The Malik Report
Sometimes the Swedish wins. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press posited their NHL/Red Wings previews this morning, but these Tweets from SVT.se's Marie Lehmann, who's in North America for the opening week of the NHL season, allow the man in charge of the Red Wings' locker room to tell the tale:
Or: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit, before the premiere tomorrow: "this is the first time in ten years that we have new coaches. It is a very important year for us ".
"Mike (Babcock) ruled with an iron fist. He wanted to control everything ". Henrik Zetterberg on former coach. "Blashill is more open in communication".
"We are excited to start. Just that we meet Toronto in the 1st match makes it extra special. "
Do we believe him? The Free Press's Drew Sharp spoke with Jimmy Howard, Dylan Larkin and Mike Babcock as part of the Free Press's Wings preview, and Sharp's quip from Babcock is telling:
Of prospect-related note:
In Sweden's Allsvenskan, Christoffer Ehn didn't play in BIK Karlaskoga's 3-2 loss to Tingsryds IF;
In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov sat out the second game of a 2-game suspension in the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles' 3-2 loss to Victoriaville;
In the OHL, Vili Saarijarvi had an assist, finished at +2 and took 5 of the Flint Firebirds' 25 shots in Flint's 3-2 loss to Sault Ste. Marie;
And in the WHL, Joe Hicketts had an assist in the Victoria Cougars' 4-1 win over Spokane.
David Gunnarsson (a.k.a. DaveART) posted a picture of Petr Mrazek's new Peter Griffin-meets-Robocop mask on Instagram last night...
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
The news that Jimmy Howard's starting for the Red Wings on Friday against Toronto wasn't exactly surprising--it was 50-50 that Howard or Mrazek was going to start on Friday--but coach Blashill's comments as to why he chose Howard were eyebrow-raising in a good way, as noted by MLive's Brendan Savage:
"There's lots of things that go into the decision, a number of things including stats, and we do as much research as we can to come up with the best decision possible," Blashill said Wednesday. "That was the way we went.
"They're both going to play, as I said previous, and they'll both continue to play in a lot of the back-to-back situations we have this month. I would suspect they both will get an opportunity in those situations as well. We're going to need great goaltending. We think both of them can give us great goaltending. For multiple reasons we decided to have one start Friday and one start Saturday. We could reverse it and I'd feel just as confident going into those games that we're going to get great goaltending."
from Tom Lang at the Detroit Free Press,
Former Detroit Red Wings player and head coach Dave Lewis can say he has been in the current coach’s shoes.
Both Lewis and Jeff Blashill have followed legendary and popular coaches at the helm of the organization. Lewis was an assistant in Detroit, then took over for two years when Scotty Bowman retired in 2002. Blashill, the only American to ever be named head coach of the Red Wings, replaced Mike Babcock in the summer.
“I met him at a charity event (softball game), and he came up, introduced himself. Very impressive that he did that,” Lewis said about Blashill recently at a golf and dinner fundraiser for Random Acts of Kindness at the Golf Club of Mt. Brighton.
“And he knows what it’s like here. I gave him one word of advice, that you’re just going to be under a microscope. But they know that. The demands of a head coach in any sport and city is like, you want to have results. It’s a results-oriented business, and I know he’s up to the challenge. I know he’s a good coach, and I know he’s a good person.”
The AHL has decided to allow its Pacific Division teams to play 68 games as opposed to the 76 games that the rest of the AHL's teams will play due to the extensive travel the West Coast teams will encounter, so the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner explains exactly how this disparity will affect the Grand Rapids Griffins:
To determine champions and playoff teams, the points percentage formula will be used. It was formally adopted by the league in July. The team schedules were released in late August.
The formal explanation of the standings from the league reads:
"Teams will receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams in each division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) will qualify for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, with one exception in each conference: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would cross over and compete in the other division's bracket."
Griffins president Tim Gortsema, said it was necessary for the Pacific Division will play fewer games because of their location.
"Most people don't necessarily even know or recognize that there will be a small number of teams in a division that will be playing fewer games than the rest," Gortsema said. "Personally, I think there may be some confusion from some as to why one group is different than the others."
Wallner continues, and the Griffins are in California presently to play the Bakersfield Condors on Friday and the San Diego Gulls on Saturday:
This is a press release in which the American Hockey League does a little bit of bragging, but in a hockey landscape full of leagues that claim they're the "road to the NHL," the AHL's got the stats to back up their case:
As the National Hockey League embarks on its 2015-16 season today, the American Hockey League is proud to have 628 graduates on NHL opening-day rosters, making up more than 84 percent of the NHL’s player pool to begin its campaign.
Several of last year’s notable AHL players have made the jump to the NHL as the new season gets underway. Four months removed from capturing the Calder Cup with the Manchester Monarchs, Derek Forbort, Nick Shore and 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs MVP Jordan Weal will start the 2015-16 campaign with the Los Angeles Kings, while former teammates Jean-Francois Berube (New York Islanders), Colin Miller (Boston Bruins) and regular-season MVP Brian O'Neill (New Jersey Devils) are also on NHL rosters to begin the year.
Teemu Pulkkinen begins the year with the Detroit Red Wings after leading the AHL with 34 goals in just 46 games last season; Jacob Markstrom is with the Vancouver Canucks after backstopping Utica to the Calder Cup Finals, and Chris Wideman – the 2014-15 Eddie Shore Award winner as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman – and Second Team AHL All-Star Shane Prince both earned spots with the Ottawa Senators.
Jeff Blashill, the AHL’s coach of the year in 2013-14 and a Calder Cup winner with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2012-13, is the new head coach of the Detroit Red Wings, one of 21 former AHL bench bosses currently leading NHL teams. John Hynes, who led the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to at least the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of his five seasons, is set to make his NHL debut at the helm of the New Jersey Devils.
Among Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts:
17. Think there are some teams curious to see what, if any, waiver choices Detroit makes when everyone gets healthy.
(I expect Ouellet and Marchenko to head to Grand Rapids, for starters, and then Larkin to join them unless he's dominant, but that's just me)
18. In retrospect, the smartest decision Detroit made with Dylan Larkin was putting him on the wing during last year’s AHL playoffs. Don’t know if Jeff Blashill was foreshadowing what would happen, but it’s unlikely the Red Wings keep him now if Larkin is playing centre behind Henrik Zetterberg and Brad Richards. Instead, he can open aside Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader in a scoring role, not a checking one.
A little play that stood out during exhibition season came when Larkin was on a two-on-one with Zetterberg and looked to shoot, instead of simply giving it up to his more-experienced teammate. A small thing, but a big thing, because many young players would defer.
19. Detroit looks like it has another keeper in 2012 fourth-rounder Andreas Athanasiou. Impressive preseason performance. Did not go unnoticed by opponents.
Friedman continues, and Wings fans might add Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi to the list...
Here are Friday's lines, per MLive's Ansar Khan:
Blashill said the lines and defense pairs at practice Wednesday are the ones that will be intact on Friday:
Justin Abdelkader-Henrik Zetterberg-Dylan Larkin
Tomas Tatar-Brad Richards-Gustav Nyquist
Johan Franzen-Riley Sheahan-Teemu Pulkkinen
Drew Miller-Luke Glendening-Landon Ferraro
Forwards Tomas Jurco and Joakim Andersson will be healthy scratches.
Darren Helm (separated shoulder, concussion) had his first full practice, with contact, since getting injured on Sept. 18. He said he won't be ready for the weekend but anticipates returning next week.
Updated 4x with video @ 1:09 PM: Howard starts on Friday, Mrazek Saturday.
The Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena with Daniel Cleary, Tomas Jurco and Darren Helm in "scratch" jerseys today, and after picture day and a brisk practice, the players and coach spoke with the media:
From MLive's Ansar Khan...
Kindl (eye infection) said he'll be ready to play Friday.
Wings have waived Daniel Cleary.
Helm said he won't play this weekend. Shooting for next week.
The Free Press's Helene St. James...
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