The Malik Report
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:
As an addendum to the Red Wings’ 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 3 of their first-round series:
The Red Wings’ “grinders” have enjoyed the lion’s share of coverage from the Red Wings’ press corps during the playoff run thus far, and while I mentioned Helene St. James, Ansar Khan and Ted Kulfan’s articles about Justin Abdelkader prior to the game, you may have missed ‘em, and they’re definitely worth your time.
This morning, the Free Press’s Michael Rosenberg focuses on Darren Helm, whose up-tick in scoring has resulted from admittedly slowing down, albeit ever-so-slightly, to let his hands catch up to his feet:
Every year or two, some young pup comes along and is told by his coach that he’s going to be the next Tomas Holmstrom. The player inevitably watches video of Holmstrom doing his thing in front of opposing teams’ goaltenders and assumes that emulating Holmstrom is enough. What they don’t tend to take into account are the subtleties that make Holmstrom one of the best net-front men this side of Dino Ciccarelli:
1. Holmstrom usually spends 10 to 20 minutes after every practice tipping pucks to make sure that his hand-eye coordination remains razor sharp;
2. Holmstrom actually scouts the goaltenders he’s about to face, watching video of them playing so that he can adjust his game to account for their stylistic tendencies, positioning, size and of course their levels of irritability. I would argue that Holmstrom’s probably a better-positioned goaltender than half of the league’s starting netminders;
3. Holmstrom also works very hard to retrieve rebounds and pass them back to his more highly-skilled teammates, to the point that his ability to chase the puck into the corner or behind the net corral it, shovel it to his teammates and then skitter back to the net may very well match his ability to screen goaltenders while attempting to tip 90-mile-per-hour pucks past them;
4. Holmstrom’s specialized equipment includes but is not limited to padding taped to the backs of his legs and ankles, protection for his lower back, shoulder pads that have almost all their padding across his back and shoulders, to the point that he almost looks like he’s wearing nothing but shoulder caps when you see him from the front, and of course extensive padding for his arms and wrists, as well as a stick that is short, incredibly stiff so that he can lean upon it like a “tripod,” and has a near-flat blade taped with one horizontal strip of black tape on each side of the blade, a trick he learned from Igor Larionov;
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t exactly put on a clinic during their 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night, but as the Wings captured a near-stranglehold-inducing 3-0 series lead over Phoenix, at Jobing.com arena, the Wings’ combination of clutch scoring from their “support” players, superb goaltending from Jimmy Howard and excellent discipline while fending off a literal and figurative physical assault from Phoenix illustrated the fact that the Red Wings continue to improve on a game-by-game basis against a team that seems content to attempt to beat the heck out of the Wings’ players while giving the Wings’ a run for their money instead of simply focusing on beating the Red Wings on the scoreboard.
That being said, the Coyotes’ level of self-belief remains sky-high, and they insisted to the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan that they were simply the victim of some bad bounces early, and not may, but will win on Wednesday as the start of a near-miraculous comeback:
The Detroit Red Wings turned the home-ice tables on the Phoenix Coyotes by scoring two quick goals en route to a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes on Monday night/Tuesday morning Detroit time, and while the Wings lead the series 3-0, I’d argue that there’s quite a bit of room for improvement for Detroit going into Wednesday’s game.
The Wings found themselves making glaring defensive mistakes at times, getting caught flat-footed on too many occasions where Jimmy Howard had to make sensational, ten-bell saves, and while it’s wonderful that Howard’s clearly up to the challenge, the Wings have made his life a little too difficult. The penalty-kill remains a problematic issue, strange bounces on both goals against tonight included, and the Coyotes were able to, for the most part, shut the Datsyuk line down as the Wings continued to display sometimes inattentive efforts, sagging during the second half of the first period and around the 10-minute mark of the third period…
But the Wings’ depth is giving the Coyotes fits—if Phoenix focuses on shutting one or two lines down, Detroit’s supplementary players like Valtteri Filppula can dent the back of the net with ease, the grinders and “depth” guys like Ruslan Salei continue to contribute, and in addition to the fact that the Wings have solved Bryzgalov for the most part and are playing relatively dominant hockey at even strength, the biggest and most important part of the Wings’ three wins thus far involves a simple word and a simple concept: RESPECT.
Update at 10:03 PM: Babcock refused to say whether Franzen would play in an interview with Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating.
Update at 10:32 PM: per Mike Serven:
Franzen is in
Update at 10:32 PM: Per DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose:
Just received word from the PA announcer that Johan Franzen is starting tonight for the @DetroitRedWings.
Update 10:33 PM: Franzen is in and starting per the roster sheet.
So I need to write a little update letting you know whether Johan Franzen, the Wings’ resident “game-time decision” prior to the Detroit Red Wings’ game against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (10:30 PM EDT, FSD/FSAZ/Versus/CBC/WXYT), and as I’m ironically watching the Red Wings’ pre-playoff Wingspan episode on Fox Sports Detroit airing a feature story on octopus-throwing…
Quite frankly, here’s the bottom line. It takes about a minute for KK to update its HTML and publish an entry, so my request is that you come back here and take a peek to see whether Franzen’s going sometime around 10:30 so that it can be an immediate update, thus making life a little easier for you to find out as soon as the news hits Twitter. In the interim, I’ll offer up a few pre-game reading stories that didn’t make the game-day update as this blogger chose to take a pre-game nap…Which is good given that thanks to the game’s late start, I’m going to be up until about…seven AM EDT…compiling the recap and notebook.
First and foremost, it should come as no surprise that both the Coyotes and Red Wings spoke to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose about establishing a physical presence on the ice tonight:
FYI, from NHL.com:
With the 2011 NHL Awards two months away, the National Hockey League will begin announcing finalists for each of its regular-season awards over the next two weeks, beginning Tuesday, April 19 with the Calder Memorial Trophy.
Nominees will be announced each day at noon on NHL.com and through NHL news releases.
Updated 4x at 5:56 with miscellaneous news: According to the Red Wings’ resident, “It’s 85 where I am, and you have snow, ha ha!” correspondent, the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, Johan Franzen is highly probable to play in tonight’s game between the Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes (10:30 PM EDT, FSD/FS Arizona/CBC/Versus/WXYT), but Babcock isn’t going to hedge his bets that Franzen’s 100% certain to play:
“His face seems to be fine. It’s a tough play,” explained coach Mike Babcock. “He got a stick in the face by (Eric) Belanger (Phoenix center) on the way down, that one got him on the lip, and his head hit in the end boards. For most people that would hurt. We’re lucky he’s the Mule and he should be fine.”
Babcock said he’ll have forwards ready (likely Mike Modano) just in case Franzen can’t play. But Babcock doesn’t expect to change his lineup from the first two games.
“That’s what my plan is at this point,” Babcock said. “I’ll have extras dress (for the pre-game skate) but that’s not in my plan (for any changes).”
Barring any surprises, we should expect no lineup changes or shockers from this afternoon’s “morning” (their time) skates as the Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes prepare for tonight’s game (10:30 PM EDT/FSD/FS Arizona/Versus/CBC/WXYT), which is good as I’ve got to head out to ferry the mom to yet another physician’s appointment. Alanah will substitute for a bit and cover anything big, and I’ll provide a “morning” skate set of updates when I return, but in the interim, here are a few Wings-related articles worth reading:
Spiffy news from DetroitRedWings.com’s Christy Hammond:
Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom has been selected by his teammates as the Red Wings’ 2010-11 King Clancy Memorial Trophy nominee. This honor is annually awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy contribution in his community. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards Show on June 22nd.
Whether he is lending his image for a poster to support soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, meeting a sick child after a practice or game or making an appearance at a local school, Lidstrom is an active member in the Metro Detroit community.
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.