The Malik Report
There are no platitudes, no couching of the game in any sort of manner that sounds sincere. Game 7. Win or go home. No Kronwall, no Zidlicky (never an excuse, but an explanation if things go poorly). Odds look long. Fans feel nauseous. That's how it goes.
The Red Wings did their damnedest to take it to Tampa Bay, but they were unable to overcome the Lightning, who defeated a depleted-by-injury-and-depleted-by-suspension Wings team 2-0.
It may not feel right or fair, but Detroit's not going to play hockey again until early September. The Wings will disperse to the World Championships and the four winds.
To tide you over until Game Time...
Here's the Red Wings website's Game-Day Preview...
And Ken Daniels moonlighted for the NHL Network, setting up Game 7...
This is an incredibly important night for both the Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins, a night that might determine the futures of both teams.
The Red Wings are in a Game 7 situation against the Tampa Bay LIghtning minus their #1 defenseman tonight, and the Griffins are down 2 games to 0 in a best-of-5 series against the Toronto Marlies, hosting the final three games tonight, Saturday and Sunday.
If the Red Wings win, obviously, it's off to Montreal to face the Canadiens, and if the Griffins win, it's at least "Die Another Day";
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Rookie Alexey Marchenko and Jakub Kindl will be inserted into the lineup. Marchenko played the first two games before being scratched the past four after Brendan Smith was re-inserted into the lineup. This will be Kindl's series debut.
Kronwall and Zidlicky are the Red Wings' point men on each power-play unit. Those spots will be filled by Kindl and Danny DeKeyser.
"(Zidlicky) has been very good," Brendan Smith, Zidlicky's defense partner, said. "We'll lose him on the power play. I think he's been very good five-on-five, another tough loss for sure. We've got some guys coming in that have played well."
This will be the first game Zidlicky has missed this season. He played in 84 regular season games because New Jersey had played two more games than the Red Wings when he was traded to Detroit on March 2. Zidlicky has played in 90 games, regular season and playoffs combined, more than any player in the league.
Zidlicky has no points and an even plus-minus rating in the series.
Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm didn't skate today but will play tonight. Coach Mike Babcock said he is planning no lineup changes up front.
added 1:10pm, from Bill Roose of the Wings' website.
Ton of respect for Kronwall. Talked about it at length. Always great to deal with, good times and tough times.
Best comment from Kronwall, to me, was that he did something to put it in league's hands. A hit like that is a risk.
Kronwall obviously disappointed by league's decision. Said he had feeling he'd get suspended from the tone of the hearing.
via Terry Koshan tweet,
Kronwall on news he was suspended: "Not one of the best moments in my life." Doesn't agree with decision. Trouble sleeping past 2 nights
Time to move on from the suspension talk, get your pre-game nap in and get ready for game 7.
added 4:09pm, Below, Babcock briefly and Kronwall talk about the decision..
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Zidlicky, Abdelkader and Helm not skating today. No update yet on their status.
Updates as needed...
added 11:43am, via Khan...
Appears Zidlicky is out with a concussion suffered last game.
added 11:46am, via Khan,
DeKeyser takes Zidlicky's point spot on one power play unit and Kindl takes Kronwall's spot on the other.
added 12:14pm, Khan again...
Babcock confirms Zidlicky out. Said no changes at forward.
from Travis Yost of TSN,
On Tuesday afternoon, the National Hockey League decided to suspend Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall one game for an illegal check to the head on Tampa Bay forward Nikita Kucherov.
The decision expects to be impactful. As one might expect, it’s simply not an easy task to replace a defenceman who averaged almost 24 minutes a night over the season. For the most part this year, Kronwall – and common partner Jonathan Ericsson – have logged the tougher minutes for Mike Babcock’s team, and his absence means that each blueliner at Detroit’s disposal will have to be shuffled up in preparation for a decisive game seven.
What I think will be most curious is to see if Kronwall’s absence has an effect on the way Jon Cooper line-matches against the Red Wings with last change. Cooper and Babcock have been in a bit of a chess match on this front through the first six games of the series. Cooper, for example, has tried to get the Steven Stamkos line out against Detroit’s second and third pairings (DeKeyser/Quincey; Zidlicky/Smith). When Babcock has had last change, he’s given the Kronwall pairing the Steven Stamkos assignment, preparing some of the easier assignments for his second and third-pairings.
We can see this in the head-to-head data from the first six games. Compare Niklas Kronwall’s home/road deployment by common defensemen and common forwards, and note the differences. First, the defencemen:
continued with graphs to back up the talk...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Here are five keys for the Red Wings:
1. Compensate for Niklas Kronwall's absence
Niklas Kronwall might have been the player the Red Wings could least afford to lose. He logs more minutes than anyone of the team and will be tough to replace following his one-game suspension for charging Nikita Kucherov.
The Red Wings will need to shuffle their defense, likely splitting up Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey, their steadiest combination this season. DeKeyser might join Jonathan Ericsson on the top pairing. Rookie Alexey Marchenko, scratched the past four games, figures to be inserted into the lineup, possibly paired with Brendan Smith.
Someone will need to replace Kronwall on the top power-play unit. Marek Zidlicky would move into the spot and DeKeyser onto the second unit.
2. Pressure Ben Bishop
After two strong regular seasons, the Lightning's 6-foot-7 goaltender is experiencing the playoffs for the first time, and his inexperience is showing. Bishop has been shaky, allowing some soft goals and not handling pucks well around his crease. He's been outplayed by rookie Petr Mrazek.
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
Tonight is another first for Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop: a Game 7. Win or go home. Actually, Game 6 in Detroit was like that, too.
This Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series with the Red Wings ends this evening, or early Thursday morning if they go overtime bananas.
There’s always that chance. There’s a chance for anything in Game 7.
The Lightning like their chances.
They like their goaltender.
It’s Game 7, the biggest game of Ben Bishop’s life.
“I don’t think their guy has played in one, either,” said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, referring to Detroit rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek. “Even playing field there. Both my Game 7s (in 2011) were 1-0 games. The goalies played great on both ends.”
Game 7s can be goalie nights.
It’s an important, exciting fork in Big Ben Road.
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.