The Malik Report
From the Red Wings and Swedish goalie mask artist David Gunnarsson:
Update: From David Gunnarsson on Instagram:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that Anthony Mantha's been absent from the Grand Rapids Griffins' lineup due to concussion protocol, but is ready to return:
He has been out since he traded a couple punches with San Diego's Stu Bickel in a late third-period exchange Nov. 20.
"It was just weird. He thought I hit a guy in the back of the head but it wasn't me and he turned around and just grabbed me," Mantha said. "It's part of hockey. It happens, and obviously I'm not going to just stand there. I tried to do something, but it was too late and we fell."
Afterward, Mantha had to be evaluated for a concussion and missed the immediately-departing bus to Chicago for a game the next night. As a precaution, Mantha said, he was held out all week.
2. The Free Press's Jamie Samuelssen discussed the Wings' scoring issues:
The Red Wings hope to keep their 8-game points streak rolling against the Arizona Coyotes Thursday evening (7:30 PM EST on FSD/FS Arizona/97.1 FM).
Detroit will start Jimmy Howard opposite Mike Smith this evening, but the Red Wings didn't practice on Wednesday, so any other personnel tweaks won't be revealed until the morning skate.
The Coyotes are beginning a set of back-to-back games tonight (they play in Buffalo on Friday), and while Arizona dropped a 5-2 decision to Nashville on Tuesday, that game snapped a 3-game winning streak and a stretch in which the Coyotes had won 4 of 5 games.
While part of Wednesday's Yotes narrative involved the strange rallying for John Scott's All-Star candidacy, the Coyotes could also build upon the fact that they led Nashville 1-0 and 2-1 on Tuesday, and didn't trail by more than a goal until the final 3 minutes of play--in other words, the 5-2 loss wasn't as bad as it seemed--but the Coyotes spent Wednesday focusing on "structure," as the Arizona Republic's Sarah McLellan reported:
Of prospect-related note:
In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin had an assist and finished at +1 in 14:12 of ice time as SKA St. Petersburg defeated Spartak 5-0;
In the FInnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo had an assist and finished at +1 in 15:33 of ice time as TPS Turku lost 4-3 to SaiPa;
In Swedish HockeyEttan, Hampus Melen didn't play in Morrums GoIS IK's 4-1 loss to HC Dalen;
In the USHL, Chase Pearson scored a goal and added 2 assists in the Youngstown Phantoms' 6-5 OT win over Muskegon. Pearson was named the game's first star;
And in the QMJHL, Adam Marsh and the Saint John Sea Dogs did not play the Acadie-Bahthurst Titan as the game was postponed, presumably due to weather.
Updated 3x at 5:17 PM: Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS TEAM UP WITH U.S. MARINE CORPS RESERVE FOR ANNUAL TOYS FOR TOTS COLLECTION
… Team to Collect New Children’s Toys at Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 Home Games …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are hosting their annual Toys for Tots collection during two home games this week at Joe Louis Arena. Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys (no stuffed animals) to home games on Thursday, Dec. 3, against Arizona at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 5, versus Nashville at 7:00 p.m.
Representatives from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve will be on hand at each entrance of Joe Louis Arena to collect toys, which will then be distributed to needy children throughout Metro Detroit during the holidays. All monetary donations will be used to purchase additional toys.
Fans are encouraged to bring toys suitable for children ages one to 12. Toys should cost no more than $30 to ensure all the children receive comparable items.
I don't believe that the Red Wings have a "goaltending controversy" in any way, shape or form--at least not yet--but the Wings' platooning of Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek higlights ESPN's Sean McIndoe's list of "Six goaltending controversies in the Eastern Conference":
Detroit Red Wings: Jimmy Howard vs. Petr Mrazek
In this corner: Howard is a former All-Star who had been Detroit's starter for six years before being overtaken by Mrazek in time for last season's playoffs.
And in this corner: Mrazek is a 23-year-old who would make spot appearances in Detroit for two years before earning the backup job last season. He got the start in all seven playoff games against the Lightning, and he played well.
The results so far: It was a mild surprise when the Wings went to Mrazek last spring, and some suspected that the departure of coach Mike Babcock would mean Howard getting the job back. But new boss Jeff Blashill has treated it as an open competition, and so far Mrazek has been better, posting a .928 save percentage to Howard's .914 and earning 15 of the team's 26 starts.
That's a whopping 57% of the starts, with Jimmy Howard scheduled to play in game #27 on Thursday
Prediction: Mrazek's grip on the job is getting firmer. Howard hasn't been bad by any stretch, but he's being outplayed by a younger, cheaper option. If that continues, what happens next could get tricky; Howard remains signed through 2018-19 on a contract that carries a $5.3 million cap hit, and he would become yet another questionable long-term contract in Detroit. Mrazek is earning $738,000 this season, after which he'll be a restricted free agent.
Howard's not going to be moved this season, at least if Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill are to be believed, and it's hard to say whether the Wings may end up being one of those teams that spends $8-10 million on their goaltending and is comfortable with that situation. For the present moment, there isn't a controversy going on.
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with members of the Grand Rapids Griffins regarding their rather remarkable turnaround from a 1-and-7 start to a team riding a 6-game winning streak:
"It has been a combination of things," said coach Todd Nelson. "We were close before and I remember telling the guys, 'Look, we're to the point where we have to accept each other. We're a team that has been together and a coaching staff that's different.'
"I think they accepted us, we trusted them and we've gone forward and playing more like everyone believes we're capable."
The run has them at .500 (8-8-0-1) for the first time, with their longest winning streak since nine in a row Feb. 14-March 4 last season.
To build more confidence, the streak has come against some of the (previously) hottest teams. The Griffins broke a 10-game point streak by Rockford on Nov. 18, thumped division-leading San Diego on Nov. 20 and blanked Central-leading Milwaukee on Nov. 27 to end its 10-game winning streak.
The month ended with at 7-2-0-1, the franchise's second most successful November in the past 10 years.
Along the way, the Griffins finally found the scoring touch. Try this: In seven games in October they had 10 goals total. In 10 games in November, they had 35.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland appeared on the NHL on XM Sirius Satellite Radio's Gord Stellick and Charlie Simmer show this morning, discussing the Wings' play for almost 19 minutes...
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. Justin Abdelkader spoke with MLive's Brendan Savage regarding his Gordie Howe hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres:
[It] was impossible for anyone to overlook what Abdelkader did for the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena. He scored twice, assisted on another goal and got into a fight to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
Abdelkader snapped a seven-game goal drought with his first multi-goal game since bagging a hat trick in the season opener vs. Toronto.
"It feels good," Abdelkader said. "At the same time, I feel like I've been getting opportunities and chances. The puck just hasn't been going in. That's how the game works sometimes. When those things happen, you just got to keep working hard and stick to the simple things, help the team out. It's not always going to be points. You've got contribute some way."
2. In the prospect department, the Victoria Times-Colonist's Cleve Dheensaw spoke with Victoria Royals defenseman Joe Hicketts about his invitation to Team Canada's World Junior selection camp:
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.