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The Malik Report

Evening news: A Wings-Leafs preview; on balanced scoring, Tomas Tatar’s takes and LCA construction

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. Here is the Maple Leafs' preview video ahead of tonight's game between Detroit and Toronto in Hamilton, ON (7 PM EDT on the NHL Network U.S./Sportsnet/97.1 FM). This is barely Red Wings-related:

2. Drew Miller was addressing the preseason success of the Miller-Glendening-Ott line while saying the following to DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji, but it certainly applies to the team as a whole:

"Preseason is different but the success we've had we want to transition it to the regular season," Miller said. "That's something in the past that we haven't put up the points that we expect out of ourselves. The team needs a little bit more secondary scoring from the third and fourth lines. That's something we definitely want to continue doing. I think it's just a mindset, knowing we can be strong defensively, play our role and also put up some points as well."

Miller has heard some of the pundits' predictions that the Wings' 25-year playoff run will end this season.

"I'm excited for the year to start and I know a lot of people don't have our team being one of the top teams in the league," Miller said. "But I think the guys in the locker room, we all believe in each other and we're going to surprise some critics out there this year."

3. Tomas Tatar held court outside the Wings' locker room at the University Liggett School today, addressing his strong World Cup performance and his hopes that it will translate into a good regular season in conversations with MLive's Ansar Khan...

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Your Detroit Red Wings Viewing Party Schedule For The Season

DETROIT –The Detroit Red Wings are proud to announce another year of Red Wings Official Viewing Parties for the 2016-17 season. Red Wings fans will have the opportunity to connect and cheer on the team with their peers, meet Red Wings Alumni and win great prizes during the season at a variety of locations throughout Michigan.  

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USA Today’s Allen discusses his prediction that the Wings will miss the playoffs

USA Today's Kevin Allen answered a slate of questions regarding his 2016-17 NHL point predictions, including his suggestion that the Red Wings won't make the playoff cut:

5. Questions: You predict the Red Wings missing the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Do you expect this to be a transitional phase for them? Back next year?

You can find fans in Detroit who believe it might be a blessing in disguise if the Red Wings miss the playoffs, land an early first-round pick and then commit to their younger players.

Coach Jeff Blashill is hoping is that Petr Mrazek proves he’s a top 10 goalie in the league, and Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist play like they did two seasons ago and the team’s defense performs better than expected.

The Red Wings also need Dylan Larkin to begin to transition into a No. 1 center, and they need one of the young forwards to step up.

If all of that happens, I might be wrong about the Red Wings. But I don’t believe I will be.

I happen to believe that the Red Wings will make the playoffs, but given the tide of pundits predicting the playoff streak's demise, I might as well be playing devil's advocate.

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Afternoon news: a not-so-bold prediction; Smith, ‘hinge player’; checking in with the Griffins

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. The CBC's Tim Wharnsby is making a "bold prediction" that the Wings will miss the playoffs this year, which is about as bold as it is rare (i.e. not at all):

Detroit will finally miss the playoffs: The Red Wings extended their remarkable run of consecutive post-season appearances to 25 when they squeaked into the playoffs in the final days of last season. This run likely will end this season.

Boston and Montreal missed the playoffs a year ago and have improved enough for a post-season return. Buffalo, Ottawa and the Carolina Hurricanes may not be ready for prime time yet, but are teams on the rise in the East.

Pavel Datsyuk is gone. Aging Red Wings Niklas Kronwall, 35, and Henrik Zetterberg, who will turn 36 on Sunday, are battling knee injuries. There is plenty of young talent in the organization, beginning with 24-year-old goalie Petr Mrazek and a nifty newcomer in centre Frans Nielsen. But this is a team in transition and the competition around the Red Wings is too good this season.

2. ESPN's Craig Custance calls Brendan Smith a "hinge player" for the Red Wings in an Insider-only entry:

Brendan Smith, D, Detroit Red Wings: Detroit needs more mobility on the back end, and getting bigger minutes out of Smith is one solution. He’ll be given an opportunity to take on a bigger role this season, and if that’s the case it would be the first time since his second season his ice time increased. He’s now had three consecutive seasons in which he’s gone down in ice time, which is not the trend you want as a 27-year old.

He’s always been a strong possession player, which endears him to the analytics community, but he’s also a candidate to make poor decisions at very inopportune times, which doesn’t endear him to coaches. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season, so there’s extra motivation to have a big season.

3. In Grand Rapids Griffins news, the Griffins moved their training camp to Western Michigan today, and MLive's Peter J. Wallner caught up with coach Todd Nelson ahead of tonight's exhibition game against the Chicago Wolves:

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Keeping an eye on ‘Reno’ and the Wings’ prospects

Take note of this tidbit from MLive's Ansar Khan:

Blashill said [Dan] Renouf will start the season in Grand Rapids once he's healthy, but he has made a good impression.

"He's somebody who has put his name out there to say I should be a guy who should be a call-up guy, I should be a guy who looks like he can play in the NHL," Blashill said. "It might be all year where he doesn't get it, it might be two years, I don't know. But he made a good impression in camp because he skates well, he's smart, he's rangy with his stick and he's got pretty good poise. I thought in the Chicago game, him and (Danny DeKeyser) were our two best defensemen because he wasn't afraid of the moment at all and that showed me lots. He showed some toughness. Now that's a real small sample size, so let's keep watching."

Blashill spoke with the press regarding the Wings' prospects...

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Wings to start the season with 8 defensemen, including injured Kronwall

From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

The Red Wings begin the regular season Thursday in Tampa Bay, but Niklas Kronwall probably won’t be ready. Kronwall has been limited because of left knee pain.

Kronwall removed himself from Sweden’s World Cup of Hockey roster, hasn’t played in any exhibition games, and has only recently begun some light skating and practicing.

“There’s a chance he may not start the year, without question,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’ll practice a little bit today, but there’s a chance he might not be ready.”

Kronwall, 35, missed about a month last season when he had arthroscopic surgery and it was hoped rest and rehabilitation would help. But the discomfort has continued, and Kronwall has said during training camp he’ll have to learn to manage the pain while playing.

With Kronwall likely unavailable to start the season, the Red Wings are likely to keep eight defenseman on the roster (including Kronwall).

And the Free Press's George Sipple:

Blashill is giving several young defensemen a chance tonight, when the Wings visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for an exhibition at 7 p.m. in Hamilton, Ontario. The practice pairs this morning were: Brian Lashoff with Ryan Sproul, Joe Hicketts with Robbie Russo and Nathan Paetsch with Nick Jensen.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Blashill said. “In Chicago was one opportunity that we weren’t good enough. A lot of the young guys weren’t good enough. I thought, against Pittsburgh, they played better, so this gives them another chance tonight to show us what they’ve got.”

When asked about guys like Sproul, Jensen and Xavier Ouellet fighting to make the roster, Blashill said Lashoff, Russo and Dan Renouf should be included in the conversation, too.

“We’ve got a decision to make Saturday night,” Blashill said. “We’ve got two more games to watch.”

Asked who had separated themselves, Blashill said: “I’ll keep that to myself.”

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Fight Continues For A Roster Spot In Detroit

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Among forwards playing tonight who are battling for a roster spot, right wing Martin Frk has two goals and an assist in four games. The club's top pick in 2012 no longer is waiver-exempt, so he'll either start the season on the roster or be exposed on waivers Sunday or Monday.

Among defensemen playing tonight, Ryan Sproul has three assists in four games. He and Xavier Ouellet also must pass through waivers to be sent back to the Grand Rapids Griffins. They're competing for the seventh spot on defense, along with Nick Jensen, another player who is waiver-eligible.

Blashill also included Brian Lashoff (who has cleared waivers in the past), Robbie Russo and Dan Renouf among the group competing for a spot on the blue line. Russo and Renouf (out a week or so with an upper-body injury) are waiver-exempt.

Blashill said they might start the season with eight defensemen on their roster. That would include Niklas Kronwall (knee), who is practicing with the team but might not be ready for the opener Thursday in Tampa Bay.

more including Wings lineup for tonight....

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Wings/Leafs Tonight In Hamitlon

No TV from the Detroit side and Ken Kal tweeted this morning stating the radio call will be on 97.1 FM with the puck drop just after 7:00pm ET [edit: the game will also be on Sportsnet 360 and the NHL Network U.S. /end edit]


Lineup for the Leafs tonight is below...

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A bit more about Frans Nielsen

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness highlights some of the comments made after Thursday's practice by Wings forward Frans Nielsen...

Don’t be telling Frans Nielsen is here to fill the void left by Pavel Datsyuk.

“I don’t want to … I don’t think I should change my game,” Nielsen said Thursday when asked if he’s here to make up for the loss of Datsyuk. “I want to come in and be the same guy I was in New York. There’s a reason they wanted me here. That’s what they saw there. I don’t want to change, I want to be a solid, 200-foot player, good defensively and try to help out all over the ice, if it’s PK, power play, 5-on-5, whatever it is.

“I’ve played a mix of everything there,” continued Nielsen, who signed a six-year deal on July 1 for $31.5 million. “I don’t know if it’s going to be the same here but at least that’s the kind of player I am and hopefully they saw that.”

Pleiness continues, and if you missed them in the practice post, the Wings posted videos of Nielsen and coach Jeff Blashill speaking with the media today:

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Prospect news: Injuries persist; Ehn earns major ice time; Hronek scores first OHL goal

Of prospect-related note:

In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin remains absent from Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's lineup. Lokomotiv lost 3-2 in a shootout to Dynamo Riga;

In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo played 9:58 in TPS Turku's 5-2 win over SaiPa;

In the SHL, Axel Holmstrom's still rehabbing his torn ACL, so Skelleftea AIK lost 2-1 to Djurgardens IF without Holmstrom's services;

Christoffer Ehn played 15:49 in the Frolunda Indians' 3-1 win over Vaxjo;

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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.


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