The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/09/11 at 04:23 PM ET
Updated 2x at 4:34 Blackhawks news, Axelsson talk and a Babcock interview posted in retrospect: Before hopping on Red Bird II for a short flight to Chicago, the Red Wings engaged in a short practice at Joe Louis Arena, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings, who need a little help from the Phoenix Coyotes to earn second place in the Western Conference, insisted that there’s at least desperation and urgency to be answered stride for stride during tomorrow’s game against Chicago (12:30 PM EDT, NBC):
“That’s something we have to play for, potentially keeping them out of the postseason,’’ Detroit’s Brad Stuart said after Saturday’s practice. “They’re a big rival with us, it’s going to be a big crowd, should be an exciting game. All those things combined we should have no problem getting up for the game.’‘
“The atmosphere is going to be like a playoff game,’’ [Kris] Draper said. “And that’s fun and we have to respond to that and try to create a little momentum and take it into the playoffs.’‘
Coach Mike Babcock called it a Game 7 for the Blackhawks.
“The last three times we played them, including tomorrow, their life’s on the line and they played like it,’’ Babcock said. “Last game we made three mistakes in the first 10 minutes and the game was over, so we didn’t give ourselves a fighting chance.’‘
“I expected us to play last night, though, I really did,’’ Babcock said. “Obviously, disappointed would be the best word I could use about last night.’‘
Khan reports that Danny Cleary didn’t practice for Detroit, but Babcock suggested that Cleary simply didn’t feel well and would play tomorrow, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that Chris Osgood (groin) and Niklas Kronwall (“upper body”) remained in Detroit—though Khan says Kronwall actually practiced, which is good to hear. As for Zetterberg?
I’m sure that the truth is out there somewhere regarding what we’ll politely call the “Z Files,” but right now Zetterberg’s status is above top secret.
Update: As noted by the Red Wings’ official Twitter account, Jimmy Howard will start on Sunday;
• The Wings also want to remind us that their viral video campaign is still underway;
• Today’s “Twenty Straight” playoff moment involves Steve Yzerman’s return from an osteotomy;
• The Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc reports that David Bolland (concussion) practiced on Saturday but won’t play on Sunday, and Patrick Sharp (knee) and Tomas Kopecky (ear) skipped practice but will play on Sunday. The Sun-Times’ Adam L. Jahns and NHL.com’s Dan Rosen confirm Bolland’s status, as does Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Tracey Myers, who reports that the Hawks are well aware of the fact that they’ve got to earn at least a point on Sunday to stave off any point production by the Dallas Stars and make the playoffs:
“Everything’s at stake for tomorrow’s game,” Joel Quenneville said after Saturday’s practice. “I don’t know how many times we’ve said that statement all year, but tomorrow it really is.”
If the Blackhawks want to get that one point – or two, which would actually be more to their liking – they’re going to have to bring the same dominant game they had in their 4-2 victory in Detroit on Friday night. The Blackhawks were stellar; as Brian Campbell said, they recognized the situation at hand. Rinse and repeat.
“It’s the biggest game. (Friday) was the biggest before that, and the one before that. It’s been that way for a while,” Campbell said. “We’re still in the same situation. It’s probably going to be a playoff atmosphere so we’ll be ready to go.”
“We need one point and we’re looking for two. Detroit’s going to want to come in and burst our bubble,” Bryan Bickell said. “We could come in (fifth) if other things happen. We want to get a win and not have to worry about Dallas.”
Ah yes, Dallas. The Stars are two points behind Chicago and play in Minnesota later on Sunday. The Blackhawks don’t want to leave the United Center on Sunday afternoon and have to hope, wish and pray that the Wild help them out.
“Our goal and focus all year was to get in. We’ve been targeting it all year and it’s been a major battle for us,” Quenneville said. “But we’ve still put ourselves in a position where we have control, so let’s get excited.”
Two points for you if you find it somewhat ironic that CSN Chicago hired Myers after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram folded.
• In Sweden, Farjestads BK rebounded against AIK Skelleftea,
evening their championship series at 1-1
[make that took a 2-1 series lead] via a 5-3 victory. Dick Axelsson registered assists on FBK’s 3-0 and 4-0 goals (then Farjestads held on). Axelsson didn’t play in the third period, and he claimed that he suffered a minor injury [while checking Mikko Lehtonen] that won’t keep him out of Game 3 while speaking to Aftonbladet’s Emil Karlsson, who says that Axelsson spent the game engaged in a verbal jousting match with Skelleftea goalie Andreas Hadelov.
Update #2: Quite interesting: Mike Babcock spoke to WCSX’s Ken Calvert and Jamie Samuelssen on Wednesday morning, and it’s…Telling.
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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.