The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/08/12 at 03:37 AM ET
After the better part of a week’s worth of doing double time to follow Red Wings news on both sides of the Atlantic, and thanks to my yearly spring battle with insomnia, I’m more than a little bit bleary-eyed, so I’ve penned an early overnight report. I hope you don’t mind too terribly.
May 8: 1:15 p.m. – Finland vs. Switzerland; [2:15] p.m. – Russia vs. Germany
So only Valtteri Filppula (Finland) and Pavel Datsyuk (Russia) will be taking part in games today.
Kyle Quincey didn’t fare in the scoring as Canada beat France 7-2;
And Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Calle Jarnkrok, Niklas Kronwall and Sweden won a wild 6-4 decision over Denmark.
• USA-SVK: While surveying the Slovakian-language media, I can tell you that SITA’s recap offers nothing but respectful tones, with Zdeno Chara telling Hokej.sk that the game was hard-fought, and they praised their goalie, Jan Laco, while taking no digs at Jimmy Howard.
In the multimedia department, SME.sk posted a highlight clip which begins after the 1-0 goal (the only one Howard had a chance to stop)...
Howard did, however, fare prominently in USA Hockey’s official post-game video:
Statistically, again: Howard stopped 28 of 31 shots for the U.S. in the loss—and only had a chance on the 1st goal as Radivojevic went top shelf on the 2nd one and Bobby Ryan tipped Andrej Sekera’s goal between Howard’s legs—and Abdelkader played 14:41 and went 10-and-2 in the faceoff circle, finishing with 2 shots and a -1.
For Slovakia, Tatar looked dangerous early on but faded a bit as the game went on, and he played 12:19, took 2 shots, and went 0-and-1 in the faceoff circle.
• CAN-FR: Quincey very anonymously slid into the Canadian lineup, playing alongside Marc Methot, and TSN’s highlight clip from the game doesn’t feature him, nor does TSN provide his interview during the second intermission, but DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose covers the interview and Quincey’s statistical contributions to Canada’s cause:
“I got the phone call on Friday and was on a plane Saturday,” the Red Wings’ defenseman told TSN during the second intermission of Canada’s 7-2 win over France on Monday. “I’m glad to be here and just thankful for getting the chance.”
The Quinceys – Debbie, her husband Marty, Kyle and his brother Kevin – have made a habit of playing golf on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. But the invitation to represent his country for the first time was just too much to decline, even if it means blowing off a family tradition, he said.
“I won’t be doing that; if she wants to fly over, I don’t know,” said Quincey, when asked how he got out of his family obligation. “I’m just so happy to be here and putting the Canadian sweater on is such a great thing for me.”
Quincey made his official international play debut on Monday against France. He dressed for two exhibition games ahead of the 2005 World Junior Championship. Quincey, along with Columbus defenseman Marc Methot made up Canada’s third defensive pairing for coach Brent Sutter, who scrapped the team’s man-to-man defense for a zone scheme.
“The end zone coverage is just take care of your own area and these guys are working hard and buzzing so it’s a good challenge,” said Quincey, who had two shots on goal with a plus-1 rating in 13:26 of ice-time.
• SWE-DEN: I’ll switch things up and go stats-first here, because the Wings’ participants starred in the win: Zetterberg had an assist, took 2 penalty minutes, went 10-and-5 (67%) in the faceoff circle, took 4 shots and finished at +1 in a stunning 22:20 of ice time;
Franzen finished with 3 assists, a faceoff win, 6 shots and was even in 21:37 of ice time;
Kronwall was held off the scoresheet but had 2 shots and played 20:35;
Jarnkrok went 6-and-3 (67%) in the faceoff circle, didn’t take a shot and played 11:45.
Aside from mentioning that Swedish GM Johan Garpenlov told Aftonbladet’s Emil Karlsson the obvious—that the team is worried that Jonathan Ericsson’s injured SI joint might mean that he won’t return,even for the quarterfinals on ay 17th, but as Sweden only has 22 of their 25 roster spots committed, they can add players as necessary (and they were really bummed when both Patrik Berglund and Alex Steen said, “No, thanks” when invited to join the team after St. Louis’s ouster).
Mostly, however, the Swedish press covered a mix of emotions: as Expressen’s Ludvig Holmberg notes, the Swedes were thrilled by building up a 6-1 lead, and they were pissed off because a slate of even-up calls allowed the Danes to carve their way back into the game.
The Swedish presss seemed more interested in Viktor Stalberg’s performance and the fact that Jonas Brodin, the defenseman who’s playing in Ericsson’s stead, scored a goal in his first game for the national team, at all of 18 years of age…
Though Expressen’s Ludvig Holmberg (and Aftonbladet’s Malin Wahlberg) took note of the fact that, as soon as the goal was deemed Brodin’s, Zetterberg grabbed the puck for the youngster, and shot him a wink which Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin took note of via a fantastic picture.
In that vein, Hockeysverige.se’s Isabel Boltenstern and Peter Sibner captured some superb photos from the pre-game, the game itself and post-game activities, and while TV4’s second intermission interview with Zetterberg won’t work unless you’re in Sweden, you can take in a 2:35 post-game interview with Zetterberg from SVT.se,
Stahlberg and Loui Eriksson suggested that Zetterberg and Franzen were to thank for the vast majority of their goal-scoring while speaking with both Hockeysverige.se’s Peter Sibner and friend of TMR Marie Hallman, and he did the same in Aftonbladet’s profile article, and Zetterberg described Loui Eriksson’s gorgeous 3-0 goal as follows, as noted by Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros and Malin Wahlberg:
Johan Franzen sent a pass to Henrik Zetterberg, who slid sideways and made a great shot-pass to the far post, where Loui Eriksson had an open net and a 3-0 gaol.
“Me and Frasse were doing a little roll in the corner, and he gave me a good pass, so I held onto it a little, and Loui got really open in front of the net, so I had to give it to him,” said Henrik Zetterberg to Sportbladet, and continued: “It’s great that you get the time to make those kinds of goals happen sometimes.”
Zetterberg summarized the team’s attitude about the game—the final score wasn’t great, but the team was going to take the good parts out of the affair and run with them, as Ros and Wahlberg noted:
“We played well from the start. It’s great to see that we can take hold of the game right away. Everything worked for us at the beginning, and we generated lots of space,” says Henrik Zetterberg to Sportbladet.
Nichlas Hardt, however, reduced the margin to 6-2 at the end of the second period. In the third, Denmark went on to push forward, and 6-2 became 6-4.
“We got a little lazy and lost a little focus. We didn’t play like we did in the first period, and then we were a little off in our skating. But on the whole, I don’t think it was that close,” says Zetterberg.
I was told that Zetterberg told TV4 something very simple about the fact that Calle Jarnkrok received a promotion to Daniel Alfredsson’s line, saying something along the lines of, “He can play on my wing soon enough,” and Jarnkrok really did play fantastic in his own right while centering Alfredsson and Jakob Silfverberg.
While Niklas Kronwall didn’t fare in the scoring and was on for some of the PK goals against in the 3rd, he continued to play the way he did before the Wings started their February slide—strong-skating, smart defensively and superb in the playmaking and shooting realm.
Other than that, Zetterberg raved about Denmark’s Mattias Olimb while speaking to Expressen’s Mattias Ek, suggesting that the Danish center’s more than good enough to give North American pro hockey a second go (the 26-year-old played for Bill Peters’ Rockford IceHogs during the 2010-2011 season), and as the Swedish papers are infamous—with me, anyway—for not updating overnight and choosing to wait until 5, 6 or 7 EDT to post whatever leftovers don’t make the evening editions…
We have to move on to the one Wings Worlds participant who isn’t actually playing, and isn’t slated to play a single minute with the Czech national team: Wings prospect Petr Mrazek received an absolutely fantastic write-up by the Goalie Guild’s Justin Goldman on Monday. Goldman believes that Mrazek could be the “next big thing” in terms of pro goalies who escape their cookie-cutter, butterfly-size-fits-all images:
When searching for the perfect prospect, I want one that is truly balanced. I want them to display both reflex-based and positionally-based save selections. I want one that knows when to challenge a shooter, and when to stay a little deeper. I want one that can move well on his skates and on his knees, and one that can stop pucks in a myriad of ways, without second-guessing their decisions, or having to default to one specific method.
Ultimately, I want a shape-shifter; a goalie that can adapt on the fly to the game around them. For the more tools a prospect has at their disposal, the more likely they are to build a stronger foundation for a more successful future.
Yet I talk to many goalie coaches today, and I walk away thinking that over-reacting, or relying too much on reflexes is some kind of mortal sin, a hellacious act of true horror. Some goalies even become paralyzed by this concern of erroneous movement, and they over-think their game way too much. They inevitably start to lock up, they hesitate far too often, and they never look fully comfortable over the course of a game.
When I watch Mrazek play, however, I notice he not only exists outside of this robotic planet, he lives in a completely different universe. But here he is and there he goes, as one of the world’s most talented 20-year-old junior goalies.
JG: What is your spirit animal? If I had to guess, I would say…the Wolf. Am I right?
PM: “The Tiger for sure. Tigers are my favorite animal, they are beautiful. I absolutely love them. Wolf was close, but I like the Tiger more.”
JG: What did you take away from your 2012 World Junior Championships experience?
PM: “It opened my eyes for pro hockey. It showed me I was capable of playing with great players and higher expectations.”
JG: I ask every goalie I interview this same question – how would you define Mental Toughness?
PM: “Every goalie needs to be mentally tough. You have to be ready every game to be strong, to face the shots, and stop the pucks. If you let in a soft goal, or bad deflection, you have to forget about it right away. If you’re always thinking about that bad goal throughout the rest of the game you won’t be able to focus on the next shots thrown at you. You have to remain confident and strong in yourself and be able to forget and move on fast.”
Goldman goes on at some length about Mrazek and how the Wings prospect may have the best chance of essentially fulfilling Goldman’s beliefs as to how a goalie who breaks the mold can truly become successful as a professional, so if you aren’t one for metaphorical whimsy and a heavy, heavy dose of goalie philosophy, you might want to skim it, but hey, I’d say that about my blog entries, too.
Because Mrazek thrived under an incredibly heavy workload (think Curtis Joseph and the St. Louis Blues, circa 1994), Mrazek headlines RedWingsCentral’s Matthew Wuest’s end-of-season assessment of the Wings prospects’ progress with Mrazek leading the pack:
“The bigger the games, the bigger he plays,” Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer told The Hockey News. “He loves the crowds, he loves the pressure. He never gives up on any saves, he never gives up on any pucks, and he has all the qualities to be really successful later on.”
Strangely, Mrazek’s tremendous season didn’t get him much recognition on The Hockey News’s Future Watch prospect ranking. He was seventh on the Red Wings’ prospect list and didn’t crack the league-wide top-100. He sits fourth on RWC’s mid-season list.
Mrazek, whose three-year entry-level contract slides to begin next season, will turn pro next season and has the inside track on an American Hockey League spot with the Grand Rapids Griffins, unless incumbent Thomas McCollum significantly outplays him in training camp. McCollum, who also enjoyed a star-studded junior career, has done little to impress as a pro.
Others making big strides this season were forwards Gustav Nyquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) and Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, Swedish Elite League), but both had previously established themselves at the top of the organization’s prospect list.
Forward Joakim Andersson (Grand Rapids, AHL) had a breakthrough year, as did winger Tomas Jurco (Saint John, QMJHL) and defencemen Xavier Ouellet (Blainville-Boisbriand, QMJHL), Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), Mattias Backman (Linkoping, SEL) and Nick Jensen (St. Cloud State, NCAA), among others.
And as Wuest notes, Tomas Jurco’s the one Wings prospect who’s still making waves with his regular-season team:
Jurco is two wins away from winning a second straight QMJHL championship with Saint John and a trip to Shawinigan, Que., to defend the team’s 2011 Memorial Cup win.
Jurco scored 30 goals and had 38 assists for 68 points in only 48 QMJHL games played during the regular season, and he’s posted 10 goals, 12 assists and 22 points over the course of 12 playoff games for Saint John during their playoff run, but those numbers come with a bit of an asterisk as the Gerard Gallant’s team is star-studded and plays in a high-scoring league.
The Sea Dogs lead the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 2-0 in the QMJHL final, and the teams will resume festivities tonight after two days to recover from a double-OT thriller on Saturday.
Also of Red Wings-related note: If you missed them in the late updates to Monday’s post, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan poked the Johan Franzen locker room clean-out day bear, while Ted Lindsay’s charity Twitter account posted a remarkable photo of Lindsay speaking to Nicklas Lidstrom, who arrived at a photo shoot with his six replica Norris Trophies;
• Don’t forget that you can vote for Pavel Datsyuk as he faces off with T.J. Oshie in EA Sports’ NHL 13 Cover Vote between now and May 10th;
• In the charitable news department, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox noted that Doug Gilmour, Marty McSorely, Mike Krushelnyski, Denis Savard, Lanny McDonald, Wendel Clark and a ton of other NHL alums took part in the annual Scotiabank Pro-Am in Toronto to raise funds for the Baycrest Hospital foundation for Alzheimers and dementia research, which happens to have a Gordie and Colleen Howe fund for said research:
Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute, one of the world’s elite neuroscience labs and the beneficiary of the funds, is developing a virtual brain* to study the effects athletic impact and aging have on dementia.
“Every year they raise over $2 million, and it’s pretty remarkable what they do. I think everybody knows somebody who’s been associated with some kind of head trauma or Alzheimer’s, so that’s why we’re all here,” says Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour, who witnessed a family member struggle with dementia. “It’s a horrible thing to see someone go through.”
As one-name hockey greats from Gordie to CuJo mix and mingle at a pre-tournament luncheon in Toronto’s Distillery District, a man with enough chmapionship rings for all but three of his fingers stands back and observes.
“The whole atmosphere around this is great. You’re with hockey fans, you’re talking about your experiences in the game,” says 55-year-old Bryan Trottier, whose illustrious NHL resume spans 18 seasons. “For us, it’s a great chance to reunite with old teammates and old adversaries and talk hockey for two or three days.”
As you look around this room, who would be an adversary?
“They’re all adversaries. They’re all creeps,” Trottier jokes. “No, they’re all great guys. We all come from basically the same background. A lot of us don’t talk hockey; we talk family. ‘What are you up to now?’ That kinda thing. It’s fun to run into some of the same faces and some of the younger guys. I’ve gotten to know Todd Simpson real well. He lives up in Kelowna; I got to meet his family. That’s a fun opportunity.”
Mike Krushelnyski, 52, loves hopping over the boards at these alumni events, but even as he devotedly watches the playoffs unfold on television every night, he feels no longing for what used to be.
“As fast as we were going (in shinny), those guys are going 100 miles per hour faster, and that puck is moving so much harder,” Krushelnyski says. “No, I’m content with our alumni hockey going 20 miles per hour.
• In much less charitable news, because I guess most of us are still going sleepless thanks to knowing that the Wings’ players are doing so very well at the World Championships after a very trying 2011-2012 season and incredibly disappointing playoff run, Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil gives us something to lose sleep over in suggesting that Todd McLellan and the San Jose Sharks need to play more like the Los Angeles Kings than the Detroit Red Wings, because what Detroit does isn’t working:
Back in June of 2008, the Sharks hired McLellan, fresh off a Stanley Cup win with the Detroit Red Wings.
It’s never been a secret that the Sharks saw head coach Mike Babcock and his Detroit squad as a model franchise. They wanted to emulate and implement the success of Motor City into Silicon Valley. Ever since, Babcock and McLellan have (in complimentary terms) publicly described each other’s team as being very similar to their own.
But the facts must be faced. With the exception of 2008-09, McLellan out-delivered his counterpart, taking the Sharks to equal or further points in each of the last three postseasons.
And herein lies the dilemma: Should you continue to emulate the concepts, philosophies, and strategies of a team whose recent history is inferior to your own?
In essence, it’s not to say that the Detroit style of hockey doesn’t work anymore. But it has to be recognized how teams like St. Louis, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Nashville ultimately found greater success in the west this year. With San Jose, Chicago, Vancouver and Detroit all eliminated in the first round, it has to at least raise some eyebrows to a certain prototype that worked.
Brazil essentially minimizes the fact that the Sharks’ personnel haven’t delivered—nor have Detroit’s—and there’s something to be said for the fact that the Wings’ basic blueprint since they lost to the Sharks in 1993-94 has yielded 4 Stanley Cups and 6 Stanley Cup Finals appearances, with two of those coming over the past five seasons, so it’s not as if we’re talking about a team that hasn’t won at all in April or May since adopting its current style, current coach or current personnel (like, for example, the Sharks), but the Wings haven’t delivered, and that’s why there will be both systemic and player tweaks this summer in Detroit.
I don’t think that anyone wants to watch the Wings trap their way through a regular season or suddenly become Dale Hunter’s Washington Five Man Back Defensive Scheme, and the Wings simply aren’t built to stray too far from that blueline-built puck possession blueprint, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I believe that with a few additions, especially in the goal-scoring and puck-moving defenseman’s departments, and with a return to the harder, faster style the Wings displayed in 06-07 and 07-08, they won’t be sending anyone to the World Championships next season, but that’s just me talking, and I’m very sleep-deprived.
• And, lest I forget, the Free Press is holding a live chat with Helene St. James at 11 AM EDT today.
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About The Malik Report
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.