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Practice Tweets: ‘everyone present’ for last reg. season practice @ JLA; Howard likely to start Wed.

Updated 6x with video at 12:51 PM: The Red Wings hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena at 11 AM to prepare for their massively important match-ups against the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, and DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reports that a familiar face preceded the main group:

A sight for sore eyes: Drew Miller (knee) is on the ice skating in his own before the #RedWings practice at JLA.

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Morning trio: Larkin weighs in on the playoff streak; an historic Lindsay mark; Wings-Bolts?

TSN's Frank Seravalli spoke with Dylan Larkin regarding the Red Wings' playoff streak and Larkin's rookie season:

A winner-take-all gauntlet against the Flyers and Bruins - on back-to-back nights, against the two teams the Red Wings trying to fend off - waits on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s down to three teams for two spots in the only compelling playoff battle this season.

“We’re in a great spot. It isn’t ideal, but we control our own destiny,” Larkin said. “I look at it as we have three play-in games here. Win and you’re in. Lose, and you start your summer.”

The streak has survived five coaching changes, three managerial regimes, three conference realignments and three captaincies.

This year’s captain, Henrik Zetterberg, still has the letter and name cache, but Larkin’s arrival signalled the beginning of a passing of the torch. Larkin is just three points back of both Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg, who are 18 and 16 years his senior. Those leaders and new coach Jeff Blashill have helped Larkin keep the flame lit.

Larkin paces Detroit in goals (23) and plus/minus (13). He has collected 22 assists for 45 points in 77 games. But he has cooled off considerably in the second-half of the year, with just 18 points in his last half of the year. He admitted the level of the game changed after Christmas.

“I’ve definitely learned to appreciate every goal and every assist. They’re a lot harder to come by,” Larkin said. “But it’s been awesome. This season has gone way better than I thought it would, because I didn’t even expect to be here this year. I had a good start. There have been some highs and lows, but it’s been interesting to see how the leaders handle things.”

Seravalli continues, and also of Red Wings-related note this morning:

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Red Wings’ ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ extends beyond the rink

From the Red Wings:

... Fans in Attendance Have Chance to Win Autographed, Game-Used Sticks; Great Prizes Also Available Through DRW Social and at DRW.com for Fans Not at The Joe on Wednesday ...

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings will thank the fans of Hockeytown by hosting ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ on Wednesday, April 6 when the Red Wings take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8:00 p.m. (NBCSN / 97.1 The Ticket), in the final regular season home game of the 2015-16 campaign.

Along with numerous giveaways throughout the night, more than 20 lucky fans in attendance on Wednesday will be selected at random to receive a Red Wings autographed, game-used stick.

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Detroit News’s Goricki: Why Red Berenson stayed at Michigan

From the Detroit News's David Goricki:

It took one call from a former player for Red Berenson to decide he would return for at least one more year as Michigan’s hockey coach.

“We started having meetings with some of our players and they’re asking me if I’m going to be here,” Berenson said Monday, a day after announcing he would return for his 33rd season as Michigan’s coach. “I thought if I’m going to make this decision I’d better make it sooner than later to let the players know, to be up front with them.

“Then, I got a call from a player reminding me that it was the day we won the national championship in ’96. We had a short talk and then he said, ‘By the way, I just want to let you know that you changed my life, like thank you for recruiting me. Michigan changed my life. I will be forever grateful.’ ”

Berenson wouldn’t say who called .

But that call, along with the fact athletic director Warde Manuel wanted Berenson, 76, back, was all the coach needed to hear.

“This is why you’re coaching really, for kids like this,” Berenson said. “Then, I thought right away you know what, that sounds like me because when I went to Michigan it changed my life. ... I thought even if I’m on the fence I can do this for one more year.”

Continued, and Berenson says he's now "year to year"...

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Prospect news: Ehn, Frolunda lose; Svechnikov, Cape Breton advance; an interview with Tangradi

Of prospect-related note:

In the SHL, Christoffer Ehn won 50% of his faceoffs in 8:55 of ice time as the Frolunda Indians lost 4-2 to Lulea. The Indians and Lulea are tied 1-1 in hte SHL semifinal;

In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov had a goal and 2 assists, finishing at +1 with 2 shots and winning 4 of 8 faceoffs as the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defeated the Chicoutimi Sangueneens 7-4.

Cape Breton won the series 4 games to 2, and will advance to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs, where they'll face Adam Marsh's Saint John Sea Dogs.

And if you're interested, the Grand Rapids Griffins posted a clip of a behind-the-wheel interview with Eric Tangradi:

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Early overnight report: ‘the fun’ is about to begin, according to the Wings’ players and coach

The Red Wings face three incredibly important games on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. To some extent, that's the plan, as they told MLive's Ansar Khan:

"The league, when they made the schedule, were probably hoping these would be some big games and they will be," Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "These games are the fun games. I think a lot of guys here are real excited."

Said goaltender Jimmy Howard: "If you're not excited I don't know what would get your blood flowing around here. These are going to be very intense games. We're definitely looking forward to Wednesday night."

The Red Wings wrap up the season Saturday at the New York Rangers. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn't view these games as obstacles, calling them opportunities.

"That's one of the reasons that we felt like we controlled our own destiny, even last week after the Montreal (loss), because we do have opportunities to play those teams and they could say the same," Blashill said.

Howard and Zetterberg told Khan that they're excited about the opportunities at hand...

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More Datsyuk discussion

As you probably know by now, Pavel Datsyuk didn't really address his future while speaking with the media after Monday's practice, as noted by WXYZ's Brad Galli in video form...

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted that Datsyuk did at least suggest that he wants to give back to Russian fans, which is a little worrisome...

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An early Flyers take on Wednesday’s showdown

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Sam Carchidi sets up Wednesday's game between the Flyers and Red Wings from a Flyers pespective:

"We've forgotten quick about our losses, and to an extent, our wins," said right winger Wayne Simmonds, whose team's playoff fate will be determined in its final four games. "We try to stay even-keeled. You enjoy it or dwell on what you did quickly. That's what we're going to have to do."

The Flyers, on a 13-4-2 run, are in a tightly contested battle for the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots. Detroit is third in the Atlantic Division - the top three teams in each division receive automatic playoff spots - but it is just one point ahead of Boston, and it could drop into the wild-card chase.

As it stands now, the Flyers have the second wild-card spot; they are one-point ahead of Boston and have a game in hand on the Bruins. The Islanders have the top wild-card spot and were two points ahead of the Flyers heading into Monday's game against Tampa Bay.

Boston has three games left, all at home. The Bruins host Carolina on Tuesday, Detroit on Thursday (the Flyers do not want a three-point game), and Ottawa on Saturday.

The Flyers are tied in points with Detroit and have a game in hand on the Red Wings. Detroit ends its season by hosting the Flyers on Wednesday and then playing games at Boston on Thursday and at the Rangers on Saturday.

The Flyers - who end the season by playing in Detroit, hosting Toronto and Pittsburgh, and traveling to Brooklyn to face the Islanders - could solidify their playoff spot by beating the Red Wings.

"Every game is important," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "Obviously, that's a key one with where we sit in the standings, but every game has been critical for us over the last, really over the last two months. Do they get bigger as we get to the final week? You could say that. But yeah, obviously, each game that we have left is critical."


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NBC announces broadcast plans for Wednesday, Thursday’s Red Wings games

From NBC Sports:


Bruins, Flyers, Islanders, Lightning, Rangers and Red Wings All Appear on NBC and NBCSN This Week

Flyers Showcased Three Times – Wednesday Night Rivalry vs. Red Wings, NHL Game of the Week vs. Penguins, Sunday Night Hockey vs. N.Y. Islanders

Bruins Host Red Wings Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, Separated By One Point In Atlantic Division and Wild Card Standings

Coverage Begins Tomorrow with Lightning-Rangers at 7:30 p.m. ET

Former Flyers Head Coach Craig Berube Joins NHL Live as Guest Analyst Thursday

STAMFORD, Conn. – April 4, 2016 – NBC Sports Group’s NHL “Push For The Playoffs” showcases all six Eastern Conference teams battling for five remaining Stanley Cup Playoff berths in the final week of the regular season, highlighted by a pivotal Wednesday Night Rivalry showdown between Claude Giroux and the Philadelphia Flyers and Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

The Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Flyers, and Red Wings are separated by just five points, and all six clubs will hit the ice on NBC and NBCSN this week.

The Flyers will be showcased three times this week on NBC and NBCSN as they look to complete their late-season push for the playoffs. In addition to Wednesday Night Rivalry, Philadelphia will host Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on NBC’s NHL Game of the Week on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET, and travel to Brooklyn to face John Tavares and the New York Islanders on the final day of the regular season on NBCSN’s Sunday Night Hockey at 7 p.m. ET.

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Wings must find another level to defeat the Flyers, Bruins and Rangers

From an Insider-only entry by ESPN's Craig Custance, among his "10 takeaways":

6. Big area of concern for Detroit: The Red Wings worked their way into a playoff position during the weekend with big wins against the Wild and Maple Leafs, but you can’t help but notice the red minus-12 in goal differential next to Detroit in the standings. Last season, the Ducks had the lowest goal differential among playoff teams, at plus-10. The Kings missed the playoffs at plus-15.

The Red Wings have been overly reliant on winning one-goal games, and that goal differential suggests their hold on a playoff spot is tenuous at best.

Detroit plays both Philadelphia (at home) and Boston (on the road) this week in games that will determine whether or not the playoff streak survives.

Even with the Saturday win, one NHL scout thinks Detroit needs to find another gear against the Bruins and Flyers that the Red Wings didn’t show against the Maple Leafs.

“They won’t beat either if they play the same as [Saturday],” the scout said.

Custance continues, and if I may use a technical term, I'd say, "No s***, Sherlock" to the scout. The Wings will have to play much better than they did against Toronto--where they arguably "played down to the level of their competition"--to take out the Flyers and/or Bruins this week.

What scares me more than anything, more than the Flyers' seemingly unbeatable status and more than the fact that the Wings haven't won in Boston since Jonas Gustavsson relieved Jimmy Howard in the 2014 playoffs, is the back-to-back aspect of Wednesday and Thursday's games.

The Wings just won their first set of back-to-backs since November on Friday and Saturday, and beating both the Flyers and Bruins seems highly improbable given how incredibly inconsistent the Red Wings have played this season.

With the Wings dialed into a 3-games-in-4-nights situation to wrap up the regular season, Detroit's players and coaches are going to have to find levels of competitiveness, attention to detail, desire, poise and execution that they haven't displayed from games 1-79 to win games 80, 81 and 82.

I sure as hell hope they find those levels and exceed them. Otherwise we'll be talking about my extensive coverage of the Wings at the World Championships.

Update: We get another, "No s***" to this from NHL.com's Dan Rosen:

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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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