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Prospect news: Griffins snipe shootout win; Walleye take K-Wings; another Hicketts profile

The Grand Rapids Griffins have lost 1st line center Andreas Athanasiou's services for the next 7 weeks, Mattias Backman's gone back to Sweden, both Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum are in Detroit and Xavier Ouellet's days with the Griffins are numbered, but a team that struggled so very mightily for the first month-and-a-half of the season is still finding its stride.

Grand Rapids built upon Friday's 7-1 win over Toronto by taking a tightly-fought 4-3 shootout decision from the Lake Erie Monsters, and new 1st-line winger Landon Ferraro scored a goal (Tomas Nosek, the 1st line's center, had an assist), Teemu Pulkkinen posted yet another marker (as well as the shootout winner), Anthony Mantha got into his first professional fight and Jared Coreau stopped both 34 of 37 shots and 4 of 5 shootout shooters to extend his record to 6-and-0.

The Griffins' website posited a game recap...

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An aside: the KHL isn’t going away and its players aren’t going to ‘defect’ en masse

This is not Red Wings-related, but I feel it's worth both an entry and the KK bandwidth to posit this set of observations:

As I continue reading stories about the KHL's mighty financial struggles as the Russian ruble loses 40% of its value, stories of players and coaches not getting paid in said rubles (more than usual: the KHL relies upon sponsorships to pay player salaries, and when sponsorships fall through, in true Soviet and post-Soviet fashion, employees are expected to continue to show up for work and eventually either get partially paid or sue for back wages, and this usually happens to 2-4 KHL teams per year), and I've read Dmitry Chesnokov's explanation of the situation (as well as commentary from Russian media outlets)...

Some media types and NHL fans are getting super excited about the prospect of, say, an Ilya Kovalchuk or Alexander Radulov bolting to the NHL.

However:

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Practice post: Red Wings shuffle lines amidst offensive drought; Weiss, Howard out for the weekend

Updated 4x at 4:42 PM: As Paul noted, the Red Wings' Saturday practice was rather uneventful.

The Wings made their recall of Tom McCollum official as Jimmy Howard's "lower-body injury" will keep him out for the weekend, MLive's Ansar Khan reported that Stephen Weiss will remain on the IR as he's not ready to return from his shoulder injury, and regarding Howard's future status...

The Wings welcome the Avs to town tomorrow (6 PM EST on FSD), and the Avalanche are playing Tuesday's opponent, the Buffalo Sabres, this evening.

The Free Press's Helene St. James either posted a light moment at practice or a metaphor for the Wings' 5-game losing streak, too:

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Detroit Red Wings Practice Updates

via Ansar Khan tweets,

Lines:
Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Abdelkader
Tatar-Sheahan-Jurco
Nyquist-Helm-Franzen (Weiss rotating in)
Cleary-Glendening-Miller (Andersson)

Power play units:
Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Franzen. Abdelkader (net front), Kronwall
And
Nyquist-Tatar-Jurco, Helm (net front), Kindl

McCollum is here and will back-up Mrazek tomorrow vs. Colorado. Gustavsson (shoulder) was on ice earlier. Still few weeks away.

added 1:03pm, via Khan,

Babcock said Weiss not ready to play tomorrow.

Howard being evaluated today. Wings have no further update today. Mrazek starting tomorrow.

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The overnight report: On bridges unburnt, net-front players, Ouellet, Weiss and praise for the Isles

If you need a little "light reading," if not a change of pace given the Wings' 5-game losing streak, and we're going to do via yet another two-or-more-sport-referencing article from the Free Press's Evil Drew Sharp, mostly because his comparison of Jim Harbaugh and Mike Babcock's respective contract situations is...Thoughtful? Yes indeedy:

Babcock's apparent reluctance in committing to the Wings beyond this season easily could have turned ugly. Everyone understands how thin-skinned Detroit gets if it thinks its shiniest sports baubles want out at their earliest convenience.

But general manager Ken Holland isn't panicked. There's no rush. More important, there's no rancor. Holland fully appreciates what Babcock has brought to the Wings since his arrival for the 2005-06 season. Holland knows he has the best coach in the NHL as well as the best owner in Mike Ilitch, who's unafraid to spend premium dollars on premium talent. He can wait. Holland knows that if Babcock leaves after the season, it won't be because the Wings turned miserly.

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Red Wings-Islanders wrap-up: The inevitable return of the rope-AND-dope

I'm just not surprised. The Red Wings' 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders, punctuated by Jimmy Howard's "lower-body injury" exit necessitating the recall of Tom McCollum and demotion of Xavier Ouellet due to roster space reasons...

It was coming, as was the Wings' 0-2-and-3 slide. This team is still just young enough, just thin enough in terms of depth or the lack thereof and just still working out its identity as a recharged, reloaded team on an upward trajectory to allow a set of injuries that disrupted team continuity to screw everything up--via a cascading series of self-inflicted wounds.

The 7-1-and-1 run sewed the seeds for both a probable rebound performance during January and February's road-heavy schedule, and the temporary losses of Johan Franzen's production, Danny DeKeyser, Stephen Weiss, Justin Abdelkader et. al. (and even Pavel Datsyuk's return) jostled the Wings just enough to put them on their back foot before tumbling a top-heavy team right over.

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Prospect news: Athanasiou hurt, Backman exits, Hicketts makes WJC, Griffins and Walleye win

It was a good news-bad-news night for the Red Wings' prospects, and these tidbits = the bad news:

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St. James, Khan: Red Wings to recall McCollum, demote Ouellet due to Howard’s LBI

Well, shit:

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Quick take, Red Wings vs. Islanders: This sure as hell better be the low point

The Detroit Red Wings have fallen into the worst drought of their season, unable to score, unable to defend, and unable to move the puck efficiently up or down the ice between their and their opponent's goals. As a result, the Red Wings dropped a 5th straight defeat, losing 2-1 to the New York Islanders, on Friday night.

The fact that this was only the team's first regulation loss among their 5 (0-1-and-3) seems near-miraculous given how lost the Wings look on the ice, given how much of  disaster Jonathan Ericsson has become and given how plain old dumb the team is playing, working to be as inefficient as humanly possible while sending one skater into two, three or four opponents with no support and no outlets for the puck.

Turnovers result, goals against result, and now Niklas Kronwall is making that face he made during the Wings' no-Datsyuk-and-no-Zetterberg losing streak, looking lost and distant.

That's very bad for a mostly healthy team in December, even if Jimmy Howard left the game early due to "precautionary" reasons.

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Jimmy Howard exits Wings-Isles game for precautionary reasons

I've never seen so many Tweets hoping and nearly praying that a goaltender has the stomach flu, and the stomach flu of the violent kind, but this is the mump era:

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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.

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