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Thought On The Wings

via Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet in his 30 Thoughts...

Do not underestimate the pride the Detroit Red Wings have in their playoff streak. As Henrik Zetterberg said in a must-win game at Dallas three years ago, “We are not missing the playoffs on my watch.”

That’s why Anthony Mantha got the call, and it was instructive head coach Jeff Blashill used the “long-term” terminology. Detroit felt strongly Mantha was not to be recalled on a one game up, one game down basis. GM Ken Holland has talked about that before, how a team can create an impression a player is not doing very well if there’s a yo-yo up and down. They want Mantha in a position to succeed and you’ve got to give him a chance to jump into the deep end. In a perfect world, I’m not sure he gets this opportunity yet. But the Red Wings are desperate for scoring, and that is his greatest skill.

No doubt the organization hoped for a day Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Mantha and Petr Mrazek would be so critical to its success. No way anyone thought that time would come so quickly.

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A bit more about Mantha’s debut

As the Wings have an off day today, MLive's Ansar Khan looks back at Anthony Mantha's successful NHL debut during the Wings' loss to Philadelphia:

"I thought Mantha played really well. I thought he showed really, really well," coach Jeff Blashill said. "He must have had three or four either chances himself or created chances. If you win stick battles like this on a regular basis in the NHL he's going to be a good player for a long time."

Mantha didn't record a point, but he generated some chances, with four shots on goal.

Mantha said of his experience: "Amazing, that's for sure. Unfortunately, we lost, but the experience is there and I hope we can step back in Columbus (Thursday)."

He broke his stick during his first career shot – a slapper from the left wing early in the third period. He fired a shot off the goal post in the third.

"I think in the O-zone I played pretty decent," Mantha said. "Got a few opportunities, got a few battles down low. First period I was just trying to keep it simple, tried to find my legs and then as the game went along got better and better."


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Paul Woods speaks with WDFN’s Matt Sheppard

Red Wings analyst Paul Woods spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning, addressing the panic in Hockeytown regarding the Wings' difficult play of late. Woods believes that the Wings need to win 8 or 9 of their final 12 games to make the playoffs, and he's wondering where Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist are, too:

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It’s the hot topic of the day

TSN's Dave Hodge gives a "Thumbs Down" to the Red Wings' struggles of late...again...

Not to pick on the Detroit Red Wings, but their battle to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 25th straight time is liable to be the most interesting part of this season’s final month. As great as that record has been, failure to add to it threatens to embarrass the Wings.

When Detroit lost 1-0 to the Leafs on Sunday, it became popular to identify that game as the one that would be considered the streak-buster if the Red Wings missed the playoffs by a point or two.

Embedded ImageNot so fast, for next came the first period of last night’s game in Philadelphia, truly a more important game than the one against Toronto, because it’s the Flyers who are the most direct threat to Detroit’s playoff longevity.

The Wings “responded” with a reminder of what the “Philly flu” used to look like. They were outshot 23-3 (“thumbs down, obviously), and went with bowed heads to their dressing room trailing 2-0.

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Playoff Chances Don’t Look Good For The Detroit Red Wings

Dan Rosen of NHL.com answered a Wings related question in his weekly mailbag...

I'll keep this real simple: Do the Detroit Red Wings make the [Stanley Cup Playoff] streak 25 years? Why or why not?

I can't believe I'm saying this, but right now I don't think they will make it. Maybe the third period they played Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers will spring them forward, but that regulation loss is a tough one to swallow, as was the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.

Yes the Red Wings are still one point ahead of the Flyers, but that's negated by the two games in hand that the Flyers have on them.

I guess it's still possible that the Pittsburgh Penguins drop down considering the injury to Evgeni Malkin, but they just won back-to-back games against the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. Their cushion on the Flyers is four points, but the teams play each other three more times.

That's bad news for the Red Wings. What if those become three-point games? That puts extra pressure on Detroit to find a way to finish strong. Their goaltending hasn't been good enough. Niklas Kronwall is out. Not good.

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About Detroit’s Defensive Coverage

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Miscues and poor coverage cost the Red Wings in a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

"I just think our D corps is way better than that," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We have six real good NHL defensemen and they have to play better on Thursday (in Columbus), and I think they will."

All four of Philadelphia's goals came from shots within a few feet of goaltender Petr Mrazek. Detroit's defense lost battles, broke down in coverage and made too many mistakes.

"We had unforced errors for nothing," Blashill said. "I thought we played well large stretches of the game and then all the sudden an unforced error.

"Once they got going in the O-zone, they did a good job getting pucks to the net, getting bodies to the net, but three of the four (goals) certainly were ones that were preventable."

read on

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Flyers wrap-up—these ‘devastating losses’ are tiring and tiresome

The Detroit Red Wings no longer control their own fate. The Red Wings' 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers gave the Flyers a 1-point deficit on Detroit in the Wild Card standings with 2 games in hand...

And the Wings will have to realistically treat that like being down 3 points to the Flyers, because there is no margin for assuming that your opponent will lose its games in hand.

CBS Sports' Chris Peters sounds the alarm

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Prospect news: In very brief

Of prospect-related note:

In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin played zero minutes and zero seconds in SKA St. Petersburg's 4-0 win over Dynamo Moscow, knoting the 2nd-round series at 2 games apiece;

In the QMJHL, Adam Marsh didn't play in the Saint John Sea Dogs' 2-1 loss to Acadie-Bathurst;

And instead of posting it in its entirety, I'll note that the Grand Rapids Griffins have posted their weekly press release, and leave the reading up to you.

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Red Wings-Flyers quick take, take 2: devastating and deserved

The Red Wings needed this one, plain and simple. Win against the Flyers, and Detroit would be 5 points clear of Philadelphia in the Wild Card race; lose, and the Flyers would be 1 point back with 2 games in hand.

Detroit lost 4-3, playing perhaps the worst first period I've seen in ten years, being out-shot 23-3, and Detroit surrendered 2-0, 3-2 and 4-2 leads before attempting to rally late on a Tomas Tatar goal that just wasn't followed up by the kind of urgency that the Wings needed to tie the game--instead, it was followed up by a Gustav Nyquist slashing penalty that was completely needless and selfish.

Anthony Mantha was superb in his debut (4 shots, 7 attempts, a hit, a giveaway and a takeaway in 14:45), Pavel Datsyuk was superb, Tomas Tatar did what he could, as did Henrik Zetterberg, Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader, who wasn't physical enough, and...That was about it.

Dumb penalties by Smith, DeKeyser, Nyquist and Richards helped pave the Flyers' way to momentum, but it was Philadelphia's even-strength scoring, taking advantage of a Petr Mrazek who both made amazing saves and gave up soft goals via defensive miscues to suck the wind out of the Wings, and the Wings just couldn't or wouldn't find the fire necessary to complete necessary rallies.

Now the Wings will need help to make the playoffs. They're not completely in charge of their own fate any more.

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Evening news: On the playoff streak, Mantha and Larkin vs. Gostisbehere

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan reports that the Wings' younger players are very aware of the pressure they face in sustaining the Wings' playoff streak, but Brendan Smith says that it isn't constantly on their minds:

"It’s really important,” said defenseman Brendan Smith of making the postseason for 25 consecutive seasons. “You try not to think about it, look at it, you just go out and play the game. But in the end of the day, it’s in the back of your head.”

This position of being on the edge of playoff race isn’t anything new. The Red Wings haven’t clinched a playoff berth until the final week of the regular season the last three seasons, scrambling until the final days before securing a spot.

So this season is just typical in the parity-driven NHL.

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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.


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