The Malik Report
Of prospect-related note:
In the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye celebrated the return of Jeff Lerg to the team by leaning on him, and leaning hard, but the Walleye received a superb 33-for-34-save performance and a trio of shootout saves en route to a 2-1 shootout win over the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night. The Walleye's website posted a recap:
This should have been more than enough offense for the Red Wings on Friday night...
But this was unsuccessful...
The Red Wings' game against the New Jersey Devils wasn't a "gimmie" game, but it sure looked close to that on paper. Without Travis Zajac or Adam Henrique, and amidst a 4-game unbeaten streak (2-0-and-2), the Devils looked ripe for the picking on "Star Wars Night" as the Wings looked to extend their own points streak to 13 games.
In reality, this was a trap game, and on Star Wars Night, Detroit surrendered a 2-goal 3rd-period lead, Jimmy Howard was interfered with on the game-tying goal, and the Wings received a poor pinch by Brendan Smith in OT that was ultimately placed in the back of the Red Wings' net, yielding a 3-2 OT goal.
I'm taking a controversial stance on that tying goal by Kalinin, but as a goaltender, the Wings' challenge should have been successful, and we shouldn't be talking about this game going to overtime.
It did, of course, and the Wings, looking mentally and physically tired from their 3-games-in-4-nights slate, were pounced upon by an opportunistic Devils team, so full marks to them...
But this shouldn't have unraveled this way, and I think that the review was blown.
From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Winning breeds confidence and the Red Wings are a confident team currently.
Earning a point in at least 12 consecutive games (8-0-4) will do that for a team, knowing they have the ability to find a way to win games or at least take them into overtime, and playing some of the best hockey in the league.
This is a confident group of Red Wings right now.
"The confidence has certainly grown," said coach Jeff Blashill, who doesn't want his team to become overconfident. "Playing good and winning breeds confidence. But what we have to be careful of now is we didn't play great against Washington (Tuesday, an overtime loss) and we played moments of good hockey (against Montreal, in Thursday's victory) but not good enough (over 60 minutes). We have to make sure our process is real good, or otherwise you end up losing and wondering what happened."
At the start of the year, the Detroit Red Wings were without their star mainstay forward, Pavel Datsyuk, who was out due to offseason ankle surgery.
Datsyuk missed 15 games, and it showed. Without one of their top offensive players, and an insertion of a brand new head coach in Jeff Blashill, the Red Wings looked lost at times. They were having difficulties offensively, and it showed in the standings. In those first 15 games, the Red Wings went just 8-6-1, good for second place in the underwhelming Atlantic Division, but well behind the league's top teams.
But when Datsyuk returned to the lineup, the franchise turned a corner almost instantaneously. Since his return on Nov. 13, the Red Wings have gone 8-2-4, and they are in the midst of a 12-game point streak.
Call it magic, from the Magic Man himself.
The Red Wings will face the New Jersey Devils with Jimmy Howard opposing Corey Schneider in goal this evening (7 PM on FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM), and as Paul noted, the Wings held a very, very optional morning skate this morning, so we'll hear from Jeff Blashill early this evening.
On the Devils' front, the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti penned a blog entry highlighting the Devils' lineup...
Will post more as things develop.
added 12:43pm, via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Jimmy Howard is starting in goal, and everyone who played Thursday is available tonight, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press.
Red Wings prospect Joe Hicketts earned a spot on Team Canada's World Junior Championship team as something of an unheralded try-out last year, but this time around, Hicketts is expected to help lead Canada as they defend their gold medal. The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno spoke with Hicketts about his different role on the team:
Undersized, undrafted and underrated when he went to Detroit Red Wings camp and Hockey Canada's world junior selection camp, Joe Hicketts came away with an NHL contract, a roster spot and a gold medal.
The defenceman enters his second world junior camp as one of three returning players and a desire to be a difference-maker.
"Last year I kind of came in blind, not having done the summer camp and really not knowing a whole lot about the pace of play with some of the best junior guys in the country," Hicketts said Thursday night after Canada's first practice. "This year I want to take a leadership role, I want to kind of show guys the pace of play and how a team like this has to play together in order to win."
Hicketts said he ran on adrenaline at Red Wings camp and Hockey Canada's camp a year ago, especially after he wasn't considered a top prospect a few months earlier. Now, he's running on memories but hasn't lost the chip on his shoulder.
"Here, it's wanting to recreate what we did last year," Hicketts said. "Every time that you come to one of these things, you want to win gold and you want to make the team, first of all. I think that's important that you continue to have that drive and that buildup towards the tournament."
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"Haven't been successful on the scoresheet, but I knew things were coming," Helm said. "Hopefully, this will give me a little bit more confidence and keep things rolling personally and help the team win."
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill called Helm the best player on the ice, saying he was great from the drop of the puck. He opened the scoring at 11:18 of the second period and had several quality scoring chances.
"He's got such get up and go and he was impactful the whole night," Blashill said. "He's played real well here in the last 8-9 games. He's been real good overall. It's good for him to get rewarded with some goals. It always feels good to score. It looks like he's really coming."
Watch the extended highlights package below of the win over Montreal...
The Detroit Red Wings snapped a 7-game winless streak against the Montreal Canadiens in rousing fashion, rallying from a 2-1 deficit thanks to a pair of 3rd period goals, defeating the Canadiens 3-2. Detroit is now 4 points behind the Canadiens in the Atlantic Division standings, with a game in hand, and Detroit's built a 12-game points streak (8-0-and-4).
Darren Helm scored the game-winning goal, and he and Abdelkader co-led the Wings with 5 shots apiece:
Now 16-8-and-5 Detroit hopes to extend its points streak in tonight's "Star Wars Night" game against the 14-10-and-4 New Jersey Devils (7 PM EST on FSD/MSG Plus/97.1 FM), swooping in on the back half of a back-to-back slate against a Devils team that's without Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique.
In terms of Thursday night's game, the Canadiens sounded more than a little depressed--at least speaking in French--about dropping their 4th game in a row for the first time this season, as noted by La Presse's Richard Labbe (what follows is roughly translated)...
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.