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The Malik Report

The overnight report: Red Wings-Canadiens set-up—beware the spoiler

The Detroit Red Wings face a near-must-win situation against the Montreal Canadiens this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/Sportsnet East/RDS/NHL Network U.S./97.1 FM), and if we are to believe what the Wings' players and coach had to say after Tuesday's 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay, the Wings at least have the blueprint for success within them.

Detroit begins a 3-game home stand with an eye toward the out-of-town scoreboard (MLive's Ansar Khan posted a guide to the remaining schedules of Boston, the Islanders and the Flyers) and the Wild Card standings, and Jimmy Howard perfectly summarized the Wings' situation to the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness:

“It’s got to come from within here,” Jimmy Howard said when asked about the sense of urgency in the locker room. “There’s not going to be any knight in shining armor that comes over the fence here and through the door that’s going to get the job done for us. It’s got to come from within here.”

The Wings will face a Montreal Canadiens team that's 9 points behind the Wings and Flyers with 8 games to go to Detroit's 9 games and Philadelphia's 10, so the Canadiens would have to both win out and get some help to make the playoff cut.

Montreal is coming off a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, and they've split their past 4 games. The biggest Canadiens news story on Wednesday involved the almost ready status of PK Subban, who was stretchered off the ice on March 10th, as noted by Canadiens.com's Jared Ostroff:

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On Robbie Russo’s superb rookie pro season

Via RedWingsFeed, Hockey's Future's Sean Shapiro penned an article discussing Wings prospect and Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Robbie Russo's stellar +46 ranking as a rookie pro:

Russo has established himself as one of the more reliable defensemen in the AHL. He has played on both the power play and the penalty kill, while he is third amongst rookie defensemen with five goals and 32 assists.

“He’s just so reliable,” Grand Rapids coach Todd Nelson said. “He makes quick decisions and doesn’t get rattled like a rookie or look like a rookie. I think that plus/minus number has grabbed him some attention from outside our locker room when he’s had attention within our organization all season.”

Russo’s performance this season has helped Grand Rapids surge up the Central Division standings. After a horrendous start back in October, the Griffins have found themselves with a 41-21-1-1 record in mid-March.

Grand Rapids has pieced together a pair of lengthy win streaks. Earlier, the Griffins won 15 straight games, while they recently had a 13-game win streak that was snapped by the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday.

“I think as a team, we really ride the momentum when we’re winning like that,” Russo said. “It’s a good group to be around. I think we have confidence from a streak.”

Shapiro continues...

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Wings Need Wins

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

The Detroit Red Wings have been better at home since the All-Star break, going 7-2-1.

They might need to be even better during their final five games at Joe Louis Arena, perhaps as close to perfect as possible, in order to reach the playoffs.///

The Red Wings, with 83 points and nine games remaining, are tied with Philadelphia for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have 10 games left.

"We're not looking at it as a three-game homestand, we're focused on Montreal," Justin Abdelkader said. "It's two big points. We've obviously been comfortable at home, so we've just got to come out and play well. Montreal has nothing to lose so they're just going to come out and be a little looser. They always play us hard. It's a big game for us."

read on

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A bit about Joe Hicketts

The Canadian Hockey League posted a clip of Joe Hicketts discussing his journey from an undrafted prospect to a Red Wings signing via his play with the WHL's Victoria Royals:

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Beware the Flyers, etc. etc.

From Sportsnet's Luke Fox:

Helluva run, Hockeytown, but now it's coming to an end. Statistically, the Red Wings' chance of extending their playoff streak to 25 seasons is still above 50 per cent, but after much deliberation, we're giving the Flyers the nod here.

Momentum is a real thing. For all of its flaws, Philly has simply shown more fight down the stretch, and Jeff Blashill's recent flip-flopping between Mrazek and Howard indicates a lack of confidence in goal. Detroit's failing to score a goal at home versus an awful Leafs team last week and its thumping by Tampa Tuesday were particularly concerning.

This race will come down to the NHL's final weekend, but the Flyers will sneak in to earn a first-round date with Washington.

Fox continues...

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Red Wings to hold ‘Wings for Wishes’ night on Thursday vs. Montreal

From the Red Wings:

Here's the press release:

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The ‘no playoffs = massive change’ theory is simply inaccurate

I know that there are a substantial number of you who are hoping that the Wings miss the playoffs so that the team is forced to make massive player personnel and coaching changes, but I cannot state this enough:

Knowing everything that I know about the standard operating procedure of Ken Holland and the Red Wings' management, I do not expect the Red Wings to make any drastic changes if the Wings miss the playoff cut. Holland has always preached a steady hand, and in a "parity league," he, Kris Draper, Ryan Martin and the rest of the management team are not going to abandon their approach because of one missed playoff run.

It is foolish--nothing less than foolish--to expect Steady Kenny to suddenly toss the assistant coaches, the head coach, to make gigantic trades or to suddenly become incredibly active in a free agent market during a flat-capped summer simply because the Wings miss the playoffs. Holland has never operated that way, and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the managerial "process" will change.

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Morning news: On ‘freebies,’ a ‘tragic number,’ Mantha’s home debut and Wild Wings

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Wings' players and coach told MLive's Ansar Khan that "freebies" doomed them against Tampa Bay...

"I thought we came out fine but we talked about not giving up any free chances and we gave up free chances for two goals, so you can't give up free goals like that," Blashill said. "They're going to create enough on their own. You can't end up giving those free type looks.

"They're a good team, so they do lots of things well and they can make plays out of nothing, but I thought on a couple of them (their quickness) didn't really have much to do with it, I thought it was more us not playing to the top of our game."

Said Howard: "They're a good team. You've got to give them credit," Howard said. "They came out and they're flying from the start. When you give them opportunities they're going to bury them."

2. Khan also posted a clip of Blashill's post-game remarks:

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Bolts-Wings post-game videos in the morning

The Red Wings posted post-game comment videos from last night's 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay after I went to bed at 2 AM, so here they are now:

Here's Justin Abdelkader...

Jimmy Howard...

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Lightning wrap-up, take 4—game-changer

The Red Wings' 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was both embarrassing and costly.

Despite help from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Philadelphia Flyers passed the Wings in the standings with their point-total-tying 3-2 shootout loss, and while the Wings have 34 Regulation-or-OT Wins to Philadelphia's 33, the Flyers still have a game in hand.

Now the Red Wings face their final 9 games of the regular season needing to win somewhere between 6 and 7 of them--while getting a little help from the Flyers' opponents, and most certainly defeating the Flyers when the teams meet on April 6th.

For Tampa Bay, the win afforded the Bolts a 6-point cushion on the Wings, and more or less assured that the Lightning will be battling for an Atlantic Division playoff spot instead of possibly tangling for a Wild Card position, so the win was equally essential...

But the way the Bolts puffed out their chests might rub you the wrong way.

The Lightning were very proud of their ability to take care of the Wings in the first game back from a long road trip, as they told the Tampa Tribune's Erik Erlendsson:

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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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