The Malik Report
Red Wings-Maple Leafs set-up and overnight report: tonight’s game’s more than a convenient narrative
While I'm dashing through the sleet to attend my family's Christmas party this evening, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will tangle in something of a Winter Classic preview (7 PM, FSD/CBC/NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice/GCL blackout/97.1 FM), all ahead of tonight's episode of HBO's 24/7 series at 10 PM (EST; again, the alternate showings are strangely scheduled)...
And I hate to say this, but I feel like the people preparing to watch or broadcast this game are either looking too eagerly toward their close-up or are have forgotten that there's going to be an actual, unscripted hockey game taking place on the ice at the Air Canada Centre tonight, because much of the lead-up to tonight's game has been...
Half-assed, and as trite and predictable as the yelling at Friday's City Council meeting approving most but not all of the details surrounding the expansion of "Downtown" Detroit's footprint to encompass the Red Wings' follow-on rink.
A week from Monday, the Grand Rapids Griffins will tangle with the Toronto Marlies at Comerica Park, and the Griffins may be the "winningest" team to take to the outdoor ice given their record thus far.
The Griffins lead the AHL's Western Conference with 45 points thanks to 21 wins in 28 games played thus far, and while Riley Sheahan, Petr Mrazek, Tomas Jurco, Jordin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves are all in Detroit due to the Wings' injuries, the Griffins keep rolling along. The Griffins defeated the Rockford IceHogs via a 3-2 OT decision on Friday, and the Griffins' website notes that Grand Rapids' start has been nothing less than remarkable:
Updated 2x at 5:08 PM, and I've been updating the practice post all day long--Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum's Winter Classic/outdoor game masks lurk within: I tried to keep the Red Wings-Maple Leafs pre-Saturday-game hype to a minimum today, but I'm going to dip my toe into the pond of fluffernutter here with the CBC's Jim Hughson surprisingly ripping into the Red Wings for being "too old," "too slow," etc. etc. (via RedWingsFeed; the Wings appear to not have any players who are under 35 if we are to believe Hughson) because they haven't run ramp-shod over the Eastern Conference (Red Wings fans have learned that it's the Wings who the East was prepared for, because everyone knows how Detroit plays hockey, and instead, the East's passive-aggressive play has flummoxed a team beset by injuries)...
And the Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno duly notes that tomorrow's Hockey Night in Canada-televised game (Jonas Gustavsson will start for Detroit, Danny DeKeyser will return from his shoulder issue and Darren Helm may or may not return from his shoulder issue) will at least serve as a "getting to know you" game for a pair of teams that haven't played a regular-season game against each other in almost two years:
Updated 3x at 5:13 PM: As noted earlier today, Detroit's City Council was to meet to discuss the expansion of the Downtown Development Authority's footprint and what the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar accurately described as a significant "land swap," but anybody expecting more than the commensurate amount of public dissent and a "this is a part of the process" set of agreements would have to be disappointed to find that some parts of the City's agreement with the DDA and Ilitch Holdings were approved...
And others, as the Detroit Free Press's Joe Guillen notes, were essentially punted to meetings to be held by the "new" City Council in February:
Detroit Sports 105.1's Matt Dery interviewed Red Wings GM Ken Holland today, and as I was indisposed at the time, Paul posited a recap of Holland's main points of emphasis as made over the course of a 10-minute interview:
Holland says huge two points against Calgary, been a struggle to score with all the people down. In the winning business. DeKeyser back tomorrow and hopefully, I think he said Helm on Monday.
Happy with PK, PP goes in spurts. Have to find a goal on pp evrey 2 out of 3 games. Have to score some ugly goals.
Updated 8x at 5:03 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will descend into the land of media hype ahead of tomorrow night's pre-Winter-Classic-Warm-Up-Excitement-Excitement-Excitement-Game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, hoping to build upon a 3-2 OT win over and fan-pleasing performance against the Calgary Flames.
We'll kick things off with an FYI from the NHL:
.@DAlfredsson11 became the 3rd Swedish-born player to reach the 700-assist plateau, joining Nicklas Lidstrom (878) and Mats Sundin (785).
Today's practice yielded surprisingly good news on the injury front, per the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness...
Good sign Wings are nearing full health. Zetterberg, Nyquist, Helm and Abdelkader practicing. No Howard or Franzen.
From the looks of things Helm could return Saturday in Toronto. Skating with Sheahan and Alfie. Tootoo and Samuelsson appear out.
And MLive's Ansar Khan:
I don't plan on following the reports from the Maple Leafs alumni's practices ahead of the "Alumni Showdown" games--save noting that the Toronto Star reported that Mats Sundin won't be able to take part due to knee surgery--and I've kind of ignored Sportsnet's "Greatest Maple Leafs of All Time" profiles on their 24/7 page (again, the "alternate showings" for tomorrow's episode are weird and inconvenient, so those of you who miss it--and I know I have a family Christmas party to attend that will complicate things for me--may have to wait until HBO posts it on YouTube to watch it)...
But Sportsnet's Ryan Dixon gives a little "equal time" to Steve Yzerman today, and even as someone who embraced hockey during the heyday of the Wings-Leafs Norris Division rivalry, it's still hard to explain how incredibly accurate Dixon is when he suggests that Yzerman was "Mr. Everything" to Detroit. As Dixon suggests, there's some irony in the fact that serious discussions about sending Yzerman out of town helped spurn him to change the way he played:
Very briefly: I was "out" for the last couple of days, so I'm going to try to catch up with the Red Wings' prospects exploits as quickly as possible:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins played on Wednesday and will play tonight at home vs. Rockford and tomorrow against Chicago. Minus Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan, the Griffins recalled Trevor Parkes and Louis-Marc Aubry from the Toledo Walleye on Tuesday and Martin Frk from Toledo on Thursday (and Petr Mrazek's in Detroit, too).
The Griffins had no problems playing through a "depleted" lineup on Wednesday, defeating the Iowa Wild 2-1 in OT.
TMR art corner: Gustavsson’s WC pads and mask, Howard’s Santa mask, Mike Posner video & Walleye Ugly
In the "Artistic Stuff" department...
The Detroit News noted that David "DaveArt" Gunnarsson" posted a picture of Gustavsson's Winter Classic mask...
Today is going to be...Interesting...For the Red Wings. While the team attempts to build upon its 3-2 OT win over Calgary, and hopes to welcome some players back from injuries tomorrow against Toronto (tomorrow's Hockey Night in Canada meets 24/7 game will be hyped as much as the lead-up to the Winter Classic should be, I suppose...) while Stephen Weiss finds out whether he needs surgery to fix his ailing groin...
Downtown, as the Detroit News's Louis Aguilar notes, the Detroit City Council will decide whether to approve the expansion of the Downtown Development Authority's "footprint" to include the 45-block area where the Wings' follow-on rink and "economic development" will be built pursuant to the DDA and the Ilitches coming to an agreement regarding the construction and management of the new rink (as well as the demolishing of Joe Louis Arena).
According to Aguilar, the Council's approval of the deal would trigger a massive "land swap":
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.