The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/05/11 at 03:05 PM ET
Updated 6x at 3:11 PM: Mike Modano’s hedging about retiring: The day after the Detroit Red Wings’ dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks, the Wings will attempt to put on brave faces after practice and insist that by taking things “one game at a time,” they can at least save some pride on Friday and push the series to a fifth game. The press corps, from both Detroit and outside the Metro Area, is pretty much split as to whether the Wings can overcome the team that’s become their mental roadblock and mount a miraculous comeback, or whether a second-round sweep and a summer shake-up (praying that Nicklas Lidstrom will come back for at least one more season included) is all but guaranteed after a handshake line on Friday.
The Grand Rapids Press’s MIchael Zuidema subscribes to the latter theory...
Only three times have teams managed to come back from an 0-3 series deficit to advance—the 1942 Maple Leafs, 1975 Islanders and 2010 Flyers—but Detroit has a long way to go before it can even think about being the fourth. That definitely is not going to happen if the Red Wings can’t capitalize on their opportunities.
Less than 3 minutes into overtime, Pavel Datsyuk banged away at a loose puck near the goal, but Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi stood strong. About 2 minutes later, the Red Wings had a power-play opportunity but came away with nothing. You could almost feel the gloom in the air. Even more condemning was a 3-2 lead they held until San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle forced overtime with 4:08 remaining in the third period.
This should have been the Red Wings’ best game of the series, the one that shifted momentum in their favor and vaulted them into the Western Conference finals. They were physical early, holding a massive 17-3 advantage in hits in the first period, and their forwards looked like they were on track offensively. The penalty kill remained shaky, but the defense appeared more cohesive than it hand in the past. Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who had been Detroit’s most consistent player in this series, looked like he finally was going outplay Niemi.
Instead, it all fell apart, a surprising development given the Red Wings’ talent, depth and skill, not to mention the experience of what happened the last time they went head-to-head with San Jose in this same situation.
Last year, the Red Wings were beat up, exhausted and outplayed when they were devoured by the Sharks. Those first two areas haven’t been issues this time around. That last one, on the other hand, shockingly happened once again. It’s the biggest reason why history is repeating itself.
WXYT’s Ken Kal’s taking a more optimistic tack:
This was a tough game to drop. I thought this was the best game that the Red Wings played in the series, but the Sharks again found a way to win. The Sharks seem to have the Karma right now. They’ve played 9 playoff games this post season and they’ve won 5 of those 9 in overtime. That’s amazing. I thought the Red Wings had their chances early in overtime to win the game.
Datsyuk had a golden opportunity plus Detroit had a power play as well to try and end it. It just didn’t happen. Going back to the playoffs last year the Red Wings have dropped 7 post season games to San Jose, all 7 by 1 goal. Incredible. That’s how evenly matched these 2 teams are. The question now is can Detroit rally and win the next 4 games to take the series? The odds are against them, but there’s always a chance.
We’ve seen Chicago take the Canucks to overtime in Game 7 this season after trailing 3-0.The Flyers did it to the Bruins last season. So it is possible and as Jimmy Howard put it after the game….”why can’t it be us?” One thing I’ve learned from being around professional athletes is that they think differently than most people. They remain focused and have a will to win. All it takes is one bounce, one play or one big hit and momentum can change in a hurry. So I stay positive. It’s not over until one team gets 4 wins and sometimes, that’s the hardest one to get.
Fox Sports Detroit’s Ken Daniels tried to balance realism and optimism while speaking to WCSX’s Jamie Samuelssen and Ken Calvert...
Lions coach Jim Schwarz of all people told Fox Sports Detroit that he believes in the Wings...
Even though only a handful of teams across all four major professional sports have rebounded from an 0-3 hole, there is one man in Detroit who is confident the Red Wings can do it—Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who said so in a tweet this morning.
Said Schwartz: “If the Lions can win four in a row, I know the Wings can too. Let’s go Red Wings!”
Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon suggested the following:
If you’re a Red Wings fan and looking for positive spin out of going down 3-0 in the series against San Jose, you can say your team is only losing one-goal games and that’s a slim enough margin for error where any game could’ve been turned in their favor. Sure, that works but it’s not quite so true. Detroit has played the Sharks tough but the Sharks are playing better. They’ve been able to force the Wings into making mistakes and the Sharks power play has taken advantage of a poor Wings kill.
Game 3 was Detroit’s best effort of the series and while Jimmy Howard thinks they should’ve won they didn’t. The Sharks are outworking Detroit and while this series seemed destined to be a classic, it’s setting up to be another second round sweep. Don’t expect Detroit to bow out quietly the way Washington did in their Game 4.
Very briefly: Scotiabank is holding a “Pro-Am hockey tournament in Toronto th help raise money for the Gordie and Colleen Howe Foundation for Alzheimers Research at Toronto’s Baycrest hospital;
• The Livonia Observer’s Brad Emons spoke to a local couple who happens to be in possession of Howe’s 700th goal puck;
• The National Post’s Michael Traikos pondered the fates of Kris Draper and Mike Modano, who are struggling with the fact that they’ve been healthy scratches in the layoffs;
&bull: And, via Red Wings social networking manager Jake Duhaime, the Wings are already speaking to the media after a short practice at Joe Louis Arena:
Howard: We can’t get ahead of ourselves. We just have to win one game.
Eaves: We need to worry about Game 4. It has happened before, but we can’t worry about winning four games at once.
Sticks line the hallway to our locker room. htp://yfrog.com/h025316647j
Quickie update: From NHL.com’s >Dave Lozo:
“Wonderful” by Everclear was playing in the Wings’ room. Seems sort of fitting right now. #SJSDet
Also, Datsyuk and Draper were playing that one-bounce soccer game in the weight room. Draper was getting absolutely dominated. #SJSDet
Quickie update #2: More from Duhaime:
Said he uses the jog to energize him, stay active and clear his head.
Babcock jogs daily after practice on the riverfront. Joked that his daughter recently saw him with his shirt off and needed to stay fit.
No decision on Friday’s lines and lineup according to Babcock. Team had an optional practice today.
As well as Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil...
#redwings had a team meeting this morning about ‘getting your mind right’ according to Coach Babcock.
Babcock’s feeling on #redwings situation: “I believe in being positive” #sjsharks
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger...
The gist: #Redwings are upbeat yada, yada ... gotta win one game, yada, yada ...
Babcock: Whatever you want to call it, I’m just a believer. I just think that I’m going to disarm the bomb. That’s just how I think. #SJSDet
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff...
Babcock: “Walking out of building last night was tough. We played well and we didn’t win.” #sjsdet
Babcock: “They feel good today. We’re regrouping.” #sjsjdet
And 97.1 the Ticket:
Mike Babcock has thought about playing Mike Modano but has not made a decision yet
Update #1: Via the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell, here’s Patrick Eaves’ media scrum…
As well as Jimmy Howard speaking to the press…
And Henrik Zetterberg’s take on the situation:
Update #2: Here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan’s off-day report:
“I believe in being positive. That’s how I live my life, that’s how I deal with my family,’’ [Wings coach Mike] Babcock said after Thursday’s extremely optional practice. “I just think I’m going to disarm the bomb, I’ve always thought that. That’s how I think a coach thinks. Whether that’s selective memory, whether that’s being hard-headed or not being that smart, I’m just a believer. I believe if you approach life that way, the positives outlast the downs.’‘
He then outlined his plans for the rest of the day.
“My plan is to go home and enjoy the rest of the day, enjoy my family, watch a little hockey, eat a nice meal, come back and let’s get ready to do it again,’’ Babcock said. “Let’s do it a little better and get ourselves a win so we can have a nice, long flight to San Jose.’‘
Only three teams have come back from an 0-3 deficit to win—the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs (vs. Detroit in the finals), the 1975 New York Islanders (vs. Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals) and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers (vs. Boston in the conference semifinals).
Babcock said he hasn’t yet decided on any potential lineup changes. Inserting Mike Modano, who continues to indicate that this likely is his last season, is a possibility.
Do the Wings face long odds? You bet, as the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff notes:
#redwings 0-10 when down 3-0 in series, been swept 8 times. Only exceptions - last season vs. #sharks (5 games), 1945 vs. Tor. (7). #sjsdet
Update 2.5: Yes, the Edmonton Journal’s Dan Barnes, the Swedes want to add Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall to their World Championships mix, just as the Russians want to add Pavel Datsyuk. Neither move is a faint accompli;
• Why yes, the New York Times’ Joanne C. Gerstner, former Detroit Free Press scribe, Panic Has Come to Hockeytown.
• And here’s one good statistical tidbit from the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:
Nicklas Lidstrom moved into first place on the playoff goal scoring list amongst defensemen with his power play goal in Game 3 Wednesday night.
The goal was Lidstrom’s 29th for his playoff career, which broke a tie for first he was in with Denis Potvin.
Update #3: Here’s Babcock’s off-day presser:
Also: The Free Press’s Helene St. James says that the Wings’ emotions were mixed today:
Some players, such as forward Henrik Zetterberg, were calm and collected as they spoke to reporters, holding fast to the line that they can only focus on winning one game, not four in a row. They trail the San Jose Sharks, 3-0, in their second-round series, losing each game by one goal. Others, such as forward Darren Helm, said they were mad and frustrated. All the more so after Wednesday’s game, which saw the Wings outplay the Sharks, only to fall, 4-3, in overtime.
Coach Mike Babcock took the sunniest approach of all. He joked that he didn’t have to think about what his lines should be today because the optional practice meant he didn’t have to put any together. Maybe U.S. hockey legend Mike Modano gets into Game 4, but maybe not. There might not even be a lineup change, given the Wings’ evaluation of how they played Wednesday. To Babcock, there’s no point in sulking.
“I just believe in being positive,” he said. “That’s how I live my life. That’s how I deal with my family. That’s how I deal with every day. In other words, I just think that I’m going to disarm the bomb. I’ve always thought that. That’s how I think a coach thinks. You just go about your job each and every day.”
That job right now is outcoaching his former assistant, Todd McLellan of San Jose. The Wings did play well Wednesday—they were much harder physically in the offensive zone and harder on Sharks goalie Antti Niemi—but they let up in the third period. Four of the five goals scored by the Wings this series have come from Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Penalties remain a problem, exposing the Wings’ vulnerability.
“We’ve just got to find a way to win one game,” goalie Jimmy Howard said. “They’ve been very intense, very emotional hockey games, and it’s going to be no different here Friday night. Now it’s our turn to find a way.”
Update 3.5: Irony tastes like liverwurst. From 97.1 The Ticket:
Babcock about coming back from 3-0 back “I always think that I can disarm the bomb”
Update 3.75: Captain obvious, via the Sharks’ website...
San Jose just finished a full practice and McLellan pointed out their game needs to be improved in Game 4.
He’s not offensive Jumbo now, he’s complete Jumbo. - McLellan on Joe Thornton’s total game.
The difference between winning and losing is such a fine, fine line. - Todd McLellan on the Sharks overtime success.
And the Windsor Star’s Duff:
McLellan: “They taught us a very valuable lesson last year in Game 4. This will be a test in the evolution of our team.” #sjsdet
McLellan on Game 4: “We know the storm is coming.” #sjsdet
Lame, per CSN Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil:
McLellan: “we know that the storm is coming, but we’d like to be part of that storm” #sjsharks #redwings
Update 3.95: In case you didn’t already know it, MLive’s Rob Otto says that the Wings wasted a fantastic effort from Henrik Zetterberg on Wednesday.
Update #4: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, who suggested that the series is over, posted this report:
“When we woke up and got here we had to stop feeling sorrow and get back to work,” said Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard. “As a team you have to have that mentality of, ‘Why not us?’ It has happened before. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. In the playoffs, you can’t get too emotional.”
Coach Mike Babcock said he’s going to wait until Friday to decide if he’s going to make changes. Captain Nick Lidstrom felt the team needed an optional skate. It’s possible that veteran Mike Modano could go into the lineup.
“There’s momentum swings in every game. They go back and forth every game,” Lidstrom said. “We’ve been getting better and better in the series. It hasn’t been good enough to get us the win. That’s tough. They’ve been a little bit better than us in certain areas. Their powerplay has been winning games for them. Their goalie (Antti Niemi) has been playing well. We got to them a bit more, by playing well.”
But the Sharks are ready for anything.
“We know they’re going to play tough,” said Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle.
Update 4.25: Detroit Red Wings social networking director Jake Duhaime offers a Red Sox-style take on the Wings’ comeback attempt…
• And I think that these PEOPLE ARE plain old nuts:
Update #5: Here’s the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s report:
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Patrick Eaves, noting two games have gone into overtime and the Wings have played well enough to win. “If we keep working, we’ll get a bounce and that’ll be a key.”
Babcock said he hasn’t given much thought yet to the lineup for Friday’s Game 4. A big question surrounds Mike Modano and whether Modano, a healthy scratch for every game but Game 4 of the Phoenix series, will somehow crack the lineup. Modano, 40, again confirmed he’s leaning toward retirement after the season. He’s thought about the fact that Friday could be the final game of his career.
“Certainly it’s crossed my mind,” Modano said. “It could be. It came quick. But you hate to think about that scenario. It’s hurt not being out there. It’s tough to deal with. But you do what you can to stay ready.”
As for the Sharks, they intend on finishing this series as quickly as possible.
“You don’t want them to get any momentum,” forward Joe Thornton said Thursday. “We’re taking the attitude it’s a must-win game tomorrow night.”
Quickie addendum: the Detroit News’s David Guralnick posted a practice gallery.
Update #6: NHL.com’s Brian Hedger took note of a Q and A which MIke Modano engaged in with reporters after practice:
Q: You wouldn’t say you regret this season, would you?
Modano: Your initial thought is a little regret because of what you went through, but no one can ever predict it would happen, the severity of the injury and what all took place. Maybe it was a sign that … I should’ve stayed away.
Q: How do your conversations generally go with Mike Babcock in the playoffs? Are they short?
Modano: No, they’re pretty good. We’ve had some long conversations and same with Kenny. I feel like we’re on the same wavelength as our conversations go. We agree on a lot of things and see things the same way as far as the game and individuals and whatnot.
Q: Have you given any thoughts to what you’re going to do with your future?
Modano: Kind of mulled over it a lot, now that I’ve certainly got a lot of free time on my hands to think about it and what my plans are. A knee-jerk reaction is to kind of say ‘That’s it,’ and be done with it because the frustration level is fairly high at this point. So you’re able to make some quick judgments without really thinking it through. Let the dust settle a little bit and then make a decision on it.
Q: If you were to come back, would you like to come back here or somewhere else?
Modano: Depends. Those would be conversations for later with Kenny. See how their personnel line up here, but they’ve got some good young players that are ready to make that jump and have had their days of grooming in Grand Rapids and are probably ready. That’s probably for down the road, as well.
Q: Last summer, you didn’t make final decision until August. Do envision making a quicker decision this year?
Modano: I don’t know. I think I’ll probably have some of the same issues and problems with making that decision again. That’s just something that, as I’ve gotten older I’ve had a tougher time dealing with and trying to understand what to do and make the right decision. There’s been days where I’ve felt in November that I was pretty excited about it and thought maybe there would be something beyond this year and then March comes and that feeling changed pretty quick. To make a 100-percent-sure decision, that’s always tough.
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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.