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So Far Ken Holland Was Right

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

Sometimes the best acquisitions are those you don’t make. The Detroit Red Wings went after the top free agent defensemen last summer and struck out.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland took a verbal beating in fan chat rooms because he didn’t change up the blueline mix. In response, he said he believed the Red Wings defense would be competitive.

He was clearly right.

With roughly 20% of the NHL season completed, the Red Wings (8-3-5)  rank seventh in the league on the strength of a goals-against average of 2.19 goals per game. Last season, the Red Wings ranked 16th with a 2.70 goals-against.

They are now on a pace to give up 51 fewer goals than they gave up last season.

continued

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Impressive Wings

from Joe Lapointe of Mlive,

It took only 2 hours and 15 minutes to finish the whole thing. At times, Chicago players seemed to join the fans in silent awe, watching the Wings throw passes, tape-to-tape, the sound of "click-click-click" echoing in the air as well-aimed pucks found waiting stick blades of skaters already in motion.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock refused to accept one of the great clichés of the sport when someone tried to describe his team's style.

"I don't think we play 'fire-wagon,'" he said. "But I like us to play fast. I like us to be in attack mode. I'm not a big believer in that you defend leads. I think you play like it's tied all the time. You put on the gas and go get the opposition."

Babcock said his team didn't look this speedy in recent games and that four days off left the Wings with fresh legs. That was an understatement. In the final minute, the Wings were storming the Chicago crease. They looked as if they could play another game right away against another team. They were very impressive and entertaining.

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The overnight report: on Hall of Fame Hasek, Red Wings-Hawks tailings, etc.

I don't know if you remember this, but the best thing I can say about Dominik Hasek's strange three stints with Detroit--two Stanley Cups aside--is that the last chapter could've been worse.

After Manny Legace struggled so mightily during the 2006 playoffs against Edmonton, the talk was that the Wings were considering trading for Andrew Raycroft (yes, seriously), going after Jean-Sebastien Giguere, possibly trading for Evgeni Nabokov or bringing in Eddie Belfour.

Eventually, the Wings actually brought Belfour to Joe Louis Arena for a physical, and Belfour (who may or may not still live near Saginaw as his Carmen Racing/Carman Customs businesses used to be based there), talked about burying multiple hatchets with the Wings from his time in Chicago and Dallas.

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Red Wings-Blackhawks wrap-up: Wings out-skate, out-flank, out-Hawk Chicago

The Detroit Red Wings kicked off a set of 13 games played over the course of 24 November and December nights--played every other day or greater between November 14th and December 7th--against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. Despite a 4-day break, the Red Wings arguably played a game on Friday that should serve as a blueprint for Sunday's game against Montreal, the Wings' three-game road trip through Columbus (on Tuesday), Winnipeg (on Thursday) and Toronto (a week from today; after Friday's game, the Wings recalled Petr Mrazek and sent Tom McCollum to Grand Rapids to start Saturday's game), as well as the rest of the whole damn season.

Detroit was fleet-footed, aggressive as hell through the neutral zone to the point of being downright predatory, offensively explosive, defensively sound and physically and mentally engaged from minutes 1 to 60 of the Wings' 4-1 victory over Chicago, earning their first home win in three years against the Blackhawks while displaying the kind of elite puck-moving, layered backchecking, speedy transition, strong forechecking and relentless offense that the Wings used to employ when Nicklas Lidstrom was the team's quarterback.

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Prospect report: Pulkkinen, Callahan steal the show in Mantha’s debut; Walleye roll along

Anthony Mantha made his Grand Rapids Griffins debut on Friday, registering a shot, a -1 (as he was on the ice for a shorthanded goal against), a penalty and a stern clank off the goalpost in his first professional game, but he wasn't "the story."

Instead, Mantha's' teammates rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, with Mitch Callahan scoring the game-tying goal with 1:14 left and Teemu Pulkkinen's "holy slapper" delivering a 3-2 overtime win over the Texas Stars--the team that eliminated the Griffins from the Calder Cup playoffs last spring--with all of 0.8 seconds left in the AHL's 7-minute OT, earning Grand Rapids its second home win of the season.

After the game, the Wings swapped out Tom McCollum, who will start Saturday's Griffins game, for Petr Mrazek, who will back up Jimmy Howard on Sunday and head on the Wings' 3-game road swing with the NHL team.

The Grand Rapids Griffins' website posted a game recap:

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Quick take, Red Wings-Blackhawks: Wings’ structure earns rare home win vs. Hawks

I'm not sure you could call the Red Wings' 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks a frame-worthy effort, but it was pretty damn close, and it was even closer to, "Put it on a nail and hang it on the wall" quaity because this was the Wings' first regulation win at home against Chicago since 2009. Chicago was 9-0-and-3 against Detroit over the past 12, with (as I recall) only 2 losses in that time.

Chicago was coming into the game having last played on Tuesday, and the Wings hadn't played since Sunday's shootout loss to Tampa Bay, but it was the Wings who came out skating like Chicago usually does--capitalizing on turnovers and roaring up the ice the other way, finding both paths to shoot on the net and to snag rebounds to generate secondary and tertiary scoring chances via sustained possession and control of the puck. The Wings came at the Hawks in waves early, and we're not used to seeing Detroit do that.

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Another Gordie Howe health update

As Paul noted, Gordie Howe's youngest son Murray appeared on Vancouver's TSN 1040, and TSN's Matt Sekeres took note of Murray's comments:

As did Blake Price:

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Video- Anthony Mantha Before His First Game With The Grand Rapids Griffins

via Fox17,

 

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Game-day post, Red Wings vs. Blackhawks: Datsyuk returns as Wings face ‘long odds’ vs. Hawks

Updated 16x at 3:10 PM: The Detroit Red Wings begin a stretch of 13 games played over the course of 24 nights (from today until December 7th) when they host the Chicago Blackhawks this evening (7:30 PM on FSD/CSN Chicago/97.1 FM), and the Blackhawks' 9-0-and-3 record against the Wings of late is cause for concern--as is Corey Crawford's 12-2-and-3 career record against Detroit (we might want to pray for overtime, fellow Wings fans), and, perhaps more pertinently, "as is" the rust the 7-3-and-5 Wings might display after not having played since Sunday's shootout loss to Tampa Bay.

The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness offered good news from the Wings' morning skate...

All the Wings players are on the ice for their morning skate prior to tonight's game against Chicago.

...

We'll see how lines are skated, but most likely Datsyuk will be back in along with Jurco.

...

All signs point to Pavel Datsyuk returning to the lineup. He's skating on a line with Jurco and Abdelkader. Helm with Tatar and Sheahan.

As did MLive's Ansar Khan...

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Catch-up post: On charitably active Wings, Hockey Hall of Famers, books, movies and a Smith Q and A

I'm going to attempt a very brief catch-up post as more than a few stories popped up between the start of my mini vacation on Monday and my eventual return on Thursday:

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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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