The Malik Report
Updated 10x at 2:24 PM: The Detroit Red Wings host the Ottawa Senators this evening (7:30 on FSD/TSN 5/RDS/97.1 FM), and Petr Mrazek and Andrew "The Hamburglar" Hammond will square off in the net as Riley Sheahan returns to the Wings' lineup for this "four-point game."
The Free Press's Helene St. James was first out of the article chute, discussing Petr Mrazek's possible status as the interim starter...
Asked about his decision, [Red Wings coach] Babcock said, "I did the same thing last week. I thought Howie had a couple of good games, he had a tough one, and I went right back to him. I thought Pete's done a good job for us. Didn't do as good a job the other night against the Islanders, so I'm giving him the same opportunity.
"We're in the winning business. It's a huge game for us here tonight, and it's exciting to have the opportunity, and we're giving Pete the opportunity."
Mrazek tends to be either very good or very bad (Sunday was the fourth time he has been pulled this season, in 25 appearances). One of his assets is an unshakable confidence, summed up by Mrazek as: "You've got to stay positive, believe in yourself."
Updated repeatedly: Mrazek starts, Sheahan returns: The Detroit Red Wings face the first of two "playoff-style" games as they hope to vanquish the Ottawa Senators this evening (7:30 PM on FSD/TSN 5/RDS/97.1 FM) in order to keep Ottawa ouf of the "can leapfrog Detroit" sweepstakes, and the Wings promptly hit the ice at 10:30 AM...
Though TSN's Dean Brown is not happy about his work enviroment for today:
Wings hit the ice for their morning skate here at the smelly old Joe Lewis arena.
This much, from MLive's Ansar Khan, is good and not smelly at all:
Cole and Sheahan on the ice as Wings prepare for morning skate.
The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan reported for duty explaining...The "smelly" line?
Despite the "stat that tells the story" and Monday's chatter about the Red Wings' goaltending, we (as in you and me, Red Wings fans) find ourselves exactly where we were after Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Islanders as you, I and the Red Wings prepare for tonight and Thursday's really-really-really-close-to-must-win games against the Ottawa Senators (tonight at 7:30 PM EDT on FSD/TSN 5/RDS/97.1 FM) and Thursday's affair vs. the Boston Bruins:
The Red Wings sit three points ahead of the Boston Bruins, who come to town on Thursday and play the Florida Panthers this evening, and the Wings sit six points ahead of the Senators, and the Wings hold advantages in terms of wins and standings-tie-breaking Regulation-or-Overtime Wins.
Ottawa comes into tonight's game having dropped a 4-2 decision to the Florida Panthers and having dropped 3 straight games after a 7-game winning streak, but their March record is 10-3-and-2 as opposed to Detroit's 5-8-and-1.
As Paul noted, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned an article about Gordie Howe's 87th birthday, which is tomorrow, and Krupa reports that the Howe family continue to take things "day by day" with their dad...
The first 7,500 fans entering Joe Louis Arena for the game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday between the Red Wings and Senators will receive a bobble-head doll that commemorates Howe.
The family, friends and a caregiver went out for a birthday dinner last week, his son said. And, if his father is up to it, a barbecue or something similar might be on tap for today, down in Texas.
"We're just trying to treat every day as special," [Mark] Howe said, "not just because it's his birthday."
And that's what the Free Press's Helene St. James reports, too:
The Red Wings' beat writers received their injury update a little late in the afternoon/early evening, so:
Instead of starting our late afternoon/early evening survey of Red Wings-related news with goaltending talk--a topic that's becoming so overdone that soon it will be made of dead-horse glue--let's start with some prospect news:
1. In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin isn't going to be watching SKA St. Petersburg play much longer. The Russian center whose intentions are to come to North America watched SKA St. Petersburg drop a 3-1 decision to Sergei Fedorov's CSKA Moscow, and CSKA leads the "Army Derby" 3 games to 0;
2. And in the SHL, despite having lost seven key players to the NHL, KHL and other leagues, Axel Holmstrom's Skelleftea AIK are also 1 game from returning to the SHL final to defend their championship. Holmstrom had a goal and an assist in 15:56 of ice time (click for highlights) as Skelleftea defated Mattias Backman and Linkopings HC 7-2. Holmstrom is Skelleftea's 4th line center, but he's registered 4 goals, 5 assists and 9 points in 6 playoff games. Those numbers are astonishing by SHL rookie standards.
And now, back to your regularly-scheduled programming regarding the goaltending of the 4-8-and-1-for-March Red WIngs:
Updated 5x at 8:21 AM: The Red Wings flew back to Metro Detroit perhaps feeling a little flummoxed after their 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders. After a stellar performance on Saturday, Petr Mrazek struggled to keep the puck out of the net on Sunday, as did Jimmy Howard--at least on the first of the 16 shots he faced--and as a result.
The Red Wings will host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and the Boston Bruins on Thursday, and due to Ottawa's 4-2 loss to Florida and Boston's 2-1 OT win over Carolina, the Atlantic Division standings look like this:
Boston sits 3 points behind Detroit, as well as 2 wins and 3 Regulation-or-OT wins behind Detroit, having played one more game than the Red Wings; Ottawa's 5 points behind Detroit, three wins and five ROWs behind Detroit, and they've played the same number of games; and Florida is now 7 points behind Detroit, with 5 fewer wins and 10 fewer ROWs, having played one more game than the Wings.
It's still not likely that the Wings, who also play in Minnesota and host Washington next weekend, before playing Carolina twice and Montreal once to close out the season, are going to fall out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but it is imperative that the Red Wings stop losing to ensure that their 3-8-and-1 March record does not push it into a Wild Card sport.
The Islanders had done just that due to their March struggles, so Sunday's game was far more important for the desperate Isles, and it showed, as the New York Post's Dan Martin noted:
The Detroit Red Wings faced a team dealing with an equally baffling slump and a March record nearly as bad as Detroit's 4-7-and-1 tally in the 3-6-and-3 Islanders on Sunday afternoon, and playing in a building that's vexed Detroit for the last 20 years in the Nassau Veterans' Memorial Coliseum--for perhaps the final time...
You had to worry that Detroit was going to look ahead to Tuesday's match-up against the Senators and Thursday's showdown with Boston instead of focusing on the task at hand, and the Islanders were so incredibly pissed off after losing yesterday's tilt vs. the Ducks that the player-and-coach comments made it sound like the Wings were in for a world of hurt.
How did it play out? It played out like a gigantic brain fart, with the Red Wings scoring 2 goals on the game's first 2 shots but Petr Mrazek giving up 3 on the first 3 shots he faced, only to be pulled for Jimmy Howard--who gave up what ended up being the game-winning, short-handed goal on the first shot he faced, all en route to what was an ugly, mucky, clutchy-grabby-hooky-holdy and just plain old dumb 5-4 Islanders win.
The Florida Panthers defeated the Senators 4-2 and the Bruins are tied 1-1 with the Hurricanes as I type this, so the Wings remain 5 ahead of Ottawa, who comes to the Joe on Tuesday, and are
either 5 or 3 points ahead of Thurdsay's opponent with a game in hand.
I thought about making this into an entry or leaving it be, and I did so as someone who knows that the Red Wings' coach is a very private family man who happens to have lost his mom to cancer when he was still a kid.
The last thing you want to do in this kind of situation is to step on people's toes or to make public something that they should be allowed to grieve in private. But I lost my dad when I was 14, and am dealing with the fears of chronic health issues affecting the one parent I've got left, so:
Most sincere and heartfelt. I know that Babcock admired and looked up to his father, and I'm terribly sorry to have to report this. It's...it's hard to lose your parent.
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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.