The Malik Report
The Red Wings didn't practice on Tuesday, but they were most certainly mulling over having dropped a 1-0 lead to the Buffalo Sabres during Monday's 2-1 loss, and after the game, the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa found some wise words and perspective in the comments of Brad Richards:
“Anything can happen, but two goals in the last five minutes is not how we want to do things,” said Brad Richards, a 15-year veteran and winner of Stanley Cups with the Lightning and Blackhawks. “Some nights it’s not a systematic breakdown. But for whatever reasons, it seems to be snowballing on us in the third period.”
Of the instincts, fortitude and skill to close out opponents when skating with a lead in third periods, Richards said, “I think you develop that. It’s still a young team and that’s something we work on, and sometimes these things have to happen to realize you have to bear down in all those situations.”
In terms of both personnel placed in key roles and the fact that they're 31 games into Jeff Blashill's tenure, the Red Wings really are a "young team," and I don't think that the Wings are anywhere other than exactly where they should be in terms of both their "process" and their place in the standings--somewhere in the middle.
from Chris Nichols of Today's Slapshot,
Pierre LeBrun was on Montreal’s TSN 690 on Tuesday evening.
As part of a larger discussion on Steven Stamkos, and on Bob McKenzie’s speculation about the Montreal Canadiens possibly being attractive to Steven Stamkos as a free agent:
“(Laughs) I love it. Well, this is what we’re headed for over the next four months, right? (Laughs)
Is that feasible?
“ Well, I mean listen. That is an important part to underline in all of this. So many people have made this a Tampa or Toronto decision. What about other teams?
“What if Ken Holland and Detroit, and the way they’ve properly managed their situation, going into a new rink – Steven Stamkos has played just across the border in Sarnia in the OHL – what if Ken Holland made a big offer? I’m not saying he will. Again, like Bob, I’m just putting this out there as theoretical, not as gossip.
continue for a bit more...
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today announced the following suspensions:
Grand Rapids Griffins left wing Eric Tangradi has been suspended for three (3) games as a consequence of an illegal check to the head of an opponent in a game at Iowa on Dec. 13.
Tangradi was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 28.1 (supplementary discipline). He will miss Grand Rapids’ games Wednesday (Dec. 16) at Lake Erie and Friday (Dec. 18) and Saturday (Dec. 19) vs. Texas.
Of brief Red Wings-related note:
1. NHL.com's Kevin Weekes penned a list of the best goaltenders for each and every one of the NHL's 30 franchises. His pick for the Wings was relatively easy:
Detroit Red Wings - Terry Sawchuk: Played parts of 16 seasons in Detroit, leading the League in wins for five straight seasons (1950-55). Won the Calder and three Vezina Trophies with the Red Wings and three Stanley Cup championships. Ranks fifth all-time in wins (447).
2. The Red Wings are asking fans to wrap their brains around some punny Holiday greetings or sayings...
3. Rogers Sportsnet's Hometown Hockey posted a short clip chronicling Brad Richards' Stanley Cup win:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
"It seems like it's happening a little bit too often," forward Brad Richards said. "We've got to learn as a team to go into the third period, late in the third period, with the lead, we've got to close it out and lock it down. I'm sure we're going to talk about that and go over that more this week with some time off here."
Ryan O'Reilly and Johan Larsson scored 1:01 apart with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
It's almost becoming predictable. The Red Wings have frittered away third-period leads in nine of their past 14 games.
Coach Jeff Blashill cited a combination of things leading to third-period issues.
"Part of that is confidence," Blashill said. "We got to have more poise and confidence in those situations. There's a difference between confident and too relaxed. You have to be confident but urgent and we have to be better in those situations.
"We have to grow as a team. Which way are we going to go? Are we going to grow or are we going to feel sorry for ourselves?"
In the end, it came down to a desperation save by Chad Johnson and a puck that Gustav Nyquist couldn't lift. Johnson stopped Nyquist, and the Buffalo Sabres emerged with a 2-1 victory over a Red Wings team that led for 21 minutes and had nursed either a lead or a scoreless tie for 54:46.
The game wasn't nearly that simple, though the "simpler" team prevailed.
The Red Wings were attempting to establish a 14-game unbeaten streak, but a Red Wings team that had surrendered a 3rd period lead in 10 of those 13 "unbeatens" finally met a deficit they couldn't rally from. The Sabres were simply trying to establish a 2-game winning streak, and, according to the Sabres, the game hinged upon battling through frustration.
When you're riding a 13-game points streak (8-0-and-5), every game is a "trap game," and Monday's tilt vs. the Buffalo Sabres was no exception. The coming-around Sabres had snapped the Los Angeles Kings' 6-game winning streak on Saturday, and Buffalo filled the spoiler's role perfectly as the Wings opened a 3-game home stand.
I had a feeling that the Red Wings were going to blow this one, and I'd already titled it and prepared for what I felt was kind of inevitable. The Wings were either pushing too hard for offense or leaning too hard on defense in this game, and they were either way "above the puck" or far too "under" it when in transition--kind of spun out, the way Tomas Tatar looks when he dekes himself out of a scoring opportunity--so I wasn't surprised that the Wings blew their 1-goal lead thanks to 2 Sabres goals in 1:01 and lost 2-1 to the Sabres on Monday night.
I'm disappointed, damn disappointed, but the Wings' unbeaten streak was running on bad habits for a couple of games now, and with Chad Johnson playing the game-stealer's role for Buffalo, Detroit just wasn't going to take this one playing the way they've been playing of late (though Tomas Jurco not converting on a penalty shot would have changed things).
Ken Kal spoke with Riey Sheahan and Jeff Blashill.
Below, Brian Duff previews the game from the Buffalo side.
Updated 6x at 2:29 PM: The Detroit Red Wings take on the Buffalo Sabres this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/MSG B/Bell/97.1 FM), and the Wings' morning skate yielded "no changes" from Friday's lineup and Petr Mrazek starting for the Wings.
WGR 550's Paul Hamilton reports that the Sabres will go with Chad Johnson as their starting goaltender this evening...
Johnson in goal tonight.
Bylsma said same lineup as the Kings game.
At the time that Detroit drafted him in 2014—right before the announcement was made, Larkin turned to his father in the stands in Philadelphia and predicted, “This is it”—Larkin had finished a strong season with the USA Under-18 national team, based in Ann Arbor, and was soon to enroll at the University of Michigan. It’s easy to say the Wings plucked a gem from their backyard, but given the proximity of the U.S. development program’s headquarters, “There’s so many kids in our backyard,” Holland says.
Rather, what came next stunned even the Wings. Larkin tore through one season at Michigan, leading all NCAA freshmen with 47 points in 35 games, and enjoyed what Holland called a “coming-out party” at the Under-20 World Junior Championship, which earned him a 10-game stint with the national team at the world championships in the Czech Republic. When Holland and then-coach Mike Babcock flew overseas to watch and meet with Larkin, he informed them he had decided to turn pro. Then he inquired about the status of Detroit’s AHL affiliate. “The next thing out of his mouth was, ‘If Grand Rapids is still playing, can I go there?’” Holland recalls.
The buzz soon reached the Red Wings’ locker room, especially after Larkin put up five points in six postseason games for the Griffins. “We knew he was good,” Zetterberg says, “but I don’t think anyone expected him to do this well.”
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.