The Malik Report
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at NHL.com,
Just because Detroit Red Wings players don't really talk about the franchise's streak of 22 straight playoff appearances doesn't mean they don't know all about it.
"Everybody in the league knows about it," defenceman Brendan Smith said. "You don't want to be that 23rd not to get it done."
When they were ravaged by injuries, including significant ones to Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, that looked like a very real possibility. Instead, thanks to a combination of masterful coaching by Mike Babcock, breakout performances by young players like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar and what Smith called the "Red Wing Way," Detroit is the second wild card in the Eastern Conference and will open the playoffs Friday at the Boston Bruins.
"Obviously we've got great coaching, good goaltending and it's been different guys stepping up at different times," winger Daniel Alfredsson said. "Tatar and Nyquist has been two guys that's been relied heavily upon, and they've handled that unbelievable. It's fun to watch when you see young players take responsibility and do well with it."
Big news in the scheduling department from MLive's Ansar Khan and the Free Press's Helene St. James:
So that's Friday, April 18th, Sunday, April 20th, Tuesday, April 22nd, Thursday, April 24th, and if necessary, Saturday, April 26th, Monday, April 28th and Wednesday, April 30th.
If Red Wings fans needed a feel-good moment to close out what's been an incredibly frustrating and sometimes frustratingly disappointing 2013-2014 season, Sunday's 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues delivered that moment and did so in a big way.
The Wings rested Daniel Alfredsson, Johan Franzen, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard, and in their respective places, Todd Bertuzzi may have played in his last regular season game as a Wing, Joakim Andersson continued to have a difficult campaign, Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet looked nearly NHL-ready (though Adam Almquist may have something to say about that, it's certainly encouraging to know that if the Wings do nothing on defense save make room for the kids this summer--instead of going after an Ehrhoff or Edler--they may not be going the wrong way, especially given the encouraging season by Alexey Marchenko as well), and of course Petr Mrazek pitched a shootout while channeling his inner Hasek something fierce.
Updated 3x at 12:08 PM: Looks like Mrazek is starting:
As the Daniel Alfredsson-less Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues prepare to tangle at a bizarre time (12:30 PM EDT on NBC and 97.1 FM, 11:30 AM local start), no morning skate means no update as to whether Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet will play, but the Red Wings website's Game Day Blog believes that the pair will spell Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall.
The Wings also posted a 5-and-a-half-minute-long game-day preview video, whose thrust involves looking back at the biggest plays made during the 2013-2014 season...
Today's Red Wings-Blues game is weird all the way around. The game starts at 12:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time to accommodate--I'm not kidding here--"Stars on Ice" and then the World Figure Skating Championships--but NBC's desire for a noonish start means that the faceoff's actually taking place at 11:30 AM local time, so players who'd normally be filing into the rink around 9 for a morning skate will be getting up early to play a game that counts for both teams.
The Wings are locked into the 2nd Wild Card spot and a first-round battle with the Bruins, and the lack of any evening personnel news has turned the team's recalls of Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet into something of a mystery, but the Wings' players and coach expressed a significant amount of dissatisfaction with their play of late after they practiced away from Joe Louis Arena (thanks, Cher)...
And while the Blues--who've lost 5 straight games--are currently as banged-up as the Wings were a month ago, this game means the difference between winning the Central Division (the Blues and Avs are currently tied for the division lead, and the Avs tangle with the Ducks on Sunday night) and playing Chicago in the 1st round, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains:
Red Wings anthem singer Karen Newman's been on the job for 24 years now, and ahead of the playoffs, the Free Press's Carlos Monarrez kicks off what will become a cavalcade of, "I wish they did this kind of stuff all year" stories with a fitting tribute to Newman's longevity and humility:
She began during Sergei Fedorov’s 1990-91 rookie season.
“He showed up the same day I did,” she said. “He never forgets that. He told me, ‘We started on the same day.’ ”
Almost a quarter-century later, Newman is still going strong. She has never had a contract with the Wings, just a verbal agreement they’ve both kept. She has no plans to stop anytime soon.
But if this Wings season has taught us anything, it’s that the future is promised to no one.
“You never know,” she said. “When my time’s up, my time’s up. It could happen. You never know. Season to season. Shake things up.”
Monarrez continues at length, and the story includes an attached photo gallery and a video interview with Newman. I wish Fox Sports Detroit still showed the anthems, because Newman sings the adapted "badwy" tune the way it should be sung--she belts it out.
Things did not go as planned for a trio of Red Wings prospects on Saturday, but one player's loss stung like nobody's business.
I wasn't feeling particularly well so I took a rare Saturday siesta, but my hockey spider sense told me that between 9:40 and 10:30, I needed to stir, so here I am...And it turns out that the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Florida Panthers 3-2, and will finish with a better record than Detroit, so no matter what happens tomorrow against St. Louis, the Wings will battle the Boston Bruins in the 1st round as the 2nd Wild Card seed.
As I recall, the first round will start on Thursday, and the Wings did take 3 of 4 regular season games from Boston, though the playoffs are a completely different animal.
The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa confirms...
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today recalled defensemen Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins
Former Red Wings forward and Metro Detroit resident Doug Brown's son has played pretty dang solidly for Boston College for the past four seasons, and Patrick Brown received a pro contract from the Carolina Hurricanes today:
‘CANES AGREE TO TERMS WITH PATRICK BROWN
Center served as captain for Boston College this season
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Vice President of Hockey Operations for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with center Patrick Brown on a two-year, entry-level contract. The deal will pay Brown $575,000 in the NHL in 2014-15 and $600,000 in the NHL in 2015-16, or $60,000 in the American Hockey League (AHL) both years. He also receives a signing bonus of $130,000.
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.