The Malik Report
There are a whole bunch of fancy ways to suggest that the Red Wings' young season may hinge upon tonight and tomorrow's games against the Ottawa Senators, but at the 10 and 11-game marks, Detroit has to take at least one of the two games between the pair to even marginally salvage their October.
On Friday, in the first of five games between teams who may decide each other's playoff fates, the Red Wings were just error-prone enough and just flat enough to allow the Ottawa Senators to score 2 easy goals on an otherwise stout Jimmy Howard, and the Red Wings were just soft enough in front of the opponent's net and just absent enough confidence that they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators...
Making Saturday's game a must-must-win.
Updated 2x at 6:08 PM: Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Here's the Red Wings' game-day preview video:
Ken Holland was just on TSN1200 in Ottawa.
Wings happy with goaltending but Wings relying on Z, Abby and Pulky to score, need more from the youngsters. Thought Franzen, Richards and Green would help but they are not available now.
Said Larkin has played pretty well and he is not surprised. Not sure how many points he will get but a top line player.
Has been involved in many of the scoring chances the Wings have had.
Will make a decision on him in mid-December about World Juniors but looks like he will stay with the Wings the full year.
Holland says just said hope Franzen gets better and is looking for the youngsters to become important to the team. Still shooting for the playoffs.
Wings have to find ways to win and get some points, injuries not an excuse.
Holland responded to the remarks by Erik Karlsson on OT being a "bag skate". Holland said GMs want to settle on a winner before the shootout and then tossed out some stats regarding OT/shootout.
Every player is not going to be happy but he thinks 3-on-3 is exciting and has accomplished what they set out to do. Holland says the beauty of OT is you don't know what is going to happen next. Skilled players making it happen. Most of the things you see in 3-on-3 you don't see during the first 60 minutes.
Gave an update on Datsyuk, says sometime next week he will be involved in practice and hopes he is back within two weeks.
Update: Here's the interview:
Updated 8x at 2:35 PM: The Detroit Red Wings host the Ottawa Senators in the first half of a set of back-to-back games this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/TSN 5/RDS I/97.1 FM), and the morning skate revealed that Jimmy Howard will oppose Andrew Hammond in the crease, and that the Wings will go with Joakim Andersson over Landon Ferraro on the fourth line.
The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with the Wings about their attempts to stop their 4-out-of-5-game slide against a stingy Senators team:
"They are don't give you anything easy, it is tight, for sure," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "I think they have got lots of talent. (Erik) Karlsson is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. He will make you pay if you are not doing a good job of making it harder on him."
Updated 4x at 12:03 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to finish off October on a high note as they begin a set of back-to-back games against the Ottawa Senators this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/TSN 5/RDS I/97.1 FM), and the Senators' beat writers actually scooped the Wings in terms of the starting goaltender, with the Ottawa Citizen's Wayne Scanlan reporting the following:
Jimmy Howard starts tonight for Wings; Mrazek in Ottawa Saturday.
The skate continued...
Ansar Khan of Mlive answers questions from the fans....
Q: If the Wings are going to start sitting a D-man like Brendan Smith as a healthy scratch, then why don't they put him on the block and see what kind of return they could get for him? Does Smith have a long-term future with the Wings? – Saskatoon Wingnut
A: I think it's fair to wonder about Smith's future with the organization, especially with defensemen like Alexey Marchenko (recalled last week), Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul in the system.
This is a big year for Smith, who needs to show marked improvement by cutting down on mistakes and making better decisions with the puck.
I doubt they would trade a defenseman mid-season unless they're getting one back in return. Even though they have some in Grand Rapids who could step in, injuries can take a toll and you don't want to risk being short on the blue line.
more Q & A...
Of prospect-related note:
In the SHL, Christoffer Ehn played 8:36 in the Frolunda Indians' 3-2 win over HV71. Ehn's slowly but surely earning a full-time role with Frolunda;
In the OHL, Vili Saarijarvi finished at -1 with 2 shots in the Flint Firebirds' 2-0 loss to Windsor;
And in the BCHL, Chase Perry stopped 17 of 17 shots in the Wenatchee Wild's 3-0 win over Prince George.
The Detroit Red Wings face the Ottawa Senators this evening (7:30 PM on FSD Plus/TSN 5/RDS I/97.1 FM; tonight is Hockey Fights Cancer night at Joe Louis Arena) with the Red Wings hoping to snap a streak in which they've lost 5 of 6 games, and the Senators hoping to build upon the momentum generated by Wednesday's 5-4 shootout win over Calgary.
The Red Wings have found themselves offensively challenged of late, so they shifted lines during Thursday's practice--reuniting the Larkin-Zetterberg-Abdelkader and Tatar-Sheahan-Nyquist lines, shifting Darren Helm to center the "third line" with Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Jurco, and returning Luke Glendening to his fourth-line center's role.
Our friends in Ottawa were more than happy to talk about topics that aggravated them after a short practice on Thursday, but the comments that drew the media's attention came from Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson, who told the media that, after four overtimes that have ended in shootouts for the Senators, he feels that 3-on-3 OT is gimmicky. Sportsnet captured Karlsson's take:
From the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:
He loves hockey. He still wants to play, and he is happy to do it in the AHL. Oh, sure, more NHL play remains a possibility. But there is other work to be done, by a tough-as-nails guy from the small, historic town of Carbonear, on Conception Bay in Newfoundland, who struggled long and hard to build an NHL career, though early disappointment and injury.
“I’m having a great time,” he said of his determination to return to the ice in the AHL.
“You know, listen, I just needed some time to think. I think I earned that right just to think anytime you’re told something — you’ve got to go somewhere different. So I took some time, talked to a bunch of people,” including two wise men of the game and former teammates, Chris Chelios, executive adviser to Wings general manager Ken Holland, and Kris Draper, Holland’s special assistant.
“Cheli was a big influence. Drapes was a big influence. Plus I know lots of guys down here,” Cleary said. “You know, I just love it. I love playing. I love the preparation. And yeah, I wasn’t ready. So, I took the two-mile ride down to join them.”
from Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com,
The Wings continue to stand in last place in the league in shots per game at 24.3.
The Philadelphia Flyers lead the league in that category with 34.9 shots per game.
"We need to spend more time in their zone, create some O zone time because we get into their zone and as soon as we get there, they chip the puck out," Tatar said. "We have to hold on to it, create some chaos down there. We have to spend more time in the O zone, we know that for sure, and from the O zone time we can get more shots, obviously."
One area the Wings have worked on is being harder on the puck once it's in the offensive zone.
"As we’ve gone through the nine games I think five of the nine we’ve had greater zone time than we’ve spent in our own end," Blashill said. "But we gotta create more off of it and we’ve got to make other teams continue to defend so that they’re tired by the time they get the puck out, but also create offense out of it. I think we can still do a better job of that."
Abdelkader said they have to be able to maintain their speed throughout the game.
"I think we’re maybe a little slow to pucks at times," Abdelkader said. "We have to be more physical, keep our shifts short so we can go at a high tempo. I think sometimes we get stuck out there a little too long."
Another part of that is face-offs. The Wings are currently 25th in the league with a 47.5 face-off winning percentage.
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.