The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Griffins won't have to worry about the course of the Red Wings' last four regular season games, including tonight's tilt against Phoenix, because the Griffins clinched an AHL playoff spot over a week ago.
The Griffins will open their first playoff run in three years when they travel to Houston to kick off a best-of-five first round series against the Aeros on Friday, and the Griffins' Twitter account points us toward an article in which the Grand Rapids Business Journal's David Czurak reports that the Red Wings' AHL affiliate's excellent season--and its first under coach Jeff Blashill--has yielded huge gains in attendance and a very positive bottom line:
As noted in the game-day update thread, the Red Wings' playoff streak may be in jeopardy, but Fox Sports Arizona's Todd Walsh reports that some April traditions remain entrenched at Joe Louis Arena:
No news as to whether the visitors' locker room is being painted, but I'm sure other "inconveniences" will pop up for the Wings' opponents over the next four days.
Updated 15x with a game-day video at 3:15 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will only "control their playoff fate" if they win each and every one of their four remaining games, including tonight's tangle with the Phoenix Coyotes (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/NBC Sports Network/TSN [take note, national broadcasts in both the U.S. and Canada = Center Ice/GameCenter Live blackouts yet again]/97.1 FM, and tonight is Team Tootoo night at the Joe), and at present, it appears that there are no surprises in the personnel department given the developments at the Wings' morning skate...
As Paul noted, the Red Wings are in deep trouble ahead of tonight's game against the Phoenix Coyotes (7:30 PM EDT, FSD/NBC Sports Network/TSN/97.1 FM, and tonight is Team Tootoo night at the Joe). Thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets' 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, if the Wings win tonight and burn one of their two games in hand over Columbus (44 games played vs. 46 GP) the 20-16-and-8 Wings (with 18 Regulation-or-OT Wins) can only nudge to within a point of Columbus's 51 (Detroit has 48 points, and Columbus possesses a 22-17-and-7 record with 17 ROWs).
Just as disturbingly, the Dallas Stars--who've played in one more game than Detroit (45 to 44)--have the same points as the Wings (48) but have a better record (22-19-and-4) and more ROWs (20 to 18)--and if the Wings lose to Phoenix tonight, the Coyotes (44 GP, just like Detroit, 19-17-and-8, 15 ROWs) would pull into a three-way tie with Detroit for 9th place.
Long story long, the Red Wings rather desperately need to win tonight, preferably in regulation or overtime, they need to win Wednesday's game against Los Angeles, Thursday's game against Nashville and they need to carry Saturday's regular season finale in Dallas if they are to truly "control their own destiny."
Due to a nasty bug I've been out of the loop for a couple of days, and during that time, the Grand Rapids Griffins learned who they'll be playing in the first round of the AHL playoffs. The Griffins' PR department reports that Grand Rapids will battle the Houston Aeros in a best-of-five series which will commence on Friday, April 26th:
The Grand Rapids Griffins, champions of the Midwest Division and a No. 3 seed in the Calder Cup Playoffs, will face the sixth-seeded Houston Aeros in the best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Griffins (42-26-4-4, 92 pts.), who are in the postseason for the first time since 2009, will begin their chase for the cup by visiting the Toyota Center for Games 1 and 2 on Friday, April 26 and Sunday, April 28, before returning to Van Andel Arena on Wed., May 1 for the first of as many as three straight home games. The complete schedule is as follows:
When you meet volunteers assisting charitable endeavors on the concourse at Joe Louis Arena, it's highly likely that they're members of the Red Wings' "For 'em Club," and my friend Courtney wants you to know about the hardest-working Wings fans you don't know too much about:
Here is how the Western Conference playoff race looks like after all the games on Sunday.
Detroit still controls their destiny, win their last four games, the next three at home against Phoenix, Los Angeles and Nashville and the last game in Dallas and they are in the playoffs.
From We All Bleed Red on YouTube, Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke to the CBC's Scott Oake and Craig Simpson on After Hours, and the interview's worth watching:
The Red Wings have apparently lost one of their steadiest players for the remainder of the year, per DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose:
I've been sick for the last 36 hours but managed to drag myself out of bed to watch the Minnesota Wild defeat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in a shoootou...Wait, what?
Those were the Canucks getting out-shot 34-14 in regulation and OT, including 17-2 in the 3rd and 4-1 in OT, but earning a shootout win because not even Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg can score these days for a team that's 2-and-5 in shootouts? The Canucks defeated the Red Wings 2-1, not the 2004 Minnesota Wild, gratuitous gropes, grabs, leg-humping and hockey molestation included?
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.