The Malik Report
from John Kreiser of NHL.com,
The Boston Bruins are trying to hold onto a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings are trying to get to the playoffs for the 26th consecutive season. One team will come two points closer to its objective when the Original Six rivals play in the Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).
The Bruins (23-19-5) enter the game second in the Atlantic Division, though they've alternated wins and losses in their past six games and are coming off a 4-0 home loss to the New York Islanders on Monday. The Red Wings (19-19-6) are four points out of a playoff spot but are coming off back-to-back home wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens.
With a lot on the line for each team, here are 5 reasons to tune in:
Rebound for Rask
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is headed for the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game but not because of his play Monday. He was lifted after allowing three second-period goals on 12 shots. Despite that, Rask is 22-10-3 with a 2.03 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and five shutouts, including a 1-0 victory at Joe Louis Arena on Oct. 29. Rask hasn't lost more than two games in a row all season. There's no reason to think he won't bounce back with a Grade-A performance.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
This one is going to be interesting. The Wings like Vanek, and they need somebody to score goals for them next season when their new arena opens. But the new contract would have to be right. And if you’re Vanek -- you've bounced around a few years, your family seems happy in Detroit -- why not try to make it happen?
more on Vanek, plus Kevin Shattenkirk and Patrick Sharp on players who could be traded...
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com,
Ken Holland wants to be patient. He never has had to sell before the NHL Trade Deadline since becoming general manager of the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, and he wants to wait until almost the last moment before deciding what to do this season.
The Red Wings have one game in the week leading to March 1. So if they're out the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the last week of February, Holland will have plenty of time to maneuver then.
"I want to give our team every opportunity to try to play our way into the mix," Holland said....
It is the first of four games in eight days that could have a significant impact on whether they give themselves a chance to make the playoffs for the 26th consecutive season and keep Holland from trading pending unrestricted free agents like forward Thomas Vanek before the deadline.
The Red Wings have 44 points, six behind the Ottawa Senators for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference and the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division; each team has two games in hand on the Red Wings. They are seven points behind the Bruins but have played three fewer games.
RedWings on ice for morning skate. Jared Coreau in starter's net. Face @NHLBruins at 8 p.m. NBCSN
Same lines for #RedWings:
Same defense pairs for #RedWings:
added 10:43am, Khan...
Same PP units for #RedWings:
Nyquist-Zetterberg-Nielsen, Vanek, Green
Tatar/Larkin-Athanasiou-Mantha, Abdelkader, DeKeyser
Pierre LeBrun on the TSN Insiders last night said he believes the Wings will sit down with Thomas Vanek to see if there is a deal to be made. LeBrun said the numbers have to work for Detroit and said the big contract days for Vanek probably are over (segment starts at the 2:58 mark).
Then Bob McKenzie discussed the future of Tomas Jurco who wants regular ice time and might be available via a trade.
Watch here at TSN.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
“As a team, I don’t think we are quite over the hump yet,” Vanek said. “We are a fragile team, a team trying to learn to win. We have some great leadership, but we also have some guys who haven’t been there, done that. When you are losing, it’s tough.”
The Red Wings took important steps by scoring six goals against the Penguins on Saturday and then winning a 1-0 tug-a-war against Montreal on Monday, but they are still four points out of a playoff spot, needing to climb past Florida, Ottawa and Tampa Bay before getting to third-place Toronto in the Atlantic.
To qualify for the playoffs for a 26th consecutive season, the Red Wings need an extended winning streak, a lofty goal considering the current two-game streak is the longest they’ve had since early December.
“It’s a game of confidence,” Vanek said. “And we got a little bit against Pittsburgh.”
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Darren Helm is expected to return this weekend, general manager Ken Holland said. So he might be back Friday at Buffalo or Sunday at home against the New York Rangers. Helm has been out since Nov. 15 with a dislocated shoulder.
The Red Wings need to clear a roster spot. That could require putting someone on waivers, perhaps Tomas Jurco.
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall (groin) has been practicing but Holland said he's not sure when he'll be cleared to play.
more Wings talk, mostley on Tatar's shoulder...
from Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News,
For the first time in a while, the Red Wings are making us notice. The fans at Joe Louis Arena certainly noticed, standing and roaring as the game ended Monday, a 1-0 victory over first-place Montreal. The Wings just beat two of the best teams in the league back to back, and did it with youthful flair and veteran savvy, with a wide-open offense against the Penguins, then a tight defense against the Canadiens.
Of course, this could be a fleeting burst, like the blast of an air horn. Seldom do fortunes dramatically, permanently shift in two games. But in the race between growing old and growing up, youth is starting to catch up, and the Wings will not quietly bid farewell to an old arena and a long playoff streak.
The next two weeks are enormous, and not just because the Wings play five of seven at home. The March 1 trade deadline looms, and nobody expects them to be buyers. They’re seventh in their division, four points out of a playoff spot.
The logical strategy is for them to be sellers if they’re not within a few points of the playoffs. The problem is that’s almost completely foreign to this franchise, and they will not adopt it easily.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Turning point, the Detroit Red Wings were asked? Turn to Boston, they replied.
It speaks to how much the Wings have struggled this season that winning two straight games begets scrutiny. No one parried the question of whether back-to-back victories over Pittsburgh and Montreal will stoke a turnaround better than Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who smiled and said, “I'm looking forward to a day off, and then we have Boston next day. That’s the longest I look.”
At least the Wings can look ahead to hosting the Bruins on Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN) with a bit of swagger. It was earned on the strength of beating the defending champion Penguins, 6-3, and then shutting out Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens, 1-0, on Monday.
“It’s good to see we can play both kinds of games,” Frans Nielsen said after Monday’s outing. “It’s good to see we have that ability.”
If Detroit falls out of the playoff race before the deadline, general manager Ken Holland has to move his unrestricted free agents, including Vanek. A great fit would be in Chicago, where the Blackhawks could use some veteran help on the wing.
-Craig Custance of ESPN. The ESPN crew discusses more players who may be available.
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.