The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/30/11 at 07:41 PM ET
Updated 9x at 9:09 PM with Justin Abdelkader selling a line: Not-so-super news from MLive’s Ansar Khan: Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk apparently didn’t practice with the team, but he’s going to play on Sunday:
Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk exercised his option not to skate Saturday, but coach Mike Babcock said he’ll play in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday against San Jose (3 p.m., NBC). Datsyuk was the only player who did not practice. He has taken a couple of practices off after games lately, after returning late in the season from a lower-body injury. Mike Modano filled in for Datsyuk on the line with Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom. Other than that the lines remain the same.
“I gave everybody the option of who was going on, who was going off and Pavel wasn’t going on,’’ Babcock said. “So you got to be ready to play tomorrow and not today.’‘
Asked if he is planning any lineup changes, Babcock said,“I’m not 100 percent certain. I haven’t decided yet.’‘
On the Sharks’ side of things, local hero Ben Ferriero spoke to the Mercury News’s David Pollak about the aftermath of scoring the biggest goal of his career:
“Yep, it’s nice to keep it going,” Ferriero said before putting last night in a broader context. “It’s one game. I’ve got to hopefully play well the next game to stay in the lineup and contribute as much as I can.”
So how many texts and emails has Ferriero received since that overtime shot that deflected off Brad Stuart’s stick and through Jimmy Howard’s pads?
“I don’t know, I had about 50 before I left the rink and lost track after that,” he said. “It’s been kind of crazy. I didn’t expect as much as what’s gone on.”
His family — including brother Cody, a fifth-round Sharks draft pick in 2010 — and girlfriend are all back east. Still, Ferriero said, “I can’t complain. It was a great birthday and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
As of an hour or so ago, he still hadn’t talked to anybody back in Massachusetts. The calls would come when he got home from the rink. Ferriero realizes that he benefited from a lucky bounce, but that doesn’t rain on the parade either.
“That’s what you do,” he said. “Throw it to the net and anything can happen. It turned out for the best.”
The Wings practice quotes are just rolling in via Red Wings social media director Jake Duhaime, who also posted a survey of the blogosphere‘s takes on Game 1 and posted several pictures from practice on the Wings’ Facebook page:
Just arrived at HP Pavilion for practice. Cory Emmerton is sporting a ‘Save Ferris’ tee, with Cameron wearing his Gordie Howe jersey.
Just Mule doing Messi in the pre-practice soccer drill. http://twitpic.com/4rl399
Emmerton is practicing with the team today. ‘I’ve moved up from the Black Aces ... Got to step it up.’
Jiri Hudler waiting to do a drill during Saturday’s practice. http://t.co/7HUPNq7
Locker room thoughts: Abby said that ‘we’ve got to be better.’ Howard, ‘I don’t think anyone in here expected us to win 16 in a row.’
Cory Emmerton’s shirt. Quite awesome! #saveferris http://t.co/ZvPyupp
Datsyuk didn’t practice but he’s walking around in the hallway looking just fine. #RedWings #SJSharks
Babcock says no chance he will split up Zetterberg and Datsyuk tomorrow. #RedWings #SJSharks
Babcock says practice was optional and Datsyuk chose not to. #RedWings #SJSharks
As did Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil:
#redwings practicing at HP Pavilion: http://yfrog.com/h6fgodgj
Babcock: “we’re going to skate way better tomorrow than we did last night”. #redwings #sjsharks
•And the Wings’ website posted a clip of “sights and sounds” from practice…
As well as coach Babcock’s presser:
Update #2: NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury spoke about Sunday’s game…
• I don’t know what the hell to think about this:
• I don’t particularly care about Dany Heatley’s “Badger” comments about Joe Pavelski, as noted by NHL.com’s Dave Lozo…
• The Oakland Press’s Pat Caputo offered a thoughtful take on the state of the Wings, however…
The Sharks took on the role the Red Wings normally do. They possessed the puck. San Jose had the better shots on goal. It was so unlike the Red Wings, but may be a necessary component if they are to make the expected deep run in these playoffs.
The Red Wings’ opening-round series with the Phoenix Coyotes went well. Almost too well. Friday’s loss could provide a necessary alarm sounding. The playoffs are about adversity. And success results from overcoming it. The Red Wings did do some good things in Game 1. They got the lead. The first goal should be key.
Where they fell into a trap usually occupied by lesser teams is instead of forcing play from that point forward, the Red Wings sat back. They did kill off a four-minute penalty in overtime, but allowed a goal not long after. Sure, it was a tough break - San Jose scored the winning goal on a weird deflection.
But teams make their own breaks. How many times have we seen opponents pay the price for running at Red Wings’ players in the playoffs? It was the opposite when Todd Bertuzzi took a boarding penalty, which led to a power play for the Sharks, that tied the game, sending it into overtime.
• Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner also pondered the “unfair” nature of the penalties the Wings took, framing a discussion of fairness around an analysis of Babcock’s post-game comments:
“The team that has the puck the most is going to take the least penalties,” said a somewhat bewildered looking Red Wings coach, Mike Babcock, after the game.
Babcock’s puzzling expression could be the result of a few things.
A) It was his birthday and his team lost in overtime.
B) Dany Heatley’s 2-minute penalty for interference at the 16:02 mark of the first period turned out to be Detroit’s last power play of the game.
C) From the 9:41 mark of the third period until the 7:03 mark of overtime, the Wings were short-handed for 8 minutes.
D) Despite his team’s lackadaisical play, his goalie played well enough to win, making 44 saves.
Let’s go with D. Babcock must be incensed that the Wings wasted Jimmy Howard’s brilliant performance. Detroit should have stolen this game and Babs knows it. Antti Niemi, the Sharks goalie, was given a free pass. Did Detroit have any sustained pressure on the Sharks net? Where were the forwards? Niemi looked ordinary; he didn’t even break a sweat.
If the Wings are going to reverse this trend of San Jose comebacks during the playoffs, they have to be more aggressive, tighten up defensively and challenge the Sharks defense. San Jose is not the better team, but they’re close. Detroit cannot continue to let the Sharks control the play. They must overcome the questionable penalties. They must overcome the puck luck that the Sharks seem to own. They must overcome every obstacle that comes their way. It might not be fair, but in sports—like in life—it isn’t.
• These quips from the “footers” of a San Jose Sharks website staff story on Marc-Edouard Vlasic merit mentioning, too:
NOON: San Jose will be playing a rare Noon start time on Sunday.
“I don’t’ like it, I’ll be honest,” [Dan] Boyle said. “I don’t like noon games at all. I haven’t quite figured out what the routine is going to be. Although I don’t like it, I’m sure I’ll be ready to go at game time.”
Some players like it, some don’t, but it is what it is when the puck drops Sunday.
DAY AFTER: Benn Ferriero was still feeling the glow after his Game 1 overtime winner.
“Keep it going I guess,” Ferriero said. “I had about 50 (texts) before I even left the rink. I lost track after that. It’s been kind of crazy, I didn’t really expect as much as has gone on. In the end, it comes down to a lucky bounce when you throw it to the net. It was a pretty special night. Hopefully I’ll stay in the lineup and contribute as much as I can.”
INTENSITY: The Red Wings know the danger of falling behind 2-0 and will come out playing with a passion on Sunday.
“They are going to come out with a great effort and we have to match it,” Vlasic said.
Update 2.5: About that 12 PM local time (3 PM EDT) start, per NHL.com’s Dave Lozo:
“I don’t like it. I’ll be honest,” defenseman Dan Boyle said. “I don’t like noon games at all. It is what it is. I haven’t quite figured out what the routine’s going to be, but I’ll figure it out tonight. Although I don’t like it, I’m sure I’ll be ready to go come game time.”
Sharks coach Todd McLellan said he doesn’t believe the rare noon start of his players will have much an effect, considering the team holds most of its practices at home at about the same time.
“Both teams have to start at noon, so both teams have issues and things to deal with,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “Our body clocks and our hockey clocks are set to skate at this time. This is when we practice every day. We cfome to the rink and we start thinking hockey and breathing hockey. It’s a matter of what you do tonight and how you manage your morning and make sure you’re prepared. That’s an individual choice that each of our players has to make so they come in and play for their teammates.”
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard doesn’t mind waking up a little earlier for a hockey game.
“It’s no big deal,” Howard said. “The only thing that really changes is the morning and you don’t get the pregame skate.”
• And the Detroit News’s David Guralnick just posted a 10-image practice gallery.
Update #3: The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan took note of Babcock’s comments:
“We have to be ready to play (Sunday), not today,” said Babcock, who wasn’t concerned about Datsyuk’s availability for Sunday’s Game 2.
“I’m not 100 percent certain,” Babcock said of possible lineup changes. “I haven’t decided yet.”
Babcock does know his team has to be better and more engaged.
“We have to skate first,” Babcock said. “We can’t do anything until get skating. We didn’t skate very well. They skated way better than we did. We looked like a team that had been off for a long time (the Wings hadn’t played in eight days).”
The Wings were out-hit (although statistics said otherwise), out-shot, and out-played (for long stretches) — and that won’t be a recipe for success in Game 2, either.
“We have to be better obviously,” Justin Abdelkader said. “They out-shot us and took it to us for a majority of the game. We have to be better and we know we have to be better. It’s just one game.”
The Sharks remain respectful of Datsyuk’s ability to deliver offensively, as they told NHL.com’s Dave Lozo:
“You do take a different approach,” Boyle said. “He’s the best 1-on-1 player in the game. Positioning is absolutely the most important thing. You can’t go in lunging and try to knock him off the puck, because he’s that good. He’s not the biggest player in the world, but he’s that strong and that good.”
Now that Datsyuk is back on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, who missed the Red Wings’ first-round sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes due to a knee injury, it’s a combination of skill, intelligence and familiarity not many teams can boast. Sharks coach Todd McLellan respects the capabilities of the duo, but believes it works to his benefit when Red Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t place them on separate lines.
“They’re two dynamic players. When you put them together, they’re dangerous all over the ice,” said McLellan, who coached both as an assistant with the Wings before coming to San Jose in 2008. “I thought Pavel was maybe the most dangerous player on the ice in Game 1, as he is most nights. But when they’re together, it doesn’t alleviate the pressure from the other lines, but we have one less guy to worry about. If we can play well against one line, and have the other lines win the battles, we’re fine. If they do get split up, now you’ve got to worry about them on different lines and maybe have a few more problems.”
That’s apparently not going to happen, not yet, anyway:
“When Z’s going and he’s healthy, he’s one of the best players in the world,” Babcock said. “When you’re back and you’re ready, you still have to play a game. He’ll skate way better today than he would’ve yesterday and he’ll skate way better tomorrow.”
Babcock’s answer when asked if there was a chance he’d split Datsyuk and Zetterberg for Game 2 probably wasn’t what McLellan wanted to hear.
“None,” Babcock said.
As for the Sharks, the CBC’s series blogger reports that McLellan’s not happy with his team’s inefficient power play:
[A]t 10.3 per cent (3 for 29), the Sharks have the second-worst power-play record in the post-season, behind only the Boston Bruins, who are 0-for-23 and also have a 1-0 advantage in the second round. So maybe this is just a matter of “however you bell the cow,” more than “the power play will kill us all in the end.”
And yet, it isn’t. McLellan was actually borderline agitated about the number of face-offs the Red Wings won when the Sharks were on the power play, which was actually a not overwhelming 7-for-12.
“They broke out on that a lot, and that’s no good at all,” he said while watching Bruins-Flyers in his office at the team’s practice rink.
McLellan’s first Sharks team lost to Anaheim two years ago in part because of a mildly substandard power play (4 for 24, 16.7 per cent), but got to the conference final last year by converting at a 21.6 per cent rate (15 for 70). Total - 22 of 123, 17.9. Compared with the three previous years under Ron Wilson, when the Sharks were an even more troublesome 12.4 per cent (23 for 185), this is true firepower. But in a series that figures to be razor thing, any statistical hiccup in a storm to amuse the rabble until Sunday’s game.
“We have to better because we know they will continue to put pressure on us,” McLellan said, concentrating more on the puck possession aspects than the actual scoring. “We don’t want to give them a chance to work us that way.”
Update 3.5: Here are a few more quips from Babcock, via Duhaime:
Babcock was asked if Franzen and Zetterberg were back to normal. Answer: ‘Not even close.’ (1 of 2)
More Babcock: I think it’s confidence. It’s one thing to skate in open ice, it’s another to be in the battle. (2 of 2)
Update #4: Here’s some Pavelski talk from the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch:
The San Jose Sharks’ coach wouldn’t hesitate, because he’s been “Mr. Clutch” with four goals in six playoff games. His latest effort was batting home a rebound to help the club secure a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings Friday.
“It’s his time of year,” said McLellan Saturday after a 30-minute skate at the club’s practice facility. “Players in the past that have rise to the occasion and somehow the puck finds them at opportune times. He has the ability to find the net. I know if I was picking, or part of some of those office pools and drafts, he’d be one of my picks. I’ve been lucky enough to see him do it for a number of years. We expect to see that continue.”
Pavelski said he’s not trying to do anything special but he was a big part of the victory. He had Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard so upset after a facewash in the crease, he took a swing at Pavelski in the crease.
“We’re trying to get to him. He’s played well. That’s the bottom line: I think all four lines got better as the game went on,” said Pavelski.
And the Associated Press’s Josh Dubow’s going to post a feature story on Pavelski, but here’s the placeholder for now:
There’s something about the playoffs that seems to bring out the best in Joe Pavelski’s game. Especially against the Detroit Red Wings.
While Benn Ferriero’s overtime game-winner for San Jose got most of the attention, it was Pavelski who put the Sharks in position for the 2-1 victory in Game 1 on Friday night.
He batted a puck out of mid-air for the game-tying power-play goal in the third period, drew three penalties including the one that led to his goal, and had five shots on goal as he tormented the Red Wings once again.
Pavelski scored two goals in each of the first two games of San Jose’s playoff series against Detroit a year ago, getting the game-winner in Game 1 and the tying goal in the second game.
And here are interviews with Ben Ferriero…
And Todd McLellan from the Sharks’ website…
As well as interviews with Joe Pavelski…
And Logan Couture:
Update #5: Back to the CBC’s series blogger for a a few quips from the Wings’ players:
“I thought we were [physically engaged] in the first period,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “They came out with a better push in the second period. We were pushed back a little bit.”
“As the game continued on they kept funneling pucks to the net, putting it deep and going in and hitting our D, making it tough on our D,” Howard said.
He’ll be 40 in about a month’s time, he’s playing in his 18th Stanley Cup tournament and he was a healthy scratch for Game 1, but don’t try telling Wings centre Kris Draper that the finish line is near.
“I’m not going to get caught up in that,” Draper said when asked if this might be his last playoff run. “I feel great. I’m not going to think that this is my last hurrah. I’m just going to go out and enjoy it and play hard, and hopefully, we can be the last team standing.”
“Physically, I feel good,” Draper said. “Mentally, I love the game as much as ever. I love training. I love coming to the rink. I haven’t even really thought about [retirement] to be honest with you. I’m just going to enjoy this moment. I love playoff hockey. I love everything about playoff hockey.”
Update #6: Great stuff from the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch:
“I thought the score flattered us,” said Babcock after an optional skate.
“We’ve got to skate first,” said Babcock. “We can’t do anything unless we get skating. I thought we weren’t going to skate in the first 10 minutes and we’d get better as the game went on. I didn’t think we did. They skated way better than we did. We looked like a team that had been off for a long time. We did what we could to try to get going, but we weren’t going. If you’re not skating, that team is going to spend a lot of time in your zone. Our defence were fantastic, our goalie was good.”
“I just expect them to be much better. I don’t know how they’re going to change things,” said Sharks’ defenceman Dan Boyle. “They had some players who were on top of their game, but I just don’t think they had everybody.”
Even the Wings are confused about the standard of officiating, or the lack thereof…
“If you watch other games it can be hard at times to see where to the draw the line,” said Detroit defenceman Niklas Kronwall. “Some penalties are penalties some games and they’re not the next shift. That’s no excuse, we didn’t play well enough to come out (with the win).”
But Babcock believes that his team will be fine if his forwards play as well as their goaltender and defensmen did in game 1…
“I’ve been in this while. It’s Game 1. We would have liked to have gone 16-0 but reasonably speaking that probably wasn’t going to happen,” said Babcock. “But when your goalie plays like he did and your ‘D’ are hanging in there, you’ve got hope. I’m not big into hoping. I like knowing. We’ve got to play a little better.”
And Todd McLellan?
Well, folks, subjectively speaking, I think he’s on crack. He continues to insist that it’s the Sharks, the NHL’s relative darling that isn’t named Vancouver or Washington, that is the underdog:
“Underdog or whatever term you want to use,” said Sharks’ coach Todd McLellan. “We all read clips. We say we don’t but we do and there’s not very many people picking us to win the series. That may work in favour as well. It takes pressure off of us and puts a lot more on them.”
That kind of talk is just nuts. And stupid. But he’s a Shark now, after all…
Update #8: The Free Press’s Helene St. James focused on Franzen’s return to form, or at least his attempt to do so…
Franzen had a good skate today to prepare for Sunday’s Game 2 of the San Jose series. He wasn’t much of a threat in Friday’s 2-1 overtime loss, registering neither a shot on net nor any hits, but he is still dealing with a sore ankle suffered in Game 2 of the Phoenix series, which kept him out of that round’s Game 4.
The Wings considered it encouraging that Franzen was even able to play 15-plus minutes against the Sharks.
“It’s like confidence,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s one thing to skate on open ice, it’s another thing to get into battle and compete in battle and have a guy hanging on you. We’re hoping that with Mule getting through last night’s game, his confidence will come with that and he’ll end up in more confrontational situations.”
Franzen, who played on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler, said he felt fine, but it’s not like a player is going to say otherwise during the playoffs. This is usually his time of year (he had four goals and two assists in one game of last year’s Sharks series), and given how deep the Sharks are up front, the Wings need one of their prime playoff performers back in form.
• Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area posted McLellan’s off-day, off-key presser….
• And, amongst the Mercury News’s David Pollak’s off-day notes…
If Game 1 is any indication, the pattern of penalties from their 2010 playoff series may be repeating itself. Last year, San Jose was awarded 31 power plays to 23 for the Red Wings. Saturday night, the Sharks were 1-for-6, while Detroit was 0-for-2. Detroit fans, of course, see bias or a conspiracy at work. McLellan, of course, has a different explanation.
“The one thing we have is some size up front and some players that can hold onto pucks and manage it a little while against the boards,” he said. “A lot of times, teams, including ours, get impatient with that. You feel like you’ve got to reach in and engage that player and you start pushing the limits and crossing the line and eventually you’re in the penalty box.”
Maybe it’s a little of “Column A” and a little of “Column B,” especially given that the wings took a few offensive zone penalties…
Regarding the noon start…
“Both teams have issues and things to deal with. Our body clocks and our hockey clocks are set to skate at this time — this is when we practice every day. We start thinking hockey and breathing hockey. It’s a matter of what you do tonight, how you manage your morning and how you prepare. That’s an individual choice that each of our players have to make so they can come in and play for their teammates.
And McLellan says he’s not searching for a specific defensive match-up against Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Instead, he’ll roll his defensive pairs, especially during second periods:
“It sort of played out that way, especially in the second period when you’ve got the long change and your players get caught on the ice, as did theirs,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said.
So is he comfortable no matter which defensemen are on the ice with Detroit’s top line, which also includes Tomas Holmstrom?
“We have to be comfortable. We have no choice,” McLellan said. “We can’t throw a flag out and say, ‘Hold on, we have to change them.’ They have to be able to do it. they’ve all had experience doing it and sometimes we’ll come out on the short end of the stick, but we have no choice.”
Update #8: Enjoy Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi talking to the media:
Via the Wings’ website, here’s the antidote:
Update #9: Here’s Dubow’s off-day story, finally updated with some quotes….with my focus on the Wings-related part of his article:
“It used to be if Thornton and Marleau couldn’t do it, there wasn’t enough,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Now with Pavelski, Couture, Setoguchi, those are high-end players. You put Clowe and Heatley in the mix, they have a lot of really good forwards. That makes them a different team and a deeper team.’‘
And a much more challenging team to face. The Red Wings matched the Sharks in chances for the first period and had a 1-0 lead on Nicklas Lidstrom’s goal, but were severely outplayed in the final two periods and overtime. They spent too much time short-handed, allowing the power-play goal to Pavelski. Ferriero’s goal came just after Detroit killed a four-minute penalty in overtime.
“We have to get on their defense and get a lot more physical,’’ said forward Justin Abdelkader, who committed the key penalty in overtime. “We kind of gave them a night off. We’ve got to get a lot better. We have to be smarter with our sticks for sure. These refs are the best in the league and it’s what they are calling. We have to keep our sticks down and play within the rules.’‘
Now there’s the BS meter going off again…
The series opener was the first game after eight days off for the Red Wings and an even longer break for two of their most important players. Johan Franzen, who led the team with 28 goals in the regular season, missed the last game of the first round against Phoenix with an injured left ankle, and leading scorer Henrik Zetterberg had gone more than three weeks without playing because of an injured knee. While Zetterberg’s injury has healed, he’s not yet the player who had 24 goals and 56 assists in 80 regular-season games.
“When he’s healthy he’s one of the best players in the world,’’ Babcock said. “He’s not even close. You practice and you’re ready but you have to play a game. He’ll skate much better (Sunday). We’re going to skate a lot better than we did (Friday) night. It’s one thing to skate in the open ice and another to skate in battle with someone hanging onto you. He’ll get there, Hopefully he got his confidence back.’‘
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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.