The Malik Report
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. Sports Illustrated's Sam Page offers a Red Wings preview which concludes with the following observations:
Detroit’s postseason streak is one of the most impressive active runs in sports, and there’s no reason why the Red Wings shouldn’t extend it this season. Detroit improved from 2013-14 to 2014-15, despite poor goaltending, and the Wings are arguably better personnel-wise this season. But don’t underestimate the impact Babcock’s departure could have on the franchise. At times over the last few years, it felt like his genius was the only thing keeping this veteran club in contention. Blashill has achieved success at every level, from college to the AHL, but if the Wings experience the injury problems of 2013-14 or the goaltending issues of last season, he could face a steep uphill climb toward a 25th consecutive postseason appearance.
2. And MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with the Wings about Mike Babcock's legacy:
"I think that was the biggest difference when he came in, just every day practicing and before games, the level of preparation," Zetterberg said. "You knew the game plan before every game, you knew the players. That was a step up from what I was used to.
"He spent a lot of time at the rink but I don't think the off switch was off when he left the rink, so I think he puts a lot of his time on hockey."
Said Franzen: "No one (prepares) better than him. He's really prepared and never stops thinking about hockey. I don't know if that's good or bad. He was really professional and really got down to business and was really prepared for everything."
The Red Wings begin a home-and-home set of games against the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus and TSN4 on Friday; 7 PM in Toronto on Saturday, on the NHL Network U.S.* and Sportsnet One), and it might be better that some of the Babcock-returns-to-Detroit hype will be gotten out of the way before the regular-season opener on October 9th...
And it's probably a good thing that the Leafs open their season next Wednesday in Montreal, or next week would entirely consist of Toronto's 24-7 sports talk radio talking about the Babcock-back-to-Detroit scenario (it may do that anyway).
For the Red Wings fans who've moved on, the injuries to Danny DeKeyser (leg), Kyle Quincey (ankle), Mike Green (groin), Teemu Pulkkinen (upper-body) and Darren Helm (shoulder) are far more concerning, but for those who feel a little weird about Babcock coming back to Detroit wearing blue, the coach did address his reunion with the Toronto Star's Mark Zwolinski:
Ahead of tomorrow and Saturday's home-and-home series between the Red Wings and Mike Babcock's Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby has posited something of a "character sketch" of the Red Wings from an outside-Detroit perspective...
[N]ow that he has taken Babcock’s office, [Jeff Blashill] the 41-year-old Michigan native been dealt a new hand. He can’t turn the clock back on veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Both remain productive, although Zetterberg hit a wall offensively in the final weeks of last season, while Datsyuk was slowed by injury.
Having lost Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom to retirement a couple of years earlier, youngsters such as Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist stepped up under Babcock and a couple of intriguing free agents have arrived in Brad Richards and Mike Green. But defenceman Jakub Kindl, for example, had a harder time trying to win favour with Babcock and his coaching staff. He sat for long stretches.
“When you look around it’s not just me,” Kindl told the Detroit News this week. “We’re all on the same page, new coaching staff, he (Blashill) has a new plan and vision. I’m hoping I have a bigger chance and I’m just enjoying as much as I can. I’ve been here long enough, I know what position I’m in, but it’s a fresh start.”
Blashill also inherits something of a goaltending controversy as Jimmy Howard seeks to win back ground from young Petr Mrazek, who was the starter in the opening-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay. Howard tore a groin muscle that gave Mrazek his chance, but spent summer with renewed dedication to easing the strain on his 31-year-old legs.
And as Hornby continues, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness asked several Wings, including Blashill, to discuss their time with Babcock and the strangeness that is lining up against the former coach tomorrow, Saturday and during the Wings' home opener next Friday (and take note: the Leafs open their season next Wednesday in Montreal, so it won't be all Detroit-Toronto for the next week, just most of it):
The theme of today's prospect news remains "Did not play."
In Russia's KHL, Alexander Kadeikin continues to sit in the stands. He didn't play in SKA St. Petersburg's 3-2 loss to Jokerit;
In the Finnish Liiga, Julius Vahatalo didn't participate in TPS Turku's 5-0 loss to SaiPa;
And in Sweden's Allsvenskan, Christoffer Ehn finished at -1 and won 1 of 11 faceoffs in BIK Karlskoga's 3-1 win over IK Pantern.
Updated 4x at 6:41 PM: Bad news from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
Danny DeKeyser suffered a lower-leg injury in Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 25-year-old blue liner was hurt late in the third period of the Red Wings’ 7-2 victory.
DeKeyser logged more than 21 minutes of ice time while skating a game-high 29 shifts at Consol Energy Center.
He was examined by doctors following last night’s game. This morning he wore an immobilizing boot on his left foot and walked on crutches as he made his way to the team bus in downtown Pittsburgh.
Once back in Detroit, DeKeyser drove to the Detroit Medical Center, where he underwent further testing this afternoon to determine the extent of the injury. The Red Wings are still awaiting the results of the MRI.
DeKeyser was hurt during a Penguins’ power play after Tomas Nosek was called for hooking Pittsburgh forward Nick Bonino. Apparently, the Wings’ defenseman injured the lower left leg on an awkward hit, though he finished his shift and went out for one more shift before the game ended.
Also, from the Wings:
DANNY DEKEYSER SUFFERED LOWER LEFT LEG INJURY ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN PITTSBURGH
DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser suffered a lower left leg injury in the third period of last night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. DeKeyser was examined by doctors after last night’s game and returned to Detroit with the team this morning. He underwent further tests this afternoon to help determine the extent of the injury. A timetable for his return is currently unknown as the team awaits the results of today’s examination.
Update: MLive's Ansar Khan wonders what's next:
The Red Wings have waived Tom McCollum and assigned Jared Coreau to Grand Rapids, and the Grand Rapids Griffins' release regarding Coreau also reminds fans that the Griffins are playing in two exhibition games this weekend:
Prior to opening their regular season, the Griffins will conclude training camp with a pair of neutral-site preseason games against the Lake Erie Monsters this weekend. Grand Rapids will first battle the Monsters tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at the Bowling Green State University Ice Arena, home to the WCHA’s BGSU Falcons, before facing off again on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Windsor Family Credit Union Centre in Windsor, Ontario, where the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires play. For tickets, click here.
The Griffins will drop the puck on their regular season with an Oct. 9-10 road trip to Bakersfield and San Diego, marking their 20th campaign overall, 15th as members of the American Hockey League and 14th as the primary affiliate of the Red Wings. The following weekend, Grand Rapids will kick off the home portion of its schedule with back-to-back games against the San Antonio Rampage on Oct. 16-17 at 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena.
I was certainly wondering why the Red Wings didn't practice today, and the Free Press's Helene St. James has the answer:
The Wings generally fly out after exhibition games, but Wednesday's group had to overnight in Pittsburgh to help out a fellow Mike Ilitch-owned team. After dropping off the Wings on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh, Red Bird III flew to Texas to pick up the Detroit Tigers and ferry them to Chicago for their season-closing series against the White Sox. From there, Red Bird III flew back to Detroit, a fresh crew took over, and went to Pittsburgh and had the Wings back in Detroit by mid-morning today.
St. James also issues some injury updates...
Defenseman Kyle Quincey is questionable because of a lower-body injury. Forward Teemu Pulkkinen is doubtful because of an upper-body injury dating to last week. Defenseman Mike Green is likely to be available, as he has been back on the ice after experiencing a tender groin.
The only player (besides Pavel Datsyuk, who won't be back before November) the Wings are certain won't play this weekend is forward Darren Helm, who has yet to skate after suffering a concussion and a separated shoulder Sept. 18. The Wings remain optimistic that he can be ready for the start of the regular season the following weekend.
While MLive's Ansar Khan's off-day article discusses the spectacular play of the Wings' youngsters during the exhibition season, which has impressed the vets:
From DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji:
The Red Wings not only love hockey, they also love their pets.
Many of the Wings have dogs, including Riley Sheahan, who has not only adopted the Michigan Humane Society as his pet cause, he even adopted a dog from the Michigan Humane Society's Westland location.
"She's been such a blast having around," Sheahan said. "She's a handful sometimes but it's all worth it."
Sheahan and his dog, Ryder, a lab/boxer mix, appear in Pucks for Paws, a calendar with Wings and their dogs or MHS dogs on sale now to benefit the Michigan Humane Society.
Fans can purchase the calendar at the preseason game Friday night on the Joe Louis Arena concourse for $20 or at http://www.DetroitRedWings.com/PucksForPaws.
Very briefly: I've seen other bloggers discuss the concept that Dylan Larkin might be "ready" for NHL duty today, including Winging It in Motown's Kyle McIlmurray and Detroit Sports Nation's Shae Brophy [edit: offering thoughtful, nuanced and superb takes on the topic /end edit], and I guess I have an unpopular opinion here:
I didn't expect any prospect to unseat a roster player during training camp or the exhibition season, and I still don't believe that Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi or Tomas Nosek would be used to do much more than supplant Joakim Andersson or Landon Ferraro.
As such, I don't believe that it benefits any of the above-listed players, and especially Dylan Larkin, by starting them on the third or fourth lines, and as a result, I don't believe that Larkin should make the team unless the Wings are really serious about using him in a top-six or at least top-nine role.
The Red Wings are apparently going to do their usual, "Wait until Sunday to make cuts" routine, but the team has placed Tom McCollum on waivers:
Update: Jared Coreau is heading to Grand Rapids as well:
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.