The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/15/11 at 07:27 PM ET
Updated 5x at 10:33 with more Game 2 stuff, TPL merchandise and a commercial about history being banned: As they’ve fallen off the front page, yes, I’ve still been updating the Red Wings-Coyotes off-day update post as well as the octopus issue thread (expect new updates to both topics to be posted here), and while the NHL and the Red Wings appear to be playing “catch the blame” with the City of Detroit, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness found that the Red Wings’ players and coach have no issues with octopus-throwing (though the team that sells Al the Octopus merchandise and lifts an inflatable Al to Joe Louis Arena’s rafters before every playoff game has fallen in line with the NHL regarding actually throwing octopi onto the ice at the Joe):
The Wings released the following statement: “The throwing of objects onto the ice surface is prohibited by the National Hockey League and persons caught doing so may be subject to prosecution for violating local and state laws.”
“I don’t know anything about it,” [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said. “I like calamari as much as they next guy. I don’t like batter on it, but I like it spicy and cooked. It’s part of the tradition here,” Babcock added. “I just hope the guys that come on to scrape it off aren’t digging up the ice. I want it to be smooth.”
“I haven’t heard any opponents complaining about it,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I like the tradition. It’s been going on for a lot of years. We feed off the crowd getting into it,” Lidstrom added. “Whether it’s an octopus coming onto the ice or goals being scored, it’s a big boost when our fans get into it.”
If you haven’t seen Chris Osgood’s rant against the NHL and Gary Bettman while speaking to WXYT’s Jeff Riger, here it is…
And here’s “Tommy B” speaking to WDFN’s Sean, Terp and Killer—and trust me, one way or another, the media will be watching when Tommy B goes to court, and there’s no way in hell that he’s going to end up paying the $500 fine or $150 “get out of jail” fee he was required to pay last night as Red Wings fans have mobilized on Twitter, on the radio, on Facebook, message boards and everywhere else:
Again: Justin Rogers of MLive annotated the Osgood interview:
“It’s a little ridiculous they’re concerned about a tradition that goes on at our rink - or any other rink around the league for that matter,” Osgood said in an interview with 97.1-FM’s Jeff Riger. “Do they want everybody coming to the rink and sit up on their hands and not do anything? It’s gotten a little bit exaggerated. People are taking it a little bit too seriously.”
Trying to hammer home the point, Osgood wonders what restrictions the NHL will put on fans next.
“Other things that could change, maybe the consumption of just one beer game,” Osgood said. “To me, you come to a sporting event to have fun first and foremost. We can’t take this too far and start taking away what people are there to do.”
Osgood says he can’t recall a player on another team complaining about the tradition.
“I just remember one of their players taking it and firing it off the ice because he was mad that we scored,” he said. “I don’t think he had much of a gripe.”
With the league coming down hard on fan celebrations, Osgood wonders why there isn’t a greater focus to some of the game’s more pressing issues on the ice.
“Let’s worry about the ice conditions around the league first,” Osgood said, “fix that all around the league, and do the other things we need to take care of, and stop worrying about the fans.”
And the NHL passed the buck while speaking to Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski:
The NHL, then, views this latest controversy as nothing new. NHL VP of Media Relations Frank Brown sees this controversy as a “rite of spring,” and something that comes up in the first-round of the playoffs every April. He said the NHL has not wavered from its stance that the tradition is against League policy for fan behavior.
“I don’t believe it’s anything new, but I’m waiting to hear back from our security. It’s a safety issue. You throw stuff on the ice, people get their skates caught in it, they fall down and hurt themselves. It’s wrong. That’s a problem,” said Brown, in a phone interview this afternoon. “We have tremendous respect for the custom. We get that part. But not to the point of indulging improper behavior from spectators,” he said.
After our conversation, Brown sent over the following statement:
“NHL security did not direct that this person be arrested, or ejected. We do have a prohibition against throwing things to the ice surface since this may cause a delay in game or injury to players or others working on the ice surface.”
According to the NHL, the City of Detroit Legal Department has prosecuted fans for throwing an octopus on the ice surface, with the determining factor in whether it violated a local misdemeanor ordinance (section 39.1.1 and 39.1.2) being whether the object could have caused injury to the participants or damage to the playing surface.
Also, the League pointed out that Michigan State Law—specifically MCL 750.167, Disorderly Person (misdemeanor) section 167. (e) — states that a “disorderly person” is anyone intoxicated in a public place that is “endangering the safety of another person, or of property.” According to the League, Michigan State Police “have prosecuted a Detroit Red Wings fan” that threw an octopus while violating that statute.
Also, per the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:
UPDATE Asked if the NHL was behind the fines, league spokesman Frank Brown provided the following statement late this afternoon: “NHL security did not direct that this person be arrested or ejected. We do have a prohibition against throwing things to the ice surface since this may cause a delay in game or injury to players or others working on the ice surface.”
With no exceptions, apparently.
Nor complaint from the Wings or Al Sobotka, at least officially.
Update: STK’s Facebook page offers the same NHL blanket response:
We have received a response from the NHL regarding Octo-Gate: “NHL security did not direct that this person be arrested or ejected. We do have a prohibition against throwing things to the ice surface since this may cause a delay in game or injury to players or others working on the ice surface.” - NHL Group VP of Media Relations
Update #2: If you haven’t read NHL.com’s Brian Hedger’s Helm + Abby = the new Grind Line story, Art Regner’s Hudler/Kronwall talk, Bill Roose’s early morning start or Franzen articles, Michael Caples’ notebook or Larry Lage’s discussion of shot blocking with Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard, you should, and if you don’t know so already, WDIV Local 4 will air a post-game show which will include Mickey Redmond in studio with Bernie Smilovitz after tomorrow’s game;
• So we go to video. Fox Sports Arizona posted interviews with Ed Jovanovski, Coyotes goalie coach Sean Burke, forward Lauri Korpikoski and coach Dave Tippett’s off-day presser. FS Arizona will air games 3-7;
The Coyotes’ website just posted a clip of Eric Belanger talking about Game 2;
WXYZ posted Tom Leyden’s off-day report in YouTube format:
If you haven’t seen it, here’s Babcock’s off-day presser:
Phoenix prides itself on playing gritty, hard-hitting hockey and none of the Coyotes enjoyed being outhit by the Red Wings 33-28 in Game 1 on Wednesday night. Captain Shane Doan led Phoenix with eight hits, but wants to see more Coyotes flying around the rink on Saturday afternoon for Game 2 against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena.
“I think in this room we’ve got to take it a little personal,” Doan said of being outhit by what most classify as a skilled finesse team. “A few guys have to take it personal. It has to be a group effort. It can’t be one or two guys who lead it. It has to be a whole group.”
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett would like to see that group again being led by Doan—who also has offensive skills, but often benefits offensively from the checks he doles out.
“I like Doan physical, because that’s who he is,” Tippett said on Friday. “When he’s a bull out there, that’s when he’s at his best. When he’s a bull in a china shop, that’s even better than just being a bull.”
• Ditto for Terry Foster’s yammer on the Detroit News’s website:
Goalie Jimmy Howard won Game 1 of the Red Wings’ playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes. Yep, I said it, and I stand by it.
Why is that so hard for Red Wings fans to admit? If not for the outstanding play of Howard in the first period of the Wings’ 4-2 victory, there is no second- and third-period surge because the Wings very easily could have been down 3-0. The Wings came out sluggish and littered the penalty box with players and gave the Coyotes plenty of easy scoring opportunities with turnovers. Howard stood on his head for 20 minutes, giving up just one goal until the team could right the ship.
I’ve spoken to several Red Wings fans who don’t want to give the man any credit. They don’t trust him. They say he is too inexperienced. He has not won a Stanley Cup and his name is not Chris Osgood. Howard will not get any credit for what he’s done until he wins something. Few will believe he is capable of greatness until he actually accomplishes it. This is a tough town on starting goalies until your name is etched onto the Stanley Cup.
Howard could fall apart in Game 2 at Joe Louis Arena. He could melt down the next series. Who knows?
Here is what I do know. Howard was brilliant for much of Game 1 and he’s gotten little credit for it. And if the Wings continue to turn the puck over deep in their zone they won’t make it far in the playoffs. They still might lose this series if this keeps up. Howard was magic for one game, but he won’t be forever if the Wings’ defense continues to fail him.
• AND HE HAS A NAME, from the Detroit News’s Rod Beard:
Throwing an octopus on the ice during Red Wings games is a tradition in Detroit — but one that now can result in a $500 fine. Tom Balish, 27, of Canton said he threw an octopus on the ice during Game 1 of the Red Wings’ playoff series against Phoenix on Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. In addition to the rousing applause he received from fans, he was also given a citation with a $500 fine and escorted out of the arena. Balish said he was stopped as he entered the arena and showed the ushers a bag containing the octopus.
“I opened the bag and showed it to them and they said, ‘Come on in,’” Balish said. “I’ve done it eight times before and never had a problem.”
When he went to throw the octopus on the ice after Pavel Datsyuk’s goal in the second period, he said he was not stopped nor warned by any security guard or usher. Balish also said five other octopi had been tossed on the ice prior to his — and none of those fans were ejected.
“I started to walk up the stairs to go back to my seat and two gentlemen with NHL badges said, ‘You’re going to jail,’” Balish said.
The Red Wings organization released a statement Friday: “The throwing of objects onto the ice surface is prohibited by the National Hockey League and persons caught doing so may be subject to prosecution for violating local and state laws.”
Detroit Police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens said the incident violated city ordinance 38-5-4, which prohibits throwing objects on the playing area during sporting events.
Update again: WXYZ’s Julie Banovic interviewed Mr. Balish…
“They asked me at the front door, sir what’s in your bag. I showed the young lady and she said, come right in, come on in,” said Balish.
When it came time to throw the sea creature, he said he was swinging it around his head while he ran to the glass. “I walked past eight to nine guards who said, hurry up, go ahead, go down. When I was done the lady usher told me to go back to my seat,” said Balish. “A man who liked like he was a security guard near the Phoenix bench came up to me then and said, Sir, you’re going to jail!”
That’s when Balish was escorted to the lock-up in Joe Louis Arena. He said security forced Detroit Police to issue him a ticket even though the officer did not want to. Then he was kicked out of the game. The guards told him the ticket was a $500 fine. It’s not unusual to see octopuses thrown during a Wings playoff game. Balish’s was one of two thrown Wednesday night. Balish said he heard on a radio station that some of the Wings players are talking about paying the fine for him.
“It was nice to know the guys just cared,” said Balish. The NHL issued a statement to Action News about the incident.
“NHL security did not direct that this person be arrested or ejected. We do have a prohibition against throwing things to the ice surface since this may cause a delay in game or injury to players or others working on the ice surface,” said Frank Brown, Group Vice President of Media Relations.
Ditto for MyFoxDetroit.com/WJBK’s Jason Carr:
Wings super fan Tom Balish told us he was snagged by the NHL’s surly security after throwing an octopus following Pavel Datsuk’s goal. “They escorted me down to the lockup,” said Balish.
So, while the game continued and the Wings scored three more goals—leading to more octopi—Balish was down in the lockup with Detroit police and two NHL guys he said were spitting mad.
According to Balish, one of the men with the NHL said, “I want you to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.” He then told us the other NHL guy said, “Yeah, make sure you take care of him. I want him locked up.”
Meanwhile, he said the cops were laughing hysterically.
Anyway, Balish has a court date. The Wings say the throwing of objects is prohibited by the NHL.
“If my fine was paid, I’d throw another one on Saturday,” said Balish.
Update again and again: More video: On Fox Sports Arizona, Tyson Nash and Todd Walsh preview Game 2;
• DetroitRedWings.com’s Jake Duhaime posted a clip of Kris Draper explaining why he wears personalized Crocs:
• Back to Octogate: MLive’s Ansar Khan updated his post regarding Mr. Balish’s fine by noting that the Wings and Coyotes have no issue with what happens when octopi are thrown:
“I haven’t heard any opponents complaining about it,’’ Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We feed off the crowd getting into it. Whether it’s an octopus coming onto the ice or goals being scored, it’s a big boost when our fans get into it.’‘
Johan Franzen joked that he’ll take up a collection to help pay the fine for the next fan who is caught doing it. Justin Abdelkader said the tradition is “exciting.’‘
“The fans are excited, we’re excited. It means it’s that time of year,’’ Abdelkader said.“It shows the dedication of our fans, how into it they are. It’s great the support we get. The octopi is a great tradition here and I think it’ll be here forever.’‘
“It’s fine’’ Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “Tradition’s fun. It’s a good part of sports. You understand it was a long, long time ago when there was only eight games (needed) to win (the Stanley Cup). It’s pretty special here. Part of their game.’‘
Said goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov:“It doesn’t bother me. They’re not throwing the whole octopus on me. Otherwise I would stink.’‘
• Does the Production Line have a t-shirt?
Can you buy one?
• Shifting focus back to the game which takes place tomorrow at 1 PM EDT on NBC/CBC, the CBC’s blogger provides injury reminders regarding Henrik Zetterberg, who Helene St. James says will basically go with the team to Phoenix because that’s where the medical staff is headed...
“Hank skated by himself,” Babcock said. “He’s not going to play in Game 2. He’ll continue to be day to day.’‘
A Wings source suggested that it would be Game 5 or 6 of the series at the earliest before Zetterberg is available to the team.
Meanwhile, Coyotes defenceman Derek Morris (upper body) will also remain on the sidelines for Game 2. He’s day to day, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “He didn’t skate again today.”
As well as this quip from Ray Whitney:
A Stanley Cup resume is considered invaluable at this time of the year and Coyotes forward Ray Whitney, who won a Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, explained one element of its value that he has learned over the years.
“The year we won the Cup, we got pounded 6-1 at home [by Montreal] to start the playoffs,” Whitney recalled. “Losing the first one isn’t the end of the world. How you respond in the second game, though, is very important. I expect us to be much better.”
• Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov also told NHL.com’s Brian Hedger that he’d do a better job of looking over/though/around the Wings’ traffic…
“It’s always difficult,” he said. “It’s never been easy if you ask any goalies in this League. This team, they have skills and they really go hard around the net. They drive the net. They always make my life miserable in front of the net—always somebody, one or two players in front.”
The guy who most often gets the credit for being parked in front of the crease is Tomas Holmstrom, who was again right there on Bryzgalov’s doorstep in Game 1. Yet, as Bryzgalov points out, there are other Red Wings willing to battle in those “hard areas” of the ice in order to screen goalies and pounce on rebounds.
“It’s not only Holmstrom,” Bryzgalov said. “It’s other guys too, like (Danny Cleary) or (Johan Franzen). There’s always somebody there. You have to battle through and find the puck.”
And the Coyotes fully believe that Bryzgalov will deliver a series-splitting performance tomorrow:
“We don’t want to rely on just him, but he is our best player,” Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “We do rely on him quite a bit, but having said that, we don’t want to put the onus on him to stop 50 shots a night to win us a game. We need to play well in all three zones and lighten the load off him.”
“We need him to respond well,” Tippett said. “I think he was like the rest of our group—probably not as sharp as he wanted to be (in Game 1). I think he’ll come back with a very strong game.”
“Hopefully Bryz takes it as a personal challenge to be better than their goalie,” Doan said. “I think he’s the best goalie in the League. I’ve said it over and over. When he’s on, I’d take him over anybody in the League. He’s our goalie and I’m pretty thankful for that. Hopefully he takes it personally.”
• And PhoenixCoyotes.com’s Dave Vest provides a Coyotes-centric game preview...
“You can tell our guys were a little anxious,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tipettt said. “We told our guys (to) just go out and calm down, make the plays you normally make and things will work out a lot better than they did in Game 1.”
Tippett is hoping his players will follow captain Shane Doan’s lead when it comes to throwing their bodies around. Doan had a game-high eight hits on Wednesday.
“I like Doan physical, because that’s who he is,” Tippett said. “When he’s a bull out there, that’s when he’s at his best. When he’s a bull in a china shop, that’s even better than just being a bull.”
And the Coyotes insisted that they’d earn a split…
“We have to win a game in this building,” Coyotes center Vernon Fiddler said. “We came here and realistically, you look at a split as maybe a good thing. We’re going to go after that second game. That’s no secret. We have to be much better and more physical, but I expect us to be much better the next game.”
“We know what we did right and what we did wrong,” [Radim] Vrbata said. “We have to learn from it. We need to relax, if we start forcing plays or start to squeeze our sticks, that’s not going to work. I think you have to relax.”
• The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle explained why splitting the first two games must happen for just about any team that hopes to climb back into a best-of-seven series…
One site that I love to visit this time of year is whowins.com, which basically is a historical database of what’s happened in every seven game series in pro sports history.
Take a series where the home team has won Game 1 (as is the case in five of the current series). When a team leads 1-0 after winning Game 1 at home, their record in Game 2 (also at home) is 236-128 (.648). Their record in the series is 277-87 (.761).
With a 2-0 series lead, after winning both games at home, their series record is terrific: 212-24 (.898).
Road teams that have gone up 1-0 have a much worse record in Game 2 at just 71-126 (.360) and in the series at 106-91 (.538). But if the road team wins the first two games, that series record jumps up to 54-17 (.761).
• As such, here’s NHL.com’s game preview, penned by Brian Hunter:
Big Story: Prior to the series starting, the Red Wings talked about the need to regain their home-ice advantage at Joe Louis Arena after a mediocre 21-14-6 record there during the regular season. They went out and did just that in Game 1 against the Coyotes, using three second-period goals to take control in a 4-2 victory, and will now try to put their opponent firmly behind the eight ball heading back to Phoenix.
Coyotes [team scope]: The NHL’s 23rd-ranked power play during the regular season was one of the major culprit’s in the series-opening defeat, as Phoenix got an early goal from Kyle Turris but could never build on that 1-0 lead despite having 7:09 of man-advantage time in the first period alone, including a lengthy 5-on-3 that Detroit killed. The Red Wings went on to score the next four goals. The Coyotes know they’ll have to capitalize better on opportunities Friday and seemed confident they can do so.
Red Wings [team scope]: There’s probably not as much Detroit will want to change in Game 2, except maybe getting off to a better start and staying out of the penalty box—while the Phoenix power play hasn’t been anything special, why take any chances? Otherwise, there was a lot to like as Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen took charge in the absence of leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead with goals 4:24 apart in the second. Brian Rafalski tacked on a power-play goal late in the period and Jiri Hudler scored early in the third.
Who’s hot: Radim Vrbata had a third-period goal and a team-high six shots for the Coyotes in the opener. Lauri Korpikoski assisted on Vrbata’s goal and has a three-game points streak dating back to the regular season. … Datsyuk and Franzen combined for 13 shots for the Red Wings, with Datsyuk leading all skaters in Game 1 with eight.
Stat Pack: Coyotes captain Shane Doan had a game-high eight hits Wednesday, while Fiddler won nine of his 11 faceoffs. … Twelve different Red Wings combined to block a total of 18 shots in the opener, with veteran defenseman Ruslan Salei leading the way with four.
• If you’re going to Games 3 or 4, the Arizona Republic’s Rebekah L. Sanders says you can pick up “Go Coyotes!” signs from the Glendale Visitor Center, though the Free Press reports that the Arizona Republic’s Facebook page now declares Red Wings fans to be the “best” hockey fans;
• And finally, from the NHL, via RedWingsFeed:
Update again again: I can only refer you to not one, not two, not even three, but four Sovetsky Sport articles regarding Pavel Datsyuk winning the Kharlamov, as reported by Yahoo Sports’ Dmitry Chesnokov (four! four articles! Ah ah ah! [cue lightning]);
• If you ever needed to know what makes Dick Axelsson tick, or why he’s a little…off…Expressen’s Carl Juborg reports that Axelsson’s footwear of choice for Farjestads BK’s Swedish Eliteserien championship reception in the center of Karlstad involved CCM shower sandals;
• More Coyotes game 2 preview stuff from the Arizona Republic’s Jim Gintonio:
“I think Howard was good, and hopefully he (Bryzgalov) takes that as a personal challenge, to be better than their goalie,” [Shane] Doan said. “I think he’s the best goalie in the league, I’ve said it over and over, and when he’s on, I’d pick him over anybody in the league. He’s our goalie, I’m pretty thankful for that, and hopefully he takes it personally.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Bryzgalov was “one of the best waiver-wire pickups (2007) of all time.” The Coyotes have areas to shore up: power-play production after an 0-for-6 effort and a more-physical attitude. But it all starts in net, and Bryzgalov recognizes the challenge the Red Wings present.
“It’s always difficult,” he said. “It’s never been easy, if you ask any goalies in this league. This team, they have skills, they really go hard around the net, they drive the net, they always make my life miserable in front of the net, one or two players in front, it’s difficult. I feel pretty confident. Sometimes they find a way to score the goals, sometimes not. . . . Just step on the ice and battle hard, and we’ll see what the gods give to us.”
A good start like the one they had Wednesday in jumping to a quick 1-0 lead coupled with a strong defensive effort are two other keys areas, defenseman Adrian Aucoin said.
“They’re a skilled team, a puck possession team, so we have to do all we can to either get the puck away from them or keep the pucks on our sticks,” he said. “I think we did that early, we just didn’t sustain it, so that will be every team’s goal now. That’s just the way hockey’s played now. You’ve got to play as quick as you can but still under control.”
Low-scoring games give the Coyotes the best chance, and they have had that mentality all season. That game plan has not always been evident, but in the playoffs it becomes almost mandatory.
• And here’s a bit from Gintonio about neutralizing Holmstrom (just call the NHL and ask them to change a rule in the middle of the game!)
A key part of the Red Wings’ game is getting traffic in front of the goaltender. Leading that charge is Tomas Holmstrom. In previous seasons, Holmstrom seemed to move in and out of the crease and usually got away with it. This season, however, he has been penalized several times for that.
“Just play him hard,” Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “He’s a veteran player, it’s not his first rodeo. He’s a tough player to handle, but you got to eliminate him, try to move him, do it without the ref making any calls. They’re watching it closely in front. It’s your ground, you want to maintain that, try to box him out the best you can.”
Jovanovski said the Coyotes are “a little sour right now” after the Game 1 loss and are seeking improvement in Game 2.
“You look at every aspect, the bottom line is we lost the game, so you’re bitter about that,” he said. “But you look at every facet of the game, and there’s a reason they won the game.”
• Thankfully, Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating shifts focus back to the Wings—via a conversation with Larry Murphy in a restaurant, which can never signal anything less than genius about to blossom…
[O]ne of the conclusions we reached—beyond “is every waitress everywhere named Ashley?”—is that you can never ever feel good about a playoff series until it’s over.
That’s the beauty and the beast of playoff hockey. The huge emotional swings. One victory has you feeling very good about yourselves, which makes the crash that much more traumatic when the other team inevitably answers. It’s not for the faint of heart, this idea of postseason hockey.
Herb Brooks, who had more success in the Olympics than he ever did in the NHL, once said to his team, “You’re playing worse every day. And right now, you’re playing like the middle of next week.”
That’s the thing. Next weeks aren’t guaranteed. The old saw is that “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
“Posh,” or a more direct word than that, but to that extent, from head coach Mike Babcock. “Every series is a race to four.”
• And, via Andy from The Speed of Helm, this is genius:
• Most appropriately, because so much of this comes from the pulse of the hockey world, AKA Twitter, via RedWingsFeed:
RT @NHLhistorygirl On this day in 1952, the first octopus landed on the ice at the #Redwings Joe Louis Arena.
Update #5: What else do I have?
• According to Hockeykanalen.se, Axelsson hopes to head to the World Championships to play for the Tre Kronor, and after that?
“Number one for me is to go over to the NHL. Otherwise, the KHL’s a good option. I’ve watched it on television; it’s an incredibly good league with skilled players and a good game.
• Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman spoke to Empty Netters’ Seth Rorabaugh today...
What is like being the general manager of a playoff team for the first time?
“I guess I got to watch for four years (Red Wings general manager) Kenny (Holland), how he handled it. The role at general manager. Watching and observing the interaction with coach, management and the players. Pretty comfortable with the transition. Don’t think I’m going to be surprised by anything.”
How important was it to add players such as Roloson or Moore who have been parts of long playoff runs?
“It’s very beneficial come this time, but we didn’t acquire them because they had playoff experience. They were good hockey players and filled a void we really had. That was the biggest reasons. But they have will really help our young guys like Victor (Hedman) and (Steven) Stamkos who haven’t played in the playoffs yet.”
How does being a general manager during the Stanley Cup playoffs compare to being the general manager of a national team during the Olympics?
“I think it’s the same. This is basically an eight-week tournament. You work beforehand. You select your team. You make all your changes and what not. Now this is our team. These are our players. There’s no more changes relatively that can be made other than bringing a guy up due to injury. It’s really more into the coaches’ hands now that they’re in control of the team. For myself, the business part for the time being is done.”
Is it kind of ironic your AHL affiliate, the Norfold Admirals, are playing the Penguins’ AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs also?
“Yeah, yeah. That should be a real good series. Wilkes-Barre is a great team. The regular season series, it was pretty good. It was very competitive. That should be a good series as well.”
• Also from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of all places..
As familiar as warm weather and rain is an appearance by the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup playoffs. For the past 13 seasons they have been joined by the New Jersey Devils, but that has changed because the one constant team in the Eastern Conference didn’t measure up this year. Detroit’s dominance dates even further: Not since 1990 have the Red Wings sat out the race for the Cup.
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom, in his 19th NHL season, has seen it all. Throughout his surely Hall of Fame career, Lidstrom has only worn a winged wheel sweater and has never missed the playoffs. He got a bit of a scare a year ago when Detroit qualified as only the No. 5 seed. But Lidstrom and the Red Wings still managed to reach the second round with a tough, seven-game series victory against the Phoenix Coyotes—their first-round opponent again.
“It’s always been fun going into the playoffs. People are always waiting for April to come around for the playoffs.”
And why not? Not only have the Red Wings made it a habit to be in the playoffs, they are always a threat to win it all. During this 20-season run, Detroit has captured the Cup four times and been to the final in two other years.
• And after speaking to the Phoenix Coyotes about their emphasis on regaining the physical advantage in their series against Detroit, MLive’s Ansar Khan found that the Wings don’t plan on backing down:
“It’s the time of year when that becomes important,” Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart said. “That’s what wins, the second-effort plays, blocking the shots and finishing the checks. It might not happen in the first 10 minutes, but by the third period it’ll start to wear on other teams, and that’s when you’re going to see positive effects. Where we can do a better job is doing it right from the start.”
“It’s going to be like that the whole series,” Todd Bertuzzi said. “They got a big, physical team. They like to play that way, and we got some guys who can throw their weight around, too.”
“A few of their guys were definitely trying to make their presence felt,” [Shane] Doan said. “It’s playoff hockey. You’re supposed to. You look at guys like (Darren) Helm and (Justin) Abdelkader and (Drew) Miller, they want to prove they can be physical. If they were on my team, I’d be loving to see that. That’s exactly what you want out of your guys who are in that situation.”
Abdelkader, who had a couple of run-ins with Doan, said he believes the series is going to get more physical but said that isn’t necessarily Phoenix’s style.
“They’re more of an up-and-down, skating team. But I think they’re going to try to be more physical and get in on our (defense),” Abdelkader said. “We have to protect our ‘D’ and stay above their guys and play in their zone.”
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