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The Malik Report

On Mantha’s resurgent play vs. Montreal

The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an off-day article discussing Anthony Mantha's ups and downs...

“Mo has such potential,” veteran Niklas Kronwall said. “You see glimpses and pieces of it throughout the game. Big body. Can skate. Unbelievable hands. Has a bomb of a shot. He really has all the tools.”

Mantha netted his 15th goal of the season Tuesday, when he scored in overtime to lift the Wings past Montreal, 2-1, collecting his third career goal against the Habs. The goal was Mantha’s first point since being sat mid-month, an event that came after he looked egregiously sloppy -- even in what was a sloppy game by the entire team -- on March 8 at Boston.

When Mantha returned to the lineup March 15, it was with a message received.

“It is all a learning process, in the end, and I decide to skate more, shoot more pucks, keep being good in my D-zone,” Mantha said. “I think it paid off.”

From the way Mantha, 22, talks, he seems to understand that he is being pushed hard by coach Jeff Blashill because Mantha has such a high-end skill set.

“He just wants me to bring it every night, and that is, basically, what I need to learn,” Mantha said. “We have been working on it for years now, even when I was playing in (Grand Rapids), we were talking about it. It's just something that needs to come into my mind and be an automatic instinct for me to move my feet as hard as I can and do the little details.”

St. James continues, and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan also took note of Mantha's performance as assessed by his coach:

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Khan tackles expansion draft question in this week’s ‘Ask Ansar’ column

Among MLive's Ansar Khan's "Ask Ansar" questions and answers for this week:

Q: Why not expose a couple of the albatross contracts (Danny DeKeyser, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm) instead of younger, cheaper players such as Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen? Given the excessive length of all three deals, Vegas would be doing the Red Wings a favor by selecting any of them. They have all proven themselves as average players now and all have four-plus years left on their deals. DeKeyser has been especially bad this year and is paid way too much as a second-pair defenseman. Abdelkader looks lost without (Pavel) Datsyuk creating space for him and Helm is too injury-prone. – Tom

A: The front office viewed those players as key pieces in helping the team extend its playoff streak, so it overpaid in both money and term on all the deals.

Of the three you mention, I don’t think they’ll protect Helm. I think the seven forwards protected will be Anthony Mantha, Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg, Tatar, Athanasiou, Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen, who must be protected due to his no-movement clause. Dylan Larkin is exempt. Of course, this list could change if they swing a trade before the expansion draft.

I doubt Vegas would take Helm, considering his contract (four more years at a cap hit of $3.875 million), age (30) and health concerns based on his history.

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Givani Smith And Filip Hronek Join The Grand Rapids Griffins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday reassigned forward Givani Smith (jih-VAH-nee SMIHTH) to the Grand Rapids Griffins from the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm and defenseman Filip Hronek (FIHL-ihp H’RAWN-ehk) to the American Hockey League club from the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. 

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Red Wings Alumni to raise funds for United Cerebral Palsy on March 25th

From Fox 2 Detroit:

Some Detroit Red Wings alumni are gearing up for a charity hockey game later this month that benefits United Cerebral Palsy of Detroit. The event is a chance to see some of your favorite hockey players up close and personal while supporting a great cause.

The event features a sled hockey game with Grand Rapids Sled Wings, a silent auction and then the alumni game. Last year's event raised more than $40,000 for United Cerebral Palsy of Detroit.

The game is on Saturday, March 25 at Orchard Lake St. Mary's Ice Arena in Orchard Lake. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. and the sled hockey game kicks off the day's activities at 4 p.m. Tickets are just $10 a person, or $30 for a family up to 5 members. Kids 5 and under are free.

Organizer Jay Adams joins us in studio with Mickey Redmond and Michael Ward from United Cerebral Palsy of Detroit to tell us more about Skate Without Limits. You can watch in the video player above, or visit http://www.skatewithoutlimits.org for more information.

For more information on United Cerebral Palsy of Detroit, visit http://www.ucpdetroit.org

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Mickey Redmond was among the participants who spoke with Fox 2's Amy Andrews this morning:

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Pride, ‘culture’ and attention to detail drive the Wings to perform down the stretch

The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article regarding the Red Wings' desire to do more than "play out the string" over the course of the team's remaining games, and MLive's Brendan Savage penned a similar notebook:

"You still have to be professional," said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who made 35 saves against the Canadiens. "This organization has given us all a lot. Our fans and their dedication, we owe it to both of them just to go out and play our best."

Losing on a regular basis also isn't something the Red Wings are used to, especially the veterans who have helped build that lengthy playoff streak.

Coach Jeff Blashill credits the organization's winning history and his veterans for producing unexpected victories like the one vs. the Canadiens.

"I continue to say, our culture - and this has been said by guys who have been other places and come to play for us - our culture is excellent," Blashill said. "We gotta make sure we maintain that culture so you gotta continue to compete even when times are tough and times are tough.

"I think (Henrik) Zetterberg leads the way and (Niklas) Kronwall and (Justin) Abdelkader. But I think we got character throughout the lineup. Sometimes you get kicked and you gotta get back up and keep competing and that's what we did tonight."

Savage continues...

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Henrik Zetterbeg The Grinder

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

“He’s the best grinder who has ever been around the league because he has a fierce competitive level that won’t allow him to lose individual battles on the ice,” Blashill said. “Look at what he has done for this team year after year after year."

With the sixth worst record (29-32-11) in the NHL, Zetterberg has excelled on a team that will be in the draft lottery. This might represent one of the more impressive seasons of his career.

“Any player who plays with him is scoring,” Detroit forward Dylan Larkin said. “You put your stick on the ice and he finds you.”

Larkin said Zetterberg’s backhand is among the league’s best. “And not just on his shot,” Larkin said. “It’s his backhand passes as well. He is so strong on his skates he can hold guys off until he can use that backhand.”

Zetterberg’s objective this season was to be a better start-to-finish performer than he was in 2015-16.

“My second half was terrible – I had no energy,” Zetterberg said. “I couldn’t figure out why. So I changed my approach, not just on the ice, but off the ice as well.”

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Wings Need To Avoid Bad Habits And A Letdown

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

“Now might be more important than ever, doing the right things, getting the right habits down,” Kronwall said. “If you start faulting on that, then the guys that are coming up right now, they see that and they think that’s the norm.

“It doesn’t work like that. That is not how you win. Keep working on the habits every day, try and do the right things. Just setting the work ethic every day is something we are trying to focus on through the last stretch of the year.”

The Wings are using today to rest up after playing back-to-back. They return to practice Thursday and host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday (7:30 p.m., FSD). The playoffs are all but mathematically out, as the Wings sit near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with 69 points.

“Nobody is happy with where we are at, points and standingswise,” Kronwall said. But, he added, “There is great character in the room. Guys work hard.”

For the veterans, such as captain Henrik Zetterberg leading the way with 60 points in 72 games and goalie Jimmy Howard playing the best hockey of his career, it is about maintaining culture and gratitude, no matter the standings.

“You still have to be professional,” Howard said. “This organization has given us all a lot, and our fans over the years and their dedication. We owe it to both of them to still go out there and play.”

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The Last Time The Detroit Red Wings Missed The Playoffs

from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,

The Streak will die at 25.

As we pour out a Vernors for what may go down as the last legendary playoff run by a professional sports franchise, we got to thinking.

What was the world — and, by extension, the NHL — like the last time the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs.

The year was 1980-90.

Saddam Hussein was invading Kuwait. The Simpsons were only in their premiere season. Germanies east and west were making nice again. Early adopters were raving about Windows 3.0. The Milli Vanilli lip sync scandal left us confused and betrayed. And a not-so-insignificant portion of us briefly considered hooking after watching Pretty Woman for the fourth time on two-buck Tuesdays.

A bunch of stuff happened in the National Hockey League that year, too.

It's the NHL Power Rankings: Last Time the Red Wings Missed the Playoffs... Edition.

As usual, all 30 teams are ranked in order of current strength (hey, a new leader), but this time the individual write-ups focus on where they were in 1989-90 — the last, long hockey-free summer in Motown.

continued

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Anthony Mantha’s Night

from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

Mantha beat Al Montoya from the bottom of the right faceoff circle for his 15th goal of the season, helping the Red Wings snap a six-game losing streak in Montreal.

Two of his three goals vs. the Canadiens have come in Montreal.

As Dorothy Gale once said while clicking together those famous ruby slippers, there's no place like home.

"For sure," Mantha said. "Today, I got time to spend a little bit with my family and friends just before lunch and after I went back to the hotel and just took it calm before the game. It always feels good.

"I know there's a lot of people texting me on Facebook or whatever, just saying they're going to be at the game tonight. It's fun to have them around and it's always fun to play here.

"It feels good, obviously. Lot of people here in the stands for me. It wasn't going necessarily my way the last few games. Having a good game tonight just feels great."

The past couple of weeks haven't been the easiest of Mantha's young career.

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SI’s Michael Rosenberg issues a tribute to ‘the Joe’

Sports Illustrated's Michael Rosenberg wrote a fine and proper tribute to Joe Louis Arena...and he offers a pretty solid explanation as to why I nver get anything to drink when I go to a Wings game...

Want a beer?

Go ahead. Al just fired up the grill. O.K., technically it’s a reconfigured old nacho stand, not a grill. And officially Al Sobotka is the building operations manager, not a cook. But nobody here cares about that stuff. Al fills it with charcoal and holds a cookout in the arena a few times a year. Yes, cookouts inside an NHL arena. But the Joe is not just any arena, you see. It’s a ... well ... the right word is probably ...

Dump?

Hey, now. Be nice. Sure, it is kind of a dump. The concourses are too narrow. The restrooms are too few and therefore too crowded. The whole place looks as if it was built after somebody cut the budget in half. Who builds a riverfront arena with no windows? But it has the best sight lines in the NHL and all sorts of accidental character. You’ll be amazed at how many people will miss this place when it closes this spring. Grandmothers will get misty. Grown men will cry into their beer.

Speaking of beer....

Oh, right. Grab one from the stack, right there by the Zamboni. The delivery trucks leave it there because there is no place else to put it. There is only one loading dock, and it’s not sealed off like in those new sporting palaces. That’s why, whether you show up for a morning skate or an evening playoff game, the first thing that hits you is the unmistakable stench of beer. It never goes away. Joe Louis Arena always smells as if it hosted a party that lasted way longer than anybody had expected ... which, in a way, it has.

Rosenberg continues at extended length, and his article's more than worth your time...

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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.

 

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