The Malik Report
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Here are three thoughts after a game that put the heavily favored Lightning a game away from elimination:
1. There's no such thing as a perfect 60-minute hockey game
The key to Detroit's plan was shutting down Tyler Johnson, whose had three points in Game 4 including the OT winner, and has proven far more dangerous than Steven Stamkos. To his credit he consistently got to the dangerous areas, but he either just missed on connecting passes or had to deal with Pavel Datsyuk stuffed inside his jersey. The Magic Man didn't crack the final trio for the Selke Trophy, but he proved again on Saturday that he's one of the best defensive players in the game.
First, the NHL's recap of the Wings 4-0 win over the Lightning...
Below, Mike Babcock post-game and awood40's exended highlights...
from Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times,
This sudden and unexpected power outage is partly the Lightning's own doing. Leading goal-scorer Steven Stamkos has been invisible. Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan, both 20-goal scorers, have been ghosts. The power play is on the fritz to the point where the Lightning should decline all future Detroit penalties.
Give some credit to the savvy and well-prepared Red Wings, who have turned the rink into a mosh pit full of bodies with no room to breathe, let alone skate.
And, if you want to do a little bit of whining, the officiating has let the Red Wings get away with some of the clutching and grabbing and interfering that you can't get away with in the regular season.
Then again, this isn't the regular season and, when you get right down to it, that's the point. The Red Wings are playing the type of grinding, irritating defensive style that you need for postseason success, and the Lightning is still searching for that extra gear. Detroit deserves to be a game away from winning this series.
"There's not a whole lot of room," Lightning center Valtteri Filppula said. "We don't get odd-man rushes. I don't know. They played real well, and we aren't getting a whole lot."
Check that. The Lightning isn't getting anything. Nothing. Zip.
Forget winning a game. It would be a major accomplishment at this point to get a lead.
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
From the NHL:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / APRIL 25, 2015
STARTING TIMES SET FOR 2015 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS FIRST ROUND GAMES SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY
NEW YORK (April 25, 2015) – The National Hockey League today announced updated start time and national television information for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round games scheduled for Monday, April 27.
The starting time for Game 6 of the series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings has been set for 7 p.m. ET in Detroit. In the U.S., the game will be televised on CNBC. In Canada, the game will be televised on CBC and TVA Sports.
The starting time for Game 7 of the series between the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders has been set for 7:30 p.m. ET in Washington, DC. In the U.S., the game will be televised on NBCSN. In Canada, the game will be on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
I'm a biased Red Wings fan pretending to be an objective blogger on the internet, and I understand that Jason Garrison was very annoyed at Justin Abdelkader for the accidental/apologized-for ankle injury and/or concussion suffered in the Wings and Bolts' last regular-season meeting, but this reminded me of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger's double-teaming of Tomas Holmstrom circa 2007:
Abdelkader emerged from the exchange with his head still on his shoulders and no head injury, but the Lightning continued to attempt to injure Red Wings players for the balance of the third period, and usually the team that's the first to crack in the physical department has the shortest spring.
The Wings scored the 3-0 goal on the Stamkos penalty; why Garrison wasn't penalized, and why both sides weren't penalized on some of these exchanges, is beyond me.
From here on out, it's about staving off elimination--stavnig off locker room clean-out day and the dispersal of players to the World Championships, their off-season homes, and in some cases, other teams. During the latter part of any playoff series, seasons and livelihoods are literally on the line, and the team that doesn't earn its luck earns a four-month vacation.
The Red Wings were the ones who bore down on Tampa Bay with unrelenting pressure from the goaltender on out, strong defense, great backchecking, shot-blocking and stout defensive play, and when you add in some fantastic goaltending to the mix and squeeze some clutch scoring into the equation, Detroit earned, earned, earned its 4-0 victory over the scummily dirty Tampa Bay Lightning, who tried to and nearly succeeded in injuring DeKeyser, Quincey, Abdelkader, Glendening and others (in a game the refs lost control of, but oh well, Detroit Honey Badgered along).
Now the Wings and Lightning come back to the Joe for a TBD-Monday start with the Wings prepared to close out the series, and the Bolts coming to the Joe having truly cracked in terms of their temper and resolve.
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Babcock said same lineup as last game.
Babcock said he expects Glendening (hand) to be able to take faceoffs. If not, he'll move Andersson to that line in place of Ferraro.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Blashill's work continues to keep his profile high for an NHL position this summer. He's often called the best coaching prospect not currently in The Show and that means clubs such as the Leafs will be watching closely.
The 41-year-old is currently charged with maintaining the Wings 'model' under general manager Ken Holland and Babcock: Leave players on the farm until major development concerns are addressed. Half the Wings' current roster cut their teeth with Blashill's 2013 Calder Cup champs.
"Our players have to earn (jobs in Detroit), they're not entitled," Blashill said. "I was fortunate enough to spend a year as Mike's assistant in Detroit. I know what it takes to play for him, what he will demand of them. There's synergy between us.
"We had early struggles that set us back, but we've had great two-way centres such as Andy Miele and Tomas Nosek. And we're blessed with leadership in Nathan Paetsch, Jeff Hoggan and Brennan Evans. Part of their role is to see these young guys reach their goals."
Calder success continues to be a portal to the NHL. Jon Cooper clinched his job with parent Tampa Bay after Norfolk beat Dallas Eakins and the Marlies in the 2012 final, with Eakins hired the next year in Edmonton. Last year's Western Conference finalists, Willy Desjardins of the Texas Stars and Marlies' Steve Spott were also promoted, to head coach in Vancouver and assistant in Toronto. Isn't Blashill overdue?
"I'm doing my very best to focus on the playoffs right now," Blashill said.
"I know if I do the very best job I can here, things will unfold for me later."
more on the playoff matchup between the Toronto Marlies and Grand Rapids Griffins...
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
- One factor that could play in the Wings’ factor is experience. “The leadership in this room is unbelievable,” Glendening said. “It starts with Z (captain Henrik Zetterberg) and Kronner (defenceman Niklas Kronwall) and Pav (Datsyuk), those guys lead the every night on the ice and off. We will lean on them heavily here.”
- Special teams have come under scrutiny and for good reason. The Lightning has had 21 power-plays — the most for any team in the playoffs before games were played on Friday — but had managed to score just two goals with the man-advantage. “For our power play to not be clicking the way we want it to, and the series tied 2-2, it may work in our favour,” Cooper said, “because eventually it is going to (start producing goals). I will take our chances with some of the skill we put out there.”
- While the Wings are thrilled that they’ve been so successful while shorthanded thanks to the efforts of Drew Miller, Kronwall and goalie Petr Mrazek and others, it’s getting to be a little much. Babcock said as much earlier in the week, and forward Gustav Nyquist had a similar thought. “We have taken too many penalties and it’s something we have to change because they have dangerous guys,” Nyquist said. “Any time you get a penalty, the penalty killers have to go out and your lines are a little disrupted. There’s no flow, and it wears on the guys.”
more on the Wings and Lightning...
from Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times,
The Red Wings can talk all they want about feeling fine and how today is a new day, but deep down they have to be an emotional wreck after letting the Lightning crawl out of the grave. They were moments away from needing to win just one of three games left to take the series. Now they need to win twice, including once in Tampa Bay.
So going into tonight's game, the Lightning has the mental advantage. But just imagine what the shift will be if the Lighting loses Game 5.
"All we did was put ourselves back in the series,'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We didn't win the series. Clearly, this is a pivotal game. … We were thinking about Game 5 five minutes after 'Johnny' scored (in overtime).''
The Lightning needed to immediately turn its attention to Game 5 because the Game 4 victory has not solved all its problems. Though momentum and emotions are sporting blue-and-white sweaters with a big Lightning bolt on them, Tampa Bay still has issues.
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Red Wings must show their mental toughness by bouncing back from this one.
"There's no time to hang your head," Miller said. "It comes back here pretty quick and we're right back at it. This is playoffs; you can never get too high, you can never get too low. Forget about the game and get ready for the next one.
"You don't worry about, 'Oh man, poor us.' "
The Red Wings must win another game in Tampa Bay, where the Lightning boasted the best home record in the league (32-8-1) and outplayed them by a significant margin the first two games.
"Obviously, it's a shot in the gut anytime you are in a situation where you think are in a real a good spot and suddenly it goes away that quick," Babcock said after practice Friday in Tampa. "We played a real good game and in five minutes we end up losing, so that's hard.
"I've coached a long time, been around a lot of championship teams. Every championship team I've ever been involved with goes through adversity. What you do is you embrace the adversity and it allows you to get better. Without it, you never, ever win in the end. So to me here's some adversity, let's dig in, let's understand our plan; let's understand how well we played Games 3 and 4. Maybe Game 4 was our best game."
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.