The Malik Report
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Toews was indeed smiling, and most of the Hawks seemed to be in a rather good mood after an unusually focused morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. If the pressure's mounting, they weren't showing it.
"Our group's been fine. We're definitely disappointed, we haven't been in this position all year. We've quietly gone about our business and [they've] gotten our attention over the last couple of games. The focus has got to be in the right place. We want to play our best game of the year tonight, and we're going to need it."
After a disastrous Game 2, the Hawks felt they played a strong game in Game 3, particularly in the third period. The way they see it, if a break or two had gone their way, they'd be the team up 2-1 in the series. Of course, they're not. And the fact that one of their better efforts wasn't good enough to beat the surging Red Wings might not have damaged the Hawks' confidence, but it certainly boosted Detroit's.
"It shows that we have a lot of confidence and we're playing close to our best hockey right now, and that's what we want to keep doing," said defenseman Brendan Smith. "I think we've still got to work on a few things. I don't think we've played a full 60 minutes and that's something we're going to need to do tonight, because we all know Chicago's going to come out blazing. It's such an important game. Seems like every game gets more important -- it's unbelievable how that works. They're going to up their ante and we're going to have to do the same."
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
There is something vaguely unfair about the Detroit Red Wings.
The lineup they iced for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against Chicago on Monday had 15 players who were either their own draft picks or who were Red Wings property before anyone else got them.
That's 15 out of 20, and if forward Darren Helm and defenceman Danny DeKeyser were healthy, the number would be higher.
This, despite having not had a top-10 pick in the draft since 1991 (Marty Lapointe), and only two inside the top 20 in the 22 seasons since then - in each of which, by the way, the Red Wings have made the playoffs.
Oh, and just to rub it in a little, the Wings' system includes the NCAA college defence-men of the year in the CCHA (DeKeyser) and WCHA (Nick Jensen), the top defenceman in the Canadian Hockey League (Ryan Sproule) and one of the QMJHL's two or three best rearguards, Xavier Ouellet.
The Detroit Red Wings face off against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (8 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, and FSD will air a post-game show; tonight is also the "Fill a Boot" night fundraiser to help the family of Dearborn firefighter Brian Wohlke) knowing that "things will move pretty fast" from here on out. Starting with Game 4 this evening, this series will switch to the familiar play-every-other-day format, with Games 5, 6 and 7 scheduled to take place on Saturday (8 PM, NBC), next Monday and Wednesday...
So the two-day breaks' worth of bluster will soon be behind us (there were two practice posts, an evening multimedia post, injury updates and multiple discussions of the Wings' rebuilding-on-the-fly status for a reason; for the record, it's going to get up to 60 today with scattered showers, but the low for tonight's forecasted at 37 degrees, so the ice should be much better at the Joe, too), but Wednesday's practice chatter did end in something of a flourish from Chicago, where the Hawks still insist that they must play "angry," and where Joel Quenneville's decided to jump-start his power play and his team's scoring by adding Bryan Bickell as a net-front presence and prescribing more Andrew Shaw to get in Jimmy Howard's grill, respectively.
The Hawks didn't absolutely insist that the series will head to Chicago tied 2-2, but they came pretty close while speaking with Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's Tracey Myers...
Over the course of the both the Red Wings-Ducks and Red Wings-Blackhawks series, Ken Holland and Mike Babcock's roles on Detroit's "rebuilding on the fly" season (which, as the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo noted this afternoon, does not involve tanking to be bad enough for long enough to stockpile high draft picks like the Blackhawks did), and with the Grand Rapids Griffins advancing to the AHL's Western Conference Finals, Martin Frk dazzling at the Memorial Cup and the team adding to its stockpile of drafted prospects by bringing over Calle Jarnkrok (temporarily), Teemu Pulkkinen (permanently) and signing Nick Jensen and Mattias Backman recently (and adding free agents like Damien Brunner and the rapidly-headling Danny DeKeyser hasn't hurt, either)...
The Wings' NHL and AHL rosters don't necessarily lack talent or depth, though they're certainly not the Blackhawks.
Now the story about Mike Babcock heading to Anaheim instead of succeeding Scotty Bowman isn't necessarily as gruff as Ken Holland told the AP's Larry Lage earlier today--Babcock was coaching the AHL's Cincinnati Mighty Ducks in the 2001-2002 season, and when Babcock approached Holland stating that he wanted to coach the Wings, Holland told Babcock that he simply couldn't hire a coach with no experience as opposed to stating that the team "doesn't hire interns"...
The Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association named Patrick Eaves their nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which recognizes perseverance and dedication to hockey, because Eaves successfully recovered from a concussion that consumed 13 months of his professional career.
I don't think that anyone, including the Red Wings, imagined that Eaves would have become so invaluable to the team's penalty-killing or provide such no-frills defensive play that he'd be bumping Todd Bertuzzi and Jordin Tootoo out of the team's playoff lineup, but he's doing just that, and WXYZ's Tom Leyden penned a story about and filed a video profile of Eaves earlier this evening:
Listen/watch five minutes with 'Gus'.
The Associated Press's Larry Lage examined the battle between the Chicago Blackhawks' and Detroit Red Wings' coaches, discussing Joel Quenneville's role in his Hawks' successes (despite being 0-and-5 against the Wings in the playoffs) and Mike Babcock's presence behind the Wings' bench, and in doing so, Lage related a story from Wings GM Ken Holland that you may not yet be aware of:
"He makes his team accountable,'' Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
With an iron fist?
"Yeah,'' Holland said. "He's the boss.''
Holland is Babcock's boss more than a decade after telling him that he wanted to lead the storied franchise on the ice while he was coaching a minor league team shared by Detroit and Anaheim. During the second intermission of a playoff game in 2002, Holland recalled Babcock telling him he wanted to be the next coach of the Red Wings.
"I don't hire interns,'' Holland said he told Babcock. "The next year, he knocked us out of the playoffs.'
Updated 2x at 5:19 PM: In addition to today's pair of Red Wings-Blackhawks practice posts: I know that the story that got Red Wings fans down involved the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan's report that Darren Helm has suffered yet another setback in his attempt to recover from a partially torn ligament and slightly herniated disc in his back...
"The team is doing so great, it's the playoffs, and I want to be out there," said Helm, who was skating lightly during the Anaheim series before another setback occurred. "It's extremely tough to watch."
The plan now is for Helm to stay off the ice indefinitely.
"Something happened (skating during the Anaheim series) and it hurt a lot and I was limping around for a couple of days," Helm said. "We decided to take a step back and we needed a different approach — staying off the ice a lot longer.
Updated 5x at 5:18 PM: The first Red Wings-Blackhawks practice day post has run its course space-wise, so we'll begin a second slate of Red Wings and Blakchawks stories with coach Mike Babcock's very thorough off-day presser (which serves as a very nice compliment to his Fan 590 interview)...
As well as the Wings discussing the positive effects of their two two-day breaks between Games 1 and 2 and now 3 and 4 with MLive's Ansar Khan...
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.