The Malik Report
WDFN's Art Renger spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland this morning, speaking with Holland about the state of the team, the Wings' road-heavy schedule, Dylan Larkin's surprising development and more over the course of an 18-minute interview:
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
The Detroit Red Wings are entering their annual three-day Christmas break on a down note after losing at home Tuesday to the New Jersey Devils.
But that doesn't diminish what they've done in the last five weeks.
The Red Wings earned a point in 15 of their last 17 games dating back to Nov. 16 to putting themselves in the thick of the Atlantic Division race when the NHL schedule resumes Saturday.
Despite losing 4-3 Tuesday night, when they spotted New Jersey the game's first three goals, the Red Wings remained two points behind Atlantic Division leader Montreal. They trail second-place Boston and Florida by one point.
Skeptics will argue the Red Wings let valuable points slip away by blowing third-period leads in the last month but captain Henrik Zetterberg said that theory can work both ways.
"We probably stole a few, too, during that stretch," Zetterberg said. "The thing we know is if we keep playing like we did tonight we will get points and we will be fine."
The Red Wings' 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils was as disheartening as it was at times enthralling, with the Red Wings rallying from a 3-0 deficit only to surrender that all-important 4-1 marker to Sergey Kalinin, and the Wings nearly rallying from that deficit, too, until what we'll call a spurious penalty on Niklas Kronwall, on top of a whole bunch of non-calls in both teams' favor, yielded a disappointing result.
Had the Red Wings not made such glaring and garish mistakes, had they gotten slightly better goaltending and had they a little more luck on their side, and Wings fans would have been talking about the Northeast Division's top team going into Christmas break; instead, Detroit sits in a wild card spot with 9 of their next 10 games to be played away from Joe Louis Arena, and the Wings feel very much like an unfinished product...
Or as Jeff Blashill might put it, like a team that remains "in the process" of becoming elite again.
Our friends in New Jersey decided to push the schmaltz meter up to eleven, suggesting that Kyle Palmieri's 1-0 goal reminded them of the Scott Niedermayer dagger from way back in 1995. So said the Newark Star-Ledger's Rich Chere, anyway:
For better or worse, an NHL team's pre-Christmas game, which is really just 1 of 82, is often viewed as a sort of "state of the team" barometer, and so it's with heavy fan expectations that the Red Wings came into Game 34 of the regular season against the New Jersey Devils.
As the Wings wrap up the home-friendly portion of their schedule, New Jersey presented a stiff opponent, and on Tuesday night, if the Wings played a game that was a microcosm of their season, this one may have been appropriate.
Detroit tried very, very hard to overcome a start marred by hiccups and mistakes, and while the Wings' comeback was stirring, and the emotional roller-coaster was enthralling, the Wings weren't quite good enough to overcome their early mistakes, and they dropped a 4-3 decision to the New Jersey Devils.
Going on the road for most of January and February, the Red Wings are going to have to minimize their mistakes to truly establish themselves as a team that is more than "pretty good in the process of getting back to very good," and this game serves as a blueprint of sorts--as to what kind of spirit it's going to take to rally when down, as well as a blueprint as to what kind of mistakes the Wings must absolutely avoid to succeed going forward.
Of Red Wings prospect-related note:
In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin played 15:48 in SKA St. Petersburg's 6-5 OT loss to Torpedo Nizhny Novogrod;
Christoffer Ehn didn't play in the Frolunda Indians' 3-0 win over Malmo as Ehn is preparing for the World Junior Championships;
And here's the Grand Rapids Griffins' weekly press release:
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Here's the Red Wings' Game-Day Preview video:
2. NHL.com's Paul Harris discussed the Smith-Green pairing in his At the Rink article...
Via RedWingsFeed, the Hockey News's Ken Campbell spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill about "replacing a rock star," the Wings' early-season swoon/rebound and where the coach goes from here in terms of his status as Mike Babcock's successor:
There are certainly some differences between the two. Blashill placed his trust immediately in rookie Dylan Larkin and the move has paid off. Babcock never altered his defense pairings, but Blashill has juggled them several times this season. But still, it’s never easy to replace a rock star. And you knew that as soon as the Red Wings hit a bump, the questions would begin to surface.
“I just walk in here and do the best job I can,” Blashill said. “That’s what I’ve done at every job I’ve been at. I don’t worry about who I replaced or other factors. I don’t think you can. It’s worked for me up to now. What can’t it work for me here, regardless of who I replaced? I don’t think I’m cocky, but I believe I belong here and I believe I can do a great job here.”
With that in mind, Blashill did not spend a lot of time during the early struggles worrying about being the first coach in 25 to miss the playoffs. He didn’t concern himself with the comparisons to Babcock and he wisely relied on his own instincts.
“I don’t spend time worrying about what bad things are going to happen,” Blashill said. “I worry about what it’s going to take to succeed. And I know that sounds like a little bit of bullsh–, but it’s not. Do I know that we might miss the playoffs someday? Yes? Do I know there are high expectations here? Yes. Do I know I’m a coach and at some point I’ll get fired? Yes. It’s fine. I’m at peace with all that.”
Also from Campbell:
Updated 4x at 1:52 PM: Drew Miller skated with the Red Wings today, and the Free Press's Helene St. James checked in with Miller after the Wings' morning skate:
Drew Miller figures Christmas dinner will have enough options for him to get in a good meal. The Detroit Red Wings forward does have to be careful, though, as he was today, when he made it onto the ice for a brief skate at Joe Louis Arena. He is still dealing with the effects of a crushing hit Dec. 3, when the Arizona Coyotes' Klas Dahlbeck drove his right shoulder into Miller's head. A game official grabbed Miller to keep him upright until team personnel could help him.
Miller wasn't well enough to be around the arena for a good week after the incident.
"It was a weird feeling," he said. "To come back and be around for games and supporting the guys here in the locker room, it was nice to be here for that."
Today was Miller's second time on the ice. The former Michigan State star does not have a return date circled but is hopeful that the recovery is at the shorter end of the 4-to-6-week prognosis. He said he thinks he will go on the team's post-Christmas trip but isn't certain.
"It's hard to say," he said. "You have to just kind of go day-by-day and see how the jaw progresses. And then I've got to get my conditioning back."
St. James continues, and discusses Miller's Christmas dinner options as his broken jaw remains a little sore...
Update: MLive's Ansar Khan posted a video of Miller speaking with the media:
Updated 6x at 2:09 PM: The Red Wings held an optional morning skate ahead of tonight's game against tne New Jersey Devils (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/MSG Plus/97.1 FM), and it revealed that Jimmy Howard will start opposite Corey Schneider--as well as the fact that the Wings are going with Kronwall-DeKeyser, Smith-Green and Kindl-Marchneko on defense against the Patrik Elias-less Devils.
The Free Press's Helene St. James was first out of the chute with a morning skate article...
Updated 4x at 11:46 AM: The Red Wings hope to go into the Christmas break on a good note as they host the New Jersey Devils this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/MSG Plus/97.1 FM).
The Wings hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena just after 10:30 AM for the morning skate, per MLive's Ansar Khan...
Optional morning skate for #RedWings. Howard is in the starter's net.
Howard confirms he's starting.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
It's an optional morning skate for the #RedWings. Looks like Jimmy Howard is tonight's starter based on him defending west net.
The Red Wings...
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