Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Red Wings-Penguins live blog: this either goes very well or very, very poorly

If the preseason is about implementing systemic tweaks, trying out new line combinations, giving rookies and new additions time to acclimate, if not shine, and slowly but surely rounding into regular season form while attempting to avoid injuries, rounding out the exhibition season with a three-games-in-three-nights slate makes very little sense.

That is exactly what the Red Wings have done for the better part of the last decade, however, and today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (5 PM EDT, FSD/WXYT’s AM station only/PCNC) either tends to demonstrate that even a fatigued and splintered Wings roster is more or less good to go, or it’s a game in which fans pay full price to watch the Wings mail one in—or worse, get bit one more time by the injury bug.

If you’re not watching the Tigers game, or might flip channels from time to time, we’re gonna live blog this one.

Here’s the Red Wings’ lineup for today’s game, per MLive’s Ansar Khan:

Forwards: Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Todd Bertuzzi, Jiri Hudler, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Cory Emmerton, Fabian Brunnstrom, Ryan Johnson, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Brent Raedeke.

Henrik Zetterberg and Landon Ferraro were originally slated to play but have been replaced by Filppula and Emmerton.

No word yet on lines.


Nicklas Lidstrom-Ian White

Jonathan Ericsson-Jakub Kindl

Travis Ehrhardt-Logan Pyett

Goaltenders: Jimmy Howard, Ty Conklin.

And here’s a reason to press the “concern” button:

Pavel Datsyuk continues to nurse a sore back but hopes to return for the season opener Friday against Ottawa. Forward Danny Cleary (upper-body injury) and defenseman Mike Commodore (sore knee) also are out. Cleary appears more likely than Commodore to be ready for Friday.

Brad Stuart didn’t exactly look like somebody who’s recovered from a groin injury on Saturday night, either, and I’m guessing that the Wings aren’t going to mess with Zetterberg’s ever-present sore back today, either. If there’s even a single chance of Ferraro’s surgically repaired groin acting up, there’s no point in tweaking that, either.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Seth Rorabaugh provides the Penguins’ lineup...

Forwards - Pascal Dupuis, Mark Letestu, Jordan Staal, Richard Park, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Matt Cooke, Steve Sullivan, Craig Adams (right), Arron Asham, Joe Vitale, Tyler Kennedy

Defensemen - Matt Niskanen, Zbynek Michalek, Ben Lovejoy, Paul Martin, Brian Strait, Kris Letang

Goaltenders - Marc-Andre Fleury, Brent Johnson

And Wings GM Ken Holland gave a very intriguing interview to The Fan 590’s Norm Rumack during either the first or second intermission of last night’s win over Toronto (yay!):

Download file

Here’s hoping that the Wings don’t mail it in—and stay healthy…


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George Malik's avatar

I know it’s just the preseason, but when you’ve got 3 Wings players in position standing around and one Penguin’s stick jabbing the puck in the net, you’re doing it wrong.

Fleury out again, Pens pushing with 35 left, Howard gives it up to Kennedy shot stopped Sullivan to letang blocked Nick Nyquist backhand RIGHT to Kennedy Pens send in Howard holds and we get a slight scrum as Neal and Franzen ask each other whether they celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with a good CFL game and some poutine.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/02/11 at 09:30 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

Haha, poor Nyquist.

Posted by RedMenace from The Luke Witkowski Fan Club on 10/02/11 at 09:30 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Kennedy shoved Franzen into the goal, should be an Interference call.

Not in this league.

Pens call timeout with 16.2 left.

Franzen Filppula Ericsson Lidstrom Emmerton lose faceoff can’t clear puck goes cross ice to Neal nice stop Howard 4.5 left.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/02/11 at 09:31 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Emmerton eats the puck and the Wings win and kill the Pens’ perfect record smile

A little closer than I would have liked, but as long as Eaves is OK, it was probably the best outcome imaginable—the Wings were playing 3 games in 3 nights and their last preseason game but they did ANYTHING but mail it in, out-working, out-hustling and mostly out-detail-working the Pens. Nice work by everybody involved and just about everybody had a strong game.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/02/11 at 09:32 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/02/11 at 07:32 PM ET


Posted by calquake from a.k.a. Uniquake, workin' on my manifesto on 10/02/11 at 09:34 PM ET

RedMenace's avatar

You know, Ehrhardt and Pyett weren’t terrible tonight… a few miscues, but otherwise, not bad.

Howard had a much better game than his last outing.

Johnson should be out.  Brunnstrom has a contract, probably two-way.  Emmerton starts the season with the Wings.  Nyquist starts the season in Grand Rapids, but I’ll tell you what—if someone starts to falter or there are enough injuries, the kid gets his chance.

Friday is a long way away.

Posted by RedMenace from The Luke Witkowski Fan Club on 10/02/11 at 09:35 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Final stats: Shots in the 3rd an ugly 12-4 Pittsburgh and 27-18 Pittsburgh overall, but they did get the last two power plays and pushed very, very hard. The Wings didn’t relent.

The Pens went 0-for-4 in 8:00 of PP time; the Wings went 1-for-3 in 4:29 of PP time.

Howard stopped 25 of 27; Fleury stopped 15 of 18;

The 3 stars were picked by Ted Kulfan and they were Bertuzzi, Franzen and Nyquist for good reason—Nyquist had two goals and an assist; Franzen had a goal and two assists; Bertuzzi had two assists.

Ian White was the only other Wing to earn a point.

Faceoffs 38-24 Detroit (61%);

Blocked shots 17-12 Detroit;

Missed shots 14-4 Pittsburgh (so the one blemish on the Wings’ stats is the fact that they gave up 58 attempted shots and only attempted 34);

Hits 21-20 Pittsburgh;

Giveaways 13-11 Detroit (that ain’t pretty, either);

Takeaways 5-3 Detroit.

Plus-minus: Kindl, Miller, Tatar, Ehrhardt, Pyett, Emmerton and Ericsson finished at -1; Nyquist, Bertuzzi and Franzen were +1; Lidstrom and White were +2; everybody else was even.

Lidstrom, White, Ehrhardt and Emmerton took minor penalties.

Shots: Nyquist led the team with 5 shots; Filppula had 3; Kindl, White, Miller, Tatar, Hudler, Ehrhardt, Pyett, Johnson and Franzen had single shots;

Blocked attempts: Pyett, Filppula, Ericsson and Franzen also attempted 2 shots that were blocked by Penguins players; White, Miller, Tatar and Hudler had single shot attempts blocked.

Missed shots: Ericsson missed the net 2 times; Lidstrom and White missed the net once apiece.

Blocked opponent shots: Lidstrom blocked 4 shots, as did White; ehrhardt, Johnson and Ericsson blocked 2 shots; Eaves, Miller and Raedeke blocked single shots.

Hits: Ericsson led the team with 4 hits; Miller had 3; Kindl had 2; Lidstrom, Nyquist, White, Tatar, Pyett, Johnson, Bertuzzi, Raedeke, Emmerton, Filppula and Franzen had single hits.

Giveaways: Hudler had 3 giveaways; Pyett had 2; Nyquist, White, Johnson, Raedeke, Emmerton, Ericsson, Franzen and Howard gave the puck away once.

Faceoffs: Emmerton went 12-and-5 (71%); Johnson went 9-and-4 (69%); Franzen went 8-and-8 (50%); Filppula went 7-and-6 (54%); Eaves went 2-and-0 (100%); Bertuzzi lost his only faceoff.

Ice time: White led the team with 25:19 played; Lidstrom played 23:39; Ericsson played 23:13;

Kindl played 21:23; Filppula played 0:25; Emmerton played 17:27;

Miller played 16:40; Franzen played 16:30; Bertuzzi played 15:39;

Johnson played 15:27; Brunnstrom played 15:08; Nyquist played 14:49;

Pyett played 14:41; Hudler played 14:32; Ehrhardt played 12:17;

Raedeke played 10:14; Tatar played 8:58; Eaves played 5:50 because he got hurt.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/02/11 at 09:47 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Friday is a long way away and somebody needs some catching up to do, so I’ll take it. FSD will be airing tons of Wings stuff between now and then to make up for the lack of Tigers coverage, so you’ve got nothing to worry about there, and the CBC’s going to crank up Hockey Night in Canada on Thursday and we’ve got an hour-long pre-game show before Ottawa on Friday and then the Wings will witness Atrick’s number raised to the rafters before spoiling the Avs’ party on Saturday, so there’s a lot to look forward to.

As for the Wings’ roster situation, even though Tatar’s performance was something of a step back, no prospect played poorly or showed anything less than at least some modest promise and progression forward from last season, and while Ryan Johnson isn’t going to make the big club, it’s pretty cool to see Nyquist make things complicated for Holland when it comes to signing Brunnstrom and keeping Emmerton at the expense of a dynamic player who’s almost ready for prime time—especially given that when Mursak does come back, the Wings will have a forechecking dynamo on their side.

If the bumps and bruises heal and Eaves is OK, the Wings got out of the preseason relatively healthy given the number of games they played in all of ten days, and while they gave up too many shots and shot attempts against the Pens, they also looked like a team that’s taking lessons to heart and is planning on slowly but surely regaining its defensive poise—and the “new guys” in White, Conklin and, prior to his injury, Commodore all acquitted themselves very, very well.

We’ll see who gets sent down tomorrow and whether the Wings really do want to keep Aubry in Grand Rapids. I think that’s the real story of the prospect tournament and camp that nobody’s mentioned, the fact that the 6’4” behemoth of a defensive forward’s got a year left of junior eligibility for a very strong team in the Armada (the former Montreal Juniors) but has essentially forced the Wings to let him turn pro alongside Callahan, Ferraro and Nyquist on what should be a very competitive Griffins team.

Thanks for putting up with my rust, everybody. I don’t know when I’m gonna get back to full-time work but I’m aiming for being good to go for Friday’s opener. I’ve missed you all very much and your support’s been nothing less than overwhelming and humbling.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/02/11 at 09:55 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Lions and Tigers and Wings - oh my!

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 10/02/11 at 10:06 PM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

Nyquist sent down.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 10/03/11 at 01:20 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Nyquist has a nose/sense I have not seen from a kid in quite some time.  Looks to me like he’ll be the first forward called up if needed.  Assuming they can keep the Griffins mostly together this year, Nyquist could absolutely tear the AHL up because he sure seem to think the game better than most.

Posted by Primis on 10/03/11 at 09:10 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

I didn’t see the game, but George’s comments were like a play by play.
Well done and many thanks.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 10/03/11 at 01:59 PM ET

stonehands-78's avatar

Who’s in?
Who’s out?
Who’s cleared?
Who’s still banged-up?

The latest press release.


Posted by stonehands-78 from the beginning ... a WingsFan, on 10/05/11 at 03:30 PM ET


Read the twitter feed. Whatever you do, get well enough that hopefully you’re not going to back on the DL (I’d rather see you come back a little later than a little sooner). Enjoy the game,

Posted by Bugsy on 10/07/11 at 09:25 PM ET


Holy s George where are you? Hope your alright .. missing the news.

Posted by Wings4Life from dirty glove on 10/10/11 at 02:53 PM ET


He’s had the occasional twitter post, but even that’s been a bit scarce for him. Wondering if he can just settle for a few thoughts, and not worry about going into 3000 words or 0 words, because I’m sure he’s got a few thoughts crossing his mind on the 2 wins (which is likely as informed as any of us). George, throw us a bone.

Posted by Bugsy on 10/11/11 at 09:05 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’ll be back soon…And I’ve definitely got a head full of thoughts about the fact that the defensive game’s clearly going to take half a season to work itself out…

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/11/11 at 10:28 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

I’ll be back soon…And I’ve definitely got a head full of thoughts about the fact that the defensive game’s clearly going to take half a season to work itself out…

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/11/11 at 08:28 PM ET

I laugh at this; your thoughts about the D game. The sentence itself, while there was no humor intended…is hilarious. Maybe I’m just crazy.

The actual problems though? Yeah…now I’m crying.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 10/12/11 at 12:22 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I may write an opinion piece on the issue because the Wings are playing so very few games this month that we’re just not going to have “good data” as to what the team has to work on until they’re playing every second or third day instead of twice a week, and that won’t happen till November…

But at this point, again, based on very, very limited data—the pre-season and first two regular season games—I think things have to work themselves out organically, both in terms of the team’s defensive game, sixty-minute effort and the team’s continued inability to score timely power play goals.

The issues didn’t spring up overnight—they’ve cost the Wings games and playoff series (plural) since 2009—and I don’t mean to besmirch Brad McCrimmon’s name by saying that even he and Paul MacLean (who ran the defense in 08-09) couldn’t figure out how to convince the players who’ve been here forever that they shouldn’t play like their firepower and depth can allow them to get away with not focusing on playing sound defensive hockey for 60 minutes, not giving up a key PPG against, not using their power play as an effective deterrent to physical intimidation and/or being all too comfortable giving up 3 or 4 goals because they know they can score 5 or 6.

I think that these bad habits are big reasons why Babcock hired Bill Peters and Jeff Blashill to get some fresh and non-NHL ideas as to how to solve the team’s fundamental inadequacies, and I think that their ideas will have to be implemented and learned over an extended period of time so that things can work themselves out organically. It’s just gonna take time and the patience to put up with some growing pains.

Add in the fact that the Wings’ defense is in flux and that, again, based upon limited data, the Wings’ line combinations and defensive pairings have yet to work themselves out, and Babcock’s got a bit of a quandary on his hands as it’s both painfully obvious that Zetterberg and Datsyuk remain at their best on the same line and it’s equally clear that Valtteri Filppula’s a real scoring threat when he plays on the wing and a player who worries too much about his own end of the rink when he plays center.

To me, in terms of personnel we’re already looking at a question as to whether the Wings can manufacture a second-line center as well as that elusive forechecking winger from within, and we still don’t know if Jakub Kindl, Ian White and a Jonathan Ericsson who looks to have shaken off the pre-season doofiness are going to fill the Rafalski void or whether the team needs to overbuild on defense.

Is that a decent start?

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/12/11 at 02:40 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

A decent start?  Oh yes!  So good to see you, George!  I haven’t thought to check in the comments section here in a few days.  Just looked in each day and saw no new post.  For some reason this morning, I decided to go back into these comments to see if you surfaced.  Hope you’re back soon, even if you don’t feel up to writing a lot.

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 10/12/11 at 12:01 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

So the current realignment rumor is Wings to the East - the Southeast Division - just doing a swap with Winnipeg.  That’s nuts.  But… as someone living in exile in Florida, it would mean more games in Tampa that I might be able to go see…

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 10/12/11 at 12:03 PM ET

WestWing's avatar

Great to have you back George.  Took the train up to Vancouver over the weekend. and caught a WHL game.  Tvrdon looked really impressive.  He had a goal, 2 assists, was a +4.  He had another glorious chance off a two on one and made a sweet pass from behind the net to set up a teammate on another occasion, but the goaltender stoned both of those.  Only 17 and he’s already a pretty big guy.  People close to the situation up there seem to think he’s only now rounding back into form after the shoulder injury last season. 

He still needs to work on his overall game, but this kid shows some signs.  He’s good around the net, shows really good offensive instincts, uses his size well, is a pretty decent skater.  He’s already a real physical presence at the junior level and should get even stronger.  Granted it was only one game, but it was impressive.  Count me among those who believe that getting this guy in the 4th round may have been an outright gift.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 10/12/11 at 01:56 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’m not quite back yet but I’m trying to get over the final hump. My head’s at least clearer and now anxiety is the issue as opposed to depression…

I think that the Red Wings would very, very happily play in the Southeast Division—six games against Washington, Peter Karmanos’s Hurricanes, games against Yzerman’s Lightning and beating up the Panthers sound like a helluva bargain—but I don’t believe that it’s something the NHL’s Board of Governors and/or owners would approve…

And I might more or less write my reasoning out in a post after talking to you about it. I’m sticking with my guns in that I find it hard to believe that so many Western Conference teams enjoy the sellouts that the Wings add to their bottom lines, the fact that the Wings are sort of an “anchor tenant” in the West along with the Blackhawks and Canucks, and the high likelihood that the Blue Jackets will insist that moving to the East is key to their survival and/or my gut feeling that the NHL might even go to a 16/14-team split if the league can convince the Predators to give up their rivalry with the Wings for the sake of geographic ones with Southeast teams to more or less gobble up the territory occupied by and former fans of the Atlanta Thrashers would yield a “no way in hell” vote.

When you toss in the bottom line, that 20 of the league’s 30 teams would have to approve a Wings move, including a Northeast Division’s worth of teams that are pretty happy with the way things are, the fact that the Wings would probably take a playoff spot away from somebody for the foreseeable future, a Maple Leafs team that doesn’t like the Wings infringing upon their Western Ontario territory, the Blue Jackets’ desire to move East and the fact that in addition to the Wings possibly requiring a re-shuffling of Eastern Conference teams, the Wild and Stars’ desires to move to the Central Division to cut down on their travel and take advantage of what they believe are more natural and geographic rivalries…

The equation doesn’t add up in my opinion, at least unless the BoG agrees to a more radical realignment. It makes for great discussion and easy web hits as Wings fans are very passionate about this and there are just as many pundits who’ll whine till the cows come home about how it’s “unfair” that a team too powerful for its own good should ever get its way, but in terms of the possible teams in play and 20-of-30-teams’-votes bottom lines, I think it’s much more likely that we’d see Nashville and Columbus in the East and a Central Division that would include the Stars and Wild than the Wings ANYwhere in the East.

As for Tvrdon, he’s really a Pulkkinen-like wild card as you never really know what will happen with young players who’ve had major reconstructive shoulder surgeries (if things hold up, he’ll be okay, but if he re-injures his shoulder, there are few injuries which affect players more than shoulder, knee and groin issues which become degenerative over time), and the fact that he missed a year of development can be taken two ways: one might argue that having to sit out for a season will set him back by a year or two, and especially given the fact that the Wings have to sign a CHL-drafted player within two years of his draft date, might force the Wings to take quite the gamble on a player who would best be served by playing another year of junior hockey for his and the Wings’ scouts’ sake, but one could also argue that the fact that he’s a European-trained player who’s had to watch WHL hockey from the press box at times gives him a leg up on fellow Europeans as he’s had a bird’s-eye view of the ways in which he’s expected to play, yielding a breakout season in the making.

My impressions of him at the summer tournament were more or less that his “upside” is that of the Tomas Kopecky who developed into a strong forechecker and relatively consistent offensive force with the Chicago Blackhawks, but he’s got issues in terms of focus and his willingness to engage in the bump and grind necessary to win battles for pucks, get to the front of the net and stay there and plain old use his big frame to his advantage. The next two years will tell the story for him.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/12/11 at 05:17 PM ET

WestWing's avatar

George, I agree with you regarding Tvrdon’s injury history being, if not a red flag, at the very least a major point of concern.  I think the fact that he fell to the fourth round is a clear sign that a lot of organizations obviously felt the same way. 

For my money though, he’s a really intriguing, potentially low risk/high reward pick in round 4.  Because he played so few games before the injury there really was no firm consensus among scouts.  There were some who believe he might have been a first round pick were it not for the injury, others thought that the second or third rounds were a more likely scenario. 

The players at the Wings’ prospects camp are, of course, generally farther along both physically and in terms of the development of their skills than the average CHL player.  I’m sure seeing him in that environment gave you an excellent yardstick as to how he stacks up against a very high-level group of peers, so it’s great to get your take on that.

One thing that makes it extremely hard to evaluate players at the major junior level is the fact that, with elite prospects at least, there’s almost inevitably a “man against boys” factor.  Figuring out which players stand out from the crowd is the easy part.  Projecting what that means at the next level is where the best scouts really earn their bones.  Hell, I once heard that Kirk Maltby was a fifty goal scorer in juniors.  Go figure.

In the context of a WHL game, Tvrdon is clearly among the players who sort of jump out at you right away.  There’s the size factor obviously (6’2” 215), but also the fact that he really seemed to be endlessly involved in the play in the offensive zone.  He seemed to use his size to his advantage, and definitely does not play a perimeter game.  He spends a lot of time around the net.  But again, this is a much different environment than what you were able to observe.  There are no under-sized 16 year olds at the Wings’ summer prospects camp after all.

On the other side of the coin, although I wouldn’t say that he ever floated or failed to skate hard on the back check, he did seem noticeably less assertive and less involved on the defensive end.  I’ve seen over the years that this is not an unusual trait for offensively talented players, particularly in his age group.  At some point though, you just hope that the light goes on and they figure out what it takes to become a complete player.

While his size does make a strong initial impression, he seems more lean and lanky than thick and sturdy at this point.  I was glad to see that he stations himself in front of the net on the power play, but he’ll definitely need to get bigger and stronger on his skates, and have an extremely high compete level to be able to consistently do that at the NHL level.  I’d also heard there were some concerns about his skating, but the only thing I really noticed was a lack of a good strong initial burst.  His speed wasn’t really an issue, but the lack of an explosive first step certainly could be.

One thing that doesn’t get nearly enough consideration when evaluating prospects is their situation with regard to their amateur teams.  For my money, Tvrdon is in an excellent situation.  He plays on the top line alongside some elite players, sees significant ice time and will be given every opportunity to succeed, gain confidence and continue to develop his skills. 

Another huge plus is the level of coaching he will be getting in Vancouver.  Don Hay is one of the most highly respected coaches at any level.  His record, quite simply, speaks for itself.  He preaches the virtue of hard work and discipline and has a considerable track record, not only winning games and winning championships, but also in terms of developing players.  A hallmark of Don Hay-coached teams is that they rarely ever get out worked. 

I think it’s worth noting Hay’s take on Tvrdon from a Vancouver Sun interview last month:

“Marek is a goal scorer,” noted Giants head coach Don Hay. “He’s got great hands and a real knack once he gets in the net area to finish off so I think that’s part of his game. You can’t say that about everybody but you can say that about Marek. He has a real nose for the net.”

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 10/13/11 at 02:28 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I just worry about the big boo boo everybody, myself included, has made in going, “Holy s***, he’s so damn talented, there’s no way he can’t make the Wings’ roster!”

Because I’m a fan at heart, I know that more than half of the prospects I’ve met won’t make the Wings and may not end up playing hockey at all, but being able to vouch for the characters of Mitchell Callahan, Tomas Tatar, Tom McCollum, Brian Lashoff, Landon Ferraro, etc. etc., it’s hard to watch guys and see all the good and none of the bad…

But that big-butted but being said, I love the fact that players like Tvrdon are the ones the Wings swing for the fences with. You’re not going to find mid-to-late-round talent without ignoring some red flags, and in Tvrdon and Pulkkinen, we’ve got two players who have some major concerns (Some scouting reports had Tvrdon listed in the top TEN, never mind top half of the first round, before he blew out his shoulder) in terms of injuries and their levels of engagement (Pulkkinen floats more than Tvrdon does)...

And everything you’re telling me more or less confirms what I’ve seen of as well as heard of Tvrdon in that for someone who’s as ripped as he is, he’s not as strong as he could be and he’s not as defensively sound as he might be with another year of seasoning, but as you say, he’s both got the size, speed, skill and proper environment with which to succeed.

Playing for Vancouver in the WHL is like playing for the Whalers, Spitfires, Rangers or 67’s around here, where you know a player is going to a team that doesn’t change its style of play depending on its roster’s year-to-year flux because it’s got a great coaching staff and management that aggressively recruits top players. Don Hay’s a helluva coach, and of the WHL’s teams, it’s really Vancouver, Kelowna or Brandon in terms of teams that offer that Wings-like level of, “We ain’t changing the blueprint and we aren’t going to stop acting like a prospect pipeline” mentality.

The happiest I saw Landon Ferraro prior to having signed with the Wings and knowing that he wasn’t going to have to go back to Red Deer and wasn’t going to be told to push his groin by the Everett Silvertips was somewhere in between, when he’d heard that he might be traded to Vancouver. Aside from being in his hometown, he knew that Vancouver was the place to be in terms of having a coach who would treat him like what nobody really did while he was a junior-aged player—like a talented player named Landon instead of someone who had to live up to Ray Ferraro’s Son’s Legacy….Which is why the Wings are probably the best team for him, too, because Curt Fraser could give a f*** about playing against/coaching Landon’s dad as it applies to what his right-handed center can do for him.

Long story long, I like Tvrdon as a dark horse prospect who could turn into a power forward in no small part because he’s in Vancouver, and I agree completely that these are the players you want your team to pick in the middle of the draft.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/13/11 at 04:04 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

George, the comparison to Ferraro’s situation is a pretty good case in point of what i’m talking about.  He’s another guy I saw play quite a bit in the WHL and, while it was clear that he had high-end skills, it never once appeared that he was in a favorable situation in terms of utilising and developing his talent. 

It’s interesting how truly speculative it is to even attempt to project how any of these guys will pan out.  I’m obviously a little on the obsessed side about this stuff though, so no need to apologize about being long-winded.  I fight the tendency to be a little wordy myself and besides, I appreciate your insights and perspective.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 10/13/11 at 08:24 PM ET


Anyone want to send out a search party to make sure he’s not dead/in the hospital?

Posted by Bugsy on 10/18/11 at 08:37 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Alive. Family has influenza.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/19/11 at 04:14 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

And by influenza, I mean the mom brought home some sort of super-bug from work. Sinus infection—> nasty fever + head/neck congestion which lasts for two weeks.

Get your flu shots, folks.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/19/11 at 04:34 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Alive. Family has influenza.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/19/11 at 02:14 AM ET

Oh no.  Hope you don’t get it and I hope your Mom is better soon.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 10/19/11 at 05:57 PM ET


Moms aren’t supposed to bring home superbugs to their kids, I thought it was the other way around.
I haven’t had time to figure out that twitter thing, but at least I can read it. Glad you’re getting better—hope the whole family does soon.

By the way, when you’re back, any comment on what just clicked in my head: Why are Craig Custance and Darren Eliot in Grosse Pointe now? They both worked out of Atlanta, Darren a broadcaster/writer and Craig a writer. They both picked Detroit when Atlanta lost their team, Craig joins up with ESPN, Darren with Fox Sports Detroit (and his other media stuff).. Coincidence? I think not.

Writing this beats wataching Washington making Detroit pay for every mistake tonight. At least they evened out the penalties.

Posted by Bugsy on 10/22/11 at 10:32 PM ET


Oh, I just saw your comment on Eliot. It does help deepen Fox’s roster.

Posted by Bugsy on 10/22/11 at 10:37 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I had to make a hard choice to come back to live with my family when my illness worsened. It’s given me the chance to pursue my dream of writing about hockey for a living (I don’t exactly earn a living wage quite yet), and I needed to lean pretty hard on the mom and aunt for the first few years…Now they lean on me so it’s worked out for everybody.

I’m not ashamed of it but I had hoped to keep it private—ditto about the depression—but now that it’s out in the open it is a relief that I can just be honest and be happy about what I CAN do instead of worrying about being judged for what I can’t do…

And getting bugs from the mom’s work at a nursing home here in SL is regrettably an occupational hazard.

Her side of the fam has some auto-immune issues running in the genes on top of things, and when I was tested for everything including the ebola virus before docs figured out I had sleep apnea when I was 20, they acknowledged that there was at least something auto-immune going on with me, though they couldn’t figure out what.

Long story short, between the mom’s work and my shitty immune system, it happens.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/22/11 at 11:13 PM ET


1. George, NOTHING to be ashamed about. This is what you got, these are the choices you made. Nothing to dwell on, live and learn. It’s admirable that you went for your dream, and families give and receive in the different times of life.
2. I can only imagine what it must feel like in the midst of your health struggles, to hear the doc say “Hmmm, maybe we should test for the Ebola virus” (in the brain, the message of WHHHAAAAAAAATTTTT going off).
3. I’m sorry that this has turned into the medical blog.
4. I think if such a thing as brain bleach existed, we fans need it. The only ones who may be better not having the brain bleach are the Red Wings players and coaching staff, if it helps spur them to NOT have another game like this the rest of the season. Otherwise, flush it out of their memories and regroup—it’s early, and as you suggested (I think), this may take a 1/2 season for the defensive transformation to fully be installed and remain a standard ‘round here. We hope.
5. Fight the good fight, George. Take care. Look forward to getting you back soon, even if I can’t be here all of the time.

Posted by Bugsy on 10/22/11 at 11:53 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

2. By the time I gave a good pint of blood and a full gallon of pee (seriously) to the head of infectious diseases at U of M, I’d had major sinus surgery but was a full year into not knowing why I was too tired and weak to go to school, so I didn’t mind when I was told that I’d be tested for AIDS and was asked whether I’d traveled to any tropical countries.

I got lucky in that a few sleep studies (which are terrible experiences) revealed that I had sleep apnea, and a surgery that works only 28% of the time worked for me because my tonsils and uvula were huge and my throat opening was the size of a quarter, so all went well in its own weird way. My only disappointment is that I can’t say some German words with a phlegmy emphasis very well, that I have to work very hard to say “eight” and I get a sore throat if I sing along with tunes because my throat opening is now a six-inch surgical scar.

3. I guess it is a medical blog raspberry

1. It took a lot of pride-swallowing to come home when I got sick but the mom and aunt helped me when I needed ‘em and now they need me to get along. I’d rather it not be public knowledge but I could say the same about my illnesses, and my working life’s going to be easier to live now that I can just explain what’s going on if I’m away from the blog.

Thankfully, the rest of my life and my life history, aside perhaps the whirlwind romance with the gal from Winnipeg and my dad’s early/sudden/unexpected death, is incredibly boring and largely devoid of skeletons. I had half a beer once…

4. I’m pissed off about Saturday’s effort. I understand that it’s “one of 82” and that the Wings are lucky enough to be able to forget it and worry about the tiger by the tail they have on Tuesday in Columbus with Wisniewski back (he loves beating and beating on the Wings), but it was embarrassing to watch the Wings’ classic defensive flaws and power play malaises from the past three seasons be on display in front of a national audience and a team that truly believes its gigantic hype machine.

If the Wings are supposedly cocky and arrogant, the Caps are the team most full of themselves this side of Chicago, Vancouver and Toronto, and we’re gonna hear about this game for a long, long time. I think every Wings player owes Nick an apology for that effort, but I’m a sore loser.

6. Yes, there’s little order to this one.

I think that Custance is here for family reasons; Eliot probably needed a job and I know that he wrote about the Wings relatively often for both SI and the AJC so I’m guessing that he’s going to work for the Wings and probably do the same thing that Murph does in moonlighting for the NHL Network or NBC Sports; Cotsonika could be the Uber-Digger but he’s chosen to broaden the net.

It really is kinda scary that the Wings have Khan, Waddell and Pleiness grinding it out (with Waddell calling the Wings out if they play like crap), Kulfan always being half bored to death and St. James asking the kind of leading questions that Duff indicated on Twitter apparently piss some people off, but I have stories that I can’t tell.

The fact that so much of the MSM is taught to treat the Detroit sports scene like it’s a Lions town (even when they were losing all the time) and that a Wings beat position is something like winning Ms. Congeniality if you can’t land the Lions,’ Tigers,’ Pistons’ or Michigan’s beats obviously negatively affects coverage to the point that people like me have a job filling in context while trying to find a way to be a Meijer of a blog, and despite all this self-talk, not developing an ego about it. This ain’t about me, it’s about following the Wings and facilitating discussion among knowledgeable fans, and it’s nothing more.

And 5. Thank you.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 10/23/11 at 08:01 AM ET

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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.