The Malik Report
I will have more in the game-day post, but this merits its own heads-up:
Updated 6x at 3:20 PM: The Red Wings will attempt to snap a two-game winless streak when they tangle with the San Jose Sharks this evening (10:30 PM EST on FSD/Comcast Sportsnet California/97.1 FM).
As noted last night, the Sharks, who are in a desperate battle to earn a Wild Card spot (and the Sharks haven't played since Saturday's Stadium Series loss to LA), told the Mercury News's David Pollak's article that they're particularly wary of the Wings:
Sharks coach Todd McLellan might be starting to get annoyed at the attention paid to the fact his team would not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs if the season ended today.
"Let's get past whether they're in or they're out. It doesn't matter right now," he said Wednesday. "It matters at the end of the year, and we have to work each night to put points in the bank."The Sharks return to that task Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings after a four-day break in the schedule. And while Detroit might not be the archrival it once was, the Red Wings provide a formidable obstacle.
"Their roster is a lot different than when we played them in the playoffs, but they've still got some of the same players they had then," said Sharks forward Logan Couture, mentioning forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg by name. "It's a tough matchup."
McLellan, who was an assistant with Detroit before taking over behind the San Jose bench, indicated he didn't think Datsyuk had lost a step since he last coached him in 2008. And the Sharks coach, whose record against his former team is 13-6-2, isn't ready to concede the rivalry forged in five playoff meetings has died out.
"I think it still exists," he said. "They're still a benchmark for a lot of teams in the league, the way they do things, the way they brought some young players into their lineup and they've been effective."
Also, from Pollak's Working the Corners blog:
In non-Red Wings-related but general Michigan-hockey related news:
1. The Flint Journal's Aaron McMann reports the following:
It appears like we have our finalists.
Ten names have been registered by IMS Hockey Corp. ahead of its Friday deadline to submit a name, logo and colors to the Ontario Hockey League and jersey supplier CCM-Reebok for Flint's new hockey team.
"Flint Firebirds" is the latest name filed with Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, joining a list of registered names that includes "Force," "Fury," "Nationals," "Pride," "Spark Plugs," "Sparks," "United" and "Vikings."
Team officials have done a job of not tipping their hat as to which way they are learning. "Tropics" emerged as an early favorite but has since been drowned out by voices claiming it would turn the hockey club into a laughingstock.
2. And the Free Press's Shawn Windsor explained the recruiting process going on at Southwest Detroit's Clark Park hockey program, and Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples noted that the Clark Park coalition is holding a "Celebrity Winter Classic" this upcoming Saturday to help raise awareness of the urban hockey programs available in Southwest Detroit:
Via RedWingsFeed, it's kind of refreshing to read ESPN's Pierre LeBrun report that the Red Wings will probably stand pat at the deadline--if only because LeBrun substantiates a headline-bummer strategy that I believe the team will ultimately follow:
[It]’s not like they’re not looking. It would certainly be nice to add a right-handed defenseman and there’s no question the Wings are interested in both Jeff Petry and Zbynek Michalek for that reason -- perhaps a little more interested in Petry between the two. But it’s about the price.
I think if Detroit can get Petry for a second-round pick for a middling prospect, than sure, maybe there’s a deal. But they’re not giving up one of their top youngsters. I don’t think the Wings feel the return is worth it.
The top youngsters include Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul, who the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson believes would be part of the asking price...
Again, the future is just as important as the present for a Wings team that is remarkably re-tooling on the fly with great success. They will act before Monday’s deadline if they can do it via a modest price.
I know that many of you are aggravated by this concept--and it sounds like the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo isn't in the, "Just let the youth movement play out" camp, either:
Every once in a while one needs a good rant, and I find the machinations surrounding the trade deadline (and especially the treating of players as chess pieces) as rather aggravating, so here comes my rant:
1. Sometimes trade deadline prices remind you what you have, and as Wings fans discuss adding a "rental player" that Ken Holland has stated he will not add because he's looking for a meaningful, long-term upgrade, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reminded us that the Red Wings wouldn't exactly be paying chopped liver for Jeff Petry's services:
Detroit GM Ken Holland is loathe to trade first-round picks, but he has the requisite young defensive prospects the Oilers would want. In a perfect world, the Oilers would want Xvavier Ouellet for Petry, but that’s probably a non-starter.
Offensive defenceman Ryan Sproul, playing in Grand Rapids, is on their radar, for sure. So, probably, is Russian Alexey Marchenko, currently playing for the Red Wings.
Ouellet plays a solid two-way game, while Sproul, a former teammate of Darnell Nurse in the Soo, can hammer the puck and Marchenko plays a heavy game.
While Petry will be looking for a $5 million-plus contract in the summer, the Wings face a "flat cap" summer simply trying to find a way to fit both Marchenko and Ouellet into the lineup at what would be a total cap hit of about $1.5 million (per NHL Numbers, Sportrac and the Production Line's "Chart," which all make superb Capgeek substitutes).
2. And about a salary cap that might rise to $70 or $71 million if the NHLPA agrees to have massive amounts of escrow withholdings withdrawn from their paychecks next season? Remember two-time 20-goal-scorer Gustav Nyquist? Or Brendan Smith? Or Tomas Jurco? They're all restricted free agents this summer, and subtracting Daniel Cleary's $1.5 million cap hit ($1 million bonus not included) and Jonas Gustavsson's $1.85 million cap hit MIGHT allow the Wings to "break even" this summer trying to extend Nyquist for $3.5-4 million on a long-term deal.
The Red Wings have had more than enough reason to complain regarding some...interesting...interpretations of the rulebook by NHL officials of late, but Wings coach Mike Babcock and his players chose to keep a stiff upper lip about the "unique" goals-against in Dallas, they were understated in speaking about Jamie Benn's punch to Henrik Zetterberg's face, hoping that the league would take care of it (whoops!).
Last night, Babcock was particularly incensed by a delay-of-game call that turned to be a deflection of stick instead of puck, and he told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan that he was going to work to make things right:
Babcock was seen arguing with officials over a late delay of game against the Red Wings, but admitted after the game he was wrong. He saw video confirming Luke Glendening shot the puck over the glass with no Kings player touching it first.
"It was our fault, I got some misdirection," Babcock said. "I'll have to talk to those officials. We work together all the time. You have to treat them better than that."
The Red Wings are taking the day off to recharge for tomorrow night's tilt against San Jose (10 PM EDT on FSD) and recovering from a 3-games-in-4-nights slate, so both the team and the beat writers appear to be enjoying the sunshine in San Jose this afternoon.
Fox Sports Detroit color commentator Mickey Redmond appeared on Detroit Sports 105.1's Drew and Marc show to discuss Jamie Benn's unpunished punch to Henrik Zetterberg's face (goal against, "cheap," the Stars' captain says, punch to another captain's face, "justified," suggests the NHL's silence--and Kerry Fraser tries to "explain" it on TSN) and the Wings' 1-1-and-1 record over the past three games (technically, the Wings are actually 2-1-and-1 on their 5-game road trip), the youth movement and more over the course of a 20-minute interview...
I really wasn't surprised by Jimmy Howard's hiccups in Dallas or Anaheim--I simply didn't expect a goaltender who'd missed the better part of a month to be at 100% after three up-and-down outings. The Free Press's Helene St. James, in evaluating Howard's particularly rough outings against Dallas and Anaheim, suggests that the Wings may end up leaning on Jonas Gustavsson a little more regularly if he delivers the kind of performance he did last night against Los Angeles:
[Jonas] Gustavsson has, in fact, only appeared in five games this season and, before Tuesday, hadn't started since dislocating his left shoulder in early November. That's not much work to build on in case he's needed regularly, but Gustavsson said, "I'm just going to do whatever I can when I get a chance and show that I can be out there. Then we'll see how many chances I get. But in the end, it's all about the team getting points and getting in good position to get a good playoff run going."
That is where Howard comes in. Saturday's 7-6 overtime victory at Dallas was a farce on many levels, but the Wings had a great game going in Anaheim until Howard let in two soft rebounds. That's what needs to change. "Howie gives us a swagger," Babcock said. "When he is on top of his game and feeling like he can feel, it's ... contagious. It helps us feel good about who we are. We need him to find his consistent form, and I have no doubt he will."
The Wings are in the fortunate position that they've got a third stringer in Petr Mrazek who did a solid job filling in when both Howard and Gustavsson were hurt midseason. The ideal scenario, though, is a confident Howard and a healthy Gustavsson atop the depth chart.
I don't see the Wings going back to the three-headed goalie monster for fear of Howard or Gustavsson slipping. Do you?
added 2:16pm, a bit more via Ansar Khan of Mlive...
Quincey has missed the past three games after leaving practice Friday after only a few minutes due to pain. He's been taking anti-inflammatory medication. Surgery would have sidelined him for approximately six weeks.
"It started in about August and acted up a few times in the preseason but is kind of an ongoing thing," Quincey said on Tuesday. "We knew we needed surgery back in October but it was hopeful we could get through the rest of the year. That's still the plan."
Elliotte Friedman posted this Detroit related topic in his 30 Thoughts today...
- One GM on the Red Wings: “They’ve got cap room and a good team. Dangerous combination.” Ken Holland said earlier in the season he wanted to wait and see what he had. Well, he’s got a team good enough to win the Eastern Conference.
- This is me spitballing, but if you’re Detroit and Toronto, would you do Dion Phaneuf for Stephen Weiss and Jakub Kindl? The Red Wings gain on the money (but just a little bit, unless some of Phaneuf’s salary is held back), the Maple Leafs gain on term.
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.