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A Norris for Nick? It’s going to be close for the Red Wings’ captain

Updated 3x at 2:43 PM with Lidstrom’s teammates talking about the captain’s prowess: As Paul already posted, Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom was nominated for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman, but the probability of Lidstrom capturing his seventh Norris is about 50-50 at this point, and it may come down to adding up second and third-place votes instead of winning on first-place votes outright. An informal survey of the professional hockey writers’ association over the past few weeks seems to indicate that over half of the voters will go with the other finalists, Zdeno Chara or Shea Weber, and the other third to 40% are going with Lidstrom.

ESPN’s Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun have given Lidstrom a now-rare double endorsement...

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Red Wings practice updates: Franzen’s still not practicing

Updated 5x at 2:35 PM: Franzen did skate, just not with the team: Per the Detroit Free Press’s Helene St. James, the Red Wings returned to practice this morning at Joe Louis Arena, but they did so without Johan Franzen:

Some familiar sights this morning at Joe Louis Arena: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom back skating together, and a grill fired up for one of Al Sobotka’s barbecues. The Wings went back to work today after taking two days off, the reward for having swept their series against Phoenix. The only guy not on the ice is Johan Franzen, who has been dealing with a sore ankle since midway through the Coyotes series (he played Game 3, missed Game 4).

Zetterberg missed all of the first round because of a sprained left knee, but he’s looked good in practice. He was back with Datsyuk and Holmstrom today, reuniting one of the Wings’ most successful lines.

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Red Wings overnight report: Who where and when, the anti-Krupa and Filppula’s job-saving performance

The pertinent questions for the Detroit Red Wings regarding their next playoff series involve three “W’s”: who, where, and when. The last point is most easily clarified with a probable answer of “Wednesday or Thursday,” because several first-round series will end on Tuesday, and it would seem to make the most sense to set the Wings up for a Saturday afternoon game on NBC, thus yielding a Thursday start. The “who” and “where” remain unanswered, however, save the Kings or Canucks, as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan:

The earliest Detroit will learn its opponent is late Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning, technically) following Game 7 of the Chicago-Vancouver series. The Blackhawks have won three consecutive games and are trying to become only the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 0-3. San Jose has a 3-2 series lead on Los Angeles and will try to close out the Kings Monday night in Game 6 at the Staples Center. If there’s a Game 7, it will be Wednesday in San Jose.

Here are the possibilities:

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Red Wings off-day report: On ‘Going long,’ Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and depth

As I watch the playoffs for the fourth day sans any Red Wings participation, I find myself strangely proud of the fact that I can’t separate my Wings bias from anything less than subjective playoff viewing. I had wondered, given the fact that the Wings would have at least a week off, whether an admittedly subjective Wings fan would start watching games like a journalist, hoping for a “good story” to prevail or being vindicated by watching the team I pick win the game by the score I predict.

It turns out that I can’t and won’t do that for a millisecond. I’m no journalist: I’m a Wings fan, first foremost and most importantly. Aside from hoping that teams I dislike more than others to be vanquished in the East, thanks to the fact that I keep grudges for a long time, there isn’t a team in the West that I’m rooting for. Instead, I’m cheering for the puck, and time: I want Johan Franzen’s ankle, Henrik Zetterberg’s knee and whatever other injuries the Wings haven’t disclosed to earn as much time as humanly possible to return to manageable levels, and I want whatever prospective opponents the Wings may have in the second round or down the as-earned basis line to get as physically and mentally tired as possible.

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Red Wings overnight report: On stick tape, sticky humor and tip-in notes

You may or may not buy into the concept that the way a player tapes his or her stick reveals secrets about that player’s personality, but the tendencies and care with which players and goaltenders alike prepare their sticks for action is nothing less than remarkable at the amateur as well as pro and NHL levels.

You might not wonder why I like to tape my player and goal sticks’ blades with big “X” shapes or be interested in finding out what complications having double-jointed thumbs make in my equipment-picking decisions, but the Free Press’s Jo-Ann Barnas managed to lift the veil from atop the Red Wings’ stick rack, and to the gear-oriented, anyway, what she reveals about the Wings players’ stick-taping habits and use of stick and shin guard tape in general is nothing less than fascinating:

“If you look down our stick rack, it really is artwork,” said Paul Boyer, the Red Wings’ longtime equipment manager. “Some guys, they throw the tape on and go and play. Other guys, it takes them a good amount of time and effort to make a stick. The stick is an extension of their hands, and it has to feel good when they’re holding it.”

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Aaargh! The Blue Jackets hope to beat Red Wings to the East

File this one under, “And this is another reason why the Red Wings, the Western Conference’s anchor tenant, will never be moved to the Eastern Conference, even though Jimmy Devellano voted to lock out the players very specifically because he stated that the NHL insisted to both Mike Ilitch and Devellano himself that the Wings would be first up for any sort of move to the Eastern Conference should the NHL consider realignment or expansion.”

The Columbus Dispatch’s Michael Arace reports that one of the two teams that could beat the Wings to the East plans on bringing up the issue with the NHL, and those teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators, have apparently been told that Jimmy D’s assertion is bunk and/or another empty lockout promise meant to go unfulfilled:

“We have an annual review with the league, and that’s where it came up,” [Columbus Blue Jackets president Mike] Priest said. “I asked the question: What would the procedure be in the event that a team from the West needs to move to the East?”

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The Torres rule?

According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell’s insistence that the NHL does not wish to ban shoulder-to-head hits on unsuspecting defensemen in the “valley of death” beside or behind the net—in specifically referencing Raffi Torres’s long run on Brent Seabrook which went unpunished, to the consternation and rejuvenation of the Chicago Blackhawks—has raised an eyebrow or two among the NHLPA members who had assumed that forwards who charge defensemen would not be exempted from the blind-side hitting rule for the sake of Campbell’s insistence that players who don’t keep their heads up are still Marc Savard-hit-legal because the NHL chose not to ask referees to enforce its now largely ignored rules regarding charging, boarding and, as Brooks points out, an existing rule which should, in theory, have resulted in a penalty to what shouldn’t be a legal hit, ever:

The PA intends to use its representation on the increasingly irrelevant competition committee to attempt to craft a rule this summer that would explicitly outlaw the Torres’ hit that concussed the Blackhawks’ first-pair defensemen.

Really, though, what’s the point when the man in charge (with, it must be stressed, the full support of his employers on Sixth Avenue) spends his time searching for loopholes in the rulebook to enable predators rather than applying Rule 21.1 to protect the vast majority of players who are — now by definition — targets in the crosshairs.

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Nabokov, Islanders agree…For now…

As mentioned in the comments of Paul’s post about the New York Islanders tolling Evgeni Nabokov’s contract to next season on Friday, I happened to mention that the Russian Hockey Federation has spent almost three weeks attempting to negotiate with the Islanders, the NHL and, according to Sport-Express’s Andrei Kuznetsov, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, to secure Nabokov’s release to play for Russia in the World Championships.

As such, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun (who appeared on a Coyotes-centric Satellite Hotstove on the CBC on Saturday evening) reports, via his “Weekend Wrap,” that the Islanders and Nabokov have agreed to a compromise plan:

Not only are the New York Islanders going to “toll” Evgeni Nabokov’s contract, meaning he’ll owe the club that one-year, $570,000 contract next season after not reporting in January when the Isles claimed him off waivers, but it turns out the netminder and his agent are fully on board with it.

Veteran agent Don Meehan of Newport Sports told ESPN.com he has informed Isles GM Garth Snow his client is fine with the contract being tolled. In return, Snow will allow Nabokov, who was suspended by the Islanders for not reporting, to play for Russia in the World Championships.

The idea is that both Nabokov and the Islanders would benefit from the veteran goalie putting on a solid performance in Slovakia. His stock may rise, as the Islanders will likely put him on the trade block this summer.

Continued with talk about Brad Richards, the Kings’ goaltending situation and Kyle Wellwood.

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Red Wings off-day report: Frohe Ostern, Darren Helm’s impact, Mitchell Callahan and octopus Murph

The Detroit Red Wings received the day off today and will spend Easter with their families, but if the Wings’ comments on Friday are to be believed, it’s a pretty safe bet that Al Sobotka had to resurface the ice at Joe Louis Arena after a few players skated on their own today, and it’s highly likely that Kris Draper and at least a couple of his teammates at least went down to the Joe to work out or spend quality time with the team’s trainers and doctors.

The Wings’ pro scouts remain on the road, crisscrossing the U.S. and Western Canada to observe the Wings’ potential second-round opponents, and given Mike Babcock’s personality, he probably woke up at 6:17 AM and headed down to the rink to work on drills designed to keep the Wings’ level of attention to detail razor-sharp, and he, Paul MacLean, Brad McCrimmon and Keith McKittrick are surely watching video of their potential opponents, looking for weaknesses to exploit and power play tendencies to stifle as the Wings hope to improve their penalty-killing.

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Red Wings overnight report: Datsyuk’s play-of-the-year goal, Mr. McGuire, practice talk and Jimmy D

Updated at 9:03 AM: On Friday, Red Wings forward Johan Franzen was named one of the candidates for TSN’s “No Guts, No Glory” award, facing off against Martin St. Louis in a web-voted determination of playoff toughness, and overnight, TSN nominated Pavel Datsyuk as a candidate for their Play of the Year Showdown.

Datsyuk’s competing with Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard in the first of a series of quarterfinals, and while you may not have seen Bouchard’s spin-o-rama goal, you might remember this one from Datsyuk, scored on March 12th against St. Louis:

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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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