The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings begin perhaps the trickiest portion of their grinding January schedule by kicking off a back-to-back slate of games against banged-up teams in the Buffalo Sabres tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/MSG B—and if you have Time-Warner Cable in Buffalo, I’m sorry /WXYT) and in Dallas against the Stars tomorrow (8:30 PM EST, FSD/FS Southwest/WXYT) before heading to Phoenix for another grudge match against the Coyotes on Thursday and returning home to tangle with Columbus on Saturday.
Tonight’s challenge for the Red Wings involves both not letting up against an injury-plagued non-playoff team in the Sabres and attempting to establish a team record via a 15th straight win at Joe Louis Arena. To some extent, the Sabres, who sit in twelfth place in the Eastern Conference, have lost seven of their past ten games and have lost 8 straight on the road, represent the perfect opponent. The Sabres dropped a 4-2 decision to the Islanders on Saturday, and a team which is already playing without Christian Ehrhoff, Colin Stuart and Tyler Ennis suffered a few more blows on Long Island, as the Buffalo News’s John Vogl noted:
Citizen’s Ken Warren suggests that the NHL shouldn’t have allowed Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne to have skipped the All-Star game, arguing that both players are guilty of dereliction of duties which both players must fulfill:
They are two of the very best hockey players who ever played at their positions. They’ve done wonders in making the NHL a truly international league. If they ever retire, they’ll quickly find a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
All that aside, though, why has the NHL allowed them to become bigger than the game? Or, more precisely, bigger than the All-Star Game?
In case you somehow missed it, Lidstrom and Selanne won’t be coming to Ottawa for All-Star Game festivities in just over a week.
Updated 2x at 8:31 PM: The Detroit Red Wings are facing perhaps the nastiest twist in their play-every-other-day-from-New Year’s Eve Eve-on schedule tomorrow: after hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night (7:30 PM EST/FSD/MSG Plus unless you have Time-Warner Cable in New York/WXYT), they head to Dallas to play the Stars on Tuesday, head to Phoenix for a Thursday night match-up, and then come back to the Joe for a Saturday game against the Blue Jackets (their pre-ASG break schedule ends with a home game against St. Louis on Monday the 23rd and a final tilt in Montreal on Wednesday the 25th; it’s highly likely that Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard will head to Ottawa from there).
So I wasn’t exactly expecting to hear that the Wings had practiced on the only “off-day” between a three-games-in-four-nights slate, especially as the team’s coming off a 3-2 overtime victory over Chicago on Saturday night, and very, very rarely practices on Sundays. The Red Wings’ Twitter account, however, reports that the Wings did indeed practice today, and it wasn’t optional for a reason:
Today’s Season Ticket Holder practice is underway at the Joe. http://twitpic.com/87nagd
We got into something of a philosophical discussion here on TMR after the Red Wings’ slightly sloppy 3-2 overtime win over Chicago on Saturday afternoon, to the tune of, “Is it about the journey or the destination?”
As the Wings are in the middle of a stretch in which they’re playing every other day for a full month (from December 30th to January 25th, a span of 27 days, the Wings will have played 14 games), one could very well argue that the “how” the Wings won on Saturday—in overtime, because the Wings out-shot Chicago 17-6 in the first period and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but slowly let up on the gas, let the Hawks off the mat and eventually allowed them to salvage a point via a Jonathan Toews game with 52 seconds remaining in regulation (during a period where the Wings were out-shot 16-5), requiring a fast and furious overtime period and a Todd Bertuzzi goal with 49 seconds left to avoid what would have been the Wings’ second shootout in two games—didn’t necessarily matter, because winning games by any means necessary is “all that matters” right now.
To some extent, the Wings played the same damn frustrating game they’ve been playing since the middle of December—if they don’t give up a 2-goal lead in a “depressive” start, they come out with an equally “manic” first-period flourish which never seems to result in the number of goals necessary to do anything less than find themselves scrambling in the 3rd period after all but giving the game away.
That was certainly the case on Saturday, as the Wings out-shot Chicago 21-4 in the 1st period, but were out-shot 23-22 the rest of the way—a 9-to-zero overtime shot advantage included.
Updated at 11:56 AM: When the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks face off today (12:30 PM EST, NBC Sports/streamed on NBCSports.com and NHL.com/TSN2/WXYT—and watch out for Auto Show parking snags if you’re headed to the game), you’d think that the rhetoric from the Blackhawks press over the past week indicates that the Hawks (and the “one who got away”) will come out blaming the Wings for every injury up to and including Daniel Carcillo’s blown-out knee.
If you believe Comcast Sportsnet Chicago’s Chris Boden, the Hawks have a long list of gripes with the dirty, nasty Wings, which should be answered with nothing less than hacks, whacks and intent-to-injure revenge:
Finally, I’m wondering how the Hawks view the way Detroit’s injured them over the past handful of meetings, perhaps intensifying this rivalry a bit more. Since this will be the third meeting in 16 days, the most recent, and most costly injury they’ve caused, was to Patrick Sharp Sunday. Prior to that, some cheap shots in a preseason game sidelined Smith and Stalberg to start the season. And Patrick Kane told us before his wrist surgery over the summer that it was a slash by Todd Bertuzzi in last season’s next-to-last game that caused the injury.
I’m not sayin’...I’m just sayin’.
Updated 5x at 4:31 PM: The Detroit Red Wings held practice in anticipation of tomorrow’s matinee game against the Chicago Blackhawks (12:30 PM EST, NBC/TSN/WXYT), and it sounds like the Wings’ much-needed muscle against what the Blackhawks press insists is a team out for revenge on the Wings’ dastardly, injury-inflicting deeds may or may not play on Saturday. The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness reports that Todd Bertuzzi is iffy for Saturday with a groin injury, and Mike Commodore won’t play due to a sore foot/ankle after blocking a shot…against Chicago last weekend:
Todd Bertuzzi didn’t practice. He’s suffering from back/groin issues and his status for Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks will be a game-time decision.
“I’ve just got to see in the morning how it’s feeling,” Bertuzzi said. “I’m hoping to (play) I just needed some time to fix a few things. I’ll come here prepared to play and then see how it is in warm-ups.”
As the Chief already noted, our friends in Toronto are corroborating the massive Detroit press push suggesting that the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will hold a Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and if you don’t believe Pension Plan Puppets’ news, the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts (via RedWingsFeed) is also stating that the deal is done…
This slipped under the radar thanks to the sound and fury about the poll that said Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is overrated and the Mike Cammalleri trade, but it looks like the Leafs will play the Detroit Red Wings in next year’s NHL Winter Classic.
However, the game will not be held in Toronto but in Ann Arbor, Mich., where it is expected a world record for attendance at a hockey game will be set at Michigan Stadium. The stadium already holds the record, as 104,173 fans attended an outdoor game in 2010 between the University of Michigan and Michigan State. The plan is to configure the stadium capacity to 115,000 for the NHL’s outdoor game.
Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who is also chasing a Winter Classic for Toronto along with the NHL all-star game and the entry draft, said in an e-mail message the Leafs have not received any invitation to the Winter Classic – yet. But the word around the NHL is the league is committed to seeing the Leafs and Wings meet in next year’s outdoor game.
And ESPN’s Scott Burnside says that the NHL is giving the Red Wings’ owners an olive branch for not having the game at Comerica Park by holding a Great Lakes Invitational and possibly other events in Detroit
It’s just me and Mickey Redmond, it seems. I didn’t think that the Detroit Red Wings played particularly well in their 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes, though it’s hard to watch the entire shootout, or this goal in particular…
And feel the need to get particularly picky about a game in which the Wings shook off some heavy legs after a very shaky four-game road trip, found themselves firing shot after shot on a goalie and against a team that planned on denying Jimmy Howard his 100th win, Mike Babcock his 400th coaching win and the Red Wings two points amidst a January stretch in which the Wings are in the middle of playing 11 games in 19 nights, and need all the points they can get, no matter how sloppily they’re earned.
George’s note: We’re having a blog hiccup. It should be resolved shortly. Sorry for the inconvenience!
Updated with trade talk from Pierre LeBrun at 10:48 PM: The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes produced a lovely result in 100 wins for Jimmy Howard, 300 for coach Mike Babcock and a game that was, quite honestly, an incredibly spotty effort byt he Wings, who may have proven that you don’t need to go to the West Coast to play like your legs feel like lead and your brain just fuzzy enough to be sure that you can make the extra deke or pass back to a more open man instead of burying a puck and/or ensuring that you corral a rebound.
Don’t get me wrong, all the credit in the world can and should go to Coyotes goalie Mike Smith for a fantastic 40-save performance, but when the Red Wings are putting that much rubber on an opposing goalie, they’re not usually the ones rallying from two one-goal deficits, clutching their sticks too tightly on the power play (which still stinks), and, quite frankly, if the Wings had screened Smith more consistently or pounced on rebounds the way Ray Whitney, Radim Vrbata, Mikkel Boedeker and Shane Doan did on Jimmy Howard, this game would have taken 50 minutes to win, not 65-plus.
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.