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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Predators Game 5 quick take: it can’t be Nashville every night

Updated 3x at 11:27 PM: The Detroit Red Wings lost 2-1 to the Nashville Predators, and have been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for the first time since 2006. I’ll post a quick take soon, but share your thoughts in the comments, please.

Update #3: Tomas Holmstrom to FSD’s John Keating, asking whether he’s decide what he’ll do: “You’ve got to be kidding me?” He’s not sure. And for those of you who want to know, Red Bird III will return to Metro Airport at 1:11 AM.

Update #2: Via the Wings, amongst coach Babcock’s comments to Fox Sports Detroit:

Babcock: “I thought their goaltender was outstanding. I thought their depth up front was better than our depth up front.”
...
Babcock: “I didn’t think we had enough up front and I think it showed up front.”
...
Babcock: “When you lose 4-1 in a series, you can talk about them all being close games, but that’s not close. It’s not close.”

Babcock: “I thought this was our worst game in the series.”
...
Babcock: “I thought we played lots of good hockey in this series, but I didn’t think we played very well today.”
...
Babcock: “I just thought we didn’t have enough depth up front ... I just thought (pause) .. We weren’t good enough.”

Also:

Kronwall: ‘It’s an empty feeling. It’s disappointing.’
...
The handshake line. http://twitpic.com/9c7fnw
...
Zetterberg said that he told Shea Weber ‘well played, good luck and see you next year’ in the handshake line.
...
Zetterberg: ‘It is tough. We played a tough opponent and they played well.’

Update: Well, I guess we knew that was going to happen. In a series where the Detroit Red Wings have beaten themselves just as much as they’ve lost to a Predators team which was able to reinforce itself at the trade deadline and steal home ice from a team that lost its identity down the stretch, the Red Wings’ defensive mistakes did them in again, and as such, 4/20 represents quite the break…The last game the Red Wings will play until they assemble for training camp in September.

Just as the Wings underwent some significant changes in 2006, and even if Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom return, it’s obvious that the team needs changes, though it must be said that Detroit was perhaps out-competed and made all of those awful defensive mistakes—which could not have been bailed out by goal-scoring with Pavel Datsyuk, Danny Cleary, and perhaps even Johan Franzen hobbled by injuries—because the Predators’ wingers were a force all series long, out-skating, out-checking and out-working counterparts who did not provide winger support in the form of outlets for defensemen who had no one to pass to but Predators players, no transition game for a defense still missing Brian Rafalski an April after he retired, and forcing the Wings’ puck-carrying forwards to endlessly pass back to the point because the point men were the only one either open or not being tied up by the Predators’ defense.

Friday night, yes indeed, there were some punches to the gut in addition to all the heartbreak we feel by Pekka Rinne drawing a penalty for diving and then taking Tomas Holmstrom out, the good dozen seconds that trickled off the clock throughout the game thanks to a partisan stats crew, the non-calls on interference, Weber hacking Datsyuk’s stick out of his hands, the boos for Holmstrom, the boos for Lidstrom (???), the, “You suck” chants from a fan base that has slain its self-made arch-rival dragon…And watching Jimmy Howard and Henrik Zetterberg going out on their shields, absolutely dominating play and receiving little to no assistance, even when Babcock mixed up his lines over and over again…

My heart’s broken as a Wings fan and I really don’t have anything to say that’s positive. I’m a 34-year-old man with a goatee that goes down to my sternum, a bald head and a nasty glare (unintentionally so), and I’m not ashamed to say that at some point over the next few days, especially as someone who cares about the team he’s followed for 20 years like family, and someone who’s never been anything more or less than a fan…I’m sure my allergies will act up and my eyes will water.

To think of not seeing the Wings play again until mid-September? After your team wins the Stanley Cup, man, you feel like no hockey for June and July is too long. This…This is unacceptable, and four months of no Wings hockey (fear not, TMR will be very busy all summer long) means that changes have to come, even if they’re only in the form of a few significant tweaks…

But this hurts. This hurts like getting repeatedly punched in the heart. And it should for the players, coaches and management, too.

In terms of the game’s narrative...What can I say? The Red Wings met a Predators team bound and determined to close the series out, and were out-shot, lost badly in the faceoff department and were the ones flailing madly at loose pucks they couldn’t or wouldn’t get to in the offensive zone, vainly chasing Predators players skating up ice and getting beaten in the trenches and along the boards in their own zone.

The first Predators goal was an own-goal extraordinaire: despite some fantastic saves by Jimmy Howard throughout the first period, off a nothing play and a simple dump-in by Ryan Ellis, David Legwand chased the puck down into the Wings’ zone and behind the net, he attempted to out-battle Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson just to the left of Jimmy Howard, and thanks to Kyle Quincey poking the puck toward Ericsson instead of eating it, Legwand was able to steal the puck, pass it out front, and none of the Wings’ forwards on the ice—and Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller and Todd Bertuzzi, who aren’t exactly defensive slouches—made any attempt to prevent Alexander Radulov from charging into the slot and ripping a shot over Jimmy Howard’s blocker.

With 3:50 left in the 1st, the Wings were down 1-0.

Detroit could not convert on a power play thanks to one of only two penalties called on a clutchy-grabby Predators team (Mike Fisher’s penalty at 31 seconds negated a doofy penalty given to Danny Cleary only 15 seconds in), not capitalizing on Brandon Yip’s goaltender interference penalty called at 18:26 of the 1st, and the Wings emerged out-shot 10-8.

In the second period, Henrik Zetterberg tried to take the team on his back, but it took 13 minutes and 45 seconds—and an earned luck break—for the Wings to break through. Henrik Zetterberg won a rare faceoff (the Wings went 19-and-29, or 40%, in the faceoff circle) against Paul Gaustad in the Predators’ zone, and Valtteri Filppula pulled the puck out of the pile. Jiri Hudler tried to hel, too, as Gaustad and Roman Josi piled in, and Craig Smith cleared the puck, tryingto hit Brandon Yip. In the neutral zone, Brad Stuart took the puck, gave it to Niklas Kronwall, and he handed the puck to Zetterberg, who skated up and in on a 3-on-3 with Filppula and Hudler.

Zetterberg skated toward the right side, peeled off as he deked around Kevin Klein, sent the puck to the slot, and with Roman Josi holding him up, Filppula managed to tap the puck off Josi’s skate, and Jiri Hudler beat Martin Erat to the puck and one-handed it behind Rinne.

With 6:15 left in the 2nd, the Wings were tied, and for the rest of the period, they played dominant hockey, to the point that as the second period expired, it felt like the Wings would in fact prevail.

 

All of that changed on the first shift of the third period. Zetterberg won the opening draw agianst David Legwand, Brad Stuart skated up to the Predators’ blueline to help Jiri Hudler, who kicked at it at the line, and instead, Hudler lost the battle for the puck at the offensive blueline, Stuart stumbled as he knew he’d been caught cheating toward offense, Radulov poked the puck to Gabriel Bourque, he roared up ice against Niklas Kronwall, and as Filppula roared back to help Kronwall defend both Bourque and Radulov, Bourque fired a shot and was stopped, and…

Filppula forgot that he was supposed to take away defensive zone territory instead of a single player, and for some reason, David Legwand escaped Henrik Zetterberg and fired the rebound through Filppula, Bourque and eventually Jimmy Howard, who barely saw the shot.

13 seconds in, the Wings were down 2-1, and that’s how the game would end.

 

The Wings battled back as best they could, out-shooting Nashville 8-7 as Babcock tried to stir things up by shifting Bertuzzi, Franzen, Nyquist, Cleary and Holmstrom off their usual wing positions, and attempting to double-shift Lidstrom, but the clock wound down, Rinne and Weber got away with obvious infractions, and the game ended with a handshake line:

 

Over the next few days, we’ll learn exactly who was hurt in addition to Datsyuk, Cleary and Lidstrom, what Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart want to do, and maybe what the coaches and management are thinking going forward, and then we might be able to cheer on some Wings players at the World Championships…

But then it’s waiting for Lidstrom to decide whether he wants to continue playing, waiting to hear the same from Holmstrom, hoping that Lidstrom is named a Lady Byng Trohpy finalist and taking in the Awards and Draft before crossing our fingers that Holland will, despite some serious-ass CBA uncertainty, make some necessary changes via free agency.

This sucks, doesn’t it?

Statistics:

Shots 25-22 Nashville. Detroit was out-shot 10-8 in the 1st period and 8-6 in the 2nd period, but they out-shot Nashville 8-7 in the 3rd period.

Detroit went 0 for 2 in 2:16 of PP time; Nashville went 0 for 3 in 4:16 of PP time.

Jimmy Howard stopped 23 of 25 shots; Pekka Rinne stopped 21 of 22.

The 3 stars, per the Nashville media, were Pekka Rinne, Alex Radulov and David Legwand.

The Wings’ goal: Hudler (2) from Filppula (2) and Zetterberg (1).

Faceoffs 29-19 Nashville (Detroit won 40%);

Blocked shots 17-12 Detroit;

Missed shots 14-10 Detroit (total attempts 52-48 Nashville, with Detroit firing 22 shots on Rinne and 26 wide or into Predators players);

Hits 32-22 Nashville;

Giveaways a hideous 11-8 Detroit;

Takeaways an equally poor 12-4 Nashville.

Individual stats:

Faceoffs: Datsyuk went 7-and-11 (39%); Zetterberg went 4-and-8 (33%); Abdelkader went 5-and-4 (56%); Emmerton went 2-and-3 (40%); Filppula went 1-and-1 (50%); Franzen and Cleary lost their only faceoffs.

Shots: White and Franzen led the team with 3 shots; Miller, Quincey, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Datsyuk, Hudler, Bertuzzi and Ericsson had 1.

Blocked attempts: Abdelkader, White, Filppula and Ericsson had 2 attempts blocked by Predators players; Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Stuart and Bertuzzi had 1 attempt blocked.

Missed shots: Zetterberg missed the net 3 times; Lidstrom, Cleary and Nyquist missed the net 2 times; Abdelkader, White, Stuart, Hudler and Bertuzzi missed the net 1 time.

Hits: Abdelkader and Quincey led the team with 3 hits apiece; Datsyuk, Stuart, Bertuzzi and Franzen had 2; Lidstrom, Cleary, Nyquist, Miller, Hudler, Zetterberg, Emmerton and Ericsson had 1.

Giveaways: Franzen had 3 giveaways; Stuart and Howard had 2; Hudler, Quincey, Filppula and Holmstrom had 1.

Takeaways: Kronwall had 2 takeaways; Lidstrom and White had 1.

Blocked opponent shots: Quincey blocked 4 shots; Stuart blocked 3; Lidstrom, Emmerton and Franzen blocked 2; Abdelkader, Cleary, Miller and Filppula blocked 1.

Penalties taken: Cleary, Ericsson and Holmstrom were penalized.

Plus-minus: The Wings finished at -5. Abdelkader, Miller, Quincey, Bertuzzi and Ericsson finished at -1.

Points: Hudler had a goal; Zetterberg and Filppula had assists.

Ice time: Lidstrom led the team with 22:25 played; Kronwall played 21:53; Zetterberg played 21:47;

White played 20:45; Stuart played 20:33; Filppula played 18:58;

Datsyuk played 18:30; Ericsson played 17:49; Cleary played 17:10;

Hudler played 16:52; Quincey played 16:34; Franzen played 13:45;

Bertuzzi played 12:49; Nyquist played 12:48; Abdelkader played 12:41;

Miller played 11;16; Holmstrom played 10:28; Emmerton played 8:10.

Here’s a full slate of game highlights:

 

Update #4: Lidstrom didn’t have a thing to say to the CBC as to whether he’ll retire:

 

Update #5: This is just painful to watch:

 

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Comments

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Another 1 pt loss in a playoff game.WTF?

Posted by sapper78e from North Carolina on 04/21/12 at 12:35 AM ET

42jeff's avatar

Classy bunch those Preds fans chanting “You Suck” after the game.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/21/12 at 12:35 AM ET

Jacob Russell's avatar

Depressing.

A team with this much potential, this much veteran presence, that set the home wins record this season should not have ended the season and their playoffs with such a mess of poorly played, un-motived games that got away from the game we play well.  They’re better than this, and should have been better.

Posted by Jacob Russell from Grand Rapids, MI on 04/21/12 at 12:36 AM ET

42jeff's avatar

Another 1 pt loss in a playoff game.WTF?

Posted by sapper78e from North Carolina on 04/20/12 at 10:35 PM ET

Teams that give a rats ass tend to make up those one point differences occaisionally.

Posted by 42jeff from The greater Howard City, MI metroplex on 04/21/12 at 12:36 AM ET

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I hope datysuk’s knee was truly bad enough for that mid season surgery. He was dominant leading up to it and pavel-lite following it.

Posted by Brian's Neck on 04/21/12 at 12:39 AM ET

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This is simply unacceptable and as fans we cannot stand for this. Yes, it was an exciting season, with plenty to look back at with great fondness. However, as George has said before, we aren’t the best team unless we win the Cup, and that’s what we should come to expect. Spoiled? Perhaps, but we cannot stand for this. Why? What if we come to say to ourselves, “Well, at least we had the home winning streak.” Or other “What ifs…”. Our standards will start to slip without anybody noticing, and that is a danger we need to always be wary of.

We must be better and I believe we need to be and will be.

Go Red Wings

Posted by TheBen on 04/21/12 at 12:40 AM ET

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What a sad excuse of a game from a team on the brink of elimination.  That’s all I can muster right now.

Posted by loojay on 04/21/12 at 12:40 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Normally I am very sympathetic toward fans of other teams when theirs loses because I know how it feels, but I love when the cocky Wings fans get what they deserve.  Guess you can start your stupid countdown again til you ‘get the Cup back’. HA.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 04/21/12 at 12:41 AM ET

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@NHLJeff: I don’t see anybody who has posted anything even remotely ‘cocky’. The fact that you cannot let the five or so people who have posted so far mourn their team’s season just stinks of a lack of class. I wish all the best to your Penguins.

Posted by TheBen on 04/21/12 at 12:43 AM ET

jimathor's avatar

I’ve just got in from work, in truth I haven’t bothered looking at my phone all evening, it’s all felt a little “inevitable”.

I think if Nashville go on to win the cup, it will be a tarnished year, tarnished by the nonsense with Weber and Hank, tarnished by Radulov being in a finals when he hasn’t played anything like the pre-requisite amount of regular season games and tarnished because, I feel, there are much better teams playing hockey in these playoffs. Unfortunately the Wings aren’t one of them.

Our problems lie almost solely with a pile of mid/late season injuries and, more importantly, Ken Hitchcock’s trade deadline gamble, which I really think has backfired. Gaustad has been a really solid part of the Nashville lineup, I really would have taken him over Quincey, Mursak, Kuba, anyone really.

I’m too tired to write more, I can’t really be bothered to make excuses, I just hope that there’s a real turn-around next year and Kenny starts spending some serious dollars and truly making the effort to bring people in, even if that does mean over-paying for people. He says he never overpays, well thats BS, look at the Mule, he’s over paying there a thousand fold.

What I will say is this, George, it is always and has always been a pleasure to read what you do for this site and I hope you realise that, to me, and I’m sure a lot of people on this site, you are as much a part of the Red Wings family as Uncle Mike, TPH, Tick Tock and the rest. As open as you are about your struggles, I hope that, despite the teams loss, you keep your head up and understand that you’re probably the best in the business in terms of Wings-related journalism. Now take a few days off to recover!

Posted by jimathor from The land of Sir Humblepatch of Bumblehound on 04/21/12 at 12:49 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

TheBen, I didn’t say anyone had posted cocky comments on this thread, but Wings fans are Cocky throughout the year talking about how they are the model everyone should follow, how much better they are than every other team in every single way, and how it is only a matter of playing the remaining games in the season until the Cup is back in Detroit.  I enjoy them being proven wrong.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 04/21/12 at 12:51 AM ET

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Two decades of reloading.
Two decades of one of the two greatest defensive d-men of all time (Doug Harvey being the other).
Finally, it’s time to rebuild.
Time to look at the NHL for what it is and adjust.
Just make sure you have those DVDs for ‘08 and the other Cups from this wonderful era.
Had the Wings not lost Konstantinov, they would have won twice as many Cups.
This team peaked in February when the injuries hit. The NHL is a war of attrition, and when you come down to it, the Wings lacked what it takes to go the distance.
Not the end of the world.
Just the end of an era.
Time to rebuild.
Time to start over.
Thanks, Mike Ilitch, for a wonderful ride.

Posted by Steve Klein from Fairfax, VA on 04/21/12 at 12:52 AM ET

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@NHLJeff Okay. I wasn’t arguing with you just for the record. Just saying how I took that comment. But yeah, surely you realise not Every fan is like that? And it’s just Wings fans have come to expect a winning tradition.

Posted by TheBen on 04/21/12 at 12:53 AM ET

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My thoughts.

Férias = Vacations.
Agora é secar o Predatros = Don’t need translation.

Posted by zeh from Brazil on 04/21/12 at 12:54 AM ET

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Oh… Almost forgot:

Eu já sabia = I already knew it.

Posted by zeh from Brazil on 04/21/12 at 12:56 AM ET

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We’ve reaped what Kenny Holland has sowed.

Let’s look at what the guy living on his reputation has done in the last year (since it was clear after losing again to a non cup quality team that we needed to improve).

Ericsson and Commodore get a combined 4.5 million (meanwhile Philly looking like we used to look in the front office, before Bowman left town) signs one of our own, Lilja for 750,000.

Conklin

White replacing Rafalski

Tonight’s hero Quincey for a first rounder.

No help up front.

Hell of a year early 90s Perles…I mean Kenny.

At some point, somebody in this town is going to have the balls to line up what Kenny has done (hasn’t done) the last three years and grade it objectively.  The fans, Nick, Hank and Pavel and Babs deserve worlds more than what he’s provided these last three years.

Posted by deanwerner on 04/21/12 at 12:57 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

The Ben, you’re right.  I’m sure not all Wings fans are like that.  Just as not all Pens fans are as moronic as EvilPens.  Sorry for rubbing it in your faces.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 04/21/12 at 12:57 AM ET

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Hey, let’s not be bitter.
Let’s be classy.
Let’s be grateful.
Let’s be honest: there were a bunch of teams that were better than the Wings in March who could have beaten them in April.
Boston or Philly would have beaten the crap out of the Wings had Detroit gotten that far.
Congrats to the Preds.
If their fans want to be stupid, let’s not mimic them.
Great goalie.
A couple D-men who would look great in Detroit.
But I hope the Preds get St. Louis ...

Posted by Steve Klein from Fairfax, VA on 04/21/12 at 12:58 AM ET

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Q@NHLJeff Barry Trot himself said the preds have tried to model themselves after the wings. The reason we say we are a model team is because every coach and GM agrees.

Posted by Brian's Neck on 04/21/12 at 12:58 AM ET

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Third in the Central, Fifth in the West and first round playoff exit in five games is just not acceptable! Hopefully Holland will find the wisdom and courage to go after the best talent we can get, even if it means parting with some of the fan favorite players we have now. I hope he can see that the team needs to improve not just maintain the status quo.
Thanks George for the great reporting all season long! It’s truly been a pleasure reading your words of wisdom!
Best of luck with the health issues .. we want you back fit as a fiddle in the Fall!

Posted by Edd from Wauseon, OH on 04/21/12 at 01:02 AM ET

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Okay, I’ll play the bad guy. The Wings had such a long playoff year streak, won 4 cups during that time, hit on late draft picks time and time again, and was among the most professional teams in all of spots. Simply put, I don’t think Wings fans are spoiled but rather in denial that what goes up must eventually come down. This does not mean this team couldn’t win another Cup in the next year or 2, but if you look at the dynasties in each major sport over the years, they eventually have to regroup. The Yankees, the Dodgers, the Cardinals, the Lakers, the Pistons, the Celtics, the Cowboys, the Steelers, the Packers, Canadiens, the Maple Leafs (forget that one), the Penguins. All of these teams, if memory serves me correctly, have had at least a season, often more, where they didn’t just miss the playoffs, they weren’t close, during the Wings’ streak. The last time the Wings missed the playoffs I believe was 1989-1990.

I started as a fan during the dead era of the mid 70’s, so all of this is gravy in comparison (hence my nickname. My first hockey autograph was from Bugsy Watson). I dreamed while watching Reed Larson, Paul Woods, and company of a team like this but figured they wouldn’t break through the ceiling. A part of me will go kicking and screaming into the night, wanting to believe that this descent is a fluke, but the more realistic yet optimistic side is still hoping to sign Parise and Suter and make another run. I’m not saying that Babcock, Holland, and co. didn’t make errors along the way, but I’m going to try to look at the positive and appreciate what a wonderful, history defining run this has been so far with a team so easy to root for. People don’t hate the Wings because they are arrogant or dirty, it’s because they win ALL the time, and that is the greatest compliment of all. I’m going to go to youtube this weekend, appreciate some Datsyuk artistry, go back to some older WIngs videos, and be darn appreciative of what we’ve had and hope to continue to have. I expect the Wings will eventually right this ship, just not fast enough for any of us.

One other note. A close family member of mine died this month. It’s helped me get some perspective, including writing less and reading less here (as painful as the withdrawal has been. Reality of mourning, estate paperwork, etc.). However, I’ll never give up on this team if I can help it, because even in my sorrow and absolutue exhaustion right now, just being able to watch the Wings for 3/4 of a period tonight helped me escape just a bit, and now makes me smile for a short time. Sorry to be so verbose, and I DON"T want this to belittle anyone’s anger and frustration at what looked like a great season mid-way through. I’m just more in an appreciative mode and hope for many more years to come, from Smith, Helm, Abdelkader, Nyquist and company. I’ve got to go. Reality is dragging me back to work. Thank you a million times to you George in the midst of your struggles, and to all the forum people here, even when I get shot down. One last time for the season with feeling: “Let’s go Red Wings!”  Good night.

Posted by Bugsy on 04/21/12 at 01:05 AM ET

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@NHLJeff: Cool, good luck with your team!

@Brian’s Neck:  Yep, that’s true. Thanks for chiming in, that’s an important point that teams tend to mention us as a model in the NHL. Unfortunately, after this year’s exit, the team should be embarrassed if they think of themselves as a “model” for an elite NHL club. SIGH.

Posted by TheBen on 04/21/12 at 01:05 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

parting with some of the fan favorite players we have now.

I think that is part of the problem.  loyalty is great, but it can be taken too far.  I think it has been taken too far.

the only players I would like to see back 100% for sure are Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Howard, Helm, Filpulla, Kronwall and Cleary.

everyone else, IMO, should be potential trade bait.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/21/12 at 01:07 AM ET

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There are four very good coaches in the Central West. I have to wonder, though, if Babs picked the right guys to assist him.
I don’t like the job Holland did in February for this season, but I think he knew that were too many teams that could beat the Wings and that he needed to hold his cards and stick to the plan.
This is still a terrific front office. And Stevie Y. will be back someday. Give it time.
Nashville sucked in October. Poile did a terrific job to get them where they are now. But this is no two-decade or even one-decade dynasty. This is hand-to-mouth from season to season.
Wings need to get bigger, faster, and a little meaner.
The changes need to take place on the ice. I trust the front office to take care of business.
It will be fun. Not easy, but fun.

Posted by Steve Klein from Fairfax, VA on 04/21/12 at 01:08 AM ET

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Great Hip reference George…...

“she said fuch this and fuch that”

Posted by Hockey Night in The Noog on 04/21/12 at 01:09 AM ET

perfection's avatar

my main thought… honestly, is just “fuch it”. That’s done. I didn’t have a great feeling about this series from the get-go. The Wings definitely did not roll into the playoffs playing all that well and all we heard Babcock say is how important getting Helm back was going to be. From the second Helm went to the locker room, I had a bad feeling about the rest of this series. And it’s worth noting that the ONE game we won was the game Shea Weber would have theoretically sat out if were suspended, so you can’t even really argue that the lack of discipline on that play really had anything to do with the loss. We needed to win game 3 at home. That was our chance to solidify some momentum. Their confidence would have wavered a bit at that point, but instead, we definitely looked like the team lacking confidence. The players seemed to play like getting knocked out this year was an inevitability.

And much sadder than being knocked out early is that we’re almost certainly saying goodbye to Brad Stuart, likely to Thomas Holmstrom, and maybe, god forbid, to Nick Lidstrom. That is the real tragedy tonight. Stuie has been more than anyone could have expected. He is truly the best 4th dman in the league, especially with the top 3 the Red Wings had. What a perfect compliment he proved to be. He is one guy I hope never gets booed coming back to the Joe. Hossa getting booed I think is pretty hilarious, but Stuie laid it all on the line every night for this team and has said repeatedly if it weren’t for his (bitch) family he would re-sign in a heartbeat. I, for one, will miss him dearly and seeing that there are only a few California teams to pick from, it’ll be pretty painful to see him in one of those sweaters (especially Anaheim… ugh).

Homer too is one of the greatest of all time. He is one of a kind and forever a Red Wing. If I had any say, Homer would be heading to the Hall of Fame for being simply the best in the world at his particular skill on the ice for most of his career. With the abuse he suffered, he was an artist, perfecting the footwork (I’m a homer and all, but it honestly seems, especially in the second half of his career, that Homer’s goalie interference calls were bad calls far more often than they were legitimate. He just toed the line so perfectly and was never given the benefit of the doubt.), mastering the screen, and tipping pucks like nobody else. If they only gave assists for every goal that he actually assisted on by his net front play, the man would have a ridiculous amount of points. He is the guy every team in the league shows to their gumpy new kid, trying to get them to mimic him, trying to create the next Homstrom for their team. He is the standard everyone judges their own net crasher by. And most of all, it was just always such a treat to hear Homer speak. His accent is one of the greatest ever (especially in the Everyone-But-Hasek category) and the things he tries to express are even better. My all-time favorite being him saying that he plans on staying in the US after his career is over because “restaurants are open on Sunday”. Go Homer. They should make a life-size bronze statue of Holmstrom with a bronze net in the concourse at the Joe and let people pretend to be a goalie looking around him to get their picture taken. That’s just a good idea. They seriously should do it.

I won’t address Lidstrom leaving. Like the rest of the Wings, I really think it’s just not worth thinking about until it happens. You do have to wonder if this series helped decide Suter’s allegiance? It seems pretty silly, but he definitely made it clear publicly that he wanted to see how the Preds did in the playoffs. And if you look at Hossa as an example, he only signed on the Wings because of losing to them in the playoffs, so players can and do take that into account.

And I still think anyone who thinks we should get rid of Babcock (let alone Holland.. please) is completely nuts. He is one of the top five coaches in the league, indisputably. He did what he could with what he had to work with but clearly this squad was just not meant to do it this year. I’m eager to see Smith full time, Nyquist full time, and hopefully the team makes a splash or two in the free agent market. We will continue to be a playoff team, even without Lidstrom, but whether he comes back or not will absolutely decide whether we are a real cup contender or not. I mean, even 3 Ryan Suter’s can’t replace one of the greatest ever. It’s worrisome to think that this could be the start of a dry spell over the next few years of transition, but you also have to give Kenny Holland the benefit of the doubt on that one. Time and time again he’s rebuilt this team on the fly, adapting to whatever is thrown up against him (of course, that was always with Lidstrom).

I wonder who I should cheer for now in the playoffs? Kind of want to see Pheonix play Nashville. That sounds like a crazy series based on how these teams are playing now.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 04/21/12 at 01:16 AM ET

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AND ...
Thanks, George, for toughing it out.
Beat writers may be called professionals, but I’ll take a knowledgeable, passionate, perceptive fan any day—and I’m a former working professional.
Take care and let the long off-season help heal all the wounds.
Watch the ‘02 DVDs on a quiet day and marvel at how blessed we all have been to be fans of this wonderful franchise that Mike Ilitch continues to give us.
I’d still rather have Detroit’s future than Nashville’s in the long run.

Posted by Steve Klein from Fairfax, VA on 04/21/12 at 01:17 AM ET

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NHLJeff: “I’m going to post something obnoxious because I don’t like when other fans post something obnoxious.”  Great logic, Jeff.  All class.  Go Pens.

Posted by exiledinla on 04/21/12 at 01:22 AM ET

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I wonder who I should cheer for now in the playoffs?

I kind of want to see an LA/Philly finals because I think the Carter/Richards vs Philadelphia would be a good story.  I also like the idea that Philly give themselves a facelift in the off-season and make the finals only to lose to the two guys they scapegoated.

And also like the idea of them going out and paying through the nose for Breezy only to have the same end-result as when they had Michael Leighton between the pipes.

Posted by Garth on 04/21/12 at 01:24 AM ET

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My thoughts: Go back quite a few columns ago to find out why I was one of 3 people so upset when the Wings scored the tying goal on the Hawks about not wanting to play Nashville. Nashville won the series at the trade deadline (and with a late KHL addition). If they keep Suter and Weber the following year the price they paid won’t be so bad.

Looking forward:
NHL 2012-13 season shortened by labor strife. New CBA doesn’t get ratified until mid Oct. Biggest issue is the Cap gets lowered significantly with no NHLPA cap inflator going forward or NHLPA revenue sharing goes down 7% to under the 50% range.

NHL announces Phoenix will be leaving for Quebec in 2013-14 and the realignment plan dies another death.

Lidstrom retires end of June after the awards show and draft. Holmstrom retires (back issues prevent) before that.

Stuart leaves for SoCal. Conklin leaves for ? Hudler leaves for who cares (I can’t stand the guy and am disgusted he gets all these goals and credit for playing well during the series with: little effort—cherry picking, multiple turnovers, and off-target passing).

Eaves misses a significant portion of the 2012-13 season.

Tatar moves up to the big club and replaces Hudler. The Wings get Semin after losing out on Suter and Parise. They do however drive Suter and Weber’s price up to the point Nashville loses Suter. Nash gets moved before the draft and goes to SJ.

Wings make playoffs but get beat in 2nd round next year.

Posted by dca from in Mich on 04/21/12 at 01:25 AM ET

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The one chance I seriously wish for is Franzen going away.  It’s too bad that he turned out to be Alexander Mogilny, playing for a contract and then not caring until his next contract year, because that will never come.

I think George said in an earlier post that Franzen’s contract is unmoveable, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true because you just need to look at Mike Richards and Jeff Carter as long-term contracts that were dealt (twice in Carter’s case).  My problem is that I don’t think that Ken Holland will, even for a second, consider trying to deal Franzen.  Clearly Mr Holland “likes” Franzen, but I think if you subtract the apathy of Franzen and instead put in someone with a f*cking heart then you could get a different outcome.

I’d also love to see Nyquist getting some real top-six minutes next year.  And I wish that they weren’t so quick to re-ink Todd Bertuzzi for two years.  He’s good when he’s playing with Datsyuk, but he’s not a genuince top-six forward and I’d prefer we have a real top-six forward taking up his space.

Posted by Garth on 04/21/12 at 01:31 AM ET

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one more thing

The assistant coach in charge of the power play needs to be let go. I think it was Jeff Blashill if I remember right. As the Wings were experimenting with a 1-3-1 alignment like Western at the beginning of the year.

He’ll be a good NHL coach eventually. But he’s not ready for the job. Similar to Dave Lewis taking over as head coach.

Posted by dca from in Mich on 04/21/12 at 01:39 AM ET

Wings_Fan_In_KC's avatar

George,

Thanks so much for your contributins throughout the season and for sticking with it.

Gratefully,

WFiKC

Posted by Wings_Fan_In_KC from ...somewhere southwest of The Motor City... on 04/21/12 at 01:50 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

This is going to be campy, because I’ll be here anyway, but if you won’t, and even if you will…

Thank you for reading my blog and thank you for being fellow Wings fans.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 04/21/12 at 02:04 AM ET

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Extremely disappointing.  I echo everyone else’s statements.  This team lost it’s way in mid-February and never found it’s game again.  I think we would have lost to Phoenix, too, if we’d drawn them instead.  Regardless, we had a chance to get our mojo back with a major trade at the deadline.  Didn’t happen.  Maybe Kenny will be right in the long run, but this friggin sucks right now.

This seems more like when we lost to LA in 2001 than the 2003 or 2006 comparisons.  This current line-up in stagnant.  Kenny needs to shake it up with a trade or two and bring in a few key free agents.  I’d love to get Shane Doan on the Wings.  He’d make a perfect addition to the third line.  While I doubt he’d leave Phoenix, he might leave that team if they relocate this off-season.  We need some intensity, fire, and hunger.

Posted by Rob from Tucson, AZ on 04/21/12 at 02:14 AM ET

Chet's avatar

not sure how i feel about two more years of bert after this series. long as we’re piling on holland…

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/21/12 at 03:57 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I actually now think Nick retires and Kenny will be retiring along with him, just like he has always said.

Don’t ask what Holland’s going to do, because I think it’ll be up to someone else to fix this.  I don’t know who.  Not Yzerman, so don’t go there.  He’s stockpiling picks in TB, that’s not what a guy does if he’s thinking of the Now or looking around for a gig elsewhere.  Expect Yzerman to be in TB a long, long time.  Maybe Nill finally gets his shot?

I really do feel this is The End though (too good of young players in the system still).  Not necessarily of success altogether, but of the Era. Whoever is GMing next season if I’m right, that’ll be their Era.  Maybe the Nill Era then, building around guys like Helm, Smith, Howard, Jarnkrok, Pulkkinen, Jurco, Sheahan…

Posted by Primis on 04/21/12 at 04:12 AM ET

calquake's avatar

Posted by Bugsy on 04/20/12 at 11:05 PM ET

Thanks for being a true (fake) internet friend.  We need more like you.

Posted by calquake on 04/21/12 at 02:21 PM 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.