The Malik Report
Over the past few days, we’ve heard quite a bit about the Nashville Predators’ delight regarding the fact that they may very well be able to slay their self-created dragon in their arch-rival Red Wings this evening, and while that’s swell and all, it’s hard to argue that a playoff vanquishing of the “gold standard” means that your team has definitively surpassed said poster boy franchise once and for all.
That being said, I agree with SI’s Darren Eliot when he suggests that the Red Wings have run into a team that has spent the past two trade deadlines and summers very specifically building itself into a team very specifically designed to take the Wings out come playoff time, and there’s definitely something to Eliot’s theory that a team that’s embraced its identity as the Wings’ vanquisher is playing against a team that somehow lost its identity after establishing a home-ice winning streak in February—and it’s scary to watch the Predators prey upon a Wings team that doesn’t seem to understand what it takes to win against the Preds as much as Nashville knows exactly how to make Detroit lose:
On Thursday, the Red Wings’ players, coach and captain were asked what have become customary questions about Nicklas Lidstrom’s future, and the usual refrain—nobody knows what where Lidstrom’s leaning, Lidstrom himself says that he hasn’t considered whether he’ll play, and says he won’t make his decision until a few weeks after the regular season ends—but USA Today’s Kevin Allen, who covers the Wings on a relatively regular basis, suggests that even he’s starting to wonder whether Lidstrom might actually consider retiring this time around:
At 41, he is still playing at a remarkably high level. He’s still among the league’s top five defensemen. I believe he’s still the NHL’s best one-on-one defender. It seems to me, Lidstrom is still enjoying the game.
He says he won’t make a decision until he has some distance from the playoffs, but my radar detects worry around the Red Wings organization that Lidstrom is seriously considering putting his skates on a nail. I’m told Lidstrom has a beautiful home waiting for him in Sweden. His oldest son has been playing hockey over there. His close friend, Tomas Holmstrom, also is also inching toward the end of his career. They have been driving to the rink together. Maybe what Holmstrom does will have an impact. I’m just not sure what Lidstrom is going to do, not like I was last year at this time.
The Detroit Red Wings will hope to stave off elimination against the Nashville Predators tonight (8 PM EDT, FSD/SportSouth/CNBC/97.1 FM), and after two days to rest and recover from Game 4, the Wings’ players, executives and media have sort of prepared their fans for what could be the team’s last game until September:
• GM Ken Holland, executive Kris Draper and Mike Babcock have made the media rounds, and 97.1 Jamie Samuelssen gave fans a forum with which to criticize their decision-making, as well as make suggestions of our own as to what the management and coach might need to do should the team not join the 8.73% of NHL teams and 1987 and 1992 Wings in successfully rallying form a 3-1 series deficit;
Very briefly: we’ve reached a point in the playoffs where last year’s Stanley Cup finalists, and this year’s President’s Trophy winner, in the Vancouver Canucks, the Cup champ from two years ago in the Chicago Blackhawks, the Cup champ from two seasons ago and prohibitive media Cup pick in the Pittsburgh Penguins, and of course the team I cover and cheer for in the Detroit Red Wings face 3-1 series deficits against their respective opponents, and as I’m writing this, the St. Louis Blues
are attempting to take
just took a 3-1 series lead on another contender in the San Jose Sharks.
While fans like you and me have been distracted somewhat by the level of gratuitous violence taking place this spring (and while “hit to make your opponent sore” becomes, “I’ve got to hit to hurt you and win my battle or I’m playing golf” in April, May and June, the level of disrespect between players is as silly as the inconsistency of the NHL’s disciplinary policy), the fact that Vancouver, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit and maybe even San Jose could be cleaning out their lockers before the weekend’s over is nothing less than staggering. In the West, the 1-versus-8 and 2—versus-7 series look like they may very well go to the underdog, with the 3rd-place Coyotes and 4th-place Predators pulling off “upsets,” and that alone should give us pause.
Off-day stories continue to roll in via my ever-updated practice post, and I tend to prefer to keep everything on one place so as to not monopolize KK’s front page, but this story from 97.1 the Ticket’s Jamie Samuelssen merits an entry of its own.
Samuelssen has found that more than a few Red Wings fans are suggesting that the easiest way for the Wings’ organization to remedy their mediocre playoff showings of late involve either firing coach Mike Babcock—who will coach in Detroit until he no longer wishes to do so—or GM ken Holland, and while Samuelssen believes that Holland and the Wings front office’s recent draft record in particular merits criticizing, he doesn’t buy the concept that the answer to the Wings’ underwhelming springs since 2009 involves kicking Babcock or Holland to the curb:
The post-CCHA college hockey world threw the Great Lakes Invitational, which is held at Joe Louis Arena every December, into flux, and DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose reports that the newly-created Big 10 conference well replace it…On an every-other-year basis:
The Big Ten Conference announced that its inaugural men’s ice hockey season will conclude with a championship tournament in 2014 and will alternate between the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., and Joe Louis Arena.
St. Paul will host the league championship in 2014 and 2016, while Detroit will host the six-team tourney in 2015 and 2017.
The tournament will include all six teams – Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin – in a single-elimination format. Thursday’s quarterfinals will pit the No. 3 seed vs. the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed vs. the No. 5 seed.
Updated 8x with a Mike Modano interview at 6:52 PM: The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators held dueling practices at their respective rinks (albeit with the Predators using their practice facility and the Wings, who face an incredibly steep uphill climb in attempting to force Game 6 and a delay in the commencement of our annuall Nicklas Lidstrom watch), at the same time, on Thursday, and MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings only made one change to their practice lineup:
Wings on ice for practice. Brendan Smith has joined team for practice rather than skate with Black Aces.
Wings skating with these lines: 51-40-26, 93-13-11, 20-8-44, 14-48-96; 5-18, 55-23, 27-52; 35, 29; extras 41, 39, 2, 4
Prior to today’s practice at Joe Louis Arena (MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that Brendan Smith is skating with the big club today), Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke to 97.1 the Ticket’s Stoney and Bill about his team’s chances of rallying from a 3-1 deficit against the Nashville Predators:
ith the Red Wings down 3-1 in their series with Nashville and their proverbial backs to the wall, Mike Babcock is not panicking. He still believes in his team and his message. The Red Wings coach joined the Stoney and Bill show Thursday morning and feels his team is not dead because of the way they are playing.
“If you’re down 3-1 in a series and you feel like you’re getting outplayed and you feel they’re better than you, it’s harder to sell,” he said.
He added he does not believe the critics who say they are not getting good scoring opportunities, saying, “We had tons of quality chances in that last game — quality, quality chances. Their goaltender made the saves.”
You can listen to the interview below:
Amongst this morning’s crop of Red Wings stories, which include an, “It’s not over yet!” from WDIV’s Katrina Hancock and a note about the Wings, “One game at a time” mindset from from MLive’s Brendan Savage,, something inevitable this way comes.
The National Post’s Michael Traikos believes that the Red Wings’ management cannot afford to wait to decide which player might have to fill the role of succeeding Nicklas Lidstrom, regardless of whether Lidstrom chooses to continue playing after this season…And Traikos suggests that, should the Wings not pull off a miraculous comeback against Nashville, Ken Holland might tip the scales toward his captain returning by, say, promising to add a Ryan Suter to the mix during an all-too-long off-season:
It is difficult to imagine anyone filling the skates of a seven-time Norris Trophy winner who has won four Stanley Cups and missed only 40 games during his 20-year career. But sooner or later, the Red Wings are going to have to contemplate life without Lidstrom or — at the very least — a day when his skills diminish to the point where he is just another defenceman.
“He’d probably tell you he doesn’t recover like he did when he was 20 or 25 or even 35,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said earlier this week. “But he’s still a pretty good player and important to us.”
The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators may or may not be thanking the TV scheduling gods as NBC’s likely desire for a Sunday matinee (though Game 6’s starting time is “to be determined” literally as well as figuratively) as the teams received a something that rarely happens in the playoffs—a genuine “day off”—for both teams to rest the nagging injuries that just about every player is suffering from at this time of year, and for both teams to catch their breath after Tuesday’s 3-1 Wings loss.
Because the Wings have, in theory, anyway, out-played as well as out-shot the Predators by a significant margin thus far, Red Wings executive Kris Draper and GM Ken Holland took to the airwaves on Wednesday, preaching a party line which they essentially have to espouse given that Detroit’s season is on the line thanks to the team’s 3-1 deficit:
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.