The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/10/11 at 07:57 PM ET
Updated 3x at 7:42: the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky believes that Jiri Hudler will replace Kris Draper in the lineup: With an inordinate amount of Red Wings-Sharks game-day content having already fallen off the front page, it’s time to re-focus on the mid-afternoon storylines surrounding tonight’s game (8 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/Versus/TSN/WXYT), starting with the fact that Wings coach Mike Babcock told NHL.com’s Brian Hedger that he’s put Mike Modano on notice: in replacing Johan Franzen, Modano will have no room to err toward the artistic
Perhaps offering a clue into his logic of not playing star veteran forward Mike Modano for the first five games of this series, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said he wants the 40-year old Modano to play a simple game and grind out wins in puck battles. Snazzy plays are not what interests Babcock – who is playing Modano in place of the injured Johan Franzen (ankle).
“He’s got to skate, he’s got to compete,” Babcock said of Modano, who grew up in nearby Westland, Mich.,but played the first 20 years of his 21-year NHL career with the Dallas Stars organization. “It’s racing out there. There’s mistakes being made defensively by both teams that you don’t see during the year, because the pace is so high. There’s no room. If you think you’re going to go out there and make a nice play, it’s not going to happen. You’ve got to go out there and grind and compete and work hard. If you do that, the offense is going to come off the cycle, not off the rush. We’ve got to find a way to get him involved in that.”
At the same time, the mood in the Wings’ room is relatively light while facing elimination and the improbability of pulling off a miraculous comeback. Tomas Holmstrom delivered the line of the day to Hedger and others in suggesting the following:
“Everybody’s fresh, fresh like a daisy,” said Holmstrom, who scored the game-winner in game 5 by deflecting a blast by Nicklas Lidstrom. “There’s no problems.”
Next up was Babcock, who was again asked about Detroit’s strategy to deal with [Pavel] Datsyuk being unable to take faceoffs because of the [sore] wrist.
“Pav’s OK,” Babcock said. “There’s these rumors going around that he’s hurt, be he looks good to me.”
He looks good to Holmstrom, too.
“I’ve played with him a long time,” Holmstrom said. “You think you’ve seen it all, then he takes it up another notch.”
Babcock had a theory about that, too, as he told Hedger:
Babcock was asked to expand on that analogy after Tuesday’s morning skate and said that “drivetrain” can be installed, so to speak, by hard work and determination.
“I think for sure it can be taught,” Babcock said. “When you come to a team like the Detroit Red Wings, when you arrive, Steve Yzerman’s like that or Nick Lidstrom’s like that. Pavel Datsyuk is an absolute workaholic on and off the ice. It’s not by accident that these guys are this good. It’s because they work that hard.”
Babcock then cited how hard Datsyuk works on and off the ice to keep his 32-year old body in shape and to keep honing his already jaw-dropping array of skills at both ends of the ice.
“To me, that’s what separates him,” Babcock said. “There’s lots of nice players in the league, but they don’t get to play long at the end of the year, because it’s not about being a nice player. It’s about winning your battle every time you’re on the ice. There’s no space and there’s no room and the ice gets worse as the year goes on, so it’s not about being pretty and it’s not about open ice, or about who looks good in practice with no pressure on him. It’s who can make a play in a small area and win a battle. To me, that’s the game.”
Babcock did make one particularly critical mark this morning (I’ll re-post the pressers in a minute) not named Modano while talking about there being “no room” for pretty plays on the ice, and it involved the play of one specific player, as noted by the Detroit News’s Chris McCosky:
“We need it from every guy,” Babcock said when asked specifically about Filppula. “There’s no room (on the ice). It doesn’t matter what your name is. There’s going to be no room once the game starts. Just get it in, get it out and get it on the net as hard as you can and hope it bounces or try to jam it in. I like watching playoff hockey because that’s what it is. It’s men making plays. It’s not the exhibition season and it’s not February.”
“Hopefully I can do more in the rest of the games and help the team out,” Filppula said.
After a strong opening series against Phoenix (goal, four assists, 10 shots and a plus-3 in four games), Filppula has been mostly silent against the Sharks (no points, eight shots, minus-2).
“These are tough games,” he said. “There’s not been a lot of five-on-five goals scored. Our power-play line hasn’t been as good as it needs to be. We need to start getting more goals there for sure and hopefully create some chances five-on-five, too.”
The size of the Sharks forwards - Filppula’s been matched up quite a bit against Kyle Wellwood and Joe Pavelski - certainly has limited his space on the ice and neutralized his elite skill level.
“The playoffs are tough,” said Justin Abdelkader, who has been on Filppula’s line most of this series. “You want to bring your game every night but some games, it just doesn’t happen for one reason or another. He’s a player that’s going to work hard. He has lots of skill and finesse but he’s a blue-collar player. He’s going to work hard at both ends and do everything he can.”
Overall, however, the mood in the Wings’ locker room remains positive, as DetroitRedWings.com’s Michael Caples notes (while pointing out that Sharks coach Todd McLellan didn’t tip his hand as to who might replace Ryane Clowe):
Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said that from prior experiences, the Wings know the Sharks will control the play during periods of time during Game 6.
“I think it helps having been there before,” he said. “Having said that, you have to show up and play, you have to go out and battle hard, and show up for every shift. There’s going to be some momentum swings in the game. They’re going to have the momentum, and you’ve got to play well in your own zone and you have to defend yourself, and we got to take it to them when we have a chance as well. It’s a matter of staying in the moment.”
The Sharks, are slightly concerned about losing Clowe’s services, either, as the Mercury News’s David Pollak noted:
“It’s tough,” said Logan Couture — the one Shark who may miss Clowe the most as the two have meshed well together all season. “I didn’t find out till yesterday on the plane that Clowe wasn’t coming and you feel for him off the ice first. I wanted to make sure he was all right and he’s doing a little bit better. We’re going to miss him. It’s tough to replace Ryane Clowe,” Couture continued, noting that the opening in the line does give other players an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise had. “I don’t think anyone can step in and do exactly what he does. But guys are going to try.”
McLellan, as I noted earlier, said Clowe’s upper body injury did not result from being flattened by Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall late in the second period of Game 5. And after McLellan pointed out that Clowe was on the ice at the end of the game, I kind of felt compelled to find out if maybe something happened after Sunday’s game — a car accident, perhaps –rather than during it. I somewhat clumsily tried to address that in a question form:
“Like on the way home?” McLellan responded. “Unless his wife slashed him at home and I didn’t know about it, it happened in the game.”
Which prompted a follow-up question from the irrepressible Ray Ratto:
“Is that a problem for him?”
To which McLellan replied: “I don’t live there.”
Aside from stating the obvious—any other pre-game updates will be posted here—we’ll take a gander at ESPN’s “Playoff Points to Watch”...
* The Red Wings forced a Game 6 after trailing 3-0 in a series for the first time since the 1945 Stanley Cup finals, when they lost in Game 7 to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
* This was the third time in franchise history the Sharks led a series 3-0.
* The Sharks are 7-0 when leading a series 3-1, and they are 5-2-0 in their last seven games in Detroit.
* Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk is on a six-game point streak and has at least one point in eight of his nine postseason games this year.
* San Jose’s Patrick Marleau has no points in this series.
* Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard is 4-1 in his career when facing elimination. His only loss was to the Sharks in the 2010 conference semifinals.
And as this might be the last night that we hear Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond or WXYT’s Ken Kal and Paul Woods until September, it seems appropriate to have Kal, via 97.1 the Ticket, take us to the multimedia portion of this entry via his game preview:
One of the great things about professional sports is that once you have momentum on your side it’s tough for the opposition to stop. The Red Wings “mo” is certainly building and the team has an opportunity to get more momentum with a victory tonight in front of the home crowd.
Let’s talk about the crowd for a moment. The fans have been GREAT. The noise they made after Darren Helm netted his game winning goal in game 4 was the loudest I’ve heard in a long time. The fans will have the Joe “rockin” tonight. Do the players hear and feel it? They do! I spoke with Danny Cleary and Nicklas Kronwall this morning at the skate and they both agreed that they truly respond to their cheers. The players hear it and feel it.
Speaking of “mo,” the Red Wings will have Mo in their line-up tonight. Mike Modano will play for the first time in this series. Modano has some impressive numbers against the Sharks in his 21 year career. He has 15 points (9 goals and 6 assists) in 17 playoff games against San Jose. Five of those 9 goals have been on the power play and 3 of those 9 have been game winning tallies. Jiri Hudler who was a scratch in the last game will be playing tonight.
Jimmy Howard has been solid in goal for Detroit. He is the main reason the Red Wings are playing a game 6 tonight. He stopped 39 San Jose shots in the last game. His save percentage in the series is .927. Howard is tracking the puck well, challenging shooters and stopping screen shots.
The Sharks really played well in game 5 and they probably feel that they should have won, but that’s the playoffs for you. The Red Wings took advantage and scored three times in the third period to force tonight’s game.
Today at the morning skate, Patrick Eaves, Tomas Holmstrom and Danny Cleary were talking about getting off to a better start and playing better for a longer period of time. They admitted that they will be “fired up” because they know the crowd will be as well.
The hardest win is the 4th one in a best-of-seven series. Can the Red Wings even the series? I believe they can. After all, they do have the “mo” on their side. Stay tuned!
Multimedia, part 1: re-posts: Fox Sports Detroit’s Larry Murphy spoke to WDFN’s Matt Sheppard this morning…
MLive’s James Schmehl annotated the interview, noting that Murphy spoke at length about the Marleau-Roenick feud.
• USA Today’s Kevin Allen appeared on WBBL’s B&B show:
• Here’s Mike Babcock’s game-day presser:
• Ken Kal spoke to Mike Modano and a few other Wings about tonight’s game:
• Here’s NHL on the Fly’s game preview:
• Via RedWingsFeed, Bill Clement engaged in Howard-vs-Niemi talk:
• Technically speaking, TSN’s Bob McKenzie on the Wings and Sharks, blah blah blah, SI’s Darren Eliot on tonight’s game, blah blah blah…
• WDFN posted several YouTube-formatted clips of Mike Modano…
And Danny Cleary speaking to the media:
• You may also be excited by the Sharks’ official game preview video…
• The Sharks’ website posted clips of Joe Thornton…
• Patrick Marleau…
• And Sharks coach Todd McLellan speaking to the media:
Joe Pavelskispeaking to the media.
• Via RedWingsFeed NHL.com posted a clip of, EJ Hradek speaking about Niklas Kronwall…
• Dan Boyle talking about defending Pavel Datsyuk…
• A quick quip from Babcock…
• And Modano’s morning skate scrum:
• In the audio department, Ken Daniels spoke to Hockeycentral at Noon’s R.J. Broadhead and Doug MacLean this afternoon:
• And the Wings’ website posted an audio clip of Ken Kal’s game-day preview…
As well as what’s hopefully not the last “Boys in the Parking Lot” feature….
• And finally, for now, anyway, DetroitRedWings.com posted a clip of Nicklas Lidstrom gauging the Wings’ locker room’s mood:
Update 6:09 PM: Here’s Ken Holland speaking to The Fan 590’s Bob McCown::
Update #2: The Mercury News’s Mark Purdy weighed in on Roenick-gate:
• And DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose spoke to Tim Cheveldae of all people about the last time the Wings rallied from a 3-1 series deficit, when they defeated Mike Modano’s Minnesota North Stars back in 1992:
Following their 3-0 win in Game 5, the Wings were faced with a second straight elimination game – this time back at the Met Center. And for the second time in the series – just like the Wings-Sharks series now – a game went to OT, where Sergei Fedorov broke a scoreless time, forcing a Game 7 with a controversial goal that only stood after referee Rob Shick ordered a video replay.
“Obviously any break here or there would have changed everything,” Cheveldae said. “I was recently talking to my wife about it when Sergei scored the goal, it was the first year that they had video review. And I think only two guys on the team knew that it had gone in, so we were sure and we were just waiting.”
Fedorov skated into the North Stars’ zone and around defenseman Chris Dahlquist before snapping a shot under Jon Casey’s right arm. At first glance, it looked like the puck struck the crossbar, but in reality the puck hit the back bar and ricocheted out of the net as fast as it entered it.
“If they didn’t have video replay they probably wouldn’t have counted the goal and then you don’t know how it would have turned out,” Cheveldae said.
“Sergei took over the series,” Modano said. “He just took it over in the last two or three games and I think they had gotten a couple of guys back from injury, so they just took off. They came to the Met Center (in Game 6) and just rolled us over. They’re top guys just got more involved in the last couple of games, just like Pav and Z have done for us now.”
Here’s what Cheveldae says about the present-day Wings’ chances of forcing a seventh game:
“They’re a veteran group. They’ve won the Stanley Cup. They’ve been through these types of situations before,” he said. “They don’t panic, which must make them feel good about themselves. My big concern for them, however, is how healthy are some of their star players? How healthy are Datsyuk and Franzen? But you just take it one game at a time and worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.”
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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.