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A post-Leafs win jab and a note about the Flyers

Sportsnet's Damien Cox couldn't resist a little "rubbing in" of the Leafs' 1-0 win over the Red Wings yesterday, but in doing so, he revealed an important fact about the Wings' most dangerous current competitor for a playoff spot:

Got to believe that was huge for Mike Babcock to go back to Detroit with half an NHL roster and come up with a victory Sunday night. He’ll never acknowledge it, but you know he’s heard the whispers, the suggestions that he isn’t quite the coach he’s made out to be, that the Red Wings were just as happy to turn the reins over to Jeff Blashill.

Well, it doesn’t really matter, and while you hear the snide suggestions that given Toronto’s record this season Babcock has been exposed, well that’s just nonsense. If you don’t understand how much the Leafs have been transformed this year, you’re not watching very closely.

His former club, meanwhile, is fighting for its playoff life, a job made tougher with the loss of veteran defenceman Niklas Kronwall on Saturday afternoon. A massive road game in Philadelphia Tuesday night awaits, and a 24-year-old streak of making the playoffs is on the line in the final weeks of the NHL season.

The Flyers, meanwhile, start a patch of seven games in 12 days that will likely decide a season that has gone better than most believed it would.

The Flyers also have something like 5 sets of back-to-back games compared to the Wings' 3 over the final month of the regular season.

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St. James previews the Red Wings-Flyers tilt

The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Red Wings took Monday off after playing 3 games in 4 nights, and as such, she sets up tomorrow's crucial game against the Flyers:

The Flyers have banked seven points their last four games, most recently losing to Florida in a shoot-out Saturday. Goaltender Steve Mason (one of the game's biggest at 6-feet-4 and 217 pounds) has been in net for all of those games. Overall, he's 16-15-8 with a 2.60 goals-against average and .915 save percentage, while former Plymouth Whaler Michal Neuvirth is 16-8-4 with a 2.29 GAA and .925 percentage. Claude Giroux leads the Flyers with 57 points in 64 games. The Flyers have two 20-goal scores in Wayne Simmonds (24) and Brayden Schenn (23).

Stacking the teams up against each other, the Wings average 2.48 goals per game to 2.57 by the Flyers. In goals against, the Wings come in at a 2.57 average and the Flyers at 2.58. The Flyers' power play has a 18.9 success percentage, while the Wings are at 17% (they have elite company near the bottom of the NHL standings, though, as the Tampa Bay Lightning's power play also is at 17% and the Florida Panthers are 16.7%. Both of those Atlantic Division rivals sit higher in the standings than Detroit).

After Philadelphia, the Wings are flying back to Detroit for a day at home to break up what otherwise would be a long time gone. Thursday, they play at Columbus -- site of one of the Wings' worst performances of the season just last week -- and then head further south to play at Florida and Tampa Bay.

The Wings play the Flyers again on April 6 at Joe Louis Arena.

St. James continues...

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Red Wings recall Anthony Mantha

From the Red Wings:


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Flyers talk tough about being the ‘hottest team’ in the NHL

The Philadelphia Flyers are "talking tough" about making the playoffs, and injured Flyer Jakub Voracek is leading the way, as the Courier-Post's Dave Isaac noted:

It appears to be a three-horse race between the Flyers, Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins and the way Voracek sees it, the pressure isn’t on the guys in orange and black, but rather the other two teams that are currently in playoff spots.

“I would call it like that, yes,” Voracek said. “I would say we are the hottest team out of three. We are very good and I’m pretty positive they know that we are playing well. The way we are confident right now, we don’t have to be worried about it.”

Detroit lost defenseman Nicklas Kronwall Sunday for up to three weeks. They lost 1-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday.

“I was screaming on the couch there cheering for Toronto,” Wayne Simmonds said. “My girlfriend came in like, ‘What are you doing?’  And I’m like, ‘Toronto’s got to win this one.’ It’s interesting scoreboard watching. … Trust me, we’re pretty locked in right now.”

Between hitting their stride and getting healthier — Voracek says there’s “not a chance” he plays against Detroit Tuesday, but hopes to return soon thereafter — the Flyers feel like they’re the team to watch.

“The way we’re playing, they’ve got to be more worried about not making the playoffs than us,” Voracek said, “because they way we play, everybody knows how good we play right now and everybody watches the games.”

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A bit more about Dan Renouf

From ESPN's Craig Custance's Monday Insider blog entry:

6. What Renouf can do for Detroit

Detroit quietly added even more organizational depth on defense in signing college free agent Dan Renouf, who the Red Wings followed very closely at the University of Maine. There, they saw a player who made steady and positive development and they like the fact that they’re adding size on defense to their organization, an area of need, according to assistant GM Ryan Martin.

“Dan possesses good mobility and defensive awareness; he has decent size and edge to his game,” Martin wrote in an e-mail this weekend. ‘We don’t have a lot of size on the blue line in our prospect group. In Dan, we feel we are adding a nice combination of skill, skating, size and competitiveness.”

Custance continues...

And Renouf spoke with the Bangor Daily News's Larry Mahoney regarding his decision to turn pro:

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“An Interesting Time For The Wings”

via Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

The Red Wings have had issues scoring at times this season, and that was evident again Sunday in the blanking at the hands of the last-place Maple Leafs.

That's a really tough loss to take if you're Detroit and trying to stay in this race. ‎

This is an interesting time for the Wings, who are trying to bridge the gap between veterans Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, and the young generation led by rookie Dylan Larkin.

No franchise has been more incredible in finding ways to regenerate on the fly for the past two-and-a-half decades, and I still think the Red Wings will continue their amazing streak and get into the playoffs for the 25th straight season. It's going to be close, though.

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Lack Of Quality Scoring Chances Hurt The Red Wings Last Night

from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

Not enough quality scoring chances and too many turnovers were a fatal mix for the Detroit Red Wings Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings lost 1-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs – the NHL's worst team – despite peppering goaltender Jonathan Bernier with 38 shots, many of which resulted in relatively easy stops for the Maple Leafs netminder.

The Red Wings also coughed the puck up 14 times compared to just three for Toronto.

Put those two things together and the result was the end of Detroit's modest two-game winning streak.

"I didn't think we had enough quality chances," said defenseman Danny DeKeyser. "For the most part (Bernier) did a good job of not letting rebounds come off him. They did a good job of keeping a lot of our chances to the outside.

"We didn't have a whole lot of Grade A chances."


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Red Wings-Maple Leafs quick take: Datsyuk’s grit can’t save the Wings from themselves

Heading into tonight's game between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs, the Philadelphia Flyers sat only 3 points behind the Wings in the Wild Card standings, and the Carolina Hurricanes sat 5 points back. With the Wings battling Philly on Tuesday, Sunday's game fit very nicely into the "must-win" category.

Things got a little harder when the team announced this:

Tomas Jurco rotated back into the lineup in Helm's absence, but losing a player who scored 2 goals the previous evening ain't easy.

Losing Pavel Datsyuk to a vicious set of hits from Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov (see below) was harder, and the Red Wings never seemed to recover from Datsyuk's absence, even as he returned to the game and put on an absolute clinic, leading Detroit with 7 shots (1 more than Dylan Larkin), 8 attempts, a takeaway, hit and 11-and-8 faceoff effort in 17:32 of ice time, presumably playing with a broken nose...

And Detroit was unable to defeat the Leafs' trap--vintage Jacques Lemaire, trap-and-grab-and-grope hockey that is only legal late in regular seasons--or Jonathan Bernier, who was spectacular in stopping 38 Wings shots.

Detroit ended up losing 1-0 to a Leafs team built to defeat the Red Wings, and the Wings desperately, desperately need to defeat the Flyers on Tuesday.

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‘Hometown Hockey’ interviews Ken Holland

Sportsnet's David Amber produced a report telling Ken Holland's "Hometown Hockey" story, from Penticton to Vernon, British Columbia, and on to the NHL:

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Petr Mrazek In Goal Tonight

Jeff Blashill just announced Petr Mrazek starts tonight.

The Wings did not have a morning skate so the news today has been pretty slow.



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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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