The Malik Report
Michigan Hockey's Stefan Kubus spoke with Red Wings prospect Vili Saarijarvi regarding his adjustment to North American hockey and the OHL as he plays for the Flint Firebirds...
“It’s very good hockey,” Saarijarvi told MiHockey following Flint’s home opener Sept. 26. “Both two games and two wins, I think that’s a very good start for us and that’s what we wanted. It’s fast hockey and physical hockey, so I think it’s good for me and it’s gonna help me a lot. And the coaching staff and everything, it’s very good. So far, it’s been so much fun.
“Those fans were awesome. They were so loud, and I love to play here, so I’m looking forward to playing the next game here.”
Saarijarvi said that any notions about Flint’s ability to host a junior hockey franchise are incorrect.
“I didn’t know that much before they drafted me, but then I started hearing not-that-good things, but I went there the last three, four weeks, been very good,” Saarijarvi said in a previous interview. “It’s not that bad, and I like it over there. I went there for playing hockey, so that’s my thing and every town has bad areas. We live in a good area, so I don’t have any problems there. The coaching staff, organization, everything, people, fans and my billet family, teammates are very nice people, so there is no problem.
“I went there three weeks before everyone, I went straight from Lake Placid to Flint, so I was the only player there, and I met all those people and the staff, what they’re doing and putting in new locker rooms and everything is so nice.”
Updated 6x at 4:57 PM: According to Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea, Olympia Development is holding a media briefing at the Red Wings follow-on rink's construction site:
The Detroit Red Wings' youngsters put on a clinic on Wednesday night, with Andreas Athanasiou registering two goals and an assist, Dylan Larkin registering a goal and an assist, Anthony Mantha registering a goal and two assists and Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith registering a goal and an assist apiece en route to a 7-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Athanasious, Larkins, Manthas, Noseks, Ouellets, Sprouls and Jensens have all made the Wings coaching and front office's final roster decisions very complicated ones over the course of the Wings' first six exhibition games.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jason Mackey wasn't exactly impressed with the Penguins' effort...
The question that bears asking once you read this article by the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa is a simple one: do you agree with Henrik Zetterberg?
An accomplished, long-tenured coach is out; a new, young one is in.
Two big free agents were signed, after droughts in a few previous summers of free agency. Young players are getting better, and ample depth at some positions suggests roster moves may come.Two goaltenders are vying for playing time, amid fond hope fine play in net will result.
“It is an interesting year, for sure,” said Zetterberg, who is starting a fourth season as captain of the Wings and 13th on the team. “It is exciting, and we are looking forward to it. The future looks good.”
The coaching change is a significant difference, even though there are some similarities between Jeff Blashill and Mike Babcock.
“I have been here for 12 years, and I had one coach for 10,” Zetterberg said. “But change can be a good thing, and I think this is. It’s a new era, here, and a new coach in town. Change can be refreshing and bring new energy. We just need to focus on what we can do, here, now.”
Krupa continues at extended length, discussing the leadership group with Zetterberg and Blashill, addressing player personnel issues and revealing that Zetterberg "hit a wall" last January...
In direct prospect news:
In Sweden's SHL, Axel Holmstrom played 14:58, won 77% of his faceoffs and finished at -1 in Skelleftea AIK's 3-2 loss to Orebo;
In the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov scored a goal on 5 shots and went 9-for-16 on faceoffs in the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles' 7-3 win over Moncton;
And in the OHL, Vili Saarijarvi registered an assist and finished at +1 in the Flint Firebirds' 4-2 loss to Owen Sound.
The Red Wings played a Pittsburgh Penguins team that was icing its "NHL roster" while playing its 3rd game in 3 nights on Wednesday, and the game was no contest: Detroit defeated Pittsburgh 7-2, with Andreas Athanasiou registering 2 goals and an assist, Dylan Larkin registering a goal and an assist, Anthony Mantha registering a goal and two assists, Justin Abdelkader and Brendan Smith registering a goal and an assist, and the Wings going +29 as a team.
At the other end, the Wings continue to give up a lot of shots, but Petr Mrazek was strong and stout, stopping 36 of 38 shots, and the Wings' goal-scorers were efficient, scoring 7 times on 22 shots against Jeff Zatkoff.
The Wings will fly home to Detroit, practice on Thursday, and wrap up the preseason with games against Toronto on Friday (7:30 PM on FSD) and in Toronto on Saturday (7 PM on the NHL Network, for those of you who receive it). Given this evening's performances by Athanasiou, Mantha and Larkin, the Wings' decisions regarding its fourth line have become that much harder, and that's a good thing.
The Detroit Red Wings battle the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 PM EDT tonight, with the game airing "in the local Pittsburgh market" on http://PittsburghPenguins.com and airing with Ken Kal commentary on http://DetroitRedWings.com.
As noted in the morning skate post, Teemu Pulkkinen (upper-body), Darren Helm (shoulder/concussion) and Mike Green (groin) are still out, and as noted in the game-day post, the Wings are pretty bullish on Dylan Larkin's potential.
Here's an open post to suit your needs.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Larkin, the 15th overall pick in 2014, and Mantha, the 20th overall pick in 2013, are the best answers within the organization as to whom will take over for Datsyuk and Zetterberg, as they did a decade ago from Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan. That Larkin was down to play on a top-two line meant head coach Jeff Blashill is keen to see how Larkin, who just turned 19, handles himself against NHL vets.
“We want to test him and continue to see where his game is at,” Blashill said. “It is one thing to be considered a good prospect, it is another to prove that you are NHL ready. There are things he has got to get better at, and that is just being a young player. He is extremely competitive, he wants to improve, and I think he will improve at the things he needs to. I like him a lot as a player and I love the intangible, the character part of it — I think that is ultimately going to drive him to NHL. When, I don’t know.”
Larkin has impressed with his ability to execute at high speeds.
“He looks like he has been playing here for a couple of years,” Zetterberg said, “but obviously there are going to be steps for him. As a young player when you come in and play regularly with men, it is a different level of hockey, traveling, the focus you have to put in, the mental aspect, too. Everyone goes through it, I just think he has a little head start on others.”
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
No question, there’s a long list of young players who likely will make the Red Wings roster at some point, if not right out of this training camp.
Forwards Andreas Athanasiou (age 21), Tyler Bertuzzi (20), Dylan Larkin (19), Anthony Mantha (21) and Tomas Nosek (23), defensemen Xavier Ouellet (22), Alexey Marchenko (23), and Ryan Sproul (22) and goalie Jake Paterson (21) are all young players who’ve stood out at certain points duing September.
“Most of them, they’re coming into some NHL building for the first time and they’re wide-eyed and checking everything out,” Howard said of the prospects. “We (veterans) tend to forget as we get older in our careers and you see the excitement in their eyes and it brings some of the youth in you.”
The skill level and energy of the young players have ramped the competitiveness of intrasquad scrimmages and practices.
“You see it in the game and practices,” Henrik Zetterberg said of the talent level. “It’s nice to see we have guys coming up every year. The last couple of years it was (Gustav) Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar, (Riley) Sheahan, (Luke) Glendening, among others and now the second wave is coming up.
The Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins completed their morning skates ahead of tonight's game (7 PM on DetroitRedWings.com audio, PittsburghPenguins.com "local" stream), and MLive's Ansar Khan reports that the Wings will ice the following lineup...
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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.