The Malik Report
The Free Press's Sunday sports section focuses upon birthday boy Petr Mrazek, whose performance has been nothing less than spectacular this year...
This season, Mrazek has cemented his stellar reputation by playing so well he should be in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s best goaltender. He has allowed 16 goals in his past 13 starts, and his .933 save percentage and 1.94 goals-against average ranked first among NHL goaltenders as of Saturday. All of this, and today is Mrazek’s 24th birthday.
“He has special qualities and ones that are real hard to judge,” said Jeff Blashill, who has coached Mrazek in the minors and with the Wings. “You can’t judge them going onto the draft floor. You can’t judge them until you really experience someone on a day-to-day basis.
“He’s got a great confidence to him. He believes in himself. It’s not a bravado, fake confidence. It’s a true confidence. He’s one of the rare people I know that in big situations doesn’t get nervous. I’d be interested in testing his heart rate, because he doesn’t ever appear to get nervous.”
Mrazek should trademark the phrases “stay positive” and “look forward,” because he delivers one or both after many of his games. Shut out the Florida Panthers as they sit atop the Atlantic Division? Look forward to next game. Get pulled in the playoffs? Stay positive. There’s virtually no difference in his demeanor whether he has let in one goal or three.
“The main thing that stands out about him is his level of compete and his ability to put things behind him,” defenseman Brendan Smith said. “With the amount of goalies I’ve been with, I know a lot of them, they let one in, and it’s like a snowball effect. He’s not like that. He’s not cocky, but confident, and I think that’s what makes him who he is. He’s been amazing.”
Elliotte Friedman reported on Sportsnet a few minutea ago that the Wings/Leafs will be playing a Winter Classic game in Toronto, January 1st, 2017.
Chicago/St. Louis will play on January 2nd.
You can watch Saturday Headlines at the KK Hockey section.
added 3:48pm, Press release is below...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Ericsson was hurt late in Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche and didn't practice Saturday at McCann Arena.
If he can't play, Jakub Kindl will take his place. Kindl skated Saturday with Alexey Marchenko.
Blashill said Petr Mrazek will make his fifth consecutive start in goal – on his 24th birthday.
The Red Wings are 3-0-1 during a five-game homestand that concludes on Sunday.
Blashill said he'll use the same 12 forwards who have played the past several games, so Teemu Pulkkinen will be a healthy scratch for the sixth game in a row....
Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who had his knee scoped on Jan. 18, didn't skate Saturday and won't play the next two games.
"Kronwall is at a spot right now where it's a matter of getting into game shape," Blashill said. "It's somewhat difficult to do when you're not practicing. We're going to have to take that day by day. (He) didn't feel as good yesterday, so he didn't skate today. Hopefully he can get to where he can skate on consecutive days and then back into game shape. Obviously, he's not going to play tomorrow. I don't expect him Monday (at the New York Islanders) and then we'll take it from there going into next week."
a bit more on the Wings...
added 3:32pm, Notes from Dana Wakili of the Wings' website,
Practice Tweets: Wings regroup; Ericsson ‘questionable’ with lower-body injury; Mrazek starts Sunday
The Red Wings regrouped from their 3-2 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon, skating at Joe Louis Arena in preparation for a pair of matinee games against Boston (3:30 PM Sunday on NBC) and the Islanders (1 PM Monday on FSD).
The Wings have lost something like 10 of 11 games against the Bruins, who sit one point behind the Wings today (with a matinee game scheduled for 2 PM in Minnesota), so the Wings must emphasize the importance of defeating the Bruins; defeating the Islanders going into a 2-day break wouldn't hurt, either, as that game kicks off a 4-game road trip.
Detroit hit the ice just after noon, as noted by MLive's Ansar Khan...
Ericsson not skating today as #RedWings on ice for practice.
Kronwall also not practicing. He needs a few practices before being cleared to play.
NHL.com's Paul Harris spoke with the Red Wings' players regarding their participation in the Stadium Series game against Colorado later this month:
"I think it's going to be great. A lot of my friends [from Detroit] are going to come," said Red Wings defenseman Alexey Marchenko, who has previous outdoor experience. "Always great to play outdoor game. Great atmosphere, lots of people, should be fun. I played with the (Grand Rapids) Griffins (of the American Hockey League) two years ago. Not such a big crowd, but still it was fun."
That was on Dec. 30, 2013, at Detroit's Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, when Grand Rapids lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Toronto Marlies. That game was part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival, held in conjunction with the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, in which the Red Wings lost against the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 before a NHL record crowd of 105,491.
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
The Red Wings blue-line corps is putting the puck in the net with more regularity than it has all season.
Jonathan Ericsson's goal in Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena gave the Red Wings' defensemen five goals in the last five games and seven in the previous eight.
That's been a big boost from a group that struggled to put the puck in the net early in the season.
"When us defensemen contribute, that extra goal ... maybe is the difference at times," said Mike Green, who has been an offensive specialist throughout his 11-season NHL career. "I know when other teams' defensemen jump up into the play and shoot pucks it causes a lot of confusion.
"I noticed we've done it a little bit more and pucks are going into the net for D-men, which is nice to see."
During the aforementioned five games, the Red Wings have scored 16 goals – an average of 3.20 per game – while earning seven of a possible 10 points with a 3-1-1 record.
By comparison, the Washington Capitals lead the NHL with an average of 3.30 goals per game while the Dallas Stars are second at 3.24. An average of 3.20 would rank third in the NHL.
Getting the defenseman to become more offensive is something coach Jeff Blashill and his staff have been preaching.
The Detroit Red Wings did almost everything right against the Colorado Avalanche, out-shooting the Avs 45-21, out-attempting Colorado 87-35 and surrendering 2 goals...But the Wings couldn't solve Semyon Varlamov enough times to defeat the Avs in regulation or OT, and in the shootout, Detroit's tough luck continued and Colorado emerged with a 3-2 victory.
For the Red Wings, earning a point wasn't good enough, but it was good; for the Avs, earning 4 points in a set of back-to-back evenings was absolutely necessary for their playoff push.
Varlamov won the game for the Avalanche, but Petr Mrazek looked surprisingly human during the shootout because Nathan MacKinnon and Blake Comeau found holes in an otherwise sterling netminder, as the Denver Post's Terry Frei noted:
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins opened their home-and-home series with the Iowa Wild with a setback, blowing a 1-0 lead and surrendering 4 straight goals en route to a 4-2 loss in which Tomas Nosek had a goal and an assist, Tom McCollum stopped 24 shots and the Griffins out-shot Iowa 37-28, but were less efficient in finding the back of the net.
The Griffins' website posted a recap:
The Red Wings prepared for tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche with little to no excuse for not sustaining their home-ice winning streak against an Avalanche team coming off a back-to-back tilt against the Ottawa Senators, with Calvin Pickard in the net. In theory, the Avs should have been relatively easy pickings, and Detroit should have been able to win their 4th straight game with not too much trouble.
Things tend not to work out that way on the ice, and Semyon Varlamov was just ridiculously good--and the Avs were ridiculously opportunistic--as Colorado took a 3-2 shootout decision despite being out-shot 45-21 and out-attempted 87-35. Detroit did everything right but score one more goal, in regulation, OT and the shootout, and Mrazek was stellar when necessary, but the Avs just had an extra earned bounce again and again...
And losing sucks, especially when you watch your team deliver such an incredibly dominant performance, but the Wings got a point out of it. That's the key right now, to get a point out of every game possible with the standings so ridiculously tight.
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.