The Malik Report
from Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com,
Blashill has approached the entire season in five-game segments.
"We start a new segment, these five games starting tonight," Blashill said. "We want to be a playoff team this segment we got to earn a couple points back. We’re three behind this season, in our estimation, of what it takes to be a playoff team. We need points, we need to go out tonight and play great hockey and find a way to get point."
The Wings all say they are paying attention to the scoreboard and the standings at this time of year.
"I keep track for sure," Danny DeKeyser said. "The last 15 games are always usually pretty tight. It's really close like it is every year. We'd like to separate ourselves a little bit so it would be nice to start with a win tonight."
Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella would rather be in the Wings' shoes, with a chance to make the playoffs, but he said it's always telling to see what happens at this time of year.
"It's the pressure of having to do it. They're in a dogfight," Tortorella said. "They're going to find out about their people. I hope they don't make any ground tonight. It's fun for me to watch because you find about about athletes, how they handle those type of situations."
The Wings have several young players like rookies Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou getting their first taste of this kind of stress, plus many veterans who know what it takes.
It can also help that the Wings have two games left against the Flyers, next Tuesday in Philadelphia and the last home game of the season April 6.
"Listen, it's all in your own hands," Niklas Kronwall said. "We dictate where we go from here. It's just about finding a way to win and get points every night. That's really what it comes down to."
more on the Wings...
I try not to do personal updates as much any more, but this is going to affect the blog, so:
One of my family's matriarchs recently passed away, and the mom and I are going to be going to both a memorial service on Tuesday and a funeral on Wednesday some 100 miles away from home.
It is highly unlikely that I will be able to do a quick take and/or regular recap of Tuesday's Blue Jackets game, and I will be absent for Wednesday's practice news cycle as well.
Paul will fill in capably as necessary, but TMR is not going to be running at full speed for the next couple of days.
Updated 3x at 12:28 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets this evening (7 PM EST on FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 FM). Given that the Philadelphia Flyers now sit only 2 points behind the Wings in the Wild Card race, tonight's game isn't a must-win, but it's close.
The Blue Jackets didn't hold a morning skate; John Tortorella spoke with the media for over 10 minutes instead, with this as the biggets news out of his presser:
DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji took note of some of Tortorella's comments as well:
#CBJ Tortorella on #RedWings: "Great management, great coaching, great drafting. It's a culture."
On the Wings' side of the ice, the Free Press's Helene St. James penned a game preview highlighting the Wings' precarious playoff position:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Red Wings have been fluctuating between the first and second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Their main objective is to stay ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, who are within two points.
Here are five things to watch this week:
1. Mrazek must bounce back
The team needs Petr Mrazek to show the resiliency he did last season, when he bounced back strong every time after being pulled for a poor performance (four times).
Mrazek was cruising along, on a tremendous run in January. Now, suddenly, he is facing some adversity, having gone 3-3-1 in his past seven appearances, with a 3.81 goals-against average and .868 save percentage.
Jimmy Howard, particularly strong in his previous two starts, gets the call for Tuesday's game at Columbus. If Mrazek doesn't play Thursday vs. Winnipeg, he is certainly to get one of the starts on the weekend – either Saturday against the New York Rangers or Sunday vs. Toronto.
The Red Wings face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday evening, hoping to snap a two-game winless streak (7 PM EST on FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 FM) but it's not going to be easy.
While the Blue Jackets are highly, highly unlikely to climb back into the playoff hunt, they're coming off a 6-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, and they've won 3 of 5 games since the Wings' 2-1 shootout win over Columbus back on February 23rd.
DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill and forward Pavel Datsyuk about the team's power play woes, and after addressing the power play during Monday's practice, Blashill and Datsyuk said all the things you hope to hear from a team whose entries suck and a team that can't penetrate the front of the net to get shots through:
"I thought we had entries yesterday where we should have been in the zone and didn’t have good enough support, so we want to make sure we have proper support," Blashill said. "And two, doing a good job in terms of pressure, being able to retrieve pucks and not just retrieve them and maintain possession but attack off of that. So those were the two areas we focused on. There’s been nights it’s been good, there’s been nights it hasn’t been as good. I always look at the process of it but in the end we have to get more results off it."
Datsyuk said the game has changed because more teams and played are focused on blocking shots than when he first came into the league.
"It's shocking when they show team blocked shots and they say after almost 60 games, we have 1,000 blocked shots," Datsyuk said. "It's not like hockey anymore, it's like volleyball with blocked shots or something. We'll see where it goes. Maybe not (for) fans not exciting, looking to block shots. Looking to score or something."
Last season, the Wings were second to the Washington Capitals with a 23.8 percentage.
"Last year be more on the same page, which is shooting, follow puck and rebound," Datsyuk said. "Lots of confidence. Where does the puck go, we know exactly. Now with the change, we need to come back to our style, shoot, delivery of puck. Of course we need to be fast around net, follow rebound. Sometimes we no have second chance. But it's now every goalie's big, we need second chance."
The Red Wings had both of their goaltending coaches in attendance for Monday's practice in Columbus, with Jim Bedard and Jeff Salajko working with Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard before coach Jeff Blashill announced that Howard will start on Tuesday against Columbus.
After practice, Blashill spoke with MLive's Ansar Khan regarding his decision...
"I have unbelievable belief in Petr. I think he's an elite goalie in this league," coach Jeff Blashill said. "I also think Jimmy's proven through numerous different occasions in his career that he is an elite goalie in this league. I think we have the luxury of having two guys that I tons of confidence in.
"I think you're going to go through times in the year where you're playing great and you're going to go through times where the puck's going in. Sometimes it's your fault, sometimes it's situational. Jimmy has played very well. We're going to put him in and hopefully get a win tomorrow night against Columbus. In terms of Petr, I think he's going to be a big factor for us moving forward the rest of the year."
And Howard spoke with Khan about his status as an interim back-up turned interim starter:
Updated 4x at 2:43 PM: Howard starts on Tuesday.
The Red Wings headed to Columbus on Monday morning, having stayed the night in Chicago after their 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon.
The Wings took to the ice around 1:10 PM, per DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji...
Among USA Today's 10 NHL predictions for the stretch run:
5. Detroit Red Wings will make it 25 in a row. George H.W. Bush was president and Jessica Tandy won best actress at the Oscars for Driving Miss Daisy the last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs in the 1990.
The consecutive playoff appearance streak will reach a quarter century, but not without worrying along the way. Goalie Petr Mrazek has cooled off, and the Red Wings’ power play has been ineffective. They will qualify, but they will have to look over their shoulder until the end.
Allen continues, and at this point, it looks like the Wings are a Wild Card team unless they go on a winning tear.
Griffinshockey.com's Mark Newman penned a supberb article about the Grand Rapids Griffins' goalie pipeline to AHL dominance and occasional NHL careers, speaking with Joey McDonald, Marc Lamothe, Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek and goaltending coaches Jim Bedard and Jeff Salajko (among others) about the organization's philosophy regarding developing netminders:
With many netminders, patience is key since the development process is typically longer for goalies than skaters. The Red Wings – and the Griffins by extension – have been exceedingly patient with their prospects.
“They don’t rush their players, whether they’re goalies or forwards,” MacDonald said. “Look at guys like (Gustav) Nyquist, (Tomas) Tatar, (Riley) Sheahan and Brendan Smith – they’re skaters, but they all paid their dues. They all played two or three years in the American Hockey League. You look at other teams and it’s their first year – boom! Detroit doesn’t do that and that’s why they’re successful every year.”
Howard spent four seasons in Grand Rapids before he finally landed the starting job in Detroit. Tom McCollum, now in his seventh season with the Griffins, struggled for three years before he found his game. Jared Coreau spent parts of two seasons in Toledo before he solidified his spot in Grand Rapids.
“Grand Rapids is where I learned to be a pro,” Howard said. “I spent four years working on my game and learning about myself and what it takes to succeed day in and day out. It taught me how hard it is to not only get here but also how you have to work even harder to stay here. It allowed me to mature.”
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.