The Malik Report
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Here are five things to watch this week:
Big game against Flyers
Wednesday's home finale (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network exclusive) will be the Red Wings' biggest regular season game since 2013, when they needed to win their final four games to clinch a playoff berth. At least it will be until the next night.
The Flyers are 13-4-2 since Feb. 25, including a 4-3 win at home against the Red Wings on March 15, when they outshot Detroit 23-3 in the first period.
The Flyers are 9-3-0 in their past 12 against the Red Wings and have won three of their past six games in Detroit, including a 2-1 shootout victory on Jan. 17. Before that, the Red Wings had gone 15-0-2 (W-L-T) in their previous 17 at home vs. Philly, including the 1997 Stanley Cup finals. But that's all ancient history that will mean nothing on Wednesday.
Datsyuk's final home appearance?
Could Wednesday be Pavel Datsyuk's last game at Joe Louis Arena? It's possible, if the Red Wings miss the playoffs.
CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported that Datsyuk might return to Russia after the season due to family reasons, something that his agent, Dan Milstein, would not confirm or deny.
Datsyuk-to-Russia rumors ran rampant in 2013, before he signed a three-year extension that has one year remaining....
Of disparate Red Wings-related note this evening:
Of prospect-related note:
In playoff action, in the SHL, Axel Holmstrom scored a goal on 2 shots, finished at +1 and won 75% of his faceoffs in 13:05 of ice time as Skelleftea AIK lost 3-2 to the Vaxjo Lakers in overtime. Holmstrom scored the 1-1 goal (click for highlights) in the SHL semifinal, which Skelleftea trails 1-0;
In the WHL, the Joe Hicketts-less Victoria Royals advanced to the second round via a 6-2 win over the Spokane Chiefs. Victoria won the series in 6 games, with the final 5 played without Hicketts, who suffered a mysterious injury in Game 1.
In regular-season action, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins' got 2 goals and an assist from Zach Nastasiuk, 2 assists from Brian Lashoff and a 30-save performance from Tom McCollum in Grand Rapids' 5-2 win over the Rochester Americans.
The win assures Grand Rapids a spot in the playoffs, as the Griffins website's recap notes:
This isn't Red Wings-related news, but it's big State of Michigan-related hockey news, from MLive's Justin P. Hicks:
Red Berenson expected the 2015-16 hockey campaign to be his last behind the Michigan bench.
But after a successful and "inspiring" 32nd season as the Wolverines head coach, the 76-year-old Berenson has decided to return for another year. He announced his decision Sunday afternoon at the team's postseason banquet.
"I'm excited about the direction of the program and the challenge of working with our student-athletes to improve on a daily basis and achieve our goal of winning championships," Berenson said to MGoBlue. "This season has been inspiring for our team, our staff and the fans. Our success has been the motivation to return to help the program take another step forward. I feel fortunate to be at Michigan and appreciate the support from our new athletic director."
Red Wings fans may experience feelings of queasiness while rooting for the Chicago Blachawks to defeat the Boston Bruins today (12:30 PM EDT on NBCSN), but sometimes you've gotta take one for the team, and today is a day where the enemy of Detroit's main playoff foe can be a...friend?
Anyway, this morning finds two tailings from last night's 3-2 win over Toronto:
First, AWood40 posted a clip of annotated highlights narrated by Bob Cole. The 2:33 mark is where Luke Glendening gets cross-checked in the neck by Nazem Kadri:
And MLive's Brendan Savage duly noted that the Red Wings' main focus after last night's win wasn't, "Hooray, we beat Toronto!" but instead, "Now we need to beat the Flyers on Wednesday," because
As Savage points out, that's easier said than done as the Wings have lost both games against the Flyers, but if the Wings "win out" the remainder of their schedule with Regulation-or-Overtime Wins, Boston can't catch Detroit.
The B's-Hawks game represents Boston's "game in hand," and they also play the Hurricanes on Tuesday and the Senators on Saturday.
Anyway, "Beat Philly" it is!
Brad Richards sits down with Scott Oake to talk about his model career, future plans, family memories and playing outdoors.
The Red Wings' 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night was far too close for comfort, but as we've all learned by now, when you're mostly on the outside looking in at the playoff picture (though Detroit is "in 3rd place" in the Atlantic until today's Hawks-Bruins game), nothing is comfortable--like Nazem Kadri's cross-check to Luke Glendening's neck--and no win is easy.
With the Maple Leafs' press focused on tomorrow (the, "Leafs take out Wings playoff hopes" lede got tossed in the trash) and the Wings' press corps a little distracted by Elliotte Friedman's Datsyuk rumor, it isn't necessarily that easy to get a handle on Saturday's game, but I tried.
Our friends in Toronto are already looking forward to brighter tomorrows, as the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan noted:
It's late on a Saturday night and I've taken some Tylenol Cold for my damn sinus infection, but this is not the way I thought Saturday night would turn. The Hockey News's Ken Campbell reacted to Elliotte Friedman's report that Pavel Datsyuk may return to Russia a year early with...a theory (via RedWingsFeed):
If Pavel Datsyuk were to go back home to play in the KHL next season and turn his back on the last year of his contract with the Detroit Red Wings, it would leave an enormous leadership and talent void on the roster. But it might not be the end of the world for them.
In fact, if things work out they way they potentially could, it could be a boon for the Red Wings. If Datsyuk were to let the Red Wings know of his intentions early enough, it would open up some valuable cap space and allow them to go after the biggest free agent in the pool, Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announced Saturday that Stamkos has a blood clot and faces a recovery period of one-to-three months, meaning there is a chance the pending unrestricted free agent has played his last game for the Lightning. It is expected, however, that Stamkos will make a full recovery.
Campbell continues, pointing out that if the Flyers can legally trade Chris Pronger's cap hit to the Coyotes, the Wings could get rid of Datsyuk's $7.5 million cap hit, and he adds this:
It’s imperative from the Red Wings perspective that Datsyuk informs them of his decision by July 1. If he stays and the Red Wings have him for another season, don’t be surprised if Red Wings GM Ken Holland extends him for one more season in 2017-18 at the same $7.5 million cap figure. The difference this time is that if Datsyuk decides not to come back, the Red Wings will not be on the hook for the cap hit because it’s only a one-year deal.
I don't buy the "Stamkos to Detroit' rumors, either, but stranger things have happened in this league.
For what it's worth, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan posted this email from Datsyuk's agent:
“Pavel is concentrating on helping his team to make the playoffs and winning another Stanley Cup for the Detroit Red Wings,” Milstein said in an e-mail when reached by The Detroit News. “Pavel also has one more year left on his NHL contract. We will sit down with Ken Holland at the conclusion of the season for our annual year-end meeting.”
Of prospect-related note:
In playoff action, in the SHL, Christoffer Ehn played 6:50 in the Frolunda Indians' 1-0 win over Lulea, giving Frolunda a 1-0 lead in the SHL semifinal;
And in regular-season play:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins had a rough night in Toronto. The Griffins got 2 goals from Andy Miele, but they were out-gunned by the Marlies, losing 6-3. The Griffins' website posted a recap:
The Red Wings attempted to both keep their flickering playoff hopes alive and snap an 0-8-and-2 streak in back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday evening.
Detroit won a squeaker of squeakers on Saturday evening, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on goals by Richards, Green and Quincey, and the Wings won because Jimmy Howard was nothing less than stellar in stopping 32 of 34 shots--including 11 of 12 in the 3rd period--as Detroit was out-shot 26-14 over the final two periods.
It was terrifyingly close, but the Wings pulled off a season-saver.
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.