The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings embark on a stretch of their schedule which the players, coaches and training staff likely circled on their calendars with symbols like multiple exclamation points (!!!), question marks (???) or plain old WTF—which stands for, “Why Three Flights?” of course—tonight in Alberta as the Wings face the plucky Oilers (9:30 PM EST, FSD/Sportsnet West/WXYT) before flying to Vancouver on Tuesday for a mid-week meeting with the Canucks, and then the Wings head right back to Alberta for a Thursday tilt with the Flames before heading home, exhausted, for a three-day Christmas break.
Boasting a middling 7-8-and-0 road record, the Wings will toss off all the usual cliches about conserving their energy, trying to “focus on taking it one shift at a time” and insisting that they won’t take the re-tooling Flames, deep Canucks or tonight’s opponent, the young, fast and physical Oilers, as anything less than three opportunities to gain ground in a tightly-packed Western Conference while banishing a few lingering myths about the team’s age, supposed lack of toughness and goaltending (Ty Conklin’s bound to get a start here), but Wings fans will be breaking out the Visine and hoping that they’re humming, “Two out of three ain’t bad” instead of “The Road” early on Friday morning.
I had to watch this one from my family’s Christmas party (it was lovely) with the volume off for over half the game, but I felt that the Wings’ 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings finished at such a lopsided score for a simple reason: around seven minutes into the second period, when the Wings would have been very happy to cruise along with a 4-1 lead, still shaking the loosey-goosey defensive play which plagued the Wings through the third period of their loss to Nashville ever-so-slowly out of their games, engaging in some self-induced stretches of stupor thanks to the caliber of their opponent and their opponent’s competition level.
Then the Kings tried to stir things up. They went after Jimmy Howard, who took a penalty at the 7:26 mark, and they kept going after Howard after the penalty-kill, and even after Jarret Stoll scored a goal by very obviously picking Niklas Kronwall off far behind the play and then utilizing said pick to beat Kronwall back to the front of the net to score a rebound goal. Kevin Westgarth and Brad Richardson tried their best to stir things up against a team that was more or less contentedly asleep of what was then a 4-2 affair.
Update #5 @ 4:30 PM: How awkward. The LA Times’ Helene Elliott reports that this is John Stevens’ last game behind the Kings’ bench: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Los Angeles Kings tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/FS West/WXYT), MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Wings have also chosen to conserve their players’ energy given that the team has to play four games (endure four tie zone changes) over the course of the next six nights:
Optional skate for Wings today. Same lineup expected: 93-13-44, 51-40-26, 11-43-20, 48-8-96; 5-18, 55-23, 52-4; 35
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff listed the limited participants and added tons of quips and quotes from Wings coach Mike Babcock via his Twitter account...
The Detroit Red Wings will face off against a Los Angeles Kings team tonight (7 PM EST, FSD/FS West/WXYT) which may pose a harsher challenge than their press coverage of late indicates. As the Wings—who will just happen to welcome the 25 millionth fan to the Joe this evening—hope to rebound from a 4-3 loss to Nashville before heading on the road for an ugly three-games-in-four nights pre-Christmas stretch, they’re going to tangle with a team that, in theory, is rudderless and doing nothing more than treading water while waiting to name Darryl Sutter as their permanent head coach.
And that’s a wee bit scary, for several reasons:
Updated 6x with a persistent Parise rumor at 4:26 PM: Sometimes simple news is the best news regarding limited information, so the fact that the Red Wings reassigned Tomas Tatar to Grand Rapids, and that MLive’s Ansar Khan offered the following early practice update via Twitter, make all the difference in the world given the Wings’ brutal December schedule and their charming little slate of four games over the course of six nights—and four time zone changes—starting with Saturday’s home tilt against Los Angeles:
Everybody practicing today for Wings.
Edit: make that doubly good news:
[Justin] Abdelkader says X-rays on foot showed only a bruise. He is sore but made it through full practice and will play Saturday.
The Detroit Red Wings’ 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night offers something of a sports paradox: while the Red Wings played smart hockey, controling the puck and the pace of play for extended periods of time, and while the Wings spent most of the night in the Predators’ zone, firing 40 shots at Pekka Rinne, they didn’t play efficient hockey.
A team embarking upon a stretch of five games over the course of eight nights indulged in the bad habits which began to surface during their 4-1 win over Pittsburgh, happily trading line rushes with a Predators team which wound the Wings’ defenders around their puck carriers like a rope before pouncing upon the Wings’ tendency to chase said players, firing passes to terribly open players who found themselves staring down Jimmy Howard all alone, registering scoring chances and rebound goals (which Howard received no help on) as a result, or finding ways to clog Howard’s vision but elude Wings’ defenders bodies and sticks while firing long bombs from the point.
The Detroit Red Wings let ‘em up off the mat, plain and simple. Absolutely dominating in terms of shots, puck possession, intensity and effort, the Red Wings were all too willing, all game long, to indulge the Nashville Predators’ cycle, and it bit Detroit to the expense of two points, losing 4-3 to Nashville in what was just a weird game.
Shea Weber’s screened shot on the Wings’ only penalty tied the game thanks to a screen and a half and his gamer…Just bounced badly against a Jimmy Howard who barely faced pucks but had to work his ass off to stop the ones he did (and the Legwand shot he didn’t), mostly because the players in front of him were getting away with shooting but not scoring on their opponent, and felt it necessary to chase around the Predators’ rambunctious forwards.
MLive’s Ansar Khan reports that the Red Wings visited with one Brendan Shanahan, former teammate of about a third of the Wings, to talk about something that doesn’t involve reminiscing old times:
The Detroit Red Wings are probably the last team Brendan Shanahan has to concern himself with when it comes to disciplinary matters, since they usually have the fewest fighting majors and are among the league’s least-penalized teams every year.
But Shanahan, the NHL’s first-year vice president of player safety, spoke with the Red Wings Wednesday night at their hotel in Nashville. He is making the rounds to all 30 teams, discussing in detail what separates a legal hit from an illegal one. He is showing video and answering questions.
Updated 5x at 7:16 PM with major praise for Jimmy: As the Detroit Red Wings prepare to face off against the Nashville Predators tonight (8 PMEST, FSD/FS Tennesee/WXYT), MLive’s Ansar Khan wondered on Twitter whether Jiri Hudler might be the reason that the Wings recalled Tomas Tatar from the Griffins, but Wings coach Mike Babcock told Khan that it appears that Chris Conner (broken hand) is the only Wing who can’t play tonight:
“I think everybody’s on deck. we’ll see at game time but we got Tatar here in case we don’t have everyone on deck,’’ Babcock said.
Jiri Hudler spent extra time stretching before the skate and was talking to Babcock and the trainers as he was leaving the ice. He did practice, however, on his regular line:
Updated 2x at 12:13 PM: Minus at least the services of Chris Conner and possibly another player, the Detroit Red Wings flew to Nashville on Wednesday afternoon to prepare for tonight’s game against the Predators (8 PM EST, FSD/WXYT/FS Tennessee) with a “four-point game” in the offing.
The Predators sit five points behind the Wings in the Western Conference standings, but have won five of the eight games they’ve played since the teams last tangled the Saturday after Thanksgiving (the Wings won that game 4-1), and the Predators come into tonight’s game having won 3 straight games, including a 2-1 victory over Calgary.
The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper reports that Nashville’s players spent Wednesday meeting with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, but as they’ve been battling the injury bug that’s making its presence known in Detroit, Cooper says that the biggest development heading into tonight’s game is a simple one:
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.