The Malik Report
The most popular theme leading up to the Red Wings' [x-x loss/win against/over] the Tampa Bay Lightning among Wings fans reflected Tampa's 6-of-7 record against Detroit of late and 2 wins by a combined 9-4 goals-for record: Wings fans were expecting a 3rd straight loss, and they were expecting an ugly loss at that.
That theory wasn't out of line by any stretch of the imagination, and looking at the Wings' March record as a whole, Fox Sports Florida apparently agreed:
They weren't wrong. Detroit managed to rally from a 1-0 deficit to take a hard fought 1-1 tie into the 3rd period, but Detroit laid another 3rd-period egg and-a-half, allowing Alex Killorn to score the gamer off a DREADFUL Gustav Nyquist turnover at the Bolts' line, and the fact that Stamkos' empty-netter came off a fantastic clearing attempt by Ben Bishop--on a night that Jimmy Howard played out-of-his-mind good to try to win the damn 2 points himself--made this one sting all the worse.
2-and-8 3-and-7, Detroit is no longer in the business of attempting to catch the Lightning for 2nd in the Atlantic. Now they've got to worry about the Bruins, who are 4 points behind Detroit for the 3rd and final spot in the Atlantic Division, and the Senators, who are 6 behind.
The Red Wings aren't practicing on Saturday, but MLive's Brendan Savage reports that a very important person will still be put through some medical paces at Joe Louis Arena:
From NBC Sports:
PROGRAMMING REMINDER – PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY CONTENDERS SHOWCASED IN NHL DOUBLEHEADER ON NBC AND NBCSN THIS SUNDAY
NHL Game of the Week – St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings – Sunday at Noon ET on NBC
Anaheim Ducks vs. New York Rangers – Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Blackhawks-Rangers Wednesday Night Rivalry & Kings-Ducks Wednesday Nightcap Matchups Post Strong National & Local Ratings
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 20, 2015 – Presidents’ Trophy contenders will be showcased on NBC Sports Group’s NHL doubleheader this Sunday, beginning at Noon ET with the NHL Game of the Week on NBC, when T.J. Oshie and the St. Louis Blues visit Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings. Coverage shifts to NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, when Rick Nash and the New York Rangers host Ryan Getzlaf and the Western Conference-leading Anaheim Ducks.
All four teams are primed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April, and the Blues, Ducks and Rangers are in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded annually to the team with the highest regular-season point total.
Red Wings-Lightning morning skate Tweets/articles: Palat returns for Bolts; Wings face uphill battle
Updated 9x @ 1:30 PM: The Red Wings don't face a must-win situation against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM), but it's pretty damn close. With the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators 4 and 6 respective points behind Detroit, and Tampa Bay 6 points ahead of Detroit (Detroit has 2 games in hand on Tampa, but Tampa's 93 points include 43 wins to Detroit's 38 and 41 Regulation-or-Overtime Wins to Detroit's 35)...
The Wings rather desperately need to make hay over their last 13 games to plain old set up a 1st-round series with the Lightning; they absolutely must win tonight's game and the teams' in-Detroit matinee on March 28th to leapfrog the Lightning and earn a 2nd-in-the-Atlantic finish.
Sportsnet's Mike Johnston's calling tonight's Wings-Bolts tilt the "game to watch"...
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
Tonight's game in Tampa got a little bit more important after the Detroit Red Wings squandered one of their games in hand on the team they're chasing in the Atlantic Division standings.
A 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday at BB&T Center left the Red Wings six points behind the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning and reduced their games in hand to two entering tonight's matchup at Amalie Arena.
So not only did they let one of their games in hand go to waste against a team not holding down a playoff spot, the Red Wings find themselves in a four-point game against the Lighting - win and they're four points behind with 12 games to play but lose and they're eight back of the Lightning.
Both of those scenarios, of course, assume tonight's game ends in regulation but you get the picture of how important the game is after the loss to Florida.
So do the Red Wings. Some of them, anyway.
The Red Wings flew across the Sunshine State holding a dubious distinction in having won 2 of 7 March games, having dropped a 3-1 decision to the Florida Panthers and hanging precariously to a 4-point lead over the Boston Bruins and now only a 6-point lead over the Ottawa Senators as Detroit bobs along holding the 3rd and final Atlantic Division playoff spot--a 3rd playoff spot that would ensure a first-round match-up with tonight's opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 PM on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM).
If anything pissed me off about the Red Wings' effort, it was this:
Prior to the game, the Panthers insisted to the press that they were going to worry about the "process" more than their on-ice product, but between Roberto Luongo's goaltending, his luck with goalposts and the Panthers' ability to stifle the *#$%@& out of Detroit's offense while victimizing Petr Mrazek's tendency to over-commit to his blocker side, Florida managed to earn a win that pushes the Panthers to within 5 points of the Boston Bruins for one of the Eastern Conference's Wild Card spots.
As Fox Sports Florida's Jameson C. Olive noted, the Panthers were quite happy with Luongo's performance in his return from a shoulder injury...
I'm not going to pretend to have covered the University of Michigan Wolverines very closely, but Dylan Larkin registered a goal and three assists en route to Michigan's 5-1 win over Wisconsin at the BIg Ten playoff tournament, setting up a Friday night semifinal against Michigan State, and the Wings posited a press release regarding said match-ups:
MICHIGAN STATE VS. MICHIGAN HIGHLIGHTS BIG TEN TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS SET FOR FRIDAY
… MSU vs. U-M Set for 8 p.m. Puck Drop, Minnesota vs. Ohio State Face Off at 4:30 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena …
DETROIT – Friday’s semifinal games of the 2015 Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament are set after Ohio State and Michigan earned wins on the opening day of the tournament at Joe Louis Arena. The first semifinal on Friday will feature Minnesota and Ohio State at 4:30 p.m., followed by in-state rivals Michigan State and Michigan at 8:00 p.m.
Minnesota, which won the regular season Big Ten Championship, and Michigan State earned first-round byes by finishing the regular season as the top two teams in the conference.
Fifth-seeded Ohio State defeated fourth-seeded Penn State, 3-1, in the tournament’s first quarterfinal matchup. Marysville, Mich., native Nick Schilkey, Justin DaSilva and David Gust recorded goals for the Buckeyes, while Max Gardiner had Penn State’s lone marker. Ohio State and top-seeded Minnesota have met four times this season, with the Golden Gophers taking three of the four games.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson discusses the "dead puck era's" return in his main Hockey World column and quite a few other stories in his "Short Shifts," but this is a bit of a relief in terms of the Red Wings' long-term plans:
The overriding league feeling was the Detroit Red Wings would make the biggest trade push for Edmonton Oilers rental defenceman Jeff Petry because he’s from Michigan and might re-sign there this summer, but the consensus is their impressive Russian rookie Alexey Marchenko, also a rightie, can do Petry’s job for about 15 per cent of Petry’s salary next year.
Marchenko makes $700,000.
Detroit also refused to give up their third best defensive prospect, Ryan Sproul, playing in Grand Rapids in talks with anybody.
The only kids they gave up were middling defenceman Mattias Backman, back in Sweden, and centre Mattias Janmark, maybe a third-liner down the road (to Dallas for Erik Cole).
The Red Wings may have been shopping Jakub Kindl, instead, and his price-point ($2.4 mil cap) is good, but the Oilers obviously weren’t interested in Kindl. I might have been at that price.
The Red Wings' back-to-back tilts against the Panthers and Lightning could either allow Detroit to make up a whole lot of ground on the Bolts or make the Boston Bruins a significant threat to leapfrog the Wings for the 3rd and final Atlantic Division playoff spot, and as such, these games should have the "TRAP" tag on 'em like underwear at a Bangkok strip club (I've not been, but I'm just saying).
Regrettably, the Wings paid the Wings far less respect than the playoff-desperate team from Florida's East Coast has earned, and as a result, just enough screwing up defensively combined with just enough whiffing and/or hitting of the goalpost to ensure that Detroit exited Sunrise with a 3-0 defeat, hugging the 3rd playoff spot in the Atlantic for dear life as the Bruins and now Senators sneak up upon the Wings in the race to battle tomorrow night's opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, a month from now.
Of Griffins-related note:
1. This little prospect note isn't as little as you might think, because the Grand Rapids Griffins have very quietly announced that Scott Czarnowczan has earned another AHL contract...
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday assigned defenseman Scott Czarnowczan to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. In addition, the Griffins re-signed Czarnowczan to a one-year contract for the 2015-16 season.
Czarnowczan, 23, has played in 27 games with Grand Rapids during his first professional season, tallying nine points (2-7—9), 26 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating. Czarnowczan secured his first AHL point (assist) versus Toronto on Dec. 19, before scoring his first goal on Feb. 6 versus Rochester. In addition to his time with the Griffins, the Macomb, Mich., native has also notched 14 points (1-13—14), four PIM and a plus-five rating in 16 games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.
Prior to turning pro, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound blueliner spent four seasons with the Ferris State Bulldogs, where he gathered 63 points (9-54—63) and 212 PIM in 141 collegiate games. In addition to captaining the Bulldogs during his senior season, Czarnowczan made an appearance with Ferris State in the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four Championship game.
2. Via RedWingsFeed, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner penned an extensive feature article discussing the leadership provided by Griffins veterans Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans...
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.