The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings face a literal and figurative uphill battle as they hope to salvage their Western Canadian swing starting tonight against the Edmonton Oilers (9:30 PM EDT, FSD/Sportsnet West/97.1 FM) and continuing tomorrow against the Vancouver Canucks (10 PM EDT, FSD Plus/CBC/NHL Network U.S./1270 AM).
Thanks to their 5-2 loss to Calgary, the Wings now sit in 9th place in the West with 29 points, only 4 ahead of the 13th-place Oilers--but they're also only 3 points behind the 3rd-place Canucks--and the 12-10-and-5 Wings really are at a point where the vast majority of their remaining 21 games are must-wins, lest they have to start relying on "help" from other teams to make the playoff cut.
The Oilers might already be in that situation, but they're returning from a massive 9-game road trip which concluded with a 6-5 win over Chicago on Sunday and a 4-0 win over Colorado on Tuesda. The Oilers addressed their desire to get back to taking care of business at home with the Edmonton Journal's Joanne Ireland...
The Oilers netted eight out of a possible 18 points in the club’s longest road trip in franchise history, which was one win off the goal. The team also hit rock bottom after they were thumped 6-0 by the Nashville Predators, but did respond with a 6-5 win over the Blackhawks and a 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
I didn't expect MLive's Ansar Khan's report about the Red Wings and Jimmy Howard talking contract turkey to yield an immediate result, and TSN's Aaron Ward reports that the Wings and Howard's agent are still taking part in a slow contractual dance...And an intermittent one at that:
No surprise here.
Someone in George's neighborhood cut an optic fiber line that feeds his ISP, so you have me again.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Detroit Red Wings had what coach Mike Babcock called a quick, efficient 30-minute practice Thursday, as they tried to purge from their system the third-period meltdown from the night before.
The Red Wings allowed three unanswered goals in the third period – all off turnovers – and lost 5-2 in Calgary, in a game they dominated for 40 minutes...
“Had a good meeting this morning and practiced on things we need to improve, and we got to help ourselves when we have the puck,'' Babcock said.
Jimmy Howard returned to practice after the flu forced him to dress as the backup on Wednesday. Howard will start against the Oilers.
Aside from expecting to get yelled at, things are relatively quiet here at TMR land as we all wait for the Red Wings to hit the ice in Edmonton and make their prerequisite comments regarding their 5-2 loss to Calgary and the Board of Governors' approval of the realignment plan that places the Wings in "Division C," but we already know what the Wings think about the latter issue, as noted by MLive's Ansar Khan...
The move will mean less travel for the Red Wings as well as more games against Original Six rivals like the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maples. All four clubs will be in the same division along with Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa and Tampa Bay.
Several Red Wings told MLive.com last month they like the new plan. It would not only reduce their travel – especially in the playoffs – but would also mean fewer late-night West Coast games on TV for fans.
“I think the travel sometimes takes years off all our lives,'' goaltender Jimmy Howard said in a Feb. 23 story on MLive.com. “I think (moving East) would be great for us from the travel, even though we’re all used to it now. It would be a lot of fun to play a lot of games in the eastern time zone. It would be great for our fans, too, not having to stay up until all hours of the night to watch us.”
The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
Via Paul, the NHL posted the following graphic regarding its realignment, and it appears that only three quarters of Michigan's Lower Peninsula and half of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are moving to the Eastern Conference with the Red Wings...
Sorry, Yoopers, sorry, Western Michiganders, you're Minnesota and Chicago fans now.
Last night, I plainly stated my belief that Mike Babcock's sharply-worded criticism of his team was not only necessary, but also long overdue. I'm getting incredibly tired of the, "Waive everyone, bring up ALL the Griffins" (the Wings have gotten pretty close there) "and fire Babcock, he's the problem!" talk.
The coaching staff consists of more than one man, and watching the Wings' Game-Day Preview after the Wings' loss reminded me that associate coach Tom Renney and assistant coach Bill Peters often share the ice with video coach Keith McKittrick and goalie coach Jim Bedard.
Just as the management is more than "Ken Holland"--Holland, assistant GM Jim Nill, capologist Ryan Martin, manager-in-training Kris Draper, Mark Howe's pro scouting staff (which includes Kirk Maltby), the team's amateur scouts, player mentors like Chris Chelios and Chris Osgood and director of player development Jiri Fischer--so there are more than two people coaching and managing this team.
The Detroit Red Wings flew to Edmonton after their 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, and after a third-period brain fart of epic proportions, and given that the Wings have gotten all of 1 point out of three games against the worst of the West in Columbus and Calgary, there was no reason to stick around.
The Wings will be out of the playoff pack in terms of the standings by the time they face Edmonton on Friday, and possibly Vancouver on Saturday, though I don't need to tell you that the team's remaining Western Canadian trip games are now must-win situations.
I thought that the Wings played awful hockey from their goaltender on out, with their defensemen consistently out of position and bunching up to one side of the ice, their top forwards looking downright scared and all-too-predictably rushed, and there was no puck support or positional support by any of the Wings' players in all three zones, but the third period's combination of turnovers, blown coverage and blown goals (the Sporting News's Sean Gentile posted a compilation of Jonas Gustavsson's after-goal faces) was bad enough.
The fact that the Wings out-shot Calgary 38 to 22 and had a total of 73 shot attempts (to 38 by Calgary, which is too high by Wings standards) but could only dent Mikka Kiprusoff twice, on top of all their mental mistakes...That's downright gross.
Normally I start recaps by offering the other side's take on the game, but Wings coach Mike Babcock finally dropped his "kinder and gentler" message in lieu of calling his team out, and the Calgary Herald's Kristen Odland captured some properly-aimed criticism directed at the horses who aren't getting the job done:
Via RedWingsFeed, MLive's Ansar Khan has postedan article that's made staying up late to cover the Red Wings' West Coast swing worth it, even after enduring that crappy-ass loss to Calgary. He's reporting that the Wings hammering out the details of a contract extension for Jimmy Howard...
A source told MLive.com that the sides are inching closer to agreeing on a deal that would more than double Howard's current $2.25 million salary to the $5 million-a-year range. It is expected to be for at least six or seven years.
Getting their workhorse goaltender signed was the Red Wings' top priority. Playing behind a defense that lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart in the offseason and has been riddled by injuries, Howard arguably has been the club's most valuable player. He is 10-7-4, with a 2.46 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.
Howard, who turns 29 on March 26, averaged 36 wins for three seasons after assuming the starting role in 2009-10, when he finished second in Calder Trophy balloting to Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers.
And he has news about Valtteri Filppula (asking quite a bit) and Damien Brunner (no comparables as of yet), too:
Red Wings-Flames quick take: inefficiency, bad positioning, bad performances = reinforcements needed
The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 5-2 decision to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, and I'd prefer to not discuss the goals as much as a stat that tells the whole story tonight:
That's right, the Wings attempted to score SEVENTY-THREE times--with 38 pucks hitting or beating Kiprusoff and another 35 going wide or hitting Flames players--but the team's skittish, jittery play in the offensive zone and its awful, just horrific defensive coverage, with players bunched together and failing to "gap up" or get in shooting or passing lanes in the offensive, neutral and defensive zones yielded no puck support, no player support and either empty nets or squeaky-weak goals on Jonas Gustavsson.
This story wouldn't fit into the Red Wings-Flames game-day update post, and that's probably a good thing. The Globe and Mail's Alan Maki suggests that the Red Wings have essentially fallen from grace and fallen back to the pack due to their personnel losses over the past couple of seasons and/or salary cap restrictions, and their coach and players don't necessarily disagree with that statement (although it downplays the fact that Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi's absences severely limit the team's depth up front):
As head coach Mike Babcock put it when talking about his group: “Would you like to have three unbelievable players on three lines? Sure. That’s the Red Wings of the 90s.”
The Red Wings of 2013 are not the glory unit of old; too many retirements and defections have seen to that. What they are is a good team whose consistency has been hampered by injuries to keynote contributors Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula, both of whom are only now working their way back into the lineup. Darren Helm is another player whose effectiveness has been missed and proof that Detroit is no longer as deep and skilled as it once was. Babcock explained that, to win, the Red Wings have to fashion as strong a defensive game as possible.
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.