The Malik Report
The question that bears asking once you read this article by the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa is a simple one: do you agree with Henrik Zetterberg?
An accomplished, long-tenured coach is out; a new, young one is in.
Two big free agents were signed, after droughts in a few previous summers of free agency. Young players are getting better, and ample depth at some positions suggests roster moves may come.Two goaltenders are vying for playing time, amid fond hope fine play in net will result.
“It is an interesting year, for sure,” said Zetterberg, who is starting a fourth season as captain of the Wings and 13th on the team. “It is exciting, and we are looking forward to it. The future looks good.”
The coaching change is a significant difference, even though there are some similarities between Jeff Blashill and Mike Babcock.
“I have been here for 12 years, and I had one coach for 10,” Zetterberg said. “But change can be a good thing, and I think this is. It’s a new era, here, and a new coach in town. Change can be refreshing and bring new energy. We just need to focus on what we can do, here, now.”
Krupa continues at extended length, discussing the leadership group with Zetterberg and Blashill, addressing player personnel issues and revealing that Zetterberg "hit a wall" last January...
In direct prospect news:
In Sweden's SHL, Axel Holmstrom played 14:58, won 77% of his faceoffs and finished at -1 in Skelleftea AIK's 3-2 loss to Orebo;
In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov scored a goal on 5 shots and went 9-for-16 on faceoffs in the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles' 7-3 win over Moncton;
And in the OHL, Vili Saarijarvi registered an assist and finished at +1 in the Flint Firebirds' 4-2 loss to Owen Sound.
The Red Wings played a Pittsburgh Penguins team that was icing its "NHL roster" while playing its 3rd game in 3 nights on Wednesday, and the game was no contest: Detroit defeated Pittsburgh 7-2, with Andreas Athanasiou registering 2 goals and an assist, Dylan Larkin registering a goal and an assist, Anthony Mantha registering a goal and two assists, Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith registering a goal and an assist, and the Wings going +29 as a team.
At the other end, the Wings continue to give up a lot of shots, but Petr Mrazek was strong and stout, stopping 36 of 38 shots, and the Wings' goal-scorers were efficient, scoring 7 times on 22 shots against Jeff Zatkoff.
The Wings will fly home to Detroit, practice on Thursday, and wrap up the preseason with games against Toronto on Friday (7:30 PM on FSD) and in Toronto on Saturday (7 PM on the NHL Network, for those of you who receive it). Given this evening's performances by Athanasiou, Mantha and Larkin, the Wings' decisions regarding its fourth line have become that much harder, and that's a good thing.
The Detroit Red Wings battle the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 PM EDT tonight, with the game airing "in the local Pittsburgh market" on http://PittsburghPenguins.com and airing with Ken Kal commentary on http://DetroitRedWings.com.
As noted in the morning skate post, Teemu Pulkkinen (upper-body), Darren Helm (shoulder/concussion) and Mike Green (groin) are still out, and as noted in the game-day post, the Wings are pretty bullish on Dylan Larkin's potential.
Here's an open post to suit your needs.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Larkin, the 15th overall pick in 2014, and Mantha, the 20th overall pick in 2013, are the best answers within the organization as to whom will take over for Datsyuk and Zetterberg, as they did a decade ago from Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan. That Larkin was down to play on a top-two line meant head coach Jeff Blashill is keen to see how Larkin, who just turned 19, handles himself against NHL vets.
“We want to test him and continue to see where his game is at,” Blashill said. “It is one thing to be considered a good prospect, it is another to prove that you are NHL ready. There are things he has got to get better at, and that is just being a young player. He is extremely competitive, he wants to improve, and I think he will improve at the things he needs to. I like him a lot as a player and I love the intangible, the character part of it — I think that is ultimately going to drive him to NHL. When, I don’t know.”
Larkin has impressed with his ability to execute at high speeds.
“He looks like he has been playing here for a couple of years,” Zetterberg said, “but obviously there are going to be steps for him. As a young player when you come in and play regularly with men, it is a different level of hockey, traveling, the focus you have to put in, the mental aspect, too. Everyone goes through it, I just think he has a little head start on others.”
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
No question, there’s a long list of young players who likely will make the Red Wings roster at some point, if not right out of this training camp.
Forwards Andreas Athanasiou (age 21), Tyler Bertuzzi (20), Dylan Larkin (19), Anthony Mantha (21) and Tomas Nosek (23), defensemen Xavier Ouellet (22), Alexey Marchenko (23), and Ryan Sproul (22) and goalie Jake Paterson (21) are all young players who’ve stood out at certain points duing September.
“Most of them, they’re coming into some NHL building for the first time and they’re wide-eyed and checking everything out,” Howard said of the prospects. “We (veterans) tend to forget as we get older in our careers and you see the excitement in their eyes and it brings some of the youth in you.”
The skill level and energy of the young players have ramped the competitiveness of intrasquad scrimmages and practices.
“You see it in the game and practices,” Henrik Zetterberg said of the talent level. “It’s nice to see we have guys coming up every year. The last couple of years it was (Gustav) Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar, (Riley) Sheahan, (Luke) Glendening, among others and now the second wave is coming up.
The Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins completed their morning skates ahead of tonight's game (7 PM on DetroitRedWings.com audio, PittsburghPenguins.com "local" stream), and MLive's Ansar Khan reports that the Wings will ice the following lineup...
Meanwhile, in Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner explains why enforcer Triston Grant hasn't taken to the ice with his former team:
Grant, 31, played two seasons with the Griffins – including the Calder Cup Trophy season of 2013 – before spending last season in Milwaukee. He came back and signed a one-year contract July 6, but about a week later suffered an upper-body injury in an off-the-ice incident.
That has him in a neck brace and watching the Griffins practices. Grant, who did not want to discuss specifics of the injury, hopes to resume skating in about three weeks.
"I'm hoping late November, early December," he said. "I really expect to hope to miss no more than 20 games or so - not the best situation but injuries are part of the game."
The hard-working 6-foot-1, 221-pound left wing was a fan favorite during his two seasons with the Griffins when he combined for 10 goals and 299 penalty minutes.
Last season in Milwaukee he enjoyed his most productive scoring output with 13 goals and 26 points, along with 123 penalty minutes, in 73 games.
Of note from ESPN today:
In an Insider-only column, ESPN's Craig Custance ranked NHL goalies into tiers based on general managers' comments, and Jimmy Howard brings up the rear in the 2nd tier:
20. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings (2.86 average rating)
Last year: No. 14 (2.33 average rating)
AAV: $5.29 million
Howard dropped out of the middle of the pack, but remains in the second tier despite losing his starting job down the stretch and in the playoffs to Petr Mrazek.
If there was a comment that captured the consensus on Howard, it’s this one from a GM: “I like him better than a lot of people.”
Updated 9x at 12:23 PM: The Red Wings take on the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (7 PM EDT; audio on DetroitRedWings.com), and the Penguins have good news on the video front...
As well as tonight's tentative lineups:
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.