The Malik Report
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Let's be honest. The Detroit Red Wings are cooked. They are tied for 14th in the Eastern Conference and have an ugly minus-26 goal differential. But over a 30-hour period this weekend, they reminded me of the glory of the winged wheel as they knocked off the NHL's best team, the Washington Capitals, in a shootout on Saturday afternoon and then completed their David-versus-Goliath weekend by whipping the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road 5-2, ending a nine-game points streak by the Penguins.Goalie Petr Mrazek was terrific in both games.
The math says the Wings have very little chance of extending their magnificent playoff streak -- they have 23 games remaining and seven teams to climbs over -- but if anything, the weekend's stellar work against top-notch competition was a reminder that maybe the future isn't so far away from this storied club.
Craig Custande and Joe McDonald with their weekend observations...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Steve Ott's best game as a Detroit Red Wing came against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Ott had a goal and an assist in Sunday's 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.
Ott played a key role on the penalty kill, which went 4-for-4, including two big kills in the third period. He provided a physical presence, as he usually does, with a game-high six hits. He won 3-of-4 faceoffs.
You could say he had a weekend Gordie Howe Hat Trick, after his fight with Brooks Orpik during the third period of Saturday's 3-2 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals at Joe Louis Arena. Ott took a beating in that bout, but he showed once again his willingness to step up for teammates.
"He was excellent on the weekend," coach Jeff Blashill said. "Even when he's not playing he brings tons. He has a way as a player to help with a veteran group to hold people accountable. I thought his physicality on the weekend was great. I thought his defensive play and his play on the PK was great. I thought he did an excellent job just his five-on-five play and then he's just got a great way about him in the locker room. He's a great asset to our hockey team."
In the prospect department:
In the ECHL, Dane Walters had a goal and 2 assists, Mike Borkowski had a goal and an assist and Jeff Lerg stopped 25 shots as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Missouri Mavericks 4-1. The Walleye's website posted a recap:
The Detroit Red Wings' 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins may or may not have anything to do with an incredibly unlikely playoff run, but it certainly felt good for Red Wings fans to see Detroit beat both Washington and Pittsburgh this weekend, and the way in which the Wings snapped a 5-game winless streak did wonders for the mood in Detroit's locker room.
I don't know if the Wings are going to be able to make a dramatic, nearly vertical uphill playoff push--I doubt it, honestly--but at this point, as a fan as much as anything, I'm hoping that they finish the season playing their best, and I'm hoping that the team gives the younger players winning lessons to learn from as the next generation prepares to take over next season (Lordy, let that be the plan...).
Whatever happens, especially at the deadline (see: selling), I hope that the team stays positive, win, lose or learn (hopefully lots of learning, no matter what), and as long as the Wings try their best, this non-"tanking is best" fan will be satisfied with whatever the outcome is for a team most probably headed to the World Championships after the regular season is over.
Hope in the room is--at its heart, and perhaps most importantly--a relief for a weary fan base right now, and while it may be "false hope," at this point, having anything to believe in, even some pride in trying to finish out the season strong.
Just as fittingly, the Wings' win on Sunday gave Pittsburgh fits. It certainly pissed off the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook, who lamented the Penguins' loss to the "Lowly Wings"...
The Detroit Red Wings attempted to take out a Pittsburgh Penguins team with a 24-3-3 home record this season, with Detroit aiming for an unlikely win on a day in which Sidney Crosby would be honored for reaching 1,000 points.
The Wings won 5-2, defeating the Penguins and Capitals on back-to-back outings, and it felt really good to see the Wings be able to go toe-to-toe with the league's best, even if the wins are inconsequential over the long haul.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill praised the Wings' best player this season, Henrik Zetterberg, during his pre-game press conference, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
Last season, it sure looked like age and many years on the ice rink had caught up with Henrik Zetterberg. His production was down (last season’s 50 points was a drop of 16 from the previous season), and at age 36, Zetterberg wasn’t getting any younger.
Coach Jeff Blashill was prepared to take action, reducing Zetterberg’s ice time and workload.
“I was very prepared to diminish ice time if his play had diminished,” said Blashill before Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh. “But he’s demanded that I play him more and that’s just the way it’s been.”
Zetterberg has demanded that time while being arguably the Red Wings’ best player this season. He entered Sunday’s game with a team-leading 30 assists and 43 points (13 goals).
“He’s been our best player, night in and night out,” Blashill said. “There’s no question about it. When you talk about a 200-foot game, and playing winning hockey, there’s no doubt about it. I came into the year, I was going to watch and see if his play had diminished and his ice time would diminish. But his play has been the opposite. As we’ve gone through the season, he’s gotten more and more ice time. It just speaks to the level of player he is.”
Red Wings-Penguins game-day updates: Green out, Zetterberg setting an example, Murray starts for Pit
Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. On Twitter, from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
Blashill says no Mike Green (ill) again today here in Pittsburgh
And the Free Press's Helene St. James...
Jeff Blashill: ROW (tiebreaker) shouldn't include OT any more with 3-on-3. 3-on-3 just as much of crapshoot. No more hockey than shootouts.
2. St. James filed a morning notebook...
Wings/Penguins is below too: The Red Wings kicked off a jam-packed weekend in fine fashion on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout, and the Red Wings will head to Pittsburgh to battle the Penguins on Sunday (3 PM EST on NBC/97.1 FM).
The Wings admittedly got a bit of a jump on the Capitals as Washington was coming out of its "bye week," and in a rather strange turn of events, Detroit continued its dominance in shootouts (7-and-0) against a Capitals team that can't buy a shootout win, as the Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan noted:
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, Matt Lorito scored 2 goals, Connor Allen had 3 assists and Eddie Pasquale pitched an 18-save shutout as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the San Antonio Rampage 6-0. The Griffins' website posted a recap:
Two items of Red Wings-related note piqued my interest this evening:
1. The Oakland Press's Pat Caputo suggests that the Red Wings' inconsistent goaltending is its biggest problem, and as a result, he wants to see more consistency from Petr Mrazek:
Just think of what impact – good and bad - Mrazek has had on the Red Wings during his relatively short career.
In 2015, he nearly led the clearly out-manned Red Wings to an upset of Tampa Bay in the opening round of the playoffs (Detroit lost in Game 7). Last season, through the early portion of February, the Red Wings were in solid position. It was mostly because Mrazek played extra extraordinarily well, emerging as a top candidate for the Vezina Trophy. However, he faltered as quickly as he rose.
His performance Saturday was a classic example. Mrazek played brilliantly for 55 minutes. He was the reason the Red Wings held a 2-1 lead over one of the NHL’s best teams, the Washington Capitals. Then he allowed a fat rebound on a relatively soft shot by T.J. Oshie - and it was tapped in by Daniel Winnik for the tying goal.
And the Red Wings still only have 13 regulation wins this season. But then Mrazek made up for it with brilliant play in overtime and the shootout, ultimately stoning the world’s greatest goal scorer, Alexander Overchkin, to secure a rare, for the Red Wings, two points.
Caputo continues, offering the following before wondering aloud whether Mrazek has the chops to become a Carey Price-level goaltender...
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.