The Malik Report
Pavel Datsyuk was very, very solid at both ends of the rink, generating offense, playing strong defense and showing good leadership--playing the "net-front"/slot player role on the PP (seriously) capably--and Alexey Marchenko made some excellent, well-timed forays into the offensive zone, registering an assist, but he also took two penalties...
But their teammates pulled the Classic Soviet-Era Russian Faceplant against Finland, blowing a 1-0 lead and ultimately losing 3-1 in the first World Championship semifinal.
It was an almost predictable, "We've got them where we want them! Oh well, it's 1-1, we've got them where we want them! Never mind, 2-1, but we've got them...3-1, uh oh!" collapse in which the Russians dominated the first 10 minutes of the 1st period and thought that was all they needed to win, while their bitter rivals kept grinding down the KHL-heavy Russian roster and scored 2 key power play goals (one on a Marchenko penalty), and the Finns pulled away and then clamped down with some suffocating defense and superb goaltending as Mikko Koskinen stifled a pass-first Russian attack.
As a result, Russia will play for bronze on Sunday, while the Finns will battle the winner of today's Canada-USA game (1:15 PM EDT on NBC Sports Live Extra).
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. If you haven't heard by now, Pavel Datsyuk's agent has denied the report that his client has signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, as the Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted:
“I know for a fact that Pavel has not discussed a contract while playing for the national team in Russia,” Milstein said. “I spoke with him to confirm this again.
“For a fact we don’t have a contract with any (Russian club) right now.”
Milstein indicated that the plan remains the same as it was when Detroit’s season ended and Datsyuk, 37, left for his homeland to play in the worlds. He is coming back to Detroit next month to meet with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and discuss his future plans.
“He’s coming back to the U.S. first or second week of June,” Milstein said. “We plan on meeting with Ken Holland, not later than (June 16) because Pavel will be in town for his (hockey) camp from (June 17-21).”
2. In the prospect department, Hockey's Future's Sean Shapiro took note of the playoff performances of Grand Rapids Griffins forwards Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi:
The Free Press's Lev Facher recently took in a Red Wings Alumni game, and he spoke with Darren McCarty and Kevin Miller about the state of the current team:
[T]he Red Wings haven’t finished first in their division since 2010-11, and many of the alumni want to see the team coast into the playoffs, not clinch a spot in the regular season’s final days.
“It’s a big tradition, being a part of the family,” said former Red Wings forward Darren McCarty, who helped keep the streak alive between 1993-94 and 2008-09, with the exception of the two years he spent in Calgary. “The heritage is huge.”
There was no shortage of former players watching with bated breath from the seats at Joe Louis Arena this season and on television at home, McCarty said. The Red Wings have an impressively organized network, and there’s plenty of passion for the streak and its continuation.
“We want to see those guys succeed and continue the legacy on,” McCarty said. “It was a little nail-biting there, but we got it done. Hopefully, this will bring us toward moving forward, and we’ll have a chance to win a Stanley Cup sometime.”
Dylan Larin and Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer spoke with ESPN's Julie Robenhymer at extended length.
Fischer and Larin discuss #71' evolution from a player who was essentially "trying out" pro hockey at last year's World Championship to someone who is looking forward to a strong sophomore NHL campaign:
"Dylan surprised a lot of players on the ice with his speed and how hard he fights for the pucks and how mature his game is," Fischer said. "Next year, in order to be as successful or more, he's going to have to reinvent his game a little bit. It's something that every elite offensive player has to do throughout their career.
Fischer, who played all of his six seasons with Detroit before transitioning to the front office, says that Larkin will have a target on his back next season and can't let up on his training. "You can't just keep doing the same thing and think that success is going to keep coming," Fischer said. "That's not how it works in the NHL. There are smart players and they hate failure and losing and being beat, and they'll study who they play against so that doesn't happen. Dylan's biggest thing is going to be taking the next step physically this summer to improve and get stronger and more powerful. He needs to be hungry for more."
If his past is any indication, there should be no concern about Larkin's willingness and desire to improve every day.
"I don't believe in a sophomore slump and I don't intend on having one. I'm just going to prepare as best as I can like I did last summer and go into the new season even stronger," Larkin said. "I think I need to prepare more this offseason for a marathon and I'm excited to do that. This past year was great, but I don't plan for it to be my best one."
Robenhymer continues, and there's a video interview with Larkin as well:
On Saturday, two World Championship semifinal games will take place, and both games involve Red Wings players and prospects.
At 9:15 AM EDT (on NBCSN's Live Extra service), Pavel Datsyuk and Alexey Marchenko's Russians will battle Finland for the opportunity to play for the gold medal on Sunday...
And at 1:15 PM EDT, Dylan Larkin and Team USA will battle Canada on NBCSN Live Extra:
Updated substantially w/ news from Kulfan @ 2:32 PM: I don't know what to think about this one, because I've never heard of the website referenced, and this is a developing story, so let's call it what it is: a rumor.
Sovetsky Sport's Dmitry Spirin points us toward a website called "Sportfakt.ru," which is reporting that Pavel Datsyuk will sign a 2-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg after the World Championship. Sportfakt claims that the financial details of the contract are unknown.
I tend not to trust Russian rumors--and I don't see any confirmation from more familiar Russian news sources like Sport-Express, Championat, R-Sport, etc., though AllSport claims that a "source" states that Datsyuk will sign with SKA--so we'll see how this plays out.
Update: Sportsdaily.ru is claiming the same, so there's smoke here.
Update #2: From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
And here's Kulfan in text form:
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said of the report. “I plan on sitting down and meeting with Pavel when he returns from the world championship, sometime in early June. I would need to know his decision by the middle of June.”
Update #3: More from Kulfan:
“It’s definitely not true,” Milstein said. “Pavel hasn’t spoken to anybody, hasn’t spoken to any team, and he hasn’t spoken any media other than talking about the (world championship) tournament. There’s nothing to it (the report).”
Update #4: From MLive's Ansar Khan:
Chris Chelios, Igor Larionov, Dino Ciccarelli and other former Wings have made the trip to Moscow to take part in a "Legends League" game tonight, per the TASS News agency:
The gala match at the 12,000-seat VTB Ice Palace in Moscow, which kicked off at 5:45 p.m. local time (14:45 GMT), brought together world’s legendary players such as Vyacheslav Fetisov, Pavel Bure, Alexander Yakushev, Alexey Kasatonov, Valeri Kamensky, Igor Larionov, Sergey Fedorov, Chris Chelios, Ari Sulander, Hannu Virta, Jari Kurri, David Moravec, Mats Naslund, Dino Ciccarelli, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson and many others.
The "World Legends Under Moscow Stars" gala match marks the 70th anniversary of Russian ice hockey and was organized by the World Hockey Legends League with the support of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the Park of Legends sports and entertainment complex, which is an official partner of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships.
The Legends League is a one-of-a-kind tournament established with the support of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the Park of Legends sports and entertainment complex. The competition is for retired world hockey stars, some of the best players of the 20th century, Olympic champions and medallists, world champions, Stanley Cup winners, NHL Hall of Fame and IIHF Hall of Fame members.
Update: According to R-Sport's Roman Solovyov, the Russian team won 9-5.
The Free Press's Max Bultman penned a profile of Red Wings prospect Tyler Bertuzzi:
There’s just something about the playoffs for Tyler Bertuzzi.
After scoring a hat trick in the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 6-1 win over Lake Erie on Saturday, Bertuzzi has tallied 14 goals in just 23 AHL playoff games the past two seasons.
Those are impressive numbers for anybody, but they’re even more eye-popping considering that the Detroit Red Wings prospect has totaled 13 goals in 73 AHL regular-season games.
So what is it that makes Bertuzzi, the nephew of former Wing Todd Bertuzzi, so effective in the playoffs?
“I just come to play hard,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s a different type of game in the playoffs. It’s grinding, it’s gritty, it’s tough to play in. I like that type of game. And I think that type of game suits me."
Bultman continues, and the one thing Tyler Bertuzzi has to show before the Wings give him a long look is that he can hold up for an entirep pro season.
I've been keeping track of the Alexander Radulov situation "on the down low" as there's no reason to post every Russian-language rumor regarding the 29-year-old free agent.
Chris Nichols of Today's Slapshot (via RedWingsFeed) transcribed an Elliotte Friedman intreview in which the Sportsnet scribe provided an English-language update, and it sounds like the Wings are one of the finalists for Radulov's services:
“I think Florida is in there. I think Detroit is in there. I told you that I heard Washington – they denied it. Everybody has always linked them with Colorado. I can tell you that somebody said to me — and he’s pretty trustworthy — has said it’s not Colorado. But the rumor has stayed there.
“So I don’t know where that’s going to end up, but I think he is coming over.”
Update: Here's Friedman's interview with The Fan 960's Boomer and Pinder. The Radulov stuff starts at the 15:26 mark:
It's official now:
The OHL made the announcement:
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