The Malik Report
The Red Wings conducted training camp's final day of three-squad practices at Centre ICE Arena on Sunday, all as a prelude to a set of cuts, the Red vs. White game (which I will be broadcast on 98.5 FM, I believe) and the Red Wings' departure of Traverse City to kick off the exhibition season with three games in three nights.
Today's drills were incredibly complicated and nuanced--I describe the kinds of layered, whistle-to-whistle defensive positioning drills that we witnessed today as "hockey calculus"--and almost all of them involved chasing down/pursuing the puck carrier, dropping passes to defensemen in the offensive zone and engaging in outlet passes against passive pressure provided by the coaching staffs.
This guy skated on his own, too...
The scrimmage portended positive things from Brad Richards as #17 provided the primary assist on Tomas Tatar's goal and scored one of his own in Team Delvecchio's 2-1 win over Team Howe (with Teemu Pulkkinen's Pul-Cannon providing Team Howe's goal), but even the scrimmage was a check-fest, which is to be expected when you spend the entire day focusing on man-on-man defensive coverage in all three zones of play.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose spoke with Red Wings prospect Nick Jensen regarding his slow but steady developmental path in an intriguing article posted a little earlier today:
“I’m just coming in, working as hard as I can, playing the game that got me here,” Jensen said Saturday in an exclusive interview with DetroitRedWings.com. “Just trying to turn some heads with the scouts, the GM, and the coaches. Trying to get recognized, and obviously my main goal is to make the Detroit Red Wings. That’s my whole mindset going in.”
Too many things would have to happen for Jensen to make the Wings’ opening-night roster out of training camp. However, there’s a very good chance he gets called up at some point in the not-so-distant future.
It also helps Jensen’s case that he played the past two seasons for coach Jeff Blashill in Grand Rapids. The Wings’ new coach knows what he has in the 6-foot defenseman from Rogers, Minnesota.
“Nick is somebody who is continuing to show that he wants to knock on the door to be an NHL player,” Blashill said. “He uses his speed as a defensive weapon. Anytime somebody skates like that, everyone thinks of offense. For me, Nick uses it as a defensive weapon. He can really track guys down, his recoverability is great, his ability to come back and break pucks out and make the proper passes is going to be the big thing for him to do to continue to become an NHL player.”
The Red Wings engaged in some particularly complicated defensive pursuit drills during the third and final day of training camp, and as practices were continuing, the team began to bring Major Junior players in for exit interviews prior to releasing them back to their junior teams.
The Red Wings will hold a 10 AM practice for those not participating in tomorrow's Red vs. White game, and after said game, the Wings head back to Detroit to prepare for a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday slate of exhibition games.
Today's media availabilities were marked by quality over quantity. Justin Abdelkader spoke for 8 minutes, discussing his role on the team, his attempts to establish himself as a consistent scorer, his belief that he was always going to eventually break out while playing with quality players and his lack of discussion with the Wings regarding his contract status as of yet:
If you've been on Twitter, you've probably seen the rosters of tomorrow's Red vs. White game at 12 PM at Centre ICE Arena, but if you have not, here's how the teams break down (and the Wings were cutting numerous junior players today, so this looks like the set of Team A and Team B rosters that the team will be employing for the exhibition season):
Tomas Jurco-Brad Richards-Tomas Tatar
Johan Franzen-Riley Sheahan-Luke Glendening
Andy Miele-Dylan Larkin-Teemu Pulkkinen
Eric Tangradi-Louis-Marc Aubry-Evgeny Svechnikov
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
With Pavel Datsyuk expected to miss the first several weeks of the season, Darren Helm not likely to be ready for the season opener and Johan Franzen's status possibly in question, the Detroit Red Wings will have some available roster spots at forward....
"With all young players they have to be in the lineup," Holland said. "I'm not sure if it has to be on the top three lines or top four lines. If you're having conversations about sitting out young players they probably shouldn't be on your team.
"When Steve Yzerman made the team at 19 I don't think there were any discussions if we should sit him out. If you're having conversations that the league is too much and the player's not up to it than the player probably isn't ready for that league and should be in a different league so that player can develop."
That's why Larkin likely will be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins after the preseason, so that he can gain experience, further develop his offensive skills and earn confidence being one of the top players on the AHL club.
Larkin has quickly noticed the intensity of an NHL training camp.
The Red Wings' coaching staff, management and pro and amateur scouts enaged in a delightful "Alumni and Celebrity" game last night, with Team Fischer defeating Team Draper 7-6. I didn't write a whole lot of notes about the game, but between Ken Holland's sensational goaltending, despite his 30-year-old Jofa pads and stand-up style, Jeff Blashill's strong play for Team Fischer, the utter joy that is watching players like Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer and old favorites like Dino Ciccarelli, Mark Howe, Darren McCarty, Dallas Drake and of course Mickey Redmond at work...
The game was a hoot. The two 30-minute "running clock" periods involved scintillating action (seriously) in the 1st and some tired legs in the 2nd period, but between the "ringers" who still play competitive hockey like Wings director of communications Todd Beam and the fact that both Fischer and Draper could probably play pro hockey if their health held up, the game was nothing less than the gem of training camp.
It's something that most reporters skip, and that's disappointing because it's absolutely fascinating to watch the most serious people in the organization suddenly sprout smiles and keep them going for an hour of competitive fun.
The Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger was in Traverse City today, and he penned two stories; the first involves the Red Wings players' comments regarding moving on from Mike Babcock, and the second involved an interview Zeisberger conducted with a certain Ken Holland regarding the split between long-time general manager and friend and long-time coach and friend--business split, at least:
“When you work with someone for 10 years and you’re in a business that is really competitive, you create a bond with each other,” Holland explained. “We won a Stanley Cup together. We were on a staff with the Canadian Olympic team that won two gold medals together. When you are at the Vancouver Games and you’ve just lost to the U.S. and your preparing to play Germany and you are joining in with Mike and Steve Yzerman and the rest of the staff to find a way to dig in and get the job done ... that’s how you build relationships that last for the rest of your life.
“The last three years in Detroit, we found ourselves at points where you are on the bubble of making the playoffs and you are digging your fingertips in to find a way to make the playoffs and you accomplish those things together, well, all those things, like I said, combine to build relationships that last a lifetime.
“The relationship I have with Mike will go on for the rest of our lives. I have tremendous respect for what he does professionally and personally.”
Having said that, well ...
“Well, he decided he wanted to move on,” Holland said. “And now, we want to kick his ass.”
Zeisberger continues and reveals that the Wings will hold some sort of ceremony to honor Babcock's contributions on October 9th, a.k.a. the Red Wings' opening night...
Updated 9x at 9:36 PM: Among the media's offerings from the second day of training camp:
Fox Sports Detroit posted videos of Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha speaking with the media...
From DRW Prospects on Twitter:
Sorting it out:
1. In Sweden, Axel Holmstrom had an assist in Skelleftea AIK's 2-1 loss to Djurgardens IF;
2. Christoffer Ehn played 12:51 in BIK Karlskoga's 4-3 loss to Timra IK;
3. Joren Van Pottelberghe stopped 20 shots in Linkopings HC's Under-20 team's 5-2 loss to Frolunda;
4. And in Finland's Liiga, Julius Vahatalo played 7:55 in TPS Turku's 1-0 loss to KooKoo.
The second day of the Red Wings' training camp was not all that different from the first in that defensive zone coverage, breakouts (speedier breakouts than those employed by Mike Babcock), forechecking formations and utilization of defensive support once establishing possession in the offensive zone.
After a LOT of video, the Wings focused on breakouts, attempting bring two or three low forwards into the slot and then exit the zone via overloading the wing; the team then moved toward drills in which puck retrieval-turned-breakouts involved a 5-on-2 drill which again used three coaches as passive defenders; as Blashill is unafraid to stop drills when he's not satisfied, he barked, "Do it right, stay on the inside" to encourage his players to both cover the inside lanes defensively and to attack on the "inside" of their defenders.
The "four corners street hockey" drill that I've described in the past, with nets placed at the faceoff dots and 2 players feeding pucks to a diamond formation's worth of "puck-movers" outside the zone of contested ice returned, and the losers of the drill had to skate a lap;
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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.