The Malik Report
Updated 7x very late, at 6:31 PM, with Lebda talk and chatter from Commodore: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight (7 PM EST, FSD Plus/FS Ohio/WXYT), little news is in fact excellent news. MLive’s Ansar Khan reports via Twitter that the Wings will make only one subtle tweak, inserting a player who Columbus banished to the minors last season—but they won’t see a certain former Wing tonight, either:
Only change for Wings tonight vs. Columbus is Commodore in for Kindl. Howard starting as team looks for 16th win in a row at home.
Former Wings defenseman Brett Lebda, whom Columbus signed to a 1-year deal this week, is not playing tonight.
And before getting to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness’s confirmation of the Wings’ roster tweak, it’s worth pausing to note that while Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson posted a blog post detailing his team’s injury situation while trying to explain why he remained patient with a team whose half-dozen injuries plummeted down the standings before he relieved Scott Arniel of his duties, all while alluding to jettisoning players at the trade deadline, while Red Wings GM Ken Holland, Wings assistant GM Jim Nill and the Wings’ pro and amateur scouts are meeting in Las Vegas this weekend to talk about potential draft and trade deadline targets.
Updated 3x with odd news from the KHL at 9:42 AM: Two days after the Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout victory over Phoenix catapulted Detroit to the top of the league and Central Division standings, the Wings are back in fourth place in the Western Conference, second in the Central and yet still in second place in the NHL…Which is a long-winded way of stating that the standings are a frickin’ mess.
The Wings begin the final portion of their pre-All-Star Break grind of 11 games in 19 nights with a 3-in-5 night slate starting with tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 PM EST, FSD Plus/FS Ohio/WXYT; tonight is also a “Mittens for Detroit” charity night), and the Wings will be far less concerned with extending their home-ice winning streak to 16 games than they will about kick-starting their 3-for-41 power play and simply, as they suggested on Friday, keeping pace with their opponents by doing nothing less than kicking the Blue Jackets while they’re down and out.
Updated 3x with a spiffy graphic of the Joe’s cameras at 4:30 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took a three-hour flight back to Detroit this afternoon, choosing to rest in Phoenix instead of taking an overnight flight home after their 3-2 shootout win over the Phoenix Coyotes for sleep’s sake. The Wings will wrap up their ugly slate of 11 games in 19 days with games against Columbus on Saturday (7 PM EST, FSD+/WXYT), St. Louis on Monday and against Montreal in Montreal on Wednesday, yielding no Friday practice to correct their downright yucky 3-for-41 power play prior to grinding out a 3-games-in-5-days stretch (the Blue Jackets held an optional practice today and then flew to Detroit).
The Wings technically sit atop the NHL standings, but NHL.com’s Jerry Brown noted that the Wings feel no particular glee about sitting a point ahead of the Blues and Blackhawks and five ahead of the Predators in the Central Division, and as the Wings prepare to conclude their pre-All-Star break slough, they told Brown that their 5-game winning streak, which has leaned heavily upon overtime and shootout sessions, is a result of simply winning by any means necessary—especially on the road:
Red Wings-Coyotes wrap-up and overnight report: How I stopped worrying and learned to love the grind
As I count myself among the large group of jittery, picky and sometimes skittish group of people who deem themselves Red Wings fans, I can’t deny that I look at the standings this morning, see the Wings leading the league but owning the Central Division by all of one single point over the Blackhawks and Blues, and having to increasingly rely on overtime or shootouts to capture five of their past six wins thanks in no small part due to their horrific power play, which went 0-for-5 on Thursday (3-for-41 over the past 14 games), all but sentencing Detroit to a somewhat ugly 3-2 shootout victory over Phoenix, and I shake my head.
Too close, I think. Too sloppy. Lacking killer instinct or the ability to score when given golden opportunities to do so.
Then I remember that it’s January, that the Wings just played their 8th of 11 games played over the course of 19 nights, having concluded a 3-games-in-3-cities-in-4-nights stretch while all but playing games of playoff seeding-determining importance in [expletive deleted-ing] January, and I’m starting to believe that the Wings’ five-game winning streak is nothing to sneeze at, nor anything to “suck on.”
The Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, I daresay, kinda played out the way I thought it would: the Wings were just sloppy enough—and their power play was bad enough, going a hideous 0-for-5 in 10 minutes of PP time—to give the Coyotes both the first goal and a game-tying goal directly after Gilbert Brule got out of the penalty box, and in between, the Wings dominated for about 45 minutes of play, but they could neither overcome their slow start or fade-away finish.
Thankfully, Todd Bertuzzi and Jimmy Howard starred in the shootout, because the Wings really, really, really should not have to be leading the West by having won so many shootouts (3 of their past 4 wins ) and overtime games (4 of their past 5 engagements), had their power play had anything other than its head stuck up its hockey pants…
But wins are wins at this time of year, and as the Wings rest up in Phoenix tonight before returning to Detroit on early Friday afternoon, they’ve won 5 straight, and temporarily lead the league because of their 31 overall wins (just ignore the playoff tie-breaking ROW stat for the moment).
I would prefer to steer you back to the game update thread to read about Nicklas Lidstrom’s take on being followed around by the NHL 36 crew’s cameras, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ trading away of fan favorite Greg Amadio, news about a Rliey Sheahan suspension and all of the rest of the Red Wings-related news related to tonight’s game between Detroit and Phoenix, but we’ve got some dueling banjos of significant editorial weight offering very contrary takes on the Red Wings-hosted Winter Classic.
The Detroit News’s Gregg Krupa believes that the NHL needs to help Detroit become the focal point of the festivities despite the main event being held in Ann Arbor, suggesting that it should coordinate between local business entities to build a secondary showplace of epic proportions at Comerica Park as a major olive branch to the “cash cow” that is the Western Conference-based Detroit Red Wings, as well the City of Detroit, for holding the Winter Classic 45 miles away from Comerica Park:
[University of Michigan athletic director David] Brandon gets his part of the deal done, with all appropriate resources from the NHL making it worthwhile for the University of Michigan and its athletics department, and perhaps even the city of Ann Arbor, given the fact that, currently, no alcohol is sold in Michigan Stadium.
And the Ilitches and [Olympia Entertainment executive Tom] Wilson, with a significant boost from the NHL and perhaps another local NHL owner, Peter Karmanos, along with Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert and the rebounding auto companies, would finance both a rink and a grand winter festival in Comerica Park for several weeks from just before Christmas through the North American International Auto Show.
Paul here while George is running some errands and I thought he would want me to post this.
Barry Melrose with praise for 3 Wings.
Updated 10x at 7:36 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (9 PM EST, FSD/FS Arizona Plus/WXYT), I’m going to skip the usual, “Wait until one team’s morning skate is over to post game-day stories” protocol because ESPN has chosen tonight’s game as its “Game of the Week,” and in the process (ESPN’s pundits may break the game down afterward) thereof, Craig Custance penned a lovely article about Jimmy Howard’s maturation into an All-Star-caliber goaltender. Custance’s article merits both must-read and, “Hell, you might want to bookmark it or print it and read it again later” status as he reveals the reasons that the Wings drafted Howard, his former coaches’ views on someone who was anything other than a “natural” athlete and the two reasons why Howard has finally calmed down and stopped skittering around the crease like a “spider monkey”
With the Lions’ season over, the Pistons an afterthought and the Tigers still months away from playing, Hockeytown is starting to act like it. Distracted sports fans in the city looking to Joe Louis Arena for entertainment are now discovering that their team is every bit as dangerous as previous versions. Only the Red Wings are doing it in a dramatically different fashion. They’re winning because of goaltending and a team defense that has consistently been among the top in the league.
Howard leads the NHL in wins, is sixth among starting goalies with a 2.04 goals-against average and ranks 10th overall with a .924 save percentage. According to Elias, his current streak of 15 straight home wins is tied for the second-longest streak since the 1943-44 season. And, he already has five shutouts, equaling a career high.
“He doesn’t have off-nights. He just hasn’t had off-nights,” said Red Wings backup goalie Ty Conklin. “There’s times when we win games 5-1 and he’s legitimately the first star of the game because of the way he plays early in games. He’s been fantastic.”
Here’s another excellent snippet…
For someone who claims to not care about the All-Star Game, ESPN’s Scott Burnside joined the Ottawa Citizen’s Ken Warren by launching into a scathing criticism of the NHL’s decision to allow Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom and Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne to skip the All-Star weekend…
I applauded commissioner Gary Bettman’s strong stance at the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal, when Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom declined to show up for the proceedings after they’d been selected to participate. Bettman had previously told his GMs that he didn’t want guys pulling the plug after they’d been chosen and that if players were bowing out using the injury card, they wouldn’t be able to play in the first game back after the All-Star break. So, in effect, Lidstrom and Datsyuk were suspended for a game after the ’09 break. The Wings hated it and it was a tough call given the long years of dedicated service Lidstrom had put in on behalf of the Wings and the league.
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight (9 PM EST, 7 PM Arizona time, FSD/FS Arizona Plus/WXYT) in a theoretically advantageous position. With four games left over their seven pre-All-Star break days remaining, the Wings enjoyed a day away from the rink on Wednesday, probably spending their time golfing, swimming or sleeping prior to watching their opponent drop a 6-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks—the Yotes’ fourth loss over their past five games and their sixth in eight January games—before flying back to Arizona to meet a rested Wings team.
As the Wings spent Wednesday away from the all-but-confirmed confirmation of a Red Wings-hosted Winter Classic, which even Jimmy Devellano can talk about as long as he doesn’t stare directly at Michigan Stadium, spent the day away from news of literally attractive charitable partnerships, the first real update as to how Gordie Howe’s getting along that we’ve heard in a year and even Pavel Datsyuk’s own translated comments to a media outlet an alphabet away from Glendale, the Wings will have to run a veritable media gauntlet today, and that can be…dangerous for a team that is easily distracted.
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.