Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

Choosing to cheer

I've leaned toward saying nothing about the Red Wings' play of late, mostly because fans appear to be so pissed off that it doesn't seem like anything I can say would be comforting.

After yesterday night's loss to Philadelphia, the "odds" suggest that Detroit's a 50-50 shot to make the playoffs. I thought Paul Woods offered a pretty good estimate of how many games the Wings need to win out of their final 12 when he told WDFN's Matt Sheppard that the Wings need to go 8-and-4 or 9-and-3--which seems unlikely given the Wings' record of late--to make the cut.

Looking at the Wings' predicament, there's lots of blame to go around, from the lack of secondary scoring to dearth of decisive play on defense, the squeakers Mrazek's let up of late (despite playing stellar hockey), the special teams coaching, the coaching in general...You don't get to this point without multiple reasons for a lack of success.

I keep wondering when Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist are going to score in the same game, for example, or when we'll see consistent dominant performances from the top six forwards and top four defensemen, but those are my concerns.

We're going to have a LOT of time to talk about the ways in which the team can and must improve over the next couple of months, regardless of whether the Wings actually make the playoffs.

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Afternoon news: HSJ chat highlights; on Tatar, Svechnikov and Wings Tweets

From the Free Press's Helene St. James' chat on Freep.com:

Helene is this not a cross roads for the organization, Senior management which has been amazingly spot on with some decisions in the past has gone blind to some players right now. Ericcson, Quincey, Smith and Glendening all should be replaced by the start of next season. Will there be any heat on Ken Holland if they fail to make the playoffs ? Will Danny Dekeyser ever learn any moves and quit drop passing the puck everytime we start a break out ? Am I going crazy ? by Wes 12:06 PM

Helene St. James: They are trying to remain competitive while their core veterans age and await a push from below. Needs to be more from mid20s guys such as Tatar and Nyqvist. Can"t hinge season on Larkin, and now Mantha, and Athanasiou.

Hi Helene... do you see as some do... more of Ken Holland's hand in how the Wings are "headed"... in other words... Coach Blashill has less say in trades and acquisitions than Mr. Holland... and that kind of forces Blashill to use the players he's given to use... rather than let him pick? by NorrisSmythe 12:31 PM

Helene St. James: It's a giant myth that Holland operates as an island. He has his advisors - Ryan Martin, Blashill, pro scouts, and more, and they all weigh in, for example, at trade deadline on whether to get player x or player y, or not. Ditto July 1. Holland got Weiss because Babcock wanted him, for example. Same with Jordin Tootoo.


Is Franzen ever coming back? Do you wish they would have signed Hossa instead?by Webby 12:37 PM

St. James: I'd be shocked if Franzen finds a doctor who will clear him. ... They tried to sign Hossa, Holland got the OK from Mike Ilitch to offer Hossa long-term deal, Hossa wanted to leave. Please pass it on.

The chat continues...

Otherwise...TSN's Scott Cullen notes that Tomas Tatar has been warming up of late...

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Thought On The Wings

via Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet in his 30 Thoughts...

Do not underestimate the pride the Detroit Red Wings have in their playoff streak. As Henrik Zetterberg said in a must-win game at Dallas three years ago, “We are not missing the playoffs on my watch.”

That’s why Anthony Mantha got the call, and it was instructive head coach Jeff Blashill used the “long-term” terminology. Detroit felt strongly Mantha was not to be recalled on a one game up, one game down basis. GM Ken Holland has talked about that before, how a team can create an impression a player is not doing very well if there’s a yo-yo up and down. They want Mantha in a position to succeed and you’ve got to give him a chance to jump into the deep end. In a perfect world, I’m not sure he gets this opportunity yet. But the Red Wings are desperate for scoring, and that is his greatest skill.

No doubt the organization hoped for a day Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Mantha and Petr Mrazek would be so critical to its success. No way anyone thought that time would come so quickly.

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A bit more about Mantha’s debut

As the Wings have an off day today, MLive's Ansar Khan looks back at Anthony Mantha's successful NHL debut during the Wings' loss to Philadelphia:

"I thought Mantha played really well. I thought he showed really, really well," coach Jeff Blashill said. "He must have had three or four either chances himself or created chances. If you win stick battles like this on a regular basis in the NHL he's going to be a good player for a long time."

Mantha didn't record a point, but he generated some chances, with four shots on goal.

Mantha said of his experience: "Amazing, that's for sure. Unfortunately, we lost, but the experience is there and I hope we can step back in Columbus (Thursday)."

He broke his stick during his first career shot – a slapper from the left wing early in the third period. He fired a shot off the goal post in the third.

"I think in the O-zone I played pretty decent," Mantha said. "Got a few opportunities, got a few battles down low. First period I was just trying to keep it simple, tried to find my legs and then as the game went along got better and better."


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Paul Woods speaks with WDFN’s Matt Sheppard

Red Wings analyst Paul Woods spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning, addressing the panic in Hockeytown regarding the Wings' difficult play of late. Woods believes that the Wings need to win 8 or 9 of their final 12 games to make the playoffs, and he's wondering where Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist are, too:

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It’s the hot topic of the day

TSN's Dave Hodge gives a "Thumbs Down" to the Red Wings' struggles of late...again...

Not to pick on the Detroit Red Wings, but their battle to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 25th straight time is liable to be the most interesting part of this season’s final month. As great as that record has been, failure to add to it threatens to embarrass the Wings.

When Detroit lost 1-0 to the Leafs on Sunday, it became popular to identify that game as the one that would be considered the streak-buster if the Red Wings missed the playoffs by a point or two.

Embedded ImageNot so fast, for next came the first period of last night’s game in Philadelphia, truly a more important game than the one against Toronto, because it’s the Flyers who are the most direct threat to Detroit’s playoff longevity.

The Wings “responded” with a reminder of what the “Philly flu” used to look like. They were outshot 23-3 (“thumbs down, obviously), and went with bowed heads to their dressing room trailing 2-0.

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Playoff Chances Don’t Look Good For The Detroit Red Wings

Dan Rosen of NHL.com answered a Wings related question in his weekly mailbag...

I'll keep this real simple: Do the Detroit Red Wings make the [Stanley Cup Playoff] streak 25 years? Why or why not?

I can't believe I'm saying this, but right now I don't think they will make it. Maybe the third period they played Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers will spring them forward, but that regulation loss is a tough one to swallow, as was the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.

Yes the Red Wings are still one point ahead of the Flyers, but that's negated by the two games in hand that the Flyers have on them.

I guess it's still possible that the Pittsburgh Penguins drop down considering the injury to Evgeni Malkin, but they just won back-to-back games against the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. Their cushion on the Flyers is four points, but the teams play each other three more times.

That's bad news for the Red Wings. What if those become three-point games? That puts extra pressure on Detroit to find a way to finish strong. Their goaltending hasn't been good enough. Niklas Kronwall is out. Not good.

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About Detroit’s Defensive Coverage

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Miscues and poor coverage cost the Red Wings in a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

"I just think our D corps is way better than that," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "We have six real good NHL defensemen and they have to play better on Thursday (in Columbus), and I think they will."

All four of Philadelphia's goals came from shots within a few feet of goaltender Petr Mrazek. Detroit's defense lost battles, broke down in coverage and made too many mistakes.

"We had unforced errors for nothing," Blashill said. "I thought we played well large stretches of the game and then all the sudden an unforced error.

"Once they got going in the O-zone, they did a good job getting pucks to the net, getting bodies to the net, but three of the four (goals) certainly were ones that were preventable."

read on

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Flyers wrap-up—these ‘devastating losses’ are tiring and tiresome

The Detroit Red Wings no longer control their own fate. The Red Wings' 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers gave the Flyers a 1-point deficit on Detroit in the Wild Card standings with 2 games in hand...

And the Wings will have to realistically treat that like being down 3 points to the Flyers, because there is no margin for assuming that your opponent will lose its games in hand.

CBS Sports' Chris Peters sounds the alarm

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Prospect news: In very brief

Of prospect-related note:

In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin played zero minutes and zero seconds in SKA St. Petersburg's 4-0 win over Dynamo Moscow, knoting the 2nd-round series at 2 games apiece;

In the QMJHL, Adam Marsh didn't play in the Saint John Sea Dogs' 2-1 loss to Acadie-Bathurst;

And instead of posting it in its entirety, I'll note that the Grand Rapids Griffins have posted their weekly press release, and leave the reading up to you.

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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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