The Malik Report
Neither the Red Wings nor Lightning practiced on Sunday, so you'd expect a quiet day subsequent to the Lightning's 5-1 win on Saturday, but there are clicks to be fought for, eyeballs to attract to websites and ads to sell to pay the bills--and it's the playoffs--so it would've been uncharacteristic at best and a bad business model at worst for the mainstream media folks to emulate the teams' decision to take a rest day.
That being said, Sunday and Monday morning's stories offer a scattershot selection of Red Wings and Lightning-related topics, so I'm going to split this entry into sub-topics, with the first being this:
Outside of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Red Wings are not a team full of established stars or superstars, though Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Justin Abdelkader and (very quietly) Danny DeKeyser made strides toward establishing themselves as key contributors this past season.
In playoff news involving Red Wings prospects:
In the SHL, Skelleftea AIK tied its SHL final series with the Vaxjo Lakers via a 2-1 win on Sunday (follow the link for highlights), and Axel Holmstrom's 1-0 goal in 15:01 played places him 2 points ahead of the Sedins' playoff rookie scoring record. He's registered 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points in 13 games palyed;
In the WHL, Dominic Turgeon registered an assist in the Portland Winterhawks' 3-2 win over Everett, winning the second-round series in 5 games played. Turgeon's Winterhawks will battle Mitch Wheaton's Kelowna Rockets in the WHL semifinal;
And in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins discovered their playoff opponent on Sunday, while Teemu Pulkkinen wrapped up the AHL's goal-scoring title despite playing in only 46 games.
In terms of the playoff opponent, the Griffins will open their 5-game first-round series against the Toronto Marlies on the road, and they'll do so on Saturday, April 25th, per the Griffins:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Babcock, before this Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series, indicated he would play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on separate lines once Abdelkader returned.
The Red Wings also need to shuffle their third line of Joakim Andersson, Stephen Weiss and Tomas Jurco. They have combined for no points and a minus-3 rating through two games and have just one shot between them - by Weiss.
Chances are Weiss or Jurco will be scratched when Abdelkader returns....
Abdelkader's return also likely will prompt Babcock to break up The Kid Line of Riley Sheahan, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, who scored the team's lone goal in Game 2.
Zetterberg more than likely will center Abdelkader and Nyquist while Datsyuk will center Darren Helm and Tatar. Those have been regular combinations this season.
Luke Glendening and Drew Miller have played together much of the season. Babcock probably will keep Landon Ferraro as the right wing on that unit because he plays with pace.
That would leave Sheahan centering the third line, with Andersson and Jurco or Weiss.
Babcock might also replace rookie defenseman Alexey Marchenko, who was a minus-2 and lost coverage on a couple of goals. In that case, Brendan Smith or Jakub Kindl would return to the lineup.
I started my day with Mike Babcock coaching rumors, so I suppose I should end it with the same topic.
Again, Babcock addressed the topic in his pre-game media scrum, as noted by ESPN's Joe McDonald...
When asked if those rumors register with him, Babcock said no.
“It doesn’t. It does nothing at all,” he said. “I’m coaching the Red Wings and pumped to do it. My manager’s fantastic. I’ve got a great relationship with him.”
The Red Wings' developmental affiliates had solid Saturday efforts, despite the fact that one of them lost.
To the good, the Toledo Walleye defeated the Wheeling Nailers 2-1 in OT, with Richard Nedomlel registering a +2 in the victory, and the win tied the teams' first-round playoff series at 1 game apiece.
The Walleye's website posited a recap...
The Red Wings haven't won consecutive games in over a month, and that trend continued into the post-season as Detroit dropped an ugly 5-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, forcing Petr Mrazek out of the net thanks to an enormous amount of stand-and-stare defense...
And Detroit looked for more like the tentative, jittery and fragile team that nearly lost its playoff spot based upon a March slide than it did the Wings team that managed to get its shit together and restore some faith in the Winged Wheel just prior to the start of the playoffs.
With both teams taking Sunday off, the Wings will rest on Sunday and then hope to start putting their playoff game together, because Thursday's rope-a-dope win and Saturday's stinker of a loss do not great confidence in the Wings' playoff chances make.
That being said, there's at least hope that the Wings aired out all their demons at the same time, and instead of "burning the tape," the Wings' lapses against the Lightning's offensive dynamo, their sputtery neutral zone play and their perimeter offense all serve fine illustrative examples as to how this team wants not to play come Tuesday in Detroit (where Petr Mrazek will start and Justin Abdelkader will play).
You know the deal going into this one: the Red Wings promised to avoid the shelling they received in Game 1 while attacking the Lightning and driving possession and control; the Bolts promised tob be even harder on Mrazek while...driving possession and control of the puck and securing better first and second chances, with screening Mrazek a priority. The winner of this game might very well control the series.
Regrettably, the Red Wings' better skating and offensive attack in Game 2 were mirrored by absoultely dreadful defense and horrific attention to detail, and as the Wings' power play struggles continued, there was no way for the Wings--who continued to funnel pucks to the point instead of toward the net--to attempt to equalize the game againast a Ben Bishop that faced single, un-screened, un-pursued shots all game long.
Detroit "got skated," they got outworked, they didn't play good defense and they seemed to get intimidated by the Bolts' "bitingly" physical game, and as a result, Detroit lost 5-1, looking dreadful en route to a hideous loss--but a loss that the WIngs can learn from if they're willing to SKATE instead of stand and stare, and a loss that the Wings can learn from if they're willing to OUT-WORK, OUT-HUSTLE and OUT-DETAIL-WORK the Bolts.
From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Speaking today at Amalie Arena as he prepared to guide his Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the first-round series against Tampa Bay (3:30 p.m., NBC-TV), [Red Wings coach] Babcock maintained that the playoffs -- and his family -- are his focus.
"I'm coaching the Red Wings," he said. "Pumped to do it. My manager is fantastic. Got a great relationship. When the season ends, I've got a daughter going University of Portland on the 12th of June and I've got a son going to Boston on July 10th. Those things are my focus. Everything else will get looked after when it gets looked after."
Babcock, who turns 52 on April 29, is in the last year of a contract. He has spent the past 10 seasons coaching the Wings. He has succeeded in a wildly successful coaching trajectory that's seen him establish himself as synonymous with winning. Now he stands to become the highest paid coach in the NHL. Currently that's Chicago's Joel Quenneville, at $2.75 million annually. Wings general manager Ken Holland has offered $3.25 million annually, but Babcock is eyeing $5 million annually. Neither he nor Holland have talked about negotiations since the season began.
"We're going to do our best to play as long as we possibly can, and then Ken and I will meet," Babcock said. "I don't spend much time thinking about it. I'm flattered I've got a great family, my wife loves me, and they like me enough to keep me here. The rest of this doesn't matter."
St. James continues, and she posted a video of Babcock's comments:
Mike Babcock told the media today there will be no changes to the lineup for today's game.
Here is Ken Kal's preview of the game...
The Detroit Red Wings battle the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon (3 PM EDT on NBC or NBCSN, depending on where you live/CBC/RDS/97.1 FM) hoping to earn firm control of a series that it leads 1-0, and while you may or may not believe that "a weak goal" by Ben Bishop was the only margin between success and defeat for the Red Wings in Game 1, Friday's practice proved that the Lightning felt that they could play far, far better than they did on Thursday...and the Red Wings felt the same way.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper seemed to suggest that the Lightning put up a stinker, as the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan noted...
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.