The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/12/11 at 06:50 PM ET
After thirteen practice updates, I’m allowed to post a new Red Wings off-day thread, and we’ll kick it off by focusing on NHL.com’s Brian Hedger’s column. Hedger spoke to Niklas Kronwall (good to go?) and Chris Osgood (a ways away) about their recoveries from injuries, Jimmy Howard about the fact that he’s finally feeling comfortable in his own skin (there are a couple of stories about Howard in the practice update), and, mostly, Hedger took due note of the fact that the Red Wings hope to make Joe Louis Arena an imposing destination for their opponents after what can best be described as a frustrating second half of the regular season:
“You want to have your home rink be a place where opponents don’t really want to come,” center Valtteri Filppula said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s been the case for a long time (here), and the last little bit we haven’t played as well at home as we’ve wanted. That’s definitely something we hope to get changed now that we’re in the playoffs.”
Overall this season, Detroit went 21-14-6 at home—which isn’t exactly bad, but isn’t the kind of home-ice domination fans here want to see. They also went 8-10-2 over the last 20 games at Joe Louis Arena. The struggles weren’t just caused by just one thing, either. The Red Wings have suffered from poor starts and lethargic play at times, as well as carelessness with the puck in their own zone. In a couple of games, it led to some disappointing and embarrassing results—including a 10-3 rout at the hands of the St. Louis Blues on March 30 and a 4-2 loss to the rival Chicago Blackhawks on April 8 in which the Wings were down 3-0 after the first period and 4-0 in the second. More of the same mistakes on Wednesday night against the Coyotes could be even more costly.
“The regular season is already history,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We have to turn it around and play basically the game that we play on the road a lot of nights. We have to bring that home and make sure that Phoenix knows we’re coming after them. We have to come out with a way better start than we have the last few months here—just go after ‘em, go after ‘em … shift after shift.”
“We have to come out strong skating and try to get the puck in their end and create some things,” Filppula said. “The last few games it’s been the opponent coming into our end and doing things to us. We just have to try and turn the table on that.”
As for Osgood?
“I’m going to just keep practicing,” Osgood said. “I feel like I’m in great shape. I feel like if I had to go in I could play good. That is without a doubt. That’s a good sign.”
“Four days ago I just all of a sudden started feeling real good and having [lateral movement] back,” Osgood said. “I’m finally practicing and playing where I feel good. I’m not worried about hurting it. I have my movement now, so it’s just a matter of practicing real hard and getting as close to game-ready as I can.”
If you’re interested in watching Art Regner, Dana Wakiji, Ted Kulfan and John Niyo talk about the Wings-Coyotes series for 32 minutes, by all means, help yourself. I preferred Babcock and Zetterberg’s pressers and Lidstrom and Paul MacLean’s radio interviews...
And I can’t help but admit that this quip from Mike Babcock, via the Free Press’s Helene St. James, is classic:
There was a funny opening scene when Babcock began his news conference today. With several dozen media members huddled around him (compared with the usual handful), Babcock smiled and asked, “Do you all work in Detroit?”
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