The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings will continue their stretch of 8 games played over the course of 14 nights by welcoming the Colorado Avalanche to the Joe tonight (7:30 PM EST, FSD/Altitude/97.1 FM), and the on Breast Cancer Awareness night (click for the Wings' press release regarding tonight's in-rink activities and their request that fans wear pink to the game), the Wings may very well be hoping that the Avs are coming into town in a charitable mood.
The Wings have posted a 3-5-and-2 record over their past 10 games, including Sunday's 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago, and that places the Wings in 9th place in a ridiculously tightly-packed Western Conference, with the same 24 points as 4 other teams...And within a group of 12 teams separated by all of 6 points between the top (Vancouver at 26 points) and bottom teams (Calgary, Colorado and Edmonton at 20).
The Wings haven't been scoring many goals of late--they've been giving up 1 and 2-goal leads instead--and the team needs to make hay while the sun shines, especially given that the team will play 7 of its last 9 games of the month on the road.
Enter the Avs, who come into town having dropped a 2-1 OT decision to the Columbus on Sunday, possessing a 1-3-and-1 record of late (with three of their four losses coming in OT or a shootout), and an 8-8-and-4 record that isn't all that different from the Wings' 10-8-and-4 record, minus two games in hand, anyway.
A pair of Red Wings stories popped up after the practice post that simply shouldn't "wait" for the overnight report, because their content gives us an insight into the Wings' mentality heading into a very busy slate of games (7 over the next 14 days), starting with tomorrow night's tilt against Colorado.
The Wings' players and coach told WXYZ's Brad Galli that they're resigned to the concept that this season will be something of an identity-finding grind...
"We're not as good a team as we wanna be, but we're making significant strides," head coach Mike Babcock said.
12 teams are separated by just six points, and a shortened schedule makes every game that much more important. Looking at the Red Wings play the last two weeks, they have taken steps towards being the team fans are used to seeing the past two decades.
From the Red Wings' PR department:
FANS ASKED TO WEAR PINK TUESDAY FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS NIGHT PRESENTED BY TEAM REHAB
… Fans who Wear Pink to Tuesday’s Game can Enter to Win 2012-13 Team-Signed Jersey …
Detroit, MI… Fans are asked to wear pink this Tuesday, Mar. 5, for Breast Cancer Awareness Night presented by Team Rehab when the Wings take on the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Any fan who wears pink to the game can enter to win a 2012-13 team-signed jersey by picking up a numbered ticket on the concourse behind Section 126.
When doors open at 6:00 p.m., the Joe Louis Arena concourse will be home to a variety of activities, including a silent auction, mystery puck draw, 50/50 raffle and a special sale of soccer-style scarves with all proceeds benefiting the Karmanos Cancer Institute (Weisberg Cancer Treatment Center in Farmington Hills) and St. John Providence Health System (Liggett Breast Center in Grosse Pointe).The funds raised will help alleviate the costs of breast cancer screening and treatment for uninsured and underinsured women in the Metro Detroit area.
BCA Night activities include:
Winging it in Motown's Josh Howard wants the rest of us to know that the Red Wings Alumni Assoication will take part in a charity game in Brighton, MI this Saturday, and they'll tangle with "The Well Church" to raise funds for Livingston County charities.
Hello everyone! I'd love to invite you out this weekend to see the Wings Alumni play. The event is on facebook and can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/488008931230410/ . Tickets are available still and should be purchasable at the door. Stop on by and say hi. I'll be there along with my wife to help support the cause as well as taking pictures. We'd love to meet you and chat Red Wings... also, did I mention it's for charity? Yeah... that's sort of important too.
Quoting the event's Facebook page...
Updated 7x at 4:31 PM:The Red Wings hope to rebound from their loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday as they play seven more games over the next two weeks, starting with a game against Colorado tomorrow night, but it doesn't sound like they're going to get unrestricted free agent-to-be Valtteri Filppula's services back any time soon:
I'm not sure what to say about this one:
Via both Paul and my pal NHL Gossip, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson posted a less-than-surprising but still intriguing quip about Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula's contract demands (according to MLive's Ansar Khan, Filppula's sore shoulder's keeping him from practicing this morning)...
- The Detroit Red Wings are in a pickle with Val Filppula, who has tons of ability but has never really broken through to star status. He makes $3 million US now, and sources say he’d like $4.5 million or so in a new deal when he’s an unrestricted free agent July 1. That’s too rich for Detroit, but what if Pavel Datsyuk, 34, returns to Russia after his contract ends in 2014? “They know that’s a possibility,” said one NHL executive. Then, they need the Filppula, who’s 28.
And Matheson offered two more Wings-related quips...
After the Detroit Red Wings dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, I weighed in with my dissatisfaction, and then, in the comments section, so did you. Things apparently got heated enough that my quip about Mike Babcock's line machinations was taken as a personal attack, and if I am anything, I'm a blogger who's learned that one should never, ever attack one's readers for holding opinions contrary to one's own: attacking each other is one thing, but my job involves dealing with slings and arrows.
So maybe we're a wee bit testy this morning, eh, Red Wings nation?
In any case, the Red Wings and Blackhawks' press corps got the vast majority of their coverage taken care of during the evening, so there's a wrap-up available for your perusal, but this morning, the Free Press's Helene St. James and the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa offer a pair of takes on the direction the 8th-place, 10-8-and-4 Wings are facing--if not going toward.
St. James believes that the post-Lidstrom Wings have done their best to weather the inordinate number of injuries they've sustained as they try to forge their post-Nicklas Lidstrom identity, and while fans like you and me are a bit freaked out this morning, she feels that the team's continued to make progress, even during their 3-5-and-2 record over the past 10 games, but she also points out that the Wings have a very difficult schedule ahead--with three and four-game road trips this month and 8 of the team's 13 games over the remainder of March away from the Joe:
As a Red Wings fan, Detroit's 2-1 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon did not frustrate me because the Wings were unable to end the Hawks' now 24-game "unbeaten" streak. I'm one of those old farts who thinks that ties are better than shootouts, so that would've made the Wings' 23-game home winning streak something similar.
I'm not pissed off at the coach, even though I'm baffled as to why the Wings keep stacking their top power play unit with four forwards who skate deep into the opposing team's zone, but refuse to allow anyone other than Niklas Kronwall to take shots. I think that Jimmy Howard's been excellent, even though he did bite like nobody's business on Patrick Kane's shootout winner when Kane was leaning toward the blocker side throughout his dekes and fakes. I've got no complaints with the team's very young defensive corps, and no beefs with the forwards, especially after Johan Franzen woke from his hip flexor-pain-induced slumber on Sunday and ended up leading the team in shots, launching 6 of the 33 pucks the Wings hurled at Corey Crawford (though the fact that the Wings flung another 20 shot attempts wide into Hawks players does make me twitch a little bit).
I can't complain about the team's effort, intensity, level of engagement or, by and large, their attention to detail.
But the 10-8-and-4 Wings, who sit in 8th place in the Western Conference, have gone 3-5-and-2 over their past 10 games--since Jimmy Howard's 46-save performance against Los Angeles--and during that period of time, they've blown 3 two-goal leads and at least two or three 1-goal leads, while barely denting the opposing team's goaltender, as MLive's Ansar Khan notes, and this has me angry:
Given fans' reactions to an exchange at the very end of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock's press conference, conducted after the Wings' 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago--as I happened to mention on Twitter--you'd think that Mike Babcock signed his epitaph.
97.1 the Ticket's Mike Stone asked Babcock if he'd thought about placing Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson alongside Pavel Datsyuk (instead of Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary), and Babcock simply said, "No...Who else? See you guys," ending his presser.
Now I'm a Wings fan, too, and I'm wondering whether Babcock's simply giving Danny Cleary the rope with which to either save his spot on this year's team, to give Justin Abdelkader an honest chance to earn a top-six spot as a "net front guy," and whether he simply feels that Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson (who played the least amount of time of any Wings players on Sunday) are better-suited to playing together...
Updated with highlights and post-game videos at 4:20 PM, and here's a revised intro: I do know what to say about this one: the Wings went 0-3-and-2, demolished the Canucks, then went 1-and-1 (via a shootout win) on their road trip, and lost via a shootout today. That makes the Wings 2-4-and-3 over their past 9 games, and 10-8-and-4--or "10 and 10"--overall. I would strongly argue that the Wings' thoroughly mediocre record of late has a bit to do with injuries, a bit to do with special teams woes continuing, a bit with this whole, "The Wings are trying to find their post-Lidstrom identity while having a real youth movement shoved down the team's throat" narrative, and largely rests upon the fact that this team's lack of a killer instinct is a fatal flaw.
The Wings have sat on many 1 and 2-goal leads over the past 9 games, and have surrendered a ridiculous number of points because of that tendency. When the Wings play consistently and win consistently, they press, press, press and press some more, relentlessly utilizing their puck possession game to take the puck into the opponent's offensive zone and keep it there, grinding it out down low and playing defense 200 feet from their net, all while sniffing around for goals.
There's no doubt that this Wings team is missing a top-four offensive defenseman which the team may or may not add at the trade deadline, and there's no doubt that the team misses the offense that Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and even the injured Darren Helm and confidence-lacking Valtteri Filppula could provide them with, but this Wings roster--even with Justin Abdelkader and Danny Cleary playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk--can get the job done offensively, and, for whatever reason, it hasn't been willing to put the pedal to the medal to ensure that it has a margin for inevitable defensive errors. That's why the Wings have lost so very regularly of late.
And now, back to your regularly-scheduled quick take:
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.