The Malik Report
I get the feeling that yesterday's pair of entries regarding the surprising popularly of Red Army are the tip of the iceberg. This film's going to make quite the impact--Sony Pictures Classics doesn't snag a documenary's rights prior to the Cannes Film Festival unless it's good.
As someone rasied on the puck possession hockey of the Russian 5, I can only smile while reading director Gabe Polsky tell the Associated Press that he was attracted to the subject matter because of the way the Russian national team played hockey (you will still hear many "new" Wings fans state that they were attracted to the team because the system the Wings have played for the past 20 years is exciting and/or pleasant to watch).
The movie explores the social and cultural changes in the Soviet Union, then Russia, through the experiences of the national hockey team, and the life of its superstar captain, Fetisov.
Polsky’s first impressions of the “Red Army” team were their balletic style of play, compared to the more brutish style practiced in the United States.
“You, know I preferred this style of play and I think it really evolved sport and hockey to another level,” said the director in an interview here last week. “That really piqued my interest about the Soviet Union and my roots, through hockey, and I wanted to explore why, how they got so good and what was going on over there.”
The interview continues, and again, Fetisov is anything but a present-day critic of the Putin regime:
This game was a 5:45 AM start, so I missed the "good parts," but Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader scored 2 goals (the 1-0 and 5-3 markers) and Danny DeKeyser finished third on his team in ice time as Team USA wrapped up their round robin play with a 5-4 victory over Germany at the World Championships.
USA Hockey provides a recap:
Red Wings overnight report: Tuesday’s activities, Nyquist’s Worlds goals, ‘Red Army’ and roster talk
The Red Wings' players and prospects taking part in hockey tournaments will be relatively busy today:
At the World Championships, 4 of 5 Wings are taking part in games today, and for one, his tournament ends after today's game.
Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser and Team USA will battle Germany at 5:45 AM EDT (on NBCSN). Team USA's going to make Thursday's quarterfinals;
Tomas Tatar and Slovakia play Denmark at 9:45 AM, but the game will mark the Slovaks' last of the tournament as France swiped the Slovaks' quarterfinal spot;
And Jakub Kindl's Czechs, who could lose their quarterfinal spot if they lose and Denmark defeats Canada, need to win their game against France at 1:45 PM EDT.
Updated substantially at 2:18 AM: My apologies for the belated nature of this box score: I'm going to post it and get to work.
At the Memorial Cup, Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm established itself as the "team to beat" by winning its second game in a row, this time at the expense of Anthony Mantha and the Val-d'Or Foreurs.
Guelph won 6-3, building a 4-0 lead, allowing the Foreurs to rally to 4-2 (Mantha assisted on the 4-1 goal) and then puling away, with Bertuzzi scoring the 5-2 goal. Bertuzzi had a goal and finished at +1; Mantha had an assist and finished at -3.
Here's a highlight clip, and Val-d'Or will try to rebound tomorrow night against the Edmonton Oil Kings, while Guelph will play the host London Knights on Wednesday...
And the Red Wings were in attendance:
Biggy update: to put it bluntly, the Foreurs got their butts handed to them in the 6-3 drubbing, while the Storm punched a ticket to the Memorial Cup Final by earning their second win. GuelphStorm.com's Brendan Zwambag explains in his narrative recap...
Gustav Nyquist isn't a speedy waterbug like linemate Linus Klassen, an 5'9," 165-pound SHL'er, nor does he have Calle Jarnkrok's fleet-footedness, but Nyquist can handle traffic and hard checking better than Klassen, he doesn't give up on doing the detail work involved in completing backchecking assignments like Jarnkrok does (seriously, the Worlds have been a revelation as to Jarnkrok's lack of "compete level"), and while Nyquist loses puck battles from time to time, he also goes and retrieves the puck again if he loses it.
As such, Nyquist's performance in Sweden's 5-1 win over Italy--2 goals, the 1-0 goal on a breakaway, a should-have-been assist on the 2-1 PPG, a one-timer goal on the 3-1 PPG and at least presence on the ice during the 4-1 PPG (and did I mention that Nyquist whiffed on a second breakaway attempt shortly after the 1-0 goal?)--was overshadowed by Klasen's four assists and Jarnkrok's effortless skating...
The ascendancy of the Slava Fetisov-starring documenary Red Army, which has earned rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival (the Free Press's Brian Manzullo just posted an article noting that the film received 4 stars from the Guardian; the Kremlin-sponsored Russia Today's praising the film, too), places Fetisov in a role which he no longer plays in real life--that of an iconoclast.
While Fetisov staked his career upon earning the right to legally pursue professional hockey employment, Fetisov's post-hockey career has witnessed "Papa Bear" rejoin the Russian political machine. He's worked as the country's Minister of Sport, as a member of the Duma, as CSKA Moscow's president and a member of the KHL's board of directors, and now he's an upper-house parliamentary representative for Vladivostok--a far-from-Moscow region in Russia's Far East that just happened to build an arena named after Fetisov, which quickly landed a KHL team in the Admiral Vladivostok...
The Fetisov who once railed against the Soviet system's done quite well for himself in Putin's Russia, and as such, the Fetisov's tour through the press junket has and will reveal the picture of a complicated man as opposed to a still-liberal critic of a now neo-Soviet government.
The New York Times' Stephen Zeitchik spoke with Fetisov and the movie's director, Gabe Polsky, about Fetisov's status as a central figure...
RedWingsCentral's Matthew Wuest has posited his end-of-season rankings of the Red Wings' top 25 prospects. After dedicating a generous portion of his missive to Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer's take on Anthony Mantha's pro potential, Wuest gets down to the player-ranking business (including asterisks to note which players will have to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL next season). Among his more notable comments:
3. Xavier Ouellet (+3), D, Grand Rapids (AHL), 70-4-13-17-22, +3, 92 shots. Ouellet doesn’t have gaudy statistics, but he transitioned flawlessly to the AHL from junior. Still only 20, he’s a two-way defenseman and the blue-line front-runner for a full-time job in Detroit.
9. * Adam Almquist (+5), D, Grand Rapids (AHL), 73-4-49-53-56, +9, 129 shots. He’s emerged as one of the AHL’s preeminent offensive defensemen. But with bigger, more well-rounded blueliners in the system, the NHL odds are stacked against him — at least in Detroit.
18. David Pope (NR), LW, West Kelowna (BCHL), 45-27-23-50-20, N/A, N/A. Under the radar playing junior A hockey, Pope was one of the top goal-scorers in his league. He’ll be in the spotlight more next season when he takes his game to the NCAA at Nebraska-Omaha.
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyeser's not exactly playing as an offensive-minded defenseman for Team USA at the World Championships, but USA Hockey's Justin Rice reports that #65's performance in Minsk has impressed assistant coach Phil Housley...
"I really like the way he plays the game,” Housley said. “He’s a big kid that can skate; he can carry the mail. He’s playing in all situations in Detroit. He has tremendous range and great mobility. I think it’s a great thing that he’s experiencing international competition. I would rate him right up there in the top of our group of defenders. Watching him toward the end of the year, when it mattered in the playoffs, I thought he was solid.”
And DeKeyser himself both reflected upon the Wings' short playoff run...
Tatar vs Fleury in TSN play of the year semifinal; Red Wings post Pulkkinen video; programming notes
Of multimedia-related note, from RedWingsFeed:
1. TSN's first Play of the Year Showdown semifinal pits the winner of the Marc-Andre Fleury-vs-Jonas Gustavsson battle against the Tomas Tatar-vs-Jason Spezza affair. Regrettably, Fleury beat out Gustavsson, so you can vote for this deke-and-dangle from Tatar [edit/update: whose Slovaks won't advance to the World Championships' quarterfinals as they were beaten out for the final spot by France /end edit]...
Or a seeing-eye glove save from Fleury:
Amongst this morning's Red Wings-related news stories:
The Grand Rapids Griffins were eliminated from the Calder Cup playoffs via last night's 7-1 loss to the Texas Stars, ending the Griffins' hopes of defending their Calder Cup championship.
As we may or may not witness a "locker room clean-out-day's" worth of quips and quotes, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner's morning-after conversation with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill takes center stage:
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.