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The Malik Report

The Improving Detroit Red Wings

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

They took Sunday off, a chance to rest up and recover after spending seven of the previous nine games on the road; overall, the Wings already have been on three trips lasting at least three games each. They’ve got five points over the last four games, the latest stemming from Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss to Columbus.

The Wings next play Wednesday when they host the Calgary Flames. The teams met last week in Calgary, where the Wings showed good structure but a couple poor decisions led to entirely too easy goals for the Flames.

In both the Calgary and Columbus games, the Wings fell behind early but showed good resilience in how steadfast they were with their attacks. This is what Henrik Zetterberg had to say after the Columbus game when I asked him about the performances dating to the past week: “We had a few mental errors here and there, but if you look at the big picture, we did a lot of good things,” he said. “We battled a lot. We won a lot of 50-50 battles and if you keep doing that, you will play good in this league.”

It was a stark contrast from the Oct 26 game in Tampa Bay, when Zetterberg said the Wings weren’t good enough to win. They’re figuring out how to be good enough — and that’s playing a simple, patient game.

“We are doing a lot of good things out there,” Jimmy Howard said. “Now we just have to stick to it. Even though we haven’t had it go our way the last couple of games, just continue to build on it and then hopefully the wins starts to string together.”

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This team is improving in spite of Blashill. The young guns are maturing and starting to assert themselves. The team could be exciting if only he would get out of the way and put the most productive players on the ice more.

Instead, he ensures that the old guard get the bulk of the ice time, deserved or not. He plays them right ofter a bad gaffe and then another. Specifically, Big E and Kronwall but mostly Big E.

Kronwall is playing on a still gimpy knee and doing his best. Overall, has been decent but is getting too many minutes. He should NOT be on the PP simply because he is not mobile enough. He can’t get to pucks and he allows the puck to get out of the offensive zone way too often.

The need for the D to be completely revamped is now but these players are going nowhere and neither is the team. Every strong effort will ultimately be offset by the brain cramps of players like Big E and it will cost them too many games to get into the playoffs while winning enough to just keep the hopes of management alive. Parity will be blamed but the refusal to acknowledge the glaring deficiencies of the coach and the roster will continue for at least this season.

Posted by NewfieWing on 11/12/17 at 10:10 PM ET

Royal Grand Exalted PooBah's avatar

Well said Newfie. I think one of the reasons that VGK are doing so well in their first season is that they don’t have any bad vet contracts and therefore all their players seem to have energy.

Posted by Royal Grand Exalted PooBah from the basement of the Alamo on 11/13/17 at 12:40 AM ET


And the have a good coach who knows how to connect with all his players and has their full respect.
I have never seen any indication from Wings’ players that they have even a grudging respect for Blashill. Personally, I think he lost the room almost from Day 1.

Posted by NewfieWing on 11/13/17 at 01:19 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Posted by NewfieWing

Have you been watching this season at all?  Big E and Kronwall, both have been fine, Kronwall has skating much better than last year, looks just fine for his age, nothing compared to last season.  E is a 3rd or 4th dman, being forced to play on our top pair, he should be exposed from time to time by better talent, and 2nd and 3rd pair guys make mistakes, that’s what they do, but we have no alternative with DDK out. 

Who exactly would you like in to play more than? Mike Green leads in ice time, Daley gets his dose, and hasn’t been teh greatest either, who Outlette who has been terrible? Jenson who has regressed.  Toss Outlette out there against top line all night,  give the ladies a look at X’s jock strap, maybe Al Sobotka can give it a twirl.

And here we go about lovey dovey connections with the coach, long chats over hot choc by a nice rustling fire, my god, has millennialitis taken over hockey now too?  Same crap was said about Babcock too mean weanie, blah blah blah.  I don’t remember Scotty being all warm and fuzzy.  Anyone describe great coaches like Belchick being known for their teddy bear hugs?  Coaches are the boss, not buddies.  I don’t think Blashill has been good, how about we just hold him to that, and not insert things into the job to bag him on that he’s not supposed to do.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 11/13/17 at 10:32 AM ET


This team is improving in spite of Blashill.

Could be because of him as well. If we blame Blash 100% when we play poorly, I think we should give him credit when we play well. And last 5-6 games we are playing well most of the time. And sometimes playing well is not good enough to win because our roster is not great.

Instead, he ensures that the old guard get the bulk of the ice time, deserved or not.

Larkin and Mantha lead forwards in ice time in most games recently. AA is playing about 15 mpg, which is fine. Frk I think should play more because he is not a one dimensional player like Pulk was. On defense Daley and Green lead the team in ice time most of the nights. E is playing more than XO and Jensen because on most nights he is better than them.

Posted by VPalmer on 11/13/17 at 12:17 PM ET

Colin's avatar

Posted by NewfieWing on 11/12/17 at 10:10 PM ET

AA averages 15 minutes per game, and saw 20 minutes against Columbus. His ice time has been sporadic, but it appears that Blash is starting to use him more.

Mantha averages about 17.5 minutes per game, and saw almost 20 minutes against Columbus.

Larkin averages about 19 minutes per game, and saw 22 minutes against Columbus.

The only forward to see that much TOI in that game was Zetterberg.

Frk should play more, but he will get there.

It definitely seems to me as if Blash has been doing a much better job behind the bench. We don’t look like we’re getting outplayed and outcoached every game any more.

Posted by Colin from Ken Holland's new yacht, "Incompetence" on 11/13/17 at 12:35 PM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

but guys, Blashill said words in the pregame against columbus that he expects to win.

Posted by ilovehomers on 11/13/17 at 12:54 PM ET


Frk shooting at 20%. Small sample size, right?
Nielsen shooting at 16%. Small sample size, right?
AA projecting to produce less than last season. Holland right?
Abbey projecting to have his second best season. He can’t do anything without Dats?

Posted by howeandhowe from Seattle on 11/13/17 at 02:45 PM ET


If Jimmy hadn’t been playing great then this article doesn’t get written.

To be fair though: the team and coach are much better.
The PP (Larkin line at least) is showing creativity and multiple looks entering the zone and then attacking the net.  The team generally shows up with effort.

It looks and feels like the players and coaching staff are on the same page this year as opposed to last year.

Still, we’re a borderline playoff team until KH does something seismic to resolve our issues on defense.

Posted by Ventr on 11/13/17 at 03:42 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

I am very happy the team re-claimed Frk, and what the kid has able to do, good for him.  I was an advocate of his from camp last year.

He’s certainly not Turnover Pulkinen who had no place in the show,  he gets shots off faster, more accurately, he’s faster, he’s smarter with the puck and is a bit better defensively, but let’s not carried away on the bit

He’s still a pure wet foot rookie who is marginal at best on the defense side, and small guy easily pushed off the puck to boot.  Getting him more ice time likely means more time paired up with a Tatar or Nyquist who are equally poor defensively and on the smurf side of the equation, and in close games that’s not the best match-up for the wings. He’s getting some minutes and some PP time, and gets minutes when we’re behind, and gets cut when we’re even or ahead. This level of usage should come as no shock.  To steal from Geico… What’s not surprising? The same level of hand wringing over ice time as (insert any Wings rookie with offensive upside).

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Holland Hate Hyperbole Town (HHHT) on 11/13/17 at 03:52 PM ET


who is marginal at best on the defense side

Our whole team is marginal at best defensively (including Helm and Abby who are considered good defensively).

small guy easily pushed off the puck to boot

Frk is easily pushed off the puck?! Really?

Posted by VPalmer on 11/13/17 at 04:36 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.