The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning in a slightly early (7 PM EDT start, not 7:30 PM, on FSD/FS Florida/CNBC/Sportsnet/TVA Sports/97.1 FM) Game 3 this evening, and sometimes the people who are paid to put things into context summarize a whole game's worth of jitters in one paragraph.
The Free Press's Steve Schrader issues a perfect reading of the temperature and/or atmosphere of Red Wings nation in his "Octopus Garden"...
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that winning one game at Tampa is a good thing, a bright side, it's what the Red Wings needed to do, they now have home-ice advantage and all that. But this time of year, you only feel as good as the last game. That's just the way it is.
And WDIV's David Bartkowiak, Jr. summarizes everyone's feelings about Brendan Smith rejoining the lineup:
He has to be smarter. Period. And if he is he can be a huge asset on the back end. He can jump up into the rush and help pop in a goal or two and rely on his speed to get back into position on defense.
Like everybody else who cheers for the Red Wings, I have some very strong and positive feelings for Steve Yzerman, but given that the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning are playing against each other in the playoffs, I also believe--and have believed since I was hacking, whacking and slugging my friends in the tennis court across from Divine Child High School in the 90's that there is one and only one axiom in hockey: when someone doesn't represent your side, and the puck has been dropped, there are no friends on the ice.
The Red Wings will host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 600 Yzerman Drive at 7 PM this evening, and I will make sure that my Steve Yzerman poster will be where it's been for the last ten days--down and facing the wall. These are Steve Yzerman's Lightning trying to end the Wings' season, so there's no question of loyalty or sentiment for me.
That's why this superb article from the Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman gets its own entry--Yzerman is an executive, the other team's GM, and as grateful as I am to him as a Red Wings fan, he's on the other side now, and he is not rooting for the Detroit Red WIngs:
Of Red Wings-related note this evening, and in the vein of stuff that didn't make it into the practice post before I ferried the mom to the accountant's:
If there was a theme to the Red Wings' practice and post-practice activities, it was this statement from Wings coach Mike Babcock, as noted by the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness, that embodies the Wings' outlook going into Game 3:
“The think I would say when you evaluate our team, we have a lot more to give,” Babcock continued. “We’re two games in and we’re 1-1, we have a lot more to give. We need everyone on deck. We can’t be one on or one off. We need everyone onboard. Abby’s a competitor. He’s a guy that’s good at the net. He plays hard. He competes hard. I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.”
The Wings are looking forward to the return of Justin Abdelkader, as they told CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak...
FYI, from the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
There are pictures from Game 2 that show Lightning forward Steven Stamkos appearing to bite the glove of Kyle Quincey. Stamkos laughed off the charge after the game and Quincey did Tuesday, also.
"If he was biting my hand, it was my glove and not my fingers," Quincey said. "I didn't feel anything. I didn't see any pictures. That's the first I heard of it."
Quincey was more perplexed by getting an extra two minutes of roughing for the scrum, and putting Tampa Bay on a power play, during which it scored.
"I never go after after a guy like Stamkos, that's not in the hockey by rules," Quincey said. "To get two minutes for roughing. ... I never saw him coming. He choked me from behind."
Practice articles: Red Wings to get Abdelkader back, Smith to play; Garrison out for TB, fans pissed
Updated 5x at 2:07 PM: The Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning's practices revealed that:
1. Brendan Smith is coming back into the lineup at Alexey Marchenko's expense;
2. Justin Abdelkader is returning at Stephen Weiss' expense;
3. Fans are pretty damn peeved at Mike Babcock today...again...for keeping Joakim Andersson in the lineup and bringing Smith back in...
4. Jonathan Ericsson is battling an ankle injury, which is kind of ironic given that he played some of the best hockey he's played all season in Games 1 and 2;
4. In Tampa Bay, we should expect no lineup changes, though Jason Garrison continues to get closer to returning;
5. Fans are pretty damn peeved at Mike Babcock today...again...Which makes the strong probability that he will continue to frustrate fans with his personnel moves for years to come somewhat ironic (though the whole fans being peeved at the coach and everyone else after dropping a 5-1 decision on Saturday is understandable, no neener-neener finger-pointing from me here, especially given my bafflement at the Andersson-over-Weiss-over-Pulkkinen scenario).
Anyway, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness was first out of the multimedia chute, posting clips of an oblivious Brendan Smith grousing at the media...
Updated 13x at 12:44 PM: The Red Wings hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena just before 11 AM, hoping to rebound from Saturday's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay via some hard work and preparation for Game 3, and the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reported that the Wings will be making at least one lineup change for Tuesday:
Stephen Weiss is in Red today, meaning he's out Tuesday since he's not skating in Top 6 forwards.
Looks like Jonathan Ericsson isn't going to practice again today due to a nagging foot or ankle injury. Cleary in Black filling in.
MLive's Ansar Khan confirmed...
Ericsson not skating today again. He's been bothered by an ankle/foot issue but has played through it.
Early indication is that Weiss will be scratched for Abdelkader in Game 3 since Weiss is extra forward skating with top six (in red).
And meanwhile, in Tampa Bay...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
1. Better defensive-zone coverage
This was their main issue in Game 2. The Lightning scored two goals on plays in which the Red Wings didn't sort out and two more by speeding through the neutral zone virtually untouched.
It wouldn't be surprising if rookie Alexey Marchenko, who was a minus-2, is replaced by Brendan Smith, a healthy scratch the past three games. That would allow for the reunion of Danny DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey, the club's steadiest defense pairing this season. They could be matched against Tyler Johnson's line while Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson play against Steven Stamkos' line, or vice versa.
2. Convert on the power play
The Red Wings, with the second-ranked power play during the season, have gone 1 for 7, registering just eight shots in 12:40 with the extra man.
Neither the Red Wings nor Lightning practiced on Sunday, so you'd expect a quiet day subsequent to the Lightning's 5-1 win on Saturday, but there are clicks to be fought for, eyeballs to attract to websites and ads to sell to pay the bills--and it's the playoffs--so it would've been uncharacteristic at best and a bad business model at worst for the mainstream media folks to emulate the teams' decision to take a rest day.
That being said, Sunday and Monday morning's stories offer a scattershot selection of Red Wings and Lightning-related topics, so I'm going to split this entry into sub-topics, with the first being this:
Outside of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Red Wings are not a team full of established stars or superstars, though Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Justin Abdelkader and (very quietly) Danny DeKeyser made strides toward establishing themselves as key contributors this past season.
In playoff news involving Red Wings prospects:
In the SHL, Skelleftea AIK tied its SHL final series with the Vaxjo Lakers via a 2-1 win on Sunday (follow the link for highlights), and Axel Holmstrom's 1-0 goal in 15:01 played places him 2 points ahead of the Sedins' playoff rookie scoring record. He's registered 7 goals and 9 assists for 16 points in 13 games palyed;
In the WHL, Dominic Turgeon registered an assist in the Portland Winterhawks' 3-2 win over Everett, winning the second-round series in 5 games played. Turgeon's Winterhawks will battle Mitch Wheaton's Kelowna Rockets in the WHL semifinal;
And in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins discovered their playoff opponent on Sunday, while Teemu Pulkkinen wrapped up the AHL's goal-scoring title despite playing in only 46 games.
In terms of the playoff opponent, the Griffins will open their 5-game first-round series against the Toronto Marlies on the road, and they'll do so on Saturday, April 25th, per the Griffins:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Babcock, before this Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series, indicated he would play Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on separate lines once Abdelkader returned.
The Red Wings also need to shuffle their third line of Joakim Andersson, Stephen Weiss and Tomas Jurco. They have combined for no points and a minus-3 rating through two games and have just one shot between them - by Weiss.
Chances are Weiss or Jurco will be scratched when Abdelkader returns....
Abdelkader's return also likely will prompt Babcock to break up The Kid Line of Riley Sheahan, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, who scored the team's lone goal in Game 2.
Zetterberg more than likely will center Abdelkader and Nyquist while Datsyuk will center Darren Helm and Tatar. Those have been regular combinations this season.
Luke Glendening and Drew Miller have played together much of the season. Babcock probably will keep Landon Ferraro as the right wing on that unit because he plays with pace.
That would leave Sheahan centering the third line, with Andersson and Jurco or Weiss.
Babcock might also replace rookie defenseman Alexey Marchenko, who was a minus-2 and lost coverage on a couple of goals. In that case, Brendan Smith or Jakub Kindl would return to the lineup.
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.