The Malik Report
from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins and Red Wings never have had a rivalry — they just happened to have great teams that produced two consecutive classic series in 2008 and 2009 — but, because of realignment, one finally might develop. They will meet three times every regular season, including twice at Joe Louis Arena this season.
Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard didn't dress during those Stanley Cup Final meetings but was the Red Wings' third goalie. He is convinced one of the great rivalries in hockey is about to be born.
“It's going to be special,” he said. “When I look at our schedule, the first thing I do is look for the Original Six matchups. And the very next thing I do is look for Pittsburgh. And I circle them. It just always feels so heated when we play each other. You can feel the tension that still is there because of those series.”
No players embody that more than Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg. In those consecutive meetings in the Stanley Cup Final, Crosby and Zetterberg almost exclusively shared shifts. Zetterberg held Crosby in check, sacrificing his offense because of the exhaustion he felt from chasing Crosby.
The Detroit Red Wings' 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins marked the Wings' third consecutive home loss--the team's been out-scored 11-4 over the course of losses to Boston, Chicago and now Pittsburgh, all in front of fans paying regular-season prices to witness incredibly uninspired and unfocused efforts--and while the Wings' immediate concern involves Justin Abdelkader's injured left index finger, which required stitches after a scrap with Robert Bortuzzo...
Detroit has two more exhibition games left, in the form of a home-and-home series with Toronto on Friday (in Detroit, no local TV) and Saturday (in Toronto, on Hockey Night in Canada, and the Griffins are holding an exhibition game in Plymouth the same evening), and the fact that the Red Wings have looked so very, very lost when Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl of all people haven't played, well, it doesn't speak well to the concept that the team's improved its depth to the point that it will need something more than a top-heavy effort to succeed in the stacked Atlantic Division.
The Red Wings' "C Team" put forth a worrisome effort in a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose notes that a needless fight between Justin Abdelkader and Robert Bortuzzo may have left some lasting damage:
Justin Abdelkader was injured during a fight with Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo late in the game. According to the team, the Wings' forward needed stitches to close a laceration to his left hand. More should be known Thursday about Abdelkader's prognosis.
“I haven’t been back to the medical room to see how many casualties we have,” Babcock said. “It seems like every game we’re losing someone so we’ve got to get healthy.”
Updated 7x at 10:56 PM: The Red Wings' 5-1 loss to the Pittsbugh Penguins was, to some extent, a case of personnel--the Penguins iced an NHL roster and the Wings were playing minus Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Kronwall, Ericsson, Alfredsson, Kindl, Howard, etc.--and, to some extent, a case of a very green lineup proving what Johan Franzen told Ken Daniels, Mickey Redmond and Chris Osgood during the second intermission: when you don't touch the puck, you're not going to play very well.
The Wings have played in 3 home exhibition games in front of half-full crowds, on average, and they've played decidedly below-average in front of people paying regular-season prices to watch three very poor efforts against Boston, Chicago and now Pittsburgh.
TSN posited its Top 50 Players list on Wednesday evening, and their picks are...Different...Especially if you're a Red Wings fan and think that Pavel Datsyuk is a solid player (edit: TSN posted a 46-minute clip of their special).
Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby has once again been ranked the NHL's No. 1 player, as revealed Wednesday night on the NHL on TSN Top 50 Players special.
For the first time, TSN's Top 50 ranking was determined by a group of 14 NHL coaches and general managers, representing seven Eastern Conference teams and seven Western Conference teams.
This year's NHL on TSN Top 50 Players features nine new players, four goalies, 10 defencemen and 26 players from Canada. The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have five players on the list, the most of any NHL team.
The Detroit Red Wings are a week away from their home opener against the Buffalo Sabres, and the Wings will ice a less-than-prime-time lineup against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight (7:30 PM, Fox Sports Detroit Plus/NHL Network) mostly due to the fact that a combination of nagging injuries and a hype-filled pair of back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs give the team one more chance to evaluate its younger players before ramping up for this weekend's regular-season warm-ups.
The Penguins released their roster as of yesterday...
As noted yesterday, the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar reported that the Red Wings and Amway chose not to renew Amway's status as the Wings' "presenting sponsor"--the team is now technically presented by AT&T, and the massive Amway signs near the scoreboard have been replaced by Kroger banners--and today, via RedWingsFeed, Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea also took note of the adjustments made while reporting that the Wings will not find a new official partner/presenting sponsor for this upcoming season:
“While Amway has chosen to focus their relationship on other aspects of the business and no longer are the team’s presenting sponsor, we are working out details to adjust the partnership elements for the 2013-14 season,” Wings Director of Communication John Hahn said in a statement.
Financial terms were never disclosed, but the Amway deal was believed to be worth under $10 million for both years.
I posted this in the game-day update thread, but given the fact that the Red Wings and Maple Leafs play back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, but won't play a regular season game until December 21st, this Tweet from Sportsnet's Chris Johnston shouldn't surprise us:
Updated 16x at 6:20 PM: The Detroit Red Wings face the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight (7:30 PM EDT, FSD Plus/NHL Network/WXYT AM), and not all is well, as Paul noted:
Though this part IS good:
Back to the skate...
The AP's Larry Lage posted a Red Wings 2013-2014 season preview yesterday, and the season of season previews kicks off in earnest with an incredibly detailed Red Wings preview from ESPN's Craig Custance, and it includes a video interview with Jimmy Howard...
And ESPN's summary (the "experts" are picking the Wings to finish second or third in the Atlantic, and Custance made his Stanley Cup-winning and Atlantic Division-winning pick during a chat yesterday--picking Ottawa winning the division and losing to LA in the Cup Final) of the preview is as good a place as any to start:
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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.