The Malik Report
From an Insider-only entry by ESPN's Craig Custance, among his "10 takeaways":
6. Big area of concern for Detroit: The Red Wings worked their way into a playoff position during the weekend with big wins against the Wild and Maple Leafs, but you can’t help but notice the red minus-12 in goal differential next to Detroit in the standings. Last season, the Ducks had the lowest goal differential among playoff teams, at plus-10. The Kings missed the playoffs at plus-15.
The Red Wings have been overly reliant on winning one-goal games, and that goal differential suggests their hold on a playoff spot is tenuous at best.
Detroit plays both Philadelphia (at home) and Boston (on the road) this week in games that will determine whether or not the playoff streak survives.
Even with the Saturday win, one NHL scout thinks Detroit needs to find another gear against the Bruins and Flyers that the Red Wings didn’t show against the Maple Leafs.
“They won’t beat either if they play the same as [Saturday],” the scout said.
Custance continues, and if I may use a technical term, I'd say, "No s***, Sherlock" to the scout. The Wings will have to play much better than they did against Toronto--where they arguably "played down to the level of their competition"--to take out the Flyers and/or Bruins this week.
What scares me more than anything, more than the Flyers' seemingly unbeatable status and more than the fact that the Wings haven't won in Boston since Jonas Gustavsson relieved Jimmy Howard in the 2014 playoffs, is the back-to-back aspect of Wednesday and Thursday's games.
The Wings just won their first set of back-to-backs since November on Friday and Saturday, and beating both the Flyers and Bruins seems highly improbable given how incredibly inconsistent the Red Wings have played this season.
With the Wings dialed into a 3-games-in-4-nights situation to wrap up the regular season, Detroit's players and coaches are going to have to find levels of competitiveness, attention to detail, desire, poise and execution that they haven't displayed from games 1-79 to win games 80, 81 and 82.
I sure as hell hope they find those levels and exceed them. Otherwise we'll be talking about my extensive coverage of the Wings at the World Championships.
Update: We get another, "No s***" to this from NHL.com's Dan Rosen:
Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with WJR's Frank Beckmann this morning, discussing the Wings' goaltending, the playoff push, the Wings' up-tick in power play and offensive production, the Datsyuk story--which Holland states will be addressed during exit interviews--and much more over the course of a 16-minute interview:
If you missed it, Holland also appeared on The Fan 590 prior to the Red Wings-Maple Leafs game on Saturday...
The Red Wings held an optional practice on Monday, which was more than understandable given that the Wings wrap up their regular season with 3 games played over the course of 4 nights.
After practice, Pavel Datsyuk addressed the media regarding the Elliotte Friedman report that Datsyuk may be going back to Russia for family reasons, and he went into "Neither Confirm Nor Deny" mode, stating that he's focusing on the final 3 games of the regular season, and telling the beat writers that one "never know what will happen."
WJBK Fox 2 posting a video of Datsyuk's comments to the media, as well as those of coach Jeff Blashill, and I'm not surprised at how evasive Datsyuk was given that he's so protective of family information (as he plainly states).
I found his comments to the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa about not finding his form some four-and-a-half months after returning from his ankle injury to be more concerning, but that's just me:
From the NHL's Department of Player Safety:
Here's the NHL's press release:
Updated with Datsyuk stuff at 12 PM: The Red Wings hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena for an 11 AM practice, per the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa...
But MLive's Ansar Khan reported that it was an optional skate--which isn't a bad thing given that the Wings wrap up their regular season with 3 games in 4 nights...
Optional practice today for #RedWings. About a dozen skaters and both goalies on the ice.
As did DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness discusses the Wings' status as "in control of their playoff fate"...
“We knew that we had it in our own hands for the last week, so if we took care of business and win games we’d be in, just because we’re playing teams that are battling for those spots,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “But until we play them we have to win games, so those games matter. We’ve done that now and now we just had a nice day off (Sunday) and regroup on Monday.”
The two wins, both 3-2 decision over Minnesota and Toronto, also keeps the Wings away from having to worry about securing the final wild card spot, which is currently held on by Philadelphia.
The Flyers, who played Pittsburgh on Sunday, were tied with Detroit with 91 points but have one game in hand heading into the final week of the regular season.
“We knew we had to win games, whether Philly won or didn’t win we’ve got to win hockey games,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “We wanted to come into this weekend and win two to put ourselves into position where next Wednesday’s game matters and next Wednesday’s game is going to matter regardless of what Philly does. So let’s get ready to play Wednesday.”
The Wings and Bruins each have three games left in the regular season, one of which is at Boston on Thursday between the teams after Detroit hosts Philadelphia on Wednesday.
2. MLive's Brendan Savage notes that the Wings have played in a staggering 46 one-goal games this season:
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."
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.