The Malik Report
After the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Wednesday night, I took the high road in stating the obvious—that the Coyotes were a tenacious opponent, that I fully respect the organization’s right to exist and, quite frankly, that even this old Jets fan doesn’t believe that the Coyotes should be the team that relocates to Winnipeg, and, for that matter, the Yotes’ fans proved that they earned their right to use the Whiteout, and that I simply find the Canadian press’s corpse-picking mentality nothing less than distasteful…
Then I look at the box score, and realize how damn hard the Wings’ road was. Down 2-1 and 3-2, battling a team that hacked, whacked, cross-checked, picked pushed and shoved the Wings while continuing to target Nicklas Lidstrom and the Wings’ star players, I remember Jimmy Howard’s big saves, the absolutely vicious nature of what was the nastiest, hardest-fought four-game sweep I’ve witnessed in years…
And I look at the fact that Red Bird II’s scheduled to leave Metro Airport at 6 AM EDT to pick up the Wings to do nothing on Thursday but spend time with their families, and nothing on Friday but practice and watch fans pick up tickets for home games 1, 2 and 3 of Detroit’s second round series when they go on sale at 12 noon.
The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Wednesday night/Thursday morning (depending on the time zone you occupy), but the final score doesn’t tell the game’s story at all. The Wings had to overcome the kinds of bad bounces that the Coyotes endured over the first three games of the series, rallying from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to tie the game, eventually go ahead and hang on against an out-and-out assault by an emotional and determined Coyotes team that may have given the Wings their toughest sweep over the course of their 20-year, 19-season playoff run.
The Red Wings were far from perfect in the first round, but as Scotty Bowman often said, the first round is the most dangerous round, and when you survive it while improving on a game-by-game basis, and then surviving the final game (especially without the services of both Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen)...
You’ve accomplished something important and something significant. You’ve taken the first step, and in the Wings’ case, you’ve taken the first step forward in what you hope will be the chance to earn a long playoff run in the shortest period of time possible so that you can rest, recuperate, heal bruises, as Jimmy Howard told John Keating, earn some rare family time at this time of year and hope that everyone else “goes long” and beats the snot out of each other.
For the Wings, a short series isn’t as much about age as it is about the players who were injured getting time to heal and the odometer on Red Bird II and the time changes the players have to endure being kept as low as possible early on. They might have to fear a little rust going forward, but it’s more than worth what the Wings will earn in the exchange in terms of time to recharge their physical and mental reserves.
According to the roster sheet for the Red Wings-Coyotes game, Mike Modano is in for the Wings and Johan Franzen (ankle, face) is out. He apparently couldn’t go in the warm-ups and the Wings chose not to test it out.
I spotted an interview Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson had with Hockeykanalen.se in between finishing up a scouting trip to the World Under-18 Championships in Germany and his and the Wings’ amateur scouts’ other interest, the forthcoming World Championships in Slovakia, but…
It’s a video interview. In Swedish. So I posted an APB on Twitter, and hockey blogger Marie Hallman incredibly graciously offered to translate the main points of the interview. She explains its context, and she also says that she’s heading to the Worlds herself, which will mean some fantastic coverage and probable conversations with any Swedish Wing prospect participants!
Here’s her summary of the interview:
Updated 9x at 9:38 with a clever take on the Chrysler 200 commercial: I don’t know about you, but as the Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes prepare to face off tonight (10:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/CBC/Versus/WXYT), I’m feeling anxious and jittery. I want this series to be over as much as the Wings do for the sakes of recuperating from the injuries inflicted upon them by the Coyotes’ physical players, keeping their “air miles” down and plain old ensuring that when you’ve got an opponent down, you take ‘em out.
The Wings need to display extremely focused, determined and disciplined play against a team that’s insisted it will channel its ownership uncertainty into a “last stand” mentality, physically and otherwise, and given that they’ve all but guaranteed a win tonight, the Wings have an incredibly stiff task ahead of them this evening.
That being said, it wouldn’t be particularly bad for sleep-deprived Wings fans, their blood pressure and anxiety levels included, to witness a tightly-contested an extremely intense series reach its conclusion for a little fan R&R as well, and as I’ve woken up with an accelerated heartbeat and in an, “Oh shiznit, I’m sure I missed something!” panic every time I’ve succumbed to a few hours of sleep, I’m ready for this thing to be over as of yesterday.
In any case, while the Coyotes’ website just posted Tippett and Babcock’s game-day pressers, I got a head-start on this entry because I didn’t feel like sitting on the following stories. Thus, my good timing equals a smorgasbord of pre-game reading to alleviate your and my jitters:
DetroitRedWings.com’s Jake Duhaime and Yahoo Sports’ Sean Leahy offer some thoughts about the NFL’s 2012 schedule as it relates to possible Winter Classics in Detroit and elsewhere:
Though a small news item that flew under the hockey radar yesterday may have a big role in next season’s buzz. The Wings may have cleared a key hurdle in hosting the 2012 Winter Classic. Sean Leahy of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog has the breakdown of the NFL schedule that nobody else has, specifically, who will be using a stadium on New Year’s Day and who won’t be.
New Meadowlands Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, long seen as future Winter Classic destinations, will be hosting NFL games on January 1st. Yankee Stadium, also seen as a potential site, will be in the second year of a bowl game agreement. And after the Metrodome roof collapse last season, TCF Bank Stadium may have an emergency plan, but it might not have the cache of other locations and matchups.
With Pittsburgh and Washington having played in the game in 2011, one must imagine that Heinz Field, FedEx Field, and Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley would be out of the mix. Chicago’s Soldier Field is not being used, but with Wrigley Field hosting the game in 2009, it would be hard to expect such a quick return.
Of course, we’re simply speculating, but between Michigan Stadium, Comerica Park, an original six club, and a strong DMA TV market, the idea of spending the start of 2012 outdoors isn’t too far fetched, like say, my New Year’s resolutions.
The Wings simply aren’t first on the runway here—the Rangers are, complications included, and it’s entirely possible, if not probable, that the NHL may have to give Canadian franchises an olive branch by bringing them into the Winter Classic mix, with the Heritage Classic being played on U.S. soil instead. It’s a wonderful thought, but I get the feeling that the Wings won’t host a Winter Classic any earlier than 2014.
The Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes face off tonight (10:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/Versus/CBC/WXYT) in a game which, depending on your point of view, may determine the future of the Coyotes’ franchise or simply lengthen a playoff series that is both an on-ice and off-ice grind due to its physical nature and extended travel between far-flung cities.
The Detroit Red Wings very simply stated on Tuesday that they’re hoping to finish off the tenacious, gritty Coyotes as soon as humanly possible for the sake of reducing the miles on their bodies that helped aid an early ouster in the second round against San Jose last spring.
The Coyotes, who remain masters of the art of self-belief, insist that they will do nothing less than head to Detroit after Wednesday night’s game as they build the foundation for a near-miraculous comeback-in-the-making, cuing up the classic “nobody believes in us but us” cliches while speaking to PhoenixCoyotes.com’s Dave Vest:
USA Today’s Kevin Allen talked to a host of, shall we say, advocates of the playoff warrior’s way in an article discussing the fact that, in the NHL, one is simply expected to play through the kinds of injuries that quite literally make grown men cry. Torn ligaments, broken teeth, noses, jaws, messed-up knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists, groins, backs, you name the sports-related injury, and a hockey player’s probably played through it. Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, former Chicago Blackhawks forward Jeremy Roenick, Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan and two members of the Red Wings’ organization about the fact that even Steve Yzerman’s willingness to skate on a right knee whose ligaments had essentially disintegrated during the Wings’ 2002 Cup run might be the stuff that legends are made of, but for players like Yzerman, sacrificing one’s future able-bodied status (Yzerman’s osteotomy has quite literally left him unable to run) was just “what you do” when a possible Stanley Cup championship can be earned:
Detroit general manager Ken Holland said he never saw anyone play in more pain than Steve Yzerman when he led the Red Wings to the 2002 Stanley Cup championship.
“He got shot up before every game,” Holland said. “He could hardly walk. He had a knee that was bone on bone. He was in such incredible pain.”
After the season, Yzerman had a knee osteotomy, in which the surgeon adds a wedge of bone to the shinbone to take the weight off the damaged area of the knee.
“If you watch clips of the 2002 playoffs, Steve would fall down and he would have to use one knee and his stick to pop himself back up,” Draper said.
Continued with the story of Brent Gilchrist playing through a groin tear that involved his muscles shearing off the bone in 1998, and Kris Draper knows all about sacrifice given that he scored a goal with his teeth during the 2008 Conference Finals…
Updated 4x at 10:54 PM: Talk of the “No-hit rule” on Nicklas Lidstrom aside, the practice updates from the Detroit Red Wings’ and Phoenix Coyotes’ “off-day workouts” are starting to roll in, and the Free Press’s Helene St. James both confirms Mike Serven’s report that Pavel Datsyuk took practice off (as did Johan Franzen)...
No injury,” he said, smiling. “Why, you wish?”
And she says that the Wings are already preparing for an onslaught from the Coyotes as the Wings ready themselves to do their damnedest to get their series over with as soon as possible:
Updated at 4:52 PM with More Lidstrom talk: The Detroit Red Wings literally withstood a physical assault from the Phoenix Coyotes in their 4-2 win on Monday night, and while the Wings understand that Tomas Holmstrom and their ever-improving grinding forwards are fair game in terms of having to deal with slashes, hacks, whacks, hooks, cross-checks, hits from behind and after-the-whistle punches to the head, it was surprising to say the least to see the Coyotes attempt to unnerve captain Nicklas Lidstrom by trying to knock him into next week (via Taylor Pyatt) and distract him via after-the-whistle stuff (see: Shane Doan).
Lidstrom simply doesn’t engage in that sort of thing, and, as the Detroit News’s Terry Foster suggests (via RedWingsFeed), Lidstrom’s one of the few players left in the league for whom a “you just don’t hit the guy” rule usually applies:
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.