apparently "men vs. toddlers" here, if you believe Levy's line of thinking in suggesting that the Hawks out-class the Wings by such colossal margins that you can't even call the teams "rivals"...
Somewhat ironically, a certain Red Wings player offered an interesting Tweet prior to practice...
While the Hawks took to the ice at the United Center...
And MLive's Brendan Savage found that the Red Wings' players suggested that the Hawks' national anthem-drowning-out tradition fires the visiting team up, too:
"I think it's awesome," rookie defenseman Brendan Smith said before Wednesday's 4-1 loss in Game 1. "We're always excited to come and play in this arena and hear the fans and that national anthem at the beginning. I think we feed off it as well. It's quite an experience to play here in the United Center."
[Jim] Cornelison began singing the national anthem at Blackhawks games in 1996 and has been the club's sole anthem singer since 2008. A trained opera singer, Cornelison has performed around the United States and Europe.
"It's always fun to play here," said Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. "It starts with the national anthem. It's incredible in here. It gets everyone fired up. The crowd is really loud here. Who doesn't like to play in front of a loud crowd?"
Meanwhile, back at the Joe...
I has a sad:
And then a happy?
Whoops, not #19!
FTR, part 1:
FTR, part 2:
FTR, part, "Be, aggressive, b-e, aggressive, b-e, a-g-g, r-e-s-s-i-v-e!"
Well, the CBC and NBC...
There is some good news...
Babcock waxed poetic...Sort of...
(Miller's probably a better option than Bertuzzi at this point as it's clear he's nowhere near 100% conditioning-wise)
Or, if you prefer, put with some Babcockian spin:
The Windsor Star's Bob Duff has already posted videos of Henrik Zetterberg and Kyle Quincey speaking with the media...
Amongst the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo's "questions" he hopes the Wings will answer during the course of Game 2...
- Are the Red Wings just spent? It’s like the Red Wings have been on the verge of elimination repeatedly for a month. It took a dramatic and improbable comeback to make the playoffs for the 22nd straight year. Every game was nip-and-tuck in the first-round ouster of the Anaheim Ducks. The Red Wings won three games in overtime. They were down three games to two in the series before rallying. They had to win Game 7 on the road.
Now they are facing a buzz saw in the Blackhawks, the NHL’s best team during the regular season, in an extremely hostile environment.
I believed Chicago would win this series with relative ease (in five games), but I figured the Red Wings’ big chance came from being in a do-or-die mode for such a long span. There is a flipside to that, and it’s perhaps the Red Wings don’t have much left emotionally and physically after a such a grind the last month. The Blackhawks are fresh and healthy.
- Are the Blackhawks just too good? When there is a matchup like this, a top seed (Chicago) vs. a seventh-seed (Detroit), it’s pointed out how many times the lower seed tends to win during the Stanley Cup playoffs. But in truth, the better team wins most of the time. It just get doesn’t get the loud headlines when it happens in the earlier rounds. Some years, parity is the order of the playoffs in the NHL. Certainly it was last year when a sixth-seed (New Jersey) lost to an eighth-seed (Los Angeles) in the finals. But this season has taken on a different tone. It’s been clear for awhile that the Blackhawks in the Western Conference, and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference, are the two best teams. At this point, it almost appears destined they will meet in the finals. And it would have the makings of a truly great series.
- Can the Red Wings score goals vs. the Blackhawks? As a badge of confidence, the Red Wings have made a point of talking about how close their games with the Blackhawks were during the regular season. The Red Wings lost all four, but two of them were shootout losses, another in overtime. However, in five games vs. the Blackhawks this season (four regular season and Wednesday’s second-round playoff opener), the Red Wings have scored just four goals. It wasn’t just they were outshot 41-21 Wednesday, but they didn’t have many legitimate scoring chances. Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings’ best player, didn’t have a shot on goal.
Stalberg denied reports earlier this week that he complained about his lack of power play time in the first-round series against the Minnesota Wild.
"[I'll] channel my inner Bryzgalov: Check your sources better, I guess," he said with a laugh, a reference to Philaelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov recent criticism of the media. "No, that was not accurate."
With Dave Bolland re-entering the lineup and moving back to the third line occupied by Stalberg, Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell, and Quenneville not particularly pleased with the team's performance against the Wild, Stalberg made it sound like he was simply the odd-man out. Stalberg had one assist (in Game 1) and was a plus-2 in the Wild series.
"I felt pretty good in the first series, the puck didn't bounce maybe my way toward the end," he said. "But I think we were pretty effective as a line. I think he wasn't happy with the team's performance, and he chose to take me out of the lineup. That's how it is, I'll live with that. Obviously it's frustrating, but I'll do what I can to support the guys and to be back in the lineup as soon as I get the chance. I'll try to make a difference when I'm back in there."
MLive's Brendan Savage addressed Miller's possible return as well...
"I think I'm ready to go," Miller said. "It's up to the coaches, but I feel that I'm an option right now. I think the last couple of days I've come along with the straightening of my hand and my wrist so I feel confident out there. I feel that I'm ready to go.The training staff here had me doing a lot of stuff to make the bone grow and get back. I wouldn't say rush back, because you want the bone to heal right and be all right. It's good to be back out there shooting the puck and getting ready to play. I know my body and I know how my hand feels. You have to be cautious because you don't want to push it too much."
Miller was at the United Center watching as the Red Wings lost 4-1 Wednesday in Game 1.
"It's definitely tough," he said. "You just try to stay a part of the team, in for the meetings and be around for the pre-game stuff. You try to watch and learn as much as you can from atop. It's a little different perspective. But I have to be ready. It's tough mentally, but you just have to work through the bag skates and prepare yourself for when you get back in."
Update #4: Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press's Helene St. James posted a video update...
Miller will bring an infusion of speed, and he’s one of the regular penalty killers, too, which figures to help especially against the Blackhawks, who netted their first goal in Game 1 on the man advantage.
“If he’s able to play,” Henrik Zetterberg said, “it’s a big plus for us.”
Even though Miller has played center in the past, and Babcock wasn’t all that pleased with how fourth-line center Cory Emmerton did against Anaheim, Babcock said Miller won’t be in the middle. Babcock said he’d think about whom to pull, but the fourth-line wingers have been Todd Bertuzzi and Patrick Eaves.
And the Wings' tiring of the whole, "Blackhawks in 2" spiel:
Babcock dismissed talk that the Wings are in over their heads this series, saying, “I’ve seen us play before. That’s why I try to not to go on all these theories that I keep hearing about. The key for me is, that I will make up my own mind.
“We’ve played the ‘Hawks a number of times. They were flat-out better than us in the second and third period. I showed the players all the reasons why. But the first thing is, we didn’t skate. If we don’t skate better than we did, we have no chance. If we do what we do, then you can evaluate our team. We can’t even evaluate our team till then.”
Zetterberg echoed the caution to wait to evaluate the series until after today’s game. “We know we can play a lot better,” he said. “We did a lot of things that we haven’t done in a while. If we play the way we want, we have a very good chance of winning.”
Update #5: Khan offers more about Smith...
Smith was singled out by national TV analysts and on social media. But, a talk with coach Mike Babcock was reassuring to the young defenseman.
“A few buddies told me it was all over Twitter,'' Smith said. “It doesn’t really faze me that much. It’s somebody's opinion. I just put that behind myself and come out and play.”
Smith said he got a different perspective from watching the game on tape.
“If you ever watched a game from ice level it’s like you don’t see anything,'' Smith said. “So, when you’re up top you get to see a different atmosphere, how they come forechecking, because you don’t always see everything. It’s pretty cool to see it like that, and it does help my game for sure.”
Asked where he can improve, Smith said, “Move my feet a little quicker in certain situations, maybe shoot the a little more in some situations and then there are some things that I can look at with my D-partner and we can collaborate so we can get better.”
Said Babcock: “I thought Smitty fit in perfect. This is kind of the way I look at this situation: Smitty's played (34) games in the NHL in the two-pair. Big E (Jonathan Ericsson) played in the 5-hole for the Red Wings for (several) years.''
And if you want to read more about the Stalberg controversy or the lack thereof, the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc will provide for your needs.
Update #5.75: Here's a little more Hawks-related stuff from Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers:
Duncan Keith and Michal Handzus did not practice on Friday but coach Joel Quenneville said both will be ready to go tomorrow when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
Keith is played a team-high 24 minutes, 19 seconds in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 victory over the Wings on Wednesday night. As for Handzus, this is the third time this postseason he has not practiced; Quenneville said “he’s fine.” Ben Smith centered the Blackhawks’ second line during today’s practice.
Viktor Stalberg was once again practicing in a white jersey today. Asked if Stalberg could play in Game 2, Quenneville said, “we’ll see.”
Brandon Saad – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp – Michal Handzus – Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell – Dave Bolland – Andrew Shaw
Daniel Carcillo – Marcus Kruger – Michael Frolik
Duncan Keith – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy – Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya – Michal Rozsival
Scratched: Viktor Stalberg, Jamal Mayers, Sheldon Brookbank, Ben Smith, Ryan Stanton
Johan Franzen – Pavel Datsyuk – Justin Abdelkader
Valtteri Filppula – Henrik Zetterberg – Danny Cleary
Gustav Nyquist – Joakim Andersson – Damien Brunner
Patrick Eaves – Cory Emmerton – Todd Bertuzzi
Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson
Kyle Quincey – Brendan Smith
Carlo Colaiacovo – Jakub Kindl
Scratched: Jordin Tootoo, Tom McCollum, Ian White
Injured: Drew Miller (finger), Mikael Samuelsson (upper body)
NOTE: Miller practiced with the Wings on Friday at Joe Louis Arena. Coach Mike Babcock said if Miller "is available and can help us, I'll put him in."
Update #7: A little more from ESPN Chicago's Powers about Duncan Keith and Michal Handzus not practicing:
"They're both fine," Quenneville said after Friday's practice at the United Center. "They'll be ready for [Saturday.]"
Handzus also missed the team's two practices leading into Game 1 of the series and then played 23 shifts and 17:01 and had a plus-1 rating during Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Red Wings. Quenneville said Handzus was "fine" when asked if he was nursing any injuries.
Handzus had two assists and a plus-2 rating in five games against the Minnesota Wild during their Western Conference quarterfinal series. He had one goal, five assists and a plus-7 rating in 11 regular-season games with the Blackhawks after being acquired from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline.
Keith had three goals, 24 assists and a plus-16 rating in 47 regular-season games this season. He has one goal, four assists and a plus-5 rating in six playoff games this year.
Update #8: The Windsor Star's Bob Duff took note of Miller's status...
Out since April 20 when he broke his right hand in a game against the Vancouver Canucks, Miller, a stellar checker and penalty killer, is of the opinion that he can contribute and hopes to be in the lineup when the clubs take the ice Saturday at the United Center for Game 2 of this best-of-seven set in which Chicago holds a 1-0 advantage.
“I think I’m ready to go,” Miller said. “It’s up to the coaches, but I feel that I’m an option right now.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock wasn’t ready to commit to Miller as part of a lineup shakeup.
“I’ve got a few hours to figure that out,” Babcock said. “If Drew Miller’s in a position to help our team tomorrow, he’ll play.”
A Stanley Cup winner with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07, Miller admitted watching post-season games has proven to be far more painful than any hurt from his injured hand would be.
“It’s definitely tough,” Miller said. “You just try to stay a part of the team, in for the meetings and be around for the pre-game stuff. You try to watch and learn as much as you can from atop. It’s a little different perspective, but I have to be ready. It’s tough mentally, but you just have to work through the bag skates and prepare yourself for when you get back in.”
“If Drew Miller's in a position to help our team tomorrow, he'll play,” the Red Wings’ coach said following the team’s Friday afternoon practice at Joe Louis Arena.
Miller, who hasn’t played since breaking the fourth metacarpal on his right ring finger four weeks ago, was medically cleared to return for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Blackhawks at Chicago’s United Center.
If Miller plays it give the Red Wings’ an efficient penalty killer, who was the top shot-blocker among the team’s forwards during the regular season. The last obstacle for a return, Miller said, was to build some more strength in his hand and wrist.
“I think I’m ready to go. It’s up to the coaches, but I feel that I’m an option right now,” said Miller, who would likely take the place of either Todd Bertuzzi or Patrick Eaves on the fourth line. I think the last couple of days I’ve come along with the straightening of my hand and my wrist so I feel confident out there,” Miller said. “I feel that I’m ready to go.”
Update #9: The Detroit News's David Guralnick posted a practice gallery.
Update #10: From Fox Sports Detroit's Dana Wakiji's practice report...
Babcock met with Smith Friday morning before practice to watch video and discuss what happened the other night. The coach tried to reinforce some positive points and dismissed all the critics.
“I showed him making a bunch of good plays,” Babcock said. “I said, ‘Let me decide and you decide (how he's played). Nobody else decides.’”
Former Red Wing Mickey Redmond, an analyst Fox Sports Detroit, also believes that too much of the blame was directed at Smith.
“Let’s put it this way, he had company,” Redmond said. “It was a bad night for him, but it was a bad night for a lot of guys.”
Redmond considers it all “an aberration” and expects Smith and the entire team – which has gotten some needed rest after a grueling, seven-game series with Anaheim in the opening round – to be much better in Game 2.
Smith frequently was in the spotlight because his speed gets him to the puck quicker than others. Asked if Chicago’s pressure was overwhelming at times, Smith said, “Absolutely.”
“They’re on us really tight,” he said. “It’s really fast. They have good sticks. It’s definitely very effective. We’ve got to manage the puck a lot better. When they do cut off options, we have to make a good play … chipping it out to a zone where nobody’s at. I have to make better plays, obviously. I’ve got to make better decisions with it.”
And MLive's Brendan Savage penned a "What They're Saying" column which includes this recollection from Patrick Sharp, per the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Potash:
To this day. Blackhawks fans still chant ‘‘De-troit sucks’’ at the United Center, even though the Red Wings haven’t sucked since before many of them were born.
‘‘The fans get riled up for it, for sure,’’ Hawks winger Patrick Sharp said. ‘‘I remember playing here eight years ago, when we didn’t draw so well for our regular-season games. But every time the Wings were in town, it was a sellout crowd and a playoff-type atmosphere. That rivalry in the crowd filters down onto the ice, and it makes both teams play even harder.
‘‘I can say I’ve got respect for them and their coaching staff, the quality of players they have. Nick Lidstrom [the Wings’ seven-time Norris Trophy-winning defensman] — I played against him for a number of years. There was an incident where I apparently speared him in ... an area that caused some problems. I didn’t even know I did it. When I called him on the phone to apologize, he was more than gracious. That just shows you not only the kind of person he is, but the organization that they have in general.’’
The Blackhawks-Red Wings rivalry still is going strong. But, as the recollections of Murray and Sharp illustrate, times have changed. It’s very, very doubtful that Probert called Nylund to apologize for ripping his nose off his face.
It’s not that kind of rivalry anymore. But the shame is that it probably won’t be any kind of rivalry anymore. With the Red Wings moving into the Eastern Conference, the teams will play only twice a season.
No matter how entertaining the matchups are — whether it’s the coaches (Mike Keenan vs. Jacques Demers), the fighters (Probert vs. Dave Manson) or the Hall of Fame centers (Steve Yzerman vs. Denis Savard), familiarity is a necessary component of a rivalry.
‘‘The Hawks had a great rivalry with Toronto, and that’s kind of faded because you only saw Toronto [in Chicago] once in three years,’’ Murray said. ‘‘I expect Detroit and Chicago will fade over the years because you’re not going to see them, which is an unfortunate thing.’’
And if you really want to read a story about Hawks forward Daniel Carcillo, ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers provides for your needs.
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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.