The Malik Report
Updated at 10:56 PM with stats and highlights: The Detroit Red Wings are most certainly a team in search of an identity that they have yet to find. The Wings looked downright scared throughout the first and second periods of their 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks--giving the Hawks a 6-and-0 start--but the Wings played with so much guts, gusto and grit in the third period, tying the game and sending it to OT thanks to some spectacular puck possession (the Wings ended up looking like they could indeed keep up with the Hawks, just as they skated circles around the Wild once they played the system they've been taught to play, regardless of the personnel they have) and wonderful goaltending from Jimmy Howard...
But in OT, and perhaps in no small part due to the fact that the Wings appeared afraid to shoot on a power play that went 0-for-6 in a remarkable 11:17 of PP time, a team that out-hit, out-shot and eventually out-worked and out-competed the Blackhawks ended up losing because Justin Abdelkader chugged off the ice after Henrik Zetterberg won a faceoff in his own zone, as Zetterberg chugged up ice, the Blackhawks went the other way, Viktor Stalberg drew both Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson to the left side of the ice in the Wings' end (why Babcock chose to take Lashoff off the Kronwall pairing late in the game is beyond me), and Damien Brunner, who'd gotten onto the ice late, ended up kinda sorta intercepting Stalberg's pass to pinching defenseman Nick Leddy...By tipping it past Jimmy Howard.
The Wings may have deserved much better, but they also seemed to earn their unfortunate break in this instance.
I'll add some stats and highlights in a bit, but I want to know what you think about this one. I'm pissed off given that the Wings' identity quest was marred by a terrible power play and a sense of indecisiveness that has cost the Wings too many points already.
Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea promised a blockbuster on Sunday evening, and he's delivered. According to Shea, Ilitch Holdings and Olympia Entertainment, who do not own but instead lease Joe Louis Arena from the City of Detroit, are proposing that that their follow-on rink be owned by and leased from the State of Michigan:
The Ilitch family, which owns the Detroit Red Wings, has privately floated the idea that the state of Michigan own a new downtown hockey arena proposed for the National Hockey League franchise.
The suggestion to possibly use the Michigan Strategic Fund as the venue's owner was discussed in a November meeting between state economic development executives and representatives of the Ilitch family, according to copies of emails obtained from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. by Crain's through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Details of that meeting have not been disclosed, but a source familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Crain's that the Ilitch organization was suggesting state ownership as part of the preliminary brainstorming for the new venue.
The fund, which can sell low-interest bonds for projects, is an autonomous board within the quasi-public MEDC and was created in 1984 to promote economic development. The fund owns the Cadillac Place office building in Detroit's New Center area and the Michigan House of Representatives Building (Anderson Office Building) in downtown Lansing, the MEDC said.
This is just an idea at present, but why would the Ilitches propose leasing their stadium in a similar manner to their leasing of Comerica Park from the Downtown Development Authority? Shea goes into that subject at significant length, but the bottom line involves taxes and liability (and those of you who are familiar with the Ilitches' way of doing business know that the bigger business empire consists of hundreds of Limited Liability Companies):
Updated 4x at 6:29 PM with Khan reporting that Helm will have an MRI on Monday, per Ken Holland: Urgh. I was wondering why I was tossing and turning during my pre-game nap, but ahead of tonight's game between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks (7 PM ET, FSD/CSN Chicago/WXYT AM), RedWingsFeed provides us with bad news from Fox Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson...
And MLive's Ansar Khan is confirming...
Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm had a setback with his back injury and will not play tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
Helm returned to the lineup in Friday's 5-3 win over Minnesota. He left midway through Saturday's practice. The team has just ruled him out for tonight. No word on how long he will be out.
While offering lineup notes via Twitter:
Updated 2x with likely lineups at 1:47 PM: In theory, anyway, the Detroit Red Wings' uphill battle against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/CSN Chicago, AM 1270) was supposed to yield very little in terms of game-day news as NHL.com's Brian Hedger reported that neither team would hold a morning skate (the Blackhawks will be playing their sixth game in nine nights this evening, and the Wings aren't far behind as they'll be playing their second game in three nights and their fifth game in nine nights), but I rolled over this morning, checked RedWingsFeed's Twitter page on my phone, and could only shake my head at the following Tweet from Ken Kal:
Hockey players are hockey players, and while this late-riser's idea of a pleasant way to wake up for a hockey game does not involve 20 minutes of strapping and taping on one's hockey gear, skating for 20 minutes, spending 10 more minutes peeling off one's hockey gear, and then riding a bike for 30 minutes, the Red Wings' players seem to be pre-programmed to do just that, even if they've been told that they can sleep in. As such, the Red Wings' Twitter feed offers some pertinent game-day information...
A little under 48 hours after finding their footing against the Minnesota Wild, the hockey team in progress known as the Detroit Red Wings will find themselves in less comfortable surroundings. Tonight, the Wings will tangle with the Chicago Blackhawks (7 PM EST, FSD/CSN Chicago, WXYT AM) in the "Madhouse on Madison," and while the Hawks will be playing in their second game in two nights...
The Hawks are coming home after having secured a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night, which translates as follows:
The Wings spent Saturday attempting to avoid aggravating injuries to Darren Helm (recovering from a back issue) and Valtteri Filppula (still bothered by a healing MCL), and hoping that Jonathan Ericsson (stepped on a puck, hurt his back) will return to the lineup tonight, talking about their goals of playing simpler, smarter hockey while taking fewer trips to the penalty box with the Wings media before flying off to Chicago.
The Detroit Red Wings took part in a light practice at Joe Louis Arena before spiriting off to Chicago, where they hope to catch the Blackhawks a little tired tomorrow night (7 PM, FSD, WXYT AM) as the as-yet-unbeaten Blackhawks will play in Columbus against the Blue Jackets this evening.
Wings coach Mike Babcock seems to have learned his lesson from the groin and shoulder injury-inducing unscheduled practice he held last Sunday. He kept Valtteri Filppula (sore knee, still recovering from sprained MCL) off the ice, he chose to send Darren Helm (recovering from a back injury) to the locker room early, and he told the Wings' beat writers that he plans on not holding a morning skate tomorrow to attempt to avoid unnecessary wear and tear, so we're going to hear a decent amount about the following parallel storylines over the next 24 hours:
First, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes, the Wings have taken far too many penalties over the first four games of this 2013 season, but they're not exactly alone in scratching their heads as to what constitutes a penalty under a revised "crackdown" on obstruction penalties--a literal "hands off" policy, this time around--that always seems to turn early-season games into special teams affairs (before fading away come playoff time):
Via RedWingsFeed, if you happen to have your evening free, the Detroit News's Lauren Abdel-Razzaq recommends that Wings fans might want to head out to the Troy Sports Center to catch the Red Wings Alumni team lending a hand to the Salvation Army's Bed and Bread program tonight at 7 PM:
Detroit Red Wings Alumni and members of three youth hockey leagues will take to the ice Saturday to raise money for the Salvation Army.
"Some people always dreamed of playing in the NHL and they didn't make it," said Major Monty Wandling of the Salvation Army Royal Oak. "But to get a chance to play with a lot of their heroes, it's a lot of fun."
Members of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies, Troy Sting and Troy Youth Hockey Association have been gathering pledges for the event. On Saturday they will be joined on the ice by former Red Wings Ted Lindsay, Dino Ciccarelli, Joey Kocur, Ed Mio, Dennis Hextall and others.
Wandling says in years past, the event has raised as much as $30,000 for the Salvation Army Bed & Bread program.
"When you think of the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies and the Troy Sting, which are both travel groups, and the Troy Youth Hockey Association, there's hundreds of kids," said Wandling. "It's a win-win. They know they are doing something great and helping us feed something like 5,000 people a day, about 1.8 million people a year, and they are having a great time doing it."
Updated 6x with lots of video at 3:45 PM: Red Bird III is scheduled to take off at 3:12 PM today to ferry the Red Wings to Chicago, where they'll meet the Blackhawks on Sunday evening (7 PM on FSD and AM 1270). The Wings will have a wee bit of an advantage in terms of rest as the Blackhawks are playing in Columbus tonight, but the Hawks are also 4-and-0 going into their Saturday night tilt.
Thus far, it appears that little news is good news at Joe Louis Arena:
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, this is good news regarding one Jonathan Ericsson:
Grumpliy updated 2x at 9:53 AM: If you only watched the Minnesota Wild out-shoot the Red Wings 11-6 in the first period of what turned out to be an ugly but livable-withable 5-3 Red Wings victory, or watched the Wings take two of their eight(!) penalties within the first ten minutes of said first period, you would have been forgiven for assuming that the Wings were on their way to yet another predictable 2013 season defeat--in which they were out-shot, out-chanced, out-penalized and plain old out-played.
That had indeed been the case over the course of the team's first three games, with a team that didn't look anything like itself registering exactly one shootout win while chasing the puck and chasing play. But somewhere during Friday night's game, a Wings team strengthened by the returns of Darren Helm (back) and Todd Bertuzzi (flu) seemed to straighten up and fly right when it remembered a Red Wings axiom: regardless of the personnel that the team may or may not have in its lineup, when the Detroit Red Wings possess the puck and skate up the ice with speed, they dictate the pace of play, and tend to out-score their opponents.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo offers a story that's more than just cold comfort for Red Wings fans who still feel jilted by Zach Parise and Ryan Suter's collective decision to spurn offers from the Red Wings to play for the Minnesota Wild.
According to Russo, a certain Swiss Wing who scored a goal in Detroit's 5-3 win over Minnesota on Friday was more or less set up on a platter to sign with the Wild by his agent, Neil Sheehy, but instead, Damien Brunner decided to wait a year before hopping from the Swiss National A League to the NHL, and the Wings are reaping the rewards of Brunner's deicsion:
Two years ago, Brunner had a high ankle sprain and traveled to Minnesota to see a doctor with whom his agent Neil Sheehy set up an appointment. Blair Mackasey, the Wild's director of pro scouting, was a big fan, so the Wild invited Brunner to St. Paul for a meeting. General Manager Chuck Fletcher was willing to sign Brunner right on the spot.
"They said they had been following me for a year and I met with Chuck, but it was just too early for me back then," Brunner said. "I wanted to have a strong year in Switzerland and prove I was ready. It was great to meet with them. It was a good switch for my head, like realizing that there's an NHL team interested and it makes you think about it a little more. It made me work harder and made me more focused on that goal to make the NHL."
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.