The Malik Report
Updated 13x at 3:46 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena to prepare for Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (7:30 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, post-game on FSD), and the Wings' morning skate was relatively uneventful:
from Craig Custance of ESPN (paid subscription),
The best playoff teams have that element of size and strength in their top-six, and it's something Abdelkader provides for Detroit. Over the course of a long series, his physical style against the Blackhawks' best players can potentially chip away at their will and wear them down....
And Ericsson has settled in as a reliable partner with Niklas Kronwall, developing into a player Babcock can trust completely. With the Red Wings' season on the line in Game 7 against the Ducks, he played 26:10, the most ice time he has gotten in any game this year that didn't go into overtime.
"He's playing like a No. 2, that's a major progression for him," the NHL scout said. "He has size. He plays like a stopper and he can move the puck. He wants to do more with the puck, he thinks he can and he's getting there."...
If Detroit is a split second late, Chicago will blow right by them. It's why the Blackhawks are the best team in the league right now and why it's hard to put together back-to-back efforts like the Red Wings did Saturday against them.
When the Wild beat the Blackhawks in overtime in the first round, Chicago responded by scoring eight of the next nine goals to end Minnesota's season.
That's what a championship team does and there's no reason to believe the Blackhawks won't find that same effort tonight in Game 3. Whether or not Detroit matches it will go a long way in revealing just how much they've closed the gap.
Sportsnet posted quite the clip hyping the "Red Wings and Henrik Zetterberg vs. Jonathan Toews' frustration" angle heading into Game 3 between Detroit and Chicago this evening (7:30 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, post-game on FSD). Toews! Zetterberg! Babcock!
The Detroit Red Wings will face literal and figurative heat tonight as they attempt to carve out a 2-1 series lead over the Chicago Blackhawks (7:30 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, post-game on FSD). The Hawks are going to make a lineup change in adding Viktor Stalberg, they're still determined to make this series a short one, and the local weatherpeople are forecasting temperatures of 85-90 degrees in Southeastern Michigan for this afternoon, so Al Sobotka's has his work cut out for him ensuring that both teams aren't skating on gravel, too.
This game is obviously a little different if you happen to believe that momentum transfers from game to game: just as there was a two-day break between Games 1 and 2, the Wings and Hawks won't play Game 4 until Thursday and Game 5 on Saturday (at 8 PM EDT), and as you already know, Jonathan Toews' complaints about a lack of hooking and holding penalties called will probably fall upon rabbit ears, not deaf ones, so it's going to be an uphill climb for the Wings...
In no small part because the Blackhawks have absolutely owned Detroit at Joe Louis Arena of late--they swept the Wings in two games this season and have absolutely dominated the Wings at home over the course of the last couple of regular seasons, with the Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc pegging Chicago's record at JLA at 9-1-and-1 since the 2010-2011, so the Hawks told Kuc that home ice is what you make of it...
Team Sweden captured the World Championship today, defeating Switzerland 5-2, and while Niklas Kronwall's definitely proud of his brother Staffan (who captained the team) having won the first Swedish gold on home ice since 2006, and Damien Brunner's probably paying some lost bets this evening...
One Wings prospect did take part in the Worlds, and he shared a gold-filled post-game dinner with lapsed Wings prospect Dick Axelsson:
from Corey Masisak of NHL.com,
"The growth of Smith and Kindl has been huge for us," Babcock said. "Ericsson has gotten much better. We seem to have people rounded into playing in spots that suit them better.
"I talked about when DeKeyser came, he helped us immensely. Whenever we got confidence or got playing better, we were able to maintain it when he left to a certain level -- we still don't move the puck the same, but I just think we're a better team. We weren't a good team at the start."
Another big move for the Red Wings was the rise of forward Justin Abdelkader. He was one of the kids when Detroit made back-to-back trips to the Cup Final in 2008 and '09, but Abdelkader had seemed to settle in as a bottom-six forward.
That changed when Babcock tried him on a line with Datsyuk, and he's now a critical element of the team's top trio.
"He's been a dominant physical guy for us and made us a better team," Babcock said. "It took us a long time to figure out where everybody fit best. There were lots of changes, new guys that we brought in that didn't fit the way we thought they were, or were better than we thought they were. We've just kind of watched it happen."
much more from Babcock...
TSN posted quite the feature on Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall's status as a cult hero and then some in Detroit, and perhaps as a villain in other cities, and HockeyWebCaster uploaded it to YouTube:
And yes, Kronwall insists that he's trying to keep things as clean as he can while leading the Wings' defense and trying to keep the physical edge to his game while playing anywhere between 22-27 minutes a night.
The Vancouver Sun's Cam Cole attended Sunday's Red Wings practice, and he reports that a member of the media who may or may not go nameless, depending on what transpires over the next 12-24 hours, asked Wings coach Mike Babcock whether the frustrated and grumpy Jonathan Toews will rebound to lead the Blackhawks in Game 3.
This question was apparently not well-received by the coach of the Detroit Red Wings:
“I’m not here to evaluate whether he’s frustrated or not. I don’t know where you’re going with this, but I’m not going to help you write your story,” Babcock bristled Sunday morning at Joe Louis Arena, where the Wings and Hawks resume their historic rivalry Monday night with the best-of-seven split at a game apiece. “What do you want me to say? Jonathan Toews is a real good player, I’ve coached him, he’s mentally tough, he works hard, he’s an Olympic champion, a Stanley Cup champion, and world junior champion -- I don’t know what else he’s won, but he knows how to play. I would expect that he’s gonna play hard in this series. I didn’t think he didn’t play hard yesterday, though.”
Instead, Babcock wanted to praise his own team's captain, Henrik Zetterberg, for registering a pair of assists while shutting down Toews' line...
From the NHL:
STARTING TIME SET FOR GAME 5 OF BLACKHAWKS-RED WINGS SERIES
NEW YORK (May 19, 2013) – The National Hockey League today announced that the starting time for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinal series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings has been set for 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Saturday, May 25, in Chicago.
In the U.S., the game will be broadcast nationally on NBC. In Canada, the game will be televised nationally by CBC and RDS.
Sometimes a Red Wings-related Tweet is in fact worth a stand-alone entry:
Pavel Datsyuk is battling Joffrey Lupul in the quarterfinals of EA Sports' NHL 14 cover athlete voting, so give the magic man a hand if you are able to do so.
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.