The Malik Report
The Red Wings rallied from a 1-0 deficit, got key goals on the power play, got to Antti Niemi, had their forecheck going, worked their butts off, played on even ground with the Sharks…and a fanned shot by Devin Setoguchi and a tip off Brian Rafalski’s stick…Yielded a 4-3 San Jose OT win and a very probable handshake line either on Friday or Sunday, thanks to one of their playoff nemeses in Devin Setoguchi, who had a hat trick.
The Red Wings face nearly insurmountable odds against the Sharks after losing yet another one-goal game and yet another overtime game after blowing a power play.
The Wings insist that they simply have to win the next game, but at this point, it feels like 1999-2000, when the Wings bumped into an “equal” team in the Colorado Avalanche, twice, and lost, twice. They endured another setback in 2001 before winning the Cup in 2002, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you’re simply not going to see many changes if the Wings are swept…But the puck luck hasn’t been with the Wings. The bounces haven’t been with the Wings. It’s tight but the Sharks are winning by that slim margin and it doesn’t look good right now.
This team won’t be scrapped if they lose. The personnel will largely return, with a few exceptions (Salei and Modano will exit, Mursak will enter, and who knows what the future holds for Draper or Osgood), and the if the Wings shake hands with the Sharks on Friday, you should assume that a very similar team will attempt to overcome the Sharks next year at this time.
I don’t want this to get buried in the game-day thread, because it’s absolutely stellar: Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to the Hockey News’s Ken Campbell about the Wings’ margin for error in the playoffs on a historical basis, as it applies to their series against the Sharks, which they trail 2—0 heading into tonight’s game (8 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/TSN2/WXYT/“Joined in Progress” by Versus) :
He points to the 1995-96 Red Wings, a team that rolled through the regular season with 62 wins and 131 points, then lost in the conference final to the Colorado Avalanche. Then he jumps to the next year, when the Wings had 24 fewer wins and 37 fewer points, then went on to win the first of two consecutive Stanley Cups.
“We were playing keep away most of that season,” Holland says of the ’95-96 team. “One night we went into Calgary and we beat them 4-0, they had 14 shots on home ice. We had the ‘Russian Five’ and nobody could get the puck from us.”
So what does that have to do with Game 3 of the Red Wings second round series against the San Jose Sharks? Well, Holland tells that tale to illustrate how slim the margin is between winning and losing. Then he takes his pen out and draws an imaginary line at the top of the wall.
“People think the difference between the team that wins the Stanley Cup and everybody else is here to here,” he says, drawing another line about three feet below. Then he draws another about three inches below the top line and says, “It’s really between here and here. So what am I saying?” he asks, now putting his thumb and forefinger together. “The difference is about this much.”
Update: And speaking of the past, former Wing Darren McCarty engaged in a pre-game interview on WBBL’s Huge Show:
Updated 9x at 5:28 PM with a great article from Ken Campbell and Babcock and McLellan’s pressers: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight (8 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/TSN2/“joined in progress” by Versus after the Bruins-Flyers game, so Center Ice/GameCenter Live are unlocked), coach Mike Babcock has chosen to make only one lineup change, as the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reports:
Kris Draper will play tonight. Still don’t know who he is replacing in the lineup, but all signs point to Drew Miller.
After not practicing Tuesday, Brian Rafalski missed the morning skate. He confirmed he was playing. He just took the extra time off to rest his knee.
Babcock confirmed to the Sporting News’s Craig Custance...
The Detroit Red Wings face what is doubtlessly their most important game of the 2010-2011 season when they face off against the San Jose Sharks tonight (8 PM EDT, FSD/CSN Bay Area/TSN2/“joined in progress” after the Bruins-Flyers game on Versus, so Center Ice/GameCenter Live are unlocked for the game). If the Wings continue to lose puck battles, take penalties and struggle to stop the Sharks’ cycling game while losing the battle for possession and control of the puck, they’re all but certain to shake hands with San Jose sooner than later.
The Wings have only rallied from a 2-0 series deficit twice in franchise history, with the most recent coming against the Vancouver Canucks in 2002, but the Sharks have no desire to become the third team in the Wings’ 20-year and 19-season streak of playoff appearances to surrender the lead to the Wings. After a Tuesday’s worth of practices which included line changes by both teams—at this point it appears likely that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk will play on separate lines, and Kris Draper will join the Wings’ lineup—the Sharks insisted that they’re not only in control of this series, but also plan on ensuring that there’s a handshake line at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night.
Former Red Wings player and vice-president Steve Yzerman’s Tampa Bay Lightning have stunned the hockey world by taking a 3-0 lead on the Washington Capitals on Tuesday evening, and Yzerman revisited his decision to leave the Red Wings family in a conversation with the National Post’s Bruce Arthur:
“Well, first off, I think 99% of the general manager jobs that are available, you’re not just handed the keys to a Rolls Royce, you know? There’s issues; that’s why the job was available,” says Yzerman, who is a finalist for the NHL’s general manager of the year after his first year with the Tampa Bay Lightning. “Organizationally, we’re just getting started. I mean, this is positive and exciting for us, but where we are as an organization, to build to where we want to be as a perennial playoff team, and have prospects [at the minor-league level], we’re not there. That’s going to take some time. Where we ultimately want to get to, I don’t know if we’re ahead of schedule on that.”
Former Wings coach Scotty Bowman’s not surprised by Yzerman’s success as a general manager…
When there’s too much multimedia to fit in the game post, it’s time for Middle of the Night Multimedia. This slate of Wings-Sharks multimedia is very Flash-heavy, so take care before clicking on the “further reading” link:
The Red Wings haven’t said much about Sunday’s news, but as Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard has worn goalie masks with “Let’s Roll” written on their back plates, he spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about what happened, as well as the reason why a young man from upstate New York—who was actually in Ann Arbor on 9/11 as he played for the U.S.‘s NTDP—chose to commemorate the sacrifices made by those who passed away almost ten years ago:
“I didn’t know anybody, fortunately, but it sort of struck home because we did have one kid from New York City, whose father did work downtown,” he said. “I remember he was a little frantic trying to get a hold of his father.”
Howard said that he remembers learning about Beamer and the “Let’s Roll” acclamation when his coaches on the U.S. Development Team recounted the story of Flight 93.
“The ‘Let’s Roll’ on the back of my mask was a rallying cry when we went over to Slovakia for Worlds, the Under-18s, that year,” Howard said. “The story just stuck with me. I’m very patriotic, you know. Whenever I read stories about that, even today, I still get goose bumps and tingles at how shocking it was.”
Since Howard turned pro, he’s updated the artistic design of his custom mask. But one thing will always remain … and that’s the tribute to those who died during the worst act of war on American soil.
“It will always be there to symbolize what those brave men did on that flight,” said Howard, of the two words. “It will always be there as a tribute to them.”
Updated 7x with Howard talking snow at 3:18 PM: Today’s Red Wings and Sharks practice updates begin via Twitter and Red Wings social networking manager Jake Duhaime, who reports that Mike Babcock chose to shake up the Wings’ lines today:
Tuesday’s practice is underway at JLA. http://yfrog.com/h2myowlj
Datsyuk and Zetterberg are not practicing on the same lines. Z is with Bert and Cleary, Pav with Mule and Holmstrom.
NHL.com’s Brian Hedger reports that Brian Rafalski didn’t practice today...
As the Detroit Red Wings took a much-needed day off to re-set their body clocks and hopefully clear their heads as they hope to climb out of a 2-0 series hole for only the second time over their past 20 playoff runs, and the San Jose Sharks raced across the country to join the Wings in preparing for Wednesday night’s game (which will only be “Joined in Progress” on Versus after the Bruins-Flyers game; more on that in a bit), the Wings’ press corps offered more than a few suggestions as to how the Wings might rectify their problems in attempting to play the Sharks on even ground, but the out-of-towners mostly focused on the obvious, easy angle:
Snow showers. The Detroit News’s David Guralnick found that the San Jose Sharks’ snowing of Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard make for fantastic photography, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser found them to be an easy topic to address, and the Sharks themselves, before departing for Detroit, insisted to the Mercury News’s Mark Emmons (David Pollak was busy jabbing back at Ken Kal’s parody of the Sharks’ fan base) that they’ll continue because it’s Jimmy Howard’s fault, and will continue:
The first is that they’re up against some serious-ass odds, especially given that the supporting cast has left Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Howard without support, as spelled out by NHL.com’s Brian Hedger:
Detroit is just 5-21 all-time when losing the first two games of a playoff series and only 2-6 when facing the same situation during the team’s remarkable 20-year run of postseason appearances. Also, after dropping the first three games against the Sharks in the same round last season, Detroit lost that series in five games. When you include the 2010-11 regular season, the Red Wings have lost 10 of the previous 12 meetings against San Jose and appear to be completely flummoxed. Also working against them is a middling record at Joe Louis Arena during the regular season, even being booed off the ice a couple of times.
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.