The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/26/11 at 05:19 PM ET
Updated 2x at 5:52 with video and stuff: After today’s crop of practice updates popped up, Fox Sports Detroit’s Dana Wakiji’s posted a mid-afternoon column which includes a Chris Osgood update (coach Mike Babcock says he’s too rusty to back up Jimmy Howard) and a dissection/analysis of the Wings’ possible goaltending opponents, but as the Wings have both a 10 AM practice on Wednesday and may end up having to hustle home to pack up for a cross-continental trip…
Wakiji’s main focus involves the fact that most of the Wings’ players don’t plan on watching tonight’s Canucks-Hawks game, which will determine whether the Wings end up playing the Sharks (if the Canucks win) or Predators (if the Canucks lose). The Wings ended up sounding like they were ten years old, with the exception of coach Babcock:
“I stayed up late and watched the games (Monday) night,” Babcock said. “The one thing about it, like I said (Monday) is after you watch them, you can’t sleep anyways.”
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to,” Niklas Kronwall said. “It’ll be tough not to, I think. It’s a big game, especially with the comeback that Chicago’s had so far. It’ll be definitely interesting.”
“We’ll see if I can stay up,” [Nicklas] Lidstrom said. “I’ll start watching it anyways. I’m afraid they (his four sons) will, even though they have school tomorrow. They might sneak up and watch it.”
“I might, we’ll see. It all depends how I feel,” [Brad] Stuart said. “I actually ended up staying up (Monday) night and watching the end of that game. If you’re involved in it, it’s good to see what’s going on, especially against teams that you might possibly be playing in the future. It’s still good to kind of watch and see as a team how they’re playing, the things they’re doing, because those things can change game to game.”
As Wakiji suggests, it’s hard to believe this bluster from Jimmy Howard:
“No, I have no interest in tonight whatsoever,” Howard joked. “It’s past my bedtime. It should be a great game tonight. A lot of things have been going on in the playoffs and this probably is going to be no different. It should be exciting.”
Continued, obviously, with Lidstrom offering this obvious statement regarding facing Pekka Rinne or Antti Niemi:
“I think you have to create traffic, you have to create a lot of shots, you have to just create a lot of havoc in front of the net,” Lidstrom said. “So it doesn’t matter who you’re facing, they’re both great goaltenders.”
I will say this: I’d hate to be the Wings’ travel director or members of the equipment staff right now. If the Wings play San Jose on Thursday, they’re going to have to leave town, gear included, on Wednesday evening, and will need Red Bird II readied to fly, their gear packed and hotel accommodations, food, and busing for either a Thursday-to-Saturday or Thursday-to-Sunday travel schedule booked in short order.
Update: The CBC’s blogger was back in action on Tuesday, and he spoke to Jiri Hudler and Justin Abdelkader about the Wings’ possible second-round opponents...
“We know it’s going to be Nashville or San Jose, but I don’t think it really matters,” Detroit forward Jiri Hudler said. “We know each other right now. It’s been a long season, 82 games. Everybody knows what to expect. You’ve just got to get prepared, get focused on doing your job starting with the first game.”
The Wings are quite familiar with the Predators, their Central Division rivals, and have battled San Jose in the second round of the playoffs in two of the last three springs.
“There’s not a lot of secrets,” Detroit forward Justin Abdelkader said. “Nashville plays in our division, so we play them quite a bit. San Jose, we had a big series with them last year.”
And then there’s this:
The one sour note from Detroit’s opening-round sweep of the Coyotes was a Red Wings penalty kill that operated at a dismal 66.7 per cent, 15th-best among the 16 playoff teams. Improving that unit has been a focus of practice the last two days.
“They scored three off entries and they got a five-on-three goal”, Babcock said. “I didn’t like what we did and felt we didn’t have the same kind of puck pressure that we’ve had when we’ve been real good. We’ve worked a lot on it the last few days. We’re going to be ready to go and we’re going to be very aggressive”.
Update #2: I posted most of the multimedia offerings, including radio interviews with Nicklas Lidstrom, Jiri Fischer, Justin Abdelkader, Ken Holland and Tom Wilson, in the main off-day post, but the Detroit News also posted a practice video…
And the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness just posted his off-day notebook, with Henrik Zetterberg proclaiming himself fit to play:
“I’m feeling good out there,” Zetterberg said. “I think the last step is just playing games.”
Zetterberg, who led the team in scoring during the regular season, missed the entire first round after suffering a sprained left knee on April 6 in Carolina. He will play with a brace on his leg.
“You get used to it,” Zetterberg said about wearing the brace. “I think half the league is playing with braces now. It just takes a few practices and then you’re into it. Every morning you see how you react on the things you did the day before,” Zetterberg added. “Right now I’m back doing everything full out and there are still no setbacks.”
“It’s great (to get Zetterberg back) because it puts one more person on the ice that the other team has to be aware of,” Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said. “Z’s got a knack for being great in the playoffs. We welcome him back with open arms. He’s great at shutting other top forwards down and finds a way to generate points, too.”
Zetterberg has 46 goals and 45 assists in the postseason. Although he’ll wear a brace during games, Zetterberg does not have to wear the brace fulltime anymore, which is a relief.
“I don’t have to wear it all the time so I don’t get picked on in grocery stores anymore,” Zetterberg laughed. “So that’s nice.”
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