The Malik Report
by George Malik on 01/29/13 at 04:12 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings will face off against the Dallas Stars tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD Plus, Fox Sports Southwest Plus, AM 1270) hoping to rebound from a disappointing loss against Chicago while playing a team in somewhat similar circumstances.
The Stars have also undergone some roster revisions (see: Ray Whitney, Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy), they've welcomed Jamie Benn back into the lineup after re-signing him, but one of their new additions is on the IR (Roy) and their back-up goalie's banged-up as well.
Both teams are works in progress, and while the Wings' larger contingent of injured players (see: Darren Helm, out till the weekend with a bad back, Ian White, out for at least another week with a lacerated quadriceps, Carlo Colaiacovo, out for two more weeks with an injured shoulder, Jonas Gustavsson, who may return from his groin injury in time for the Wings' back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, Mikael Samuelsson and Jan Mursak, who did not practice as they are nursing groin and shoulder injuries, respectively, and Valtteri Filppula, who's not practicing to save wear and tear on a still-healing MCL sprain) and incredibly crappy power play (2 for 26 thus far) separate them from the in-progress Stars...
The in-progress Red Wings are also receiving excellent goaltending from their starter in Jimmy Howard, just as the Stars defeated the Wings 2-1 a week ago thanks to a 39-save performance from Kari Lehtonen, and there's one more important difference between the two teams: the Stars are 2-3-and-1 after having dropped a 2-1 decision to Columbus on Monday night, and the 2-2-and-1 Wings don't want to find themselves sporting a 2-3-and-1 after tonight's game.
That, and the Wings are hoping that the Blue Jackets haven't warmed up the Stars in the same way that they set up the Chicago Blackhawks for their dominating performance after being annoyed by Columbus's moxie on Saturday...
Anyway, regarding the Stars' performance on Monday night in Columbus, the Dallas News's Mike Heika offers a subscriber-only recap, a sidebar story on Kari Lehtonen and another on Brenden Morrow that I can't read and you probably can't access, either, but Heika also offers a very succinct recounting of the game's events...
First Period: Stars played maybe their most complete period of the year, as they controlled the puck, killed three penalties and had a 9-3 edge in shots on goal. Dallas was credited with 0 giveaways, and forced Columbus to chase the game.
Stars 0, Columbus 0
Second Period: Kari Lehtonen made one of his greatest saves ever, blindly backhanding a high puck off the goal line to keep the game tied. Philip Larsen then scored at the other end of the ice a few minutes later. Larsen whipped a power play shot through a Brenden Morrow screen for his first goal of the season. However, Dallas took penalty after penalty, and Columbus finally tied the game at the 17:47 mark when Derek Dorsett slapped in a one-timer from the left wing.
Stars1, Columbus 1
Third period: The Stars started the period on the power play and got nothing started, and the Blue Jackets then answered with a fluky goal from Vinny Prospal. The Blue Jackets headed up ice in transition, and Prospal flipped a shot at Lehtonen from the goal line. The Stars defense was not in place, and the puck trickled through a Ryan Johansen screen and through a space between Lehtonen and the post. Dallas could never get the game tied after that.
Columbus 2, Stars 1
And he spoke to Lehtonen about his superb save...
The Stars lost a 2-1 game to Columbus on Monday, but Kari Lehtonen did everything he could to keep them in the game.
Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson made a swerving move through the Stars’ zone, and snapped a bullet on net. Lehtonen clipped the shot with the edge of his glove, but it looked like the puck was going to flip up and go into the net. Then, in a flash, the Stars’ MVP, wheeled and swiped the puck like a third baseman with a backhanded glove.
“When it hits that spot in the glove, it usually just bounces up a little, so I knew it was around there. I was able to keep my eye on it, so that made it easier,” Lehtonen said. “It would have been nice to just make the glove save from the start, but it was actually kind of fun for me, because I only had three saves in the first (period) and I needed something to get me into the game. Then, I got plenty of chances after that.”
Lehtonen said he wasn’t sure if he got the puck before it crossed the goal line, but when he watched the video, he knew it was legit.
“It was nice to see that, it was nice to know it was a good save,” he said.
Which looked like this:
NHL.com posted a full slate of game highlights...
And if you're interested in watching post-game comments from Vernon Fiddler, Jamie Benn, or coach Glen Gulutzan, with the latter two having also spoken with Fox Sports Southwest after the game, enjoy. Gulutzan stated that he's not sure whether Lehtonen or Richard Bachman will start tonight.
DallasStars.com's Mark Stepneski says that the Stars struggled to stay out of the penalty box, which is a story that Red Wings fans have become familiar with...
Cutting down on penalties was a big emphasis for the Dallas Stars this season. So, far, that goal has yet to be met. A series of Dallas penalties in the second period changed momentum in the game Monday night, allowing the Columbus Blue Jackets to rally for a 2-1 victory over the Stars at Nationwide Arena.
The loss extended the Stars’ winless streak to three games (0-2-1) and dropped them to 2-3-1 on the season.
“If you are going to take eight minors in a game, or nine minors in a game you are probably not going to win. That’s what happened today,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We’ve got to be careful with our sticks, we can’t be reaching in the offensive zone. We’re killing ourselves. You can do whatever you want system-wise and play as hard as you want, but if you are going to take that many penalties this is the result.”
The Stars survived three penalties in the first, but the big turning point came eight minutes into the second period. With the Stars leading 1-0 on a Philip Larsen power play goal, Vernon Fiddler took a hooking minor and high sticking minor on the same play, giving Columbus a 4:00 power play. Just 42 seconds later Tom Wandell was called for closing his hand on the puck during a faceoff. That gave the Blue Jackets a full two minutes of five-on-three time. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen and the Stars penalty killing unit were able to kill it off, but the Blue Jackets kept coming.
Stepneski offers a quick take on the game...
Jamie Benn debut: Jamie Benn made his season debut for the Dallas Stars and picked up an assist, but it wasn’t enough as the Stars fell, 2-1 to the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night at Nationwide Arena. The loss extended the Stars winless streak to three games (0-2-1). Philip Larsen scored the lone goal for the Stars, who fell to 2-3-1 on the season. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 of 27 shots. Derek Dorsett and Vinny Prospal scored goals and Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves for Columbus, which snapped a four-game winless streak.
Penalty woes: The Stars were shorthanded seven times in the game, six of them when the game was actually still being contested. They didn’t give up a power play goal, but three of those penalties came in a 42 second span of the second period, giving Columbus extended power play time and letting the Blue Jackets seize momentum in the game and rally from a 1-0 deficit. The Stars have been shorthanded 29 times this season and on the power play 20 times, for a minus-9 differential in power play opportunities to shorthanded situations.
“I thought our killers did a fantastic job of killing those penalties off, but then we get away from the game plan,” said Gulutzan. “We start turning pucks over and instead of them losing momentum from the kills, they gain momentum because we give it to them.”
With 2:13 left in the second period, the Stars turned the puck over in the offensive zone, got caught in a line change and Derek Dorsett scored on an odd-man rush to tie the game at 1-1.
Just 2:24 into the third period, Vinny Prospal put the Blue Jackets ahead for good when he beat a screened Lehtonen with a shot from behind the goal line.
The Stars had some chances after that, but weren’t able to get another puck by Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 24 of 25 shots on the night.
The loss spoiled the debut of Stars forward Jamie Benn, who signed a five-year, $26.25 million contract with the team last week and played his first game of the season. He picked up an assist and won 12 of 22 faceoffs in 20:47 of playing time.
“We need to stay out of the box, it kind of turned momentum around tonight,” said Benn. “That’s probably the biggest thing.”
Through the first six games, the Stars have been shorthanded 29 times and have been on the power play 20 times. That’s a minus-9 when it comes to power plays versus times shorthanded. Not exactly what the Stars were looking for this season after being a minus-59 in that category in 82 games last season.
The Associated Press's recap adds a stat worth noting...
Dallas RW Jaromir Jagr, needing just one goal to break a tie with Luc Robitaille (667 goals) to move into 10th on the all-time list, returned to the Dallas lineup after missing one game with a bad back.
And Stepneski offers a Wings-Stars preview...
About the Stars: The Stars (2-3-1) lost 2-1 at Columbus Monday, extending their winless streak to three games (0-2-1). The Stars had a 1-0 lead in the second period, but a series of penalties on Dallas allowed momentum to shift to the Blue Jackets, who rallied for a 2-1 victory.
Jamie Benn, who signed a contract last week, made his season debut, picking up one assist in 20:47 of playing time.
Gulutzan said after the game he was undecided on a starting goaltender for Tuesday’s game.
*Every Dallas game this season has been decided by one goal.
*The Stars have been shorthanded 29 times this season, tied for most in the league with the Philadelphia Flyers.
*The Stars are 14-14 on the penalty kill on the road this season.
*The Red Wings have allowed a power play goal in four of five games and are 17-25 (68%) on the penalty kill this season. The only game they didn’t allow a power play goal was the 2-1 loss to Dallas on January 22.
As well as a likely Stars lineup for tonight's game, assuming that their lines remain the same as they were set up against Columbus:
The Dallas News's Mike Heika offers a game preview of his own...
Key matchup: Jamie Benn vs. Niklas Kronwall: The Stars’ big center will be playing on the second night of back-to-back games to start his season and could show fatigue. Kronwall is one of the league’s big hitters and is averaging 25:21 in time on ice per night, so Benn will have to battle through Kronwall. Benn has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 10 games against the Red Wings.
Key stat: 1-12-2: Stars’ record since the start of last season in the second night of back-to-back games. Nine out of this season’s 48 games come on the second night of back-to-backs.
Dallas: C Derek Roy (groin), D Aaron Rome (flu) and G Cristopher Nilstorp (groin) are out.
Detroit: C Darren Helm (back), G Jonas Gustavsson (groin) are questionable. RW Jan Mursak (collarbone), RW Mikael Samuelsson (groin), D Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), D Ian White (leg) are out.
Notable: The Stars beat Detroit 2-1 at Joe Louis Arena last Tuesday. Michael Ryder had two goals, and Cody Eakin had two assists. … The Stars could go with Richard Bachman in net. Bachman had a 3-2 shootout loss at Joe Louis last season, with 30 saves on 32 shots.
And NHL.com's Brian Compton's preview is a wee bit redundant at this point, but it allows us to shift perspectives from those of the Stars to those of the Red Wings' coach and players:
Season series: This is the second of three meetings between the teams. The Stars earned a 2-1 victory against the Red Wings on Jan. 22 at Joe Louis Arena.
Big story: Detroit is trying to survive without former captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired after last season. The Wings’ power play has struggled mightily in Lidstrom’s absence, with just two goals in 26 opportunities.
Red Wings [team scope]: Despite a solid effort, Detroit was unable to notch what would have been a second straight win as Corey Crawford shined in a 2-1 overtime loss at Chicago on Sunday night. Johan Franzen scored the only goal for the Red Wings, as Crawford denied the other 29 shots Detroit recorded.
I think we're looking for the perfect shot," said Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "Sometimes a [wrist shot] in there creates some momentum and creates some chances or chaos in front of their net. We have to get back to the basics a little bit instead of passing the puck around too much. We had a few pretty good looks. We just couldn't get the job done."
Who’s hot: Veteran forward Ray Whitney has five points (two goals, three assists) in six games for the Stars. … Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk leads the club with six points (two goals, four assists) in five games.
Injury report: Dallas placed forward Derek Roy (groin) on injured reserve Monday. … Darren Helm (back) and forwards Mikael Samuelsson (groin) and Valtteri Filppula (knee) did not participate in Monday’s practice. According to the Wings’ website, Helm went for an MRI on his back, and tests showed no structural damage, but he will not play against the Stars. Defensemen Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) and Ian White (quadriceps) are expected to begin skating in the next day or two. White could miss one more week, while Colaiacovo will likely be out another two weeks. Backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin) practiced Monday. He believes he could be back by the weekend.
The vast majority of Monday's non-health-related Red Wings stories involved the team's attempts to resurrect its power play, which includes a surprising personnel tweak in Jakub Kindl joining the second unit (is this his last, best chance to make the Wings' roster before the team chooses to waive someone, most likely either Kindl or Kent Huskins, when Helm, Samuelsson, White and Colaiacovo eventually return? Yup.), and some of the discussion is worth repeating.
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted that the Wings still believe that they've got the right people in place and the right systems in place--they just need, as Pavel Datsyuk might say, "More shoot" and a much better effort in terms of retrieving pucks to generate secondary and tertiary scoring opportunities:
"We need shots,” Babcock said after practice Monday at Joe Louis Arena. “Pavel doesn’t have enough (shots), he’s right about that. Z’s got lots of shots, he shoots the puck every time he gets the chance and that’s what I like to see. I’d like (Niklas Kronwall) to have a lot more (shots) on the power play and I’d like to have more shots from inside the dots and not from the outside.”
In Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit went 0-for-6 with the man advantage, squandering away 11:17 of power play time.That drops the Wings to 2-for-26 on the power play.
“It’s not an issue with personnel,” Danny Cleary said. “We feel that we have great personnel out there. I feel we have to have a little more work ethic out there. Get the loose pucks back after shots. Retrieves are important. We have guys in front of the net. I think we have to shoot a little bit more from the outside.”
The Wings had just five shots on the power play Sunday.
“When you’re the Mule and you’re in front of the net you want someone to shoot the puck otherwise you’re standing there and wondering what you’re doing,” Babcock said. “You’re standing around and you have dust on you, you don’t do anything. (Tomas Holmstrom) used to come to the bench and yell at me to tell them to shoot, shoot. And Mule’s not doing that, but he’s thinking the same thing. If they shoot he’s got a chance to generate offense. If they don’t shoot, he goes and gets the puck back and stands there and watches them pass it around. You have to shoot to score.”
“The pucks aren’t going in,” Kronwall said. “We have to do a better job getting into the zone and establishing momentum and just get pucks to the net. We need more shots, get it back and go from there.
“It’s always disappointing when you don’t score on the power play, whether it’s your first or last one you always want to score on the power play,” Kronwall added. “We just have to find a way to get the job done.”
Babcock offered a unique assessment of his team's power play issues to the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa...
"It's not been as good as we'd like it to be, and so we've got to get that going," Babcock said. "Obviously, we've had an influx of players on the back end, and so we're trying to get it better in that spot."
The feeling is the Red Wings did not get to enough loose pucks in the Blackhawks zone with a man advantage. Babcock said he will work Jakub Kindl into the second unit of the power play against the Stars tonight.
"Maybe he can help that out," Babcock said. "We'll see what happens. Working on it, every day. We try to do enough drills each and every day with that kind of focus, without wearing our people out."
And Cleary (Dan? Danny? Daniel?) and Babcock spoke to Krupa about the team's mediocre start as well:
"We're .500; I mean, it's OK," said Daniel Cleary, who has no points and is a minus-2. "Obviously, we'd like to be above .500. But we're five games in, and you just didn't want to start 0-5 or 0-3-2, or something like that. And now we've got to get the special teams going. That's going to be an important part for us."
Their coach says he and the players must focus on steady improvement.
"What we do is we just try to get better each and every day," Mike Babcock said. "Every game you play, things resonate with you, and last night our forecheck early in the game wasn't very good and they ended up with lots of speed. I thought we got that settled out.
"We had an opportunity (against the Blackhawks) on special teams to win and didn't get that done. So we spent a lot of our time on the power play, again, here today. You know our power play's got to be a weapon for us."
The biggest issue the team faces as they prepare to play their third game in five nights--before two days off, and then a course of six games during the first 10 days of February--is getting off to a "good start" in the literal sense of the term, as MLive's Ansar Khan points out:
Through five games, the Red Wings are the only team that hasn't scored a goal in the opening period. It's a trend that must change, they hope starting Tuesday against the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena.
“Let’s just get out there and jump on it,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s what we have to try to do here (Tuesday) at home. I don’t think we’ve been particularly good or particularly bad (in the first period). I don’t think there are a whole lot of patterns to look for yet. It’s five games in, but in saying all that you’d like to start great every night and you’d like to have the lead, but the other team is trying, too, so sometimes it doesn’t happen."
Detroit has been outscored 4-0 in the first period. The Red Wings are 2-0 when they score first (both times in the second period) and 0-2-1 when the opposition opens the scoring.
“That has to be the emphasis these next few games, getting started on time and getting that first goal,'' defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “We’re a good team with the lead. If I’m a betting man, I would say we’ll have the lead here pretty soon at the start of games. We’re not panicking.''
The Red Wings ranked third in the NHL in first-period goals (77) in 2011-12.
Patterns are emerging, coach, and as Daniel (okay, Daniel) Cleary told the Free Press's Helene St. James, almost a week-and-a-half's worth of a 48-game schedule yields a much more significant percentage of the season than a week-and-a-half's worth of 82 games would yield:
"I've always believed that to get a lead early is great," Daniel Cleary said. "You never want to play from behind. We're five games into a season, with some new faces, and guys are trying to get acclimated with each other. We're .500. At best, it's OK. I feel that our special teams is the area where we have to get a lot better in."
The Wings host Dallas tonight, one week after losing the home opener to the Stars. It may be only the sixth game, but in a lockout season, the Wings can't be flatfooted long.
"We don't have 77 games left," Cleary said. "The margin of error is small. We've got to play good defense, good on the penalty kill, and we've got to capitalize on the power play. That will determine our success."
The Wings don't lack for talent to score, at even strength or power play, not with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula among the forwards. The focus is on getting more shots, rather than passing, and then if the shot doesn't hit the target, get the puck back.
We'll end this little ditty on a positive note, as St. James broke the story that Darren Helm's second MRI thankfully offered nothing more than a prescription for rest and some Ibuprofen:
A second MRI revealed "no structural damage" to Darren Helm's back, general manager Ken Holland said. "There's a little inflammation, so he's going to get an anti-inflammatory and take a few days off." Helm is out at least through the weekend. ... Filppula (knee) hasn't been practicing because of a sore knee, but Babcock anticipates having Filppula available to play. ... Holland said Ian White (cut on left leg) and Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder) are expected to skate later in the week, but White is at least a week away from returning, and Colaiacovo several weeks.
In other news, Petr Mrazek, Chad Billins and Gustav Nyquist took part in the AHL's All-Star Game on Monday night, and while their stats were of All-Star Game quality as their Western Conference team defeated the Eastern Conference 7-6--with Nyquist registering an assist and a -2, Billins a shot and a -3, and Mrazek 6 saves on 8 second period shots--all went well. The Grand Rapids Griffins' website and the AHL's website provide recaps and a slate of game highlights:
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner lets us know what's next for the Griffins, who strangely ended up dropping back-to-back games against Houston on both Friday and Saturday...
The Griffins (24-14-2-2 and leaders of the Midwest Division) are off until practice Thursday. They travel to play Hamilton on Friday, then return to Van Andel Arena for a 7 p.m. game Saturday against Abbotsford.
In news regarding the Red Wings' future rink--which is still a good 6 to 10 years away from opening--Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea has been hard at work explaining why it might be wise for the Wings to actually lease Joe Louis Arena's follow-on facility from the State of Michigan's "Michigan Strategic Fund," even though Ilitch Holdings and Olympia Entertainment will probably pay the lion's share of construction costs.
This morning, the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar suggests something that those of us who've been following the land purchases by the dozens of LLC "front" companies operated by the Ilitches know by now: it is highly likely that the rink and mixed-use entertainment, commercial and possibly residential property will probably built just north of I-75, situated on the parcels of land immediately southeast of the Masonic Temple, between Cass Avenue and Woodward Avenue, probably bordered by either Temple or Charlotte Street:
Among recent developments that may affect the arena and entertainment district project: The Detroit Veterans Center, on Temple and Park, is close to selling its property and adjacent lots to an unknown entity and relocating the community center, officials said.
A separate Vietnam Veterans group says it has been told its Woodward Avenue headquarters, a half block north of Temple, is just past the border where any development could be built.
When Ilitch announced the mixed-use project in early December, he said the new entertainment district would include the multipurpose event center, housing, office and retail space. The district "will be strategically located to serve some of the most underutilized areas in Detroit's downtown core," said Ilitch's Olympia Development.
Ilitch's host of companies including Little Caesars Pizza, Olympia Development and Olympia Entertainment are based at the Fox Theatre across the street from Comerica Park, home to Ilitch's Detroit Tigers.
The blighted land where mysterious land deals have taken place for the past five years is just north of Fox Theatre. The properties are near four empty blocks of Woodward Avenue owned by the city.
Sibley and Woodward was named one of the stops on the planned M-1 Rail street car line that would run from downtown to the New Center area.
It would benefit the planned arena and mixed-use development — if it gets located in the area — much like the Detroit People Mover helps hockey fans and concert-goers get to the Ilitch-run Joe Louis Arena where the Red Wings play.
The "underutilized area" for the new entertainment district fits the area where the Michigan Veterans Foundation is close to selling its Detroit Veterans Center and several adjacent parcels clustered around the southeast corner of Temple and Park.
And finally, those of you who know me know that I'm not a fan of power rankings. A significant chunk thereof hit the wires on Monday, with the Wings "just missing" out on NHL.com's Dave Lozo's "Super 16" cut, and otherwise...
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun figures that the Wings haven't done too badly for themselves thus far...
13. Detroit [record] 2-2-1 Last Week: 19
Nice response from the veteran Red Wings this past weekend, picking up three of four points versus the Wild and Blackhawks. They needed that performance.
And TSN's Scott Cullen believes that the Wings are at least on decent footing given that the team's depth forwards aren't producing offense at a decent clip yet...
This Week17 Last Week 7 Detroit Red Wings 2-2-1
Need more from the bottom half of the depth chart where, for example, the Wings have five forwards that have played in all five games and have yet to score a point.
Key Injuries: D Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder), D Ian White (leg), RW Mikael Samuelsson (groin).
Sportsnet's Luke Fox gives the Wings brownie points for withstanding their cavalcade of injuries...
16 Detroit Red Wings (2-2-1) Decimated on the back end, the Wings have played respectable .500 hockey since their season-opening 6-0 catastrophe in St. Louis.
Sportsline's Brian Stubits feels that the Wings are improving...
17. Red Wings [up 7, last week 24] They look like they've found their footing since that opening-night drubbing from St. Louis. To get one point in Chicago right now is tough. ... That 6.5 team shooting percentage is still only going to go up, so expect more scoring.
But Fox Sports' A.J. Perez feels that it's necessary to deliver a jab regarding the Wings' current status as a middle-of-the-pack team in the Central Division...
13 Red Wings [record] 2-2 -1 [up] 5 [highest and lowest position] 13/18 Guess what’s almost as tough as defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to retirement? Playing in a much-improved Central Division that the Red Wings once dominated, in a lockout-shortened schedule.
And the Hockey News's Rory Boylen agrees with Perez's assessment:
16 Detroit Red Wings [last week] 19 [record] 2-2-1 The Red Wings power play has left a lot to be desired with a 7.7 percent success rate and are slipping back as a second-tier team within their own division.
One more thing: Stanley Cup of Chowder's Sarah Connors offered a rebuttal of the New York Rangers' rather stereotypical "Girl's Guide to Watching the Rangers," and while I'm not completely qualified to discuss hockey's gender politics...
My mom helped me learn how to play hockey because my dad was unfamiliar with the sport, I have always enjoyed watching and talking about hockey with female friends, and one of the reasons I don't do a "live blog" on this website--aside from my obvious respect for the Chief's long-standing live blog tradition--is because I've "watched" games while speaking to the same group of Red Wings fans on a very, very small hockey board since 1999.
Three of the four other regulars are female, and they know more about hockey than I do, and help peel me off the ceiling when I'm swearing and cursing about bad penalties or other perceived slights (yes, I swear and yell just like you do--I just pretend to be a professional blogger as well as a subjective Wings fan).
Do they find many male hockey players to be attractive? Sure. Does that detract from their ability to discuss the game intelligently, or does their appreciation for eye candy make them "puck bunnies?"
Nope. There's absolutely nothing wrong with following a sport passionately and also enjoying the scenery. I think it's healthy, not weird or "wrong."
I like watching women's hockey, and I happen to think that some of the women who play it, like Canadian olympian Cherie Piper and Swedish olympian Kim Martin, are beautiful women. Does that make me some weird "puck jackrabbit?" I sure hope not, because I plain old enjoy watching women's hockey because it's a slightly different version of a game I adore regardless of the gender of its participants.
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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.