The Malik Report
Now, one big win does not blot out the issues that have plagued the Wings for most of the season. First, they have been unable to get into a real groove when it's mattered, failing to win back-to-back games in nearly a month. The offense has been spotty at best, and Monday's outpouring of goals was the first time Detroit scored more than three times since March 22. On Monday, the Wings relied heavily on the heroics of netminder Jimmy Howard, who recently signed a six-year contract extension. Howard stopped all 34 Phoenix shots, including 12 in the first when the Coyotes outshot Detroit 12-4 but closed out the period down 2-0.
The Detroit Red Wings at least nudged a little closer to the Columbus Blue Jackets and kicked off a stretch of four crucial games (with three remaining, against LA on Wednesday, Nashville on Thursday and in Dallas on Saturday) on the right foot via a 4-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night, a game in which the Wings' power play, goaltending and positional and/or puck support allowed the Wings to secure their first home victory in SIX, "Coming home from a West Coast swing" tries.
I'm getting a little tired of doing the who-sits-where-with-which-games-remaining math, but NBC Sports' James O'Brien postulated statistical permutations as Monday's game was an NBC affair (be warned, Wednesday's game is NBC Sports Network-only in the U.S.):
You know the math and the, "Wings need to win out" blather, but I'm not sure if you or I are particularly familiar with the Red Wings team that won a first-game-home-from-the-West-Coast game for the first time in five tries, defeating Phoenix 4-0 and really manhandling the Coyotes while extinguishing their playoff hopes in every category save shots.
The Wings came out strong--with Johan Franzen deftly tipping a Damien Brunner shot on the power play, all of 2:37 in--and, despite the Coyotes' near-ridiculous 12-4 shot advantage and the Wings' baffling 9 giveaways during the first period, Jimmy Howard played like a wall, the Wings killed off two penalties, and Damien Brunner scored a power play goal of his own via a slick diagonal pass from Henrik Zetterberg to essentially close out the first period.
Winter Classic ticket packages are now on sale! Now Global Event Forum is giving fans the opportunity to witness history when the Red Wings host the Maple Leafs at The Big House.
Click here for more details on available packages, which include hotel accomodations, tickets to the Classic and Alumni Showdown, and more: http://www.globaleventforum.com/nhl/winter-classic
The prices (anywhere between $395 and $1,995 per ticket/package) are something I guess we'll have to get used to, and while the pricing "levels" aren't indicated, the website includes diagrams of Comerica Park and Michigan Stadium's seating. The redder the color, the better (and more expensive) the seat, or so it seems.
The Grand Rapids Griffins won't have to worry about the course of the Red Wings' last four regular season games, including tonight's tilt against Phoenix, because the Griffins clinched an AHL playoff spot over a week ago.
The Griffins will open their first playoff run in three years when they travel to Houston to kick off a best-of-five first round series against the Aeros on Friday, and the Griffins' Twitter account points us toward an article in which the Grand Rapids Business Journal's David Czurak reports that the Red Wings' AHL affiliate's excellent season--and its first under coach Jeff Blashill--has yielded huge gains in attendance and a very positive bottom line:
As noted in the game-day update thread, the Red Wings' playoff streak may be in jeopardy, but Fox Sports Arizona's Todd Walsh reports that some April traditions remain entrenched at Joe Louis Arena:
No news as to whether the visitors' locker room is being painted, but I'm sure other "inconveniences" will pop up for the Wings' opponents over the next four days.
Updated 15x with a game-day video at 3:15 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will only "control their playoff fate" if they win each and every one of their four remaining games, including tonight's tangle with the Phoenix Coyotes (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/NBC Sports Network/TSN [take note, national broadcasts in both the U.S. and Canada = Center Ice/GameCenter Live blackouts yet again]/97.1 FM, and tonight is Team Tootoo night at the Joe), and at present, it appears that there are no surprises in the personnel department given the developments at the Wings' morning skate...
As Paul noted, the Red Wings are in deep trouble ahead of tonight's game against the Phoenix Coyotes (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/NBC Sports Network/TSN/97.1 FM, and tonight is Team Tootoo night at the Joe). Thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets' 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, if the Wings win tonight and burn one of their two games in hand over Columbus (44 games played vs. 46 GP) the 20-16-and-8 Wings (with 18 Regulation-or-OT Wins) can only nudge to within a point of Columbus's 51 (Detroit has 48 points, and Columbus possesses a 22-17-and-7 record with 17 ROWs).
Just as disturbingly, the Dallas Stars--who've played in one more game than Detroit (45 to 44)--have the same points as the Wings (48) but have a better record (22-19-and-4) and more ROWs (20 to 18)--and if the Wings lose to Phoenix tonight, the Coyotes (44 GP, just like Detroit, 19-17-and-8, 15 ROWs) would pull into a three-way tie with Detroit for 9th place.
Long story long, the Red Wings rather desperately need to win tonight, preferably in regulation or overtime, they need to win Wednesday's game against Los Angeles, Thursday's game against Nashville and they need to carry Saturday's regular season finale in Dallas if they are to truly "control their own destiny."
Due to a nasty bug I've been out of the loop for a couple of days, and during that time, the Grand Rapids Griffins learned who they'll be playing in the first round of the AHL playoffs. The Griffins' PR department reports that Grand Rapids will battle the Houston Aeros in a best-of-five series which will commence on Friday, April 26th:
The Grand Rapids Griffins, champions of the Midwest Division and a No. 3 seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs, will face the sixth-seeded Houston Aeros in the best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Griffins (42-26-4-4, 92 pts.), who are in the postseason for the first time since 2009, will begin their chase for the cup by visiting the Toyota Center for Games 1 and 2 on Friday, April 26 and Sunday, April 28, before returning to Van Andel Arena on Wed., May 1 for the first of as many as three straight home games. The complete schedule is as follows:
When you meet volunteers assisting charitable endeavors on the concourse at Joe Louis Arena, it's highly likely that they're members of the Red Wings' "For 'em Club," and my friend Courtney wants you to know about the hardest-working Wings fans you don't know too much about:
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.