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The Malik Report

Red Wings get to enjoy a little R, R and DVR

Updated 5x at 10:46 PM: The Detroit Red Wings returned home from their first-round sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes, and, according to WXYZ’s Tom Leyden, they received very good news in that coach Mike Babcock will ask the team to practice on Friday morning, but will then give the team Easter weekend off as the team prepares to rest, recuperate and watch playoff hockey, hoping that every other series “goes long” and that it’s the Wings’ pro scouts who rack up air miles instead of the team.

From the tarmac, Leyden fired off the following Tweets:

Danny Cleary told me he’d tried to shoot one from that spot before, but he couldn’t recall EVER making one from behind the line. #RedWings
...
Cleary also matter of fact in saying the tape #RedWings watched showed Bryz left posts open and vulnerable. Took a chance.
...
Nick Lidstrom apologized to Pavel Datysuk for butting in on Lady Byng Trophy territory. Pav said it was allright.
...
#RedWings will practice Friday and have off all of Easter weekend. #bonus
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Patrick Eaves on Cleary’s goal: He’s sneaky like that - Also was waiting for Coyotes to throw gloves and helmets during empty-net chance

Leyden filed a video from DTW…

And WXYZ aired his report on the evening newscast:

The Wings also spoke to the AP’s Larry Lage about the fact that they feel that sweeping Phoenix represents a lesson learned from last year’s seven-game tangle with the desert dogs:

“We didn’t do a very good job last year in the first round,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Thursday afternoon.
...
“We saw the effects of what an extended series can do last year,” Danny Cleary said. “So, it was a big win.”
...
“We wanted to get the break,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “And now that we’ve have it, it’s good for us to relax and get some much-needed rest and to actually hang out with our families, which you normally don’t get to do during the playoffs.”

Red Wings GM Ken Holland also revealed a rather surprising bit of injury news about Henrik Zetterberg, whose sprained left MCL has apparently healed, while suggesting that it’s Johan Franzen (facial lacerations, sprained ankle) who really needs the time off:

“Hank could’ve played this weekend if we had to play,” general manager Ken Holland said. “The break is going to be great for him, but more so for Mule.”

While the Wings are happy with the fact that their depth players carried the day against Phoenix…

“We had 13 different scorers in four games,” Holland said. “If you’re going to go anywhere, it’s hard to count on two or three people to carry the team night after night.”

And Holland was typically forthcoming in offering both injury and hockey-related observations while speaking to Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji:

“By us losing Game 6 last year against Phoenix and having to go into Game 7, not only is it another day of travel, not only is it another game, not only is it physical, but it’s emotional,” General Manager Ken Holland said after the Wings landed at a private hangar at Metro Airport. “This gives us a chance, when we find out our opponent early next week, we’re gonna go in there, we’re gonna be fresh, we’re gonna be focused and we’re gonna be ready to play our best hockey.”

Holland has no concerns whatsoever with the fact that the Wings may have earned as many as seven days off…

“In ‘09, we swept Columbus in round one and had seven or eight days off,” Holland said. “We have a veteran club. It’s not like we have a bunch of kids.”

The Wings’ players obviously agreed with their GM:

“It’s key,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “We wanted to get the break and now that we have it, it’s good for us to relax and get some much-needed rest and to actually hang out with our families, which you normally don’t get to do during the playoffs.”
...
“Once we rest here for a few days, we’re gonna get into gear again, start skating hard and get ready for the next opponent,” Nick Lidstrom said. “So I think it’s gonna be important to get healthy first of all, but then to get back into the swing of things after that.”

And Lidstrom weighed in regarding his status as this year’s Lady Byng Trophy nominee, usurping Pavel Datsyuk’s usual spot:

“I apologized to him and he came up and gave me a hug,” Lidstrom said. “I might have taken his spot. But he wasn’t feeling too bad about it. I’m truly honored to be nominated for that award.”

Lidstrom, who turns 41 on April 28, played a team-leading 1,924 minutes this season but served only 20 penalty minutes. He was second among defensemen in scoring with 16 goals and 46 assists.

“It would mean a lot (to win),” Lidstrom said. “Still you’re playing a tough position where you’re probably prone to take more penalties than maybe a forward. But I’m honored to be nominated again for that award.”

The Wings’ official Twitter account and Facebook page fired off a few photos from the arrivals of Datsyuk, Holland, Howard and Cleary, who had this to say about Game 4 (and if you think @GeorgeMalik is encouraging you to join Twitter if you don’t already have an account as Twitter is where hockey news breaks [ask Paul, he’ll tell you the same thing], I am):

Cleary: We all realized the importance of the game and that they were going to give us a big fight.

So while we wait for playoff tickets to go on sale at 12 PM EDT tomorrow, we can also assume that the Wings’ media corps will wait a while (probably later this evening and/or tomorrow morning) before filing their reports as they probably didn’t enjoy the same direct flight from Phoenix to Detroit that the Wings did thanks to the availability of Red Bird II—and they need to sleep, too…

But, via Mike Serven and Red Wings Feed, Wings coach Mike Babcock appeared on the NHL on XM Radio’s Home Ice show, and they posted an MP3 of his interview:


Download file

As Swordfish Serven noted, Babcock made quite the statement about the Wings’ ability to get in and bang bodies:

Babcock on Helm & Abdelkader: “We forecheck better now then we have at anytime I’ve been here in my 6 years”

And as for the experts?

The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox, via a tip from Paul, offered the smarmy take (if you can’t already tell that I got a lot of help filing this report via Twitter and an assist from Paul, well here’s me telling you so) on the Wings’ sweep, though he makes a wise point at the end:

For Detroit, a team with an eye on returning to the winner’s circle, getting distracted and distressed Phoenix in the first round was the perfect tonic. The Wings are hockey’s oldest team, and a little banged up, to boot. Being the first NHL club to qualify for the second round of the post-season earns them as much as a week off and undoubtedly improves their chances of emerging as Western Conference champions.

Johan Franzen (ankle) and Henrik Zetterberg (knee) missed Game 4 against the Coyotes, and this rest period gives them a chance to heal.

“Oh, they’ll be ready to go,” said head coach Mike Babcock of the pair’s status for the second round.

Even without Zetterberg, the Wings got to Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov early and often in the series, compromising to some extent the Russian’s free agent value this summer. Datsyuk was channeling Meadowlark Lemon for much of the series with his variety of tricks, but it was the bottom half of the Wings lineup — Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Dan Cleary — that drove the club past the overmatched Coyotes. When Franzen couldn’t play in Game 4, 40-year-old Mike Modano got the call and picked up an assist.

The Wings forced Phoenix to play at a frenetic pace, and the ability of Detroit to push that pace like the Showtime L.A. Lakers is one of the reasons they look so different playing the game than most other clubs.

It’s a Detroit tradition, backed by Mike Ilitch, hockey’s best owner. No coincidence, that.

And WXYZ’s Don Shane offers a refreshingly partisan point of view:

Let’s face it, the Red Wings are playing better than any team in the playoffs right now. Better than Vancouver and San Jose and both those teams finished ahead of the Wings in the Western conference regular season standings and are seeded 1 and 2.

If Vancouver and San Jose both win their series the Wings would face the Sharks next and the great news is they’ll get about a week off before they start Round 2.

Last night with just over 6 minutes to go Dan Cleary scored the game winner from an almost impossible angle. It gave the Wings the lead for good at 4-3 and they won 6-3 to sweep the Coyotes out of the playoffs in what could be their final game in Phoenix.

The team arrived back in Detroit this afternoon and they have to be filled with confidence. Think about it, they swept away Phoenix without Henrik Zetterberg playing any games, and without Johan Franzen in Game 4. That’s two of their best players and both are expected back for the next series.

Thirteen different players scored goals in this series which is just amazing. The youngsters like Helm, Abdelkader, Eaves and goalie Jimmy Howard are maturing fast and that spells trouble for any team the Wings face.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between Cox and Shane’s takes, but it doesn’t matter, because the Wings will essentially get the weekend off and, like the rest of us, they get to enjoy a rare holiday during a playoff run before getting back at it and learning whether they were the recipient of a fortunate playoff bounce or whether they’re world-beaters starting next Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

In the interim, I’m gonna watch some hockey, keep you updated on Hat Trick Dick’s hysterics and whatever else pops up, and, for the first time in a month, try to enjoy two or three days in which I get more than four or five hours’ worth of sleep at a time, all while hoping that every other series “goes seven.”

Update: Never mind, here’s the Free Press’s George Sipple’s report:

“We wanted to get the break,” goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “And now that we’ve have it, it’s good for us to relax and get some much-needed rest and to actually hang out with our families, which you normally don’t get to do during the playoffs.”

General manager Ken Holland said forward Henrik Zetterberg, who didn’t play in the first round because of a knee injury, and forward Johan Franzen, who missed Wednesday’s Game 4 with a sore ankle, will be ready for the next series.

The Wings must await the results of the other Western Conference series, but their next foe will be San Jose, Anaheim, Nashville or Chicago. When the Wings last won the Stanley Cup, in 2008, they went six games in a first-round series with the Predators and then swept the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. When the Wings won in 2002, they went six games with the Vancouver Canucks in the first round and five games with the St. Louis Blues in the next round.

“One of the things you need to do to advance is take care of a series, either the first or second (round), relatively quick,” Holland said. “This gives us a chance, when we find out our opponent early next week — we’re going to be fresh, we’re going to be focused and ready to play our best hockey.

Time to go look at my various search engines and email updates and the Swedish papers.

The ten-minute break was nice and I at least got out to take my aunt grocery shopping, part 1. Part 2 comes tomorrow (everything with the aunt is a short trip made long), hopefully after practice updates post.

Update #2: From DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:

“We have a few guys that can really use the time off, and the extra time with the medical trainers,” Wings forward Drew Miller said. “So we’ll get back and see what our schedule looks like, but definitely we’re really happy with our win in the series and looking forward to the next one.”

As far as determining their next opponent, the possibilities are down to four teams: San Jose, Anaheim, Nashville or Chicago. The Wings won’t play the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks nor Los Angeles in the second round. Here’s how each Round 2 scenario can play out for the Wings:

1. Detroit will play the winner of the Nashville/Anaheim series if: Vancouver defeats Chicago and Los Angeles defeats San Jose OR if San Jose beats Los Angeles and Chicago beats Vancouver.

2. Detroit will face San Jose if: Vancouver beats Chicago. (the outcome of Nashville/Anaheim won’t matter).

3. Detroit will play Chicago if: Los Angeles defeats San Jose. (the outcome of Nashville/Anaheim won’t matter).

However the other Western series pan out, the Wings learned one important lesson from going seven-games with Phoenix in their opening round: reach four wins as soon as possible … and rest.

“You know, winning the other night and putting ourselves up 3-0 we knew they were going to come out with a strong effort and play their best game – and I thought they did to – but we really wanted to win (Wednesday) and not have to go back and play a fifth game in Detroit,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “We put ourselves into a great position in the third period, by going in tied, and them having the pressure to win. I thought we stayed patient, stayed within our game plan. We did get some lucky bounces on the goals we scored there late in the game, but I thought we earned some too by working hard.”

Update #3: No comment, part 1:

• No comment, part 2, via Sports Grid‘s Glenn Davis:

 

• No comment, part 3, from the Mercury News’s David Pollak:

Different strokes for different folks when it came to a free night in Los Angeles. McLellan, for example, headed to Dodger Stadium for a little baseball distraction while assistant coaches Trent Yawney and Matt Shaw stayed behind at the hotel to follow other NHL playoff series.

Dan Boyle also was in front of a TV set, following other games. So must’ve been sorry to see Detroit sweep the Coyotes, considering that means extra rest for the Red Wings, right?

He wouldn’t bite.

“C’mon. you know we can’t look ahead that far,” he said, smiling. “We can’t worry about that.”

Boyle did say he thought the Red Wings “played real well and they deserved the sweep and the time off.”

Update #4: From the Free Press’s Helene St. James, Nicklas Lidstrom on the Lady Byng nomination:

“I’m honored to be nominated,” Lidstrom said on his arrival back from Phoenix. “I told Pav on the flight, ‘I apologize if I took your spot.’ He said he wasn’t feeling bad about it.”

Lidstrom said Datsyuk — who was a finalist the past five years and won four in a row before St. Louis snapped his streak last season — also gave him a hug. But even Wings coach Mike Babcock saw it coming after the season opener, when Datsyuk completed a Gordie Howe hat trick when he fought Anaheim’s Corey Perry.

“It’s too bad for him,” Babcock joked then. “Now he can’t win the Lady Byng.”

If Lidstrom wins the award when it’s announced June 22 in Las Vegas, he’ll be the first defenseman to do so in 57 years. The last was the Wings’ Red Kelly in 1954. It also would give the Wings an NHL-record 15th Lady Byng winner. They’re tied with the Rangers at 14.

Update #5: Via the Red Wings’ Facebook page, here’s Patrick Eaves, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard and coach Mike Babcock talking about coming home with the first round behind them:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

Wings_Fan_In_KC's avatar

12 to 12.

Out.

Posted by Wings_Fan_In_KC from ...somewhere southwest of The Motor City... on 04/21/11 at 08:37 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

George and HTT spot om about the Wings staying on the gas pedal.

From the audio of Uncle Mike @ 4:40:

It is hard to hold your lead.  If you get on your heels and you back up, instead of staying aggressive and trying to score the next goal; you tend to be digging it out of your net.

Amen and Hallelujah.

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 04/21/11 at 09:16 PM ET

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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.