The Malik Report
Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press's Helene St. James reports that it's probably too late for the NHL to recruit a Red Wings player to represent the team at the All-Star Game:
As it stood this morning, the Wings were not going to have any representatives at this weekend's NHL All-Star Game in Columbus. The one Wing selected, goaltender Jimmy Howard, had to pull out because of injury, leaving only the possibility of an injury to a selected skater as a way for Wings player to go. Pittsburgh Penguins All-Star Evgeni Malkin came up injured Wednesday night, creating an opening -- but don't expect a Wing to cover for him.
The NHL inquired last week whether Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk were interested and was soundly rebuffed. Gustav Nyquist would have been a natural choice, with his 19 goals and 17 assists and his flair for puck dangling that is perfect for the skills competition that is the All-Star Game. He, however, left Wednesday morning for Mexico.
Tomas Tatar, who leads the Wings with 21 goals, would have been another option, but he also headed south Wednesday.
St. James continues, and I'm sure that Tatar or Nyquist wouldn't have minded going to the ASG if they weren't already on vacation.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
"What I like about him is the tenacity to get the puck back, his ability to play hard. He loves to score," Babcock said. "Tats is in a journey, doing a real good job. We'd like him to turn into a top-six forward that can play all night every night against the best people."
Teammates have also taken notice of his impressive abilities. He's much stronger than many would think for a 5-foot-10, 185-pound guy -- that much is evident during battle drills or when he absorbs and reverses a hit during a game. Center Riley Sheahan said Tatar is a hound on the puck, too. Even when he loses it, he's usually only three strides away from getting it back.
"I guess 'resiliency' would be a good word for it," Sheahan told ESPN.com.
Resilience is something Tatar and other Red Wings prospects have had to have in ample reserve, what with the tiebreak always going to veterans in Babcock's lineup decisions and a roster that must feel near impossible to crack.
Tatar posted three straight 20-plus-goal seasons in the AHL before he got his first extended stay in Detroit.
"And look at what happens in Edmonton," one visiting broadcaster remarked recently. "Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gets a seven-year extension after scoring four goals [in 2013]."
Contracts, and roster spots, are earned in Detroit. Tatar knew that as he was honing his game in the minors with the Griffins, but it didn't make the road ahead any less daunting for the Slovakia native.
from John Niyo of the Detroit News,
It took some time — years, really — but now that the transformation is nearly complete, they all marvel at one thing.
"The speed," said Henrik Zetterberg, the Red Wings' captain.
Of his team, he means. And for a franchise better known for its tradition than its transition game for much of this decade, this is what really stands out now, with the Red Wings emerging as NHL front-runners again.
It's the pace of their play, and the immediacy of their attack, as much as the points they're accumulating, that have them humming a happier — and yes, much healthier — tune heading into the All-Star break.
The Red Wings are tied for second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, after Tuesday night's 5-4 shootout win against the Minnesota Wild. That's 13 points better than they were a year ago at this point in the season, when the injuries began to mount and the specter of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1990 really began to take hold.
Per TSN's Bob McKenzie:
from Dave Goricki of the Detroit News,
All the hype this season has gone to Boston University freshman Jack Eichel, but Larkin has been equally impressive with the Wolverines, especially since coming back from the World Junior games.
Eichel, the leading scorer (11 goals, 34 points) in college hockey, is expected to be a top two pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. He was recently showcased with a three-page spread in Sports Illustrated and is said by the publication to be "them most anticipated U.S. prospect since Bobby Carpenter in 1981."
Larkin, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound center, wears the No. 19 jersey and thrills Michigan fans like Steve Yzerman got Red Wings fans out of their seats.
Larkin outperformed Eichel in the World Junior Championships and was the team's leading scorer despite not playing on the power play....
Larkin had a solid first half, being more of a play-making center. He had three goals and 16 points in his first 15 games, then came back to help the Wolverines sweep No. 9 Minnesota, chipping in with a goal and an assist in a 4-3 in overtime Jan. 9 and scoring two goals in a 7-5 win the following night to earn Berenson his 800th career victory.
He had two goals and two assists last Friday in a 10-6 rout of Ohio State and now has eight goals and 25 points this season.
I try to stay out of players' social media lives when they post non-hockey-related stuff--because I believe they deserve some basic level of privacy if they're not talking about hockey--but this picture probably serves as the most definitive proof that Tomas Tatar won't be heading to Columbus to represent the Wings at the All-Star Game.
That could change, but at this point, it appears that Columbus will be Red Wing-free come Saturday and Sunday, in no small part because the Czech-and-Slovakian Brothers are on vacation:
Director Gabe Polsky's much-feted documentary, Red Army, is finally coming to theatres (with a limited release in Metro Detroit scheduled for February 23rd), and as Slava Fetisov's become something of a "set the record straight" shit-stirrer (that's not a bad thing, that's a good thing) during his second act as a Russian senator from Vladivostok, the following comments, noted by the Free Press's Steve Schrader, come as no surprise:
Fetisov — in the new documentary "Red Army," which is the subject of a feature in this week's Sports Illustrated — says then-CCCP coach Tikhonov was beholden to the KGB and favored Moscow Dynamo players such as goalie Vladimir Myshkin over Red Army players. Dynamo represented the KGB. Fetisov and Tretiak played for CSKA Moscow, which represented the Red Army.
Of course, Tikhonov famously and inexplicably — until now — pulled Tretiak in favor of Myshkin after one period of the 4-3 loss.
"Three out of four goals was scored on a Dynamo player defensively," Fetisov says. "It's a KGB organization. Three goals out of four. I didn't allow one goal in this game."
If true, the move backfired on Tikhonov.
"Tikhonov tried to kill Red Army," Fetisov says. "If Tikhonov would have won Olympic gold in Lake Placid, I guarantee, no (bleeping) Russian Five would exist. Dynamo would have dominated from then on. The loss of the Olympics in '80 helped me to become who I am."
Schrader continues, and I hate to say it, but I'd rather have the Russian 5 any day of the week. There are generations of Wings fans--plural--all over the world whose passion for the Red Wings was inspired by watching Fetisov, Konstantinov, Larionov, Kozlov and Fedorov at work.
Updated with Pulkky Talk at 2:12 PM:
Note: This will be updated with the most glib interview I've ever heard Teemu Pulkkinen give to anybody in short order...
When the Red Wings' front office speaks, I listen very closely, and Kirk Maltby appeared on Detroit Sports 105.1 FM's Matt Dery show yesterday to discuss the state of the Wings going into yesterday night's game and the All-Star Break, so this qualifies as 8-and-a-half minutes of important information--especially given that the pro and amateur scouts had a pre-trade deadline, pre-draft powwow in Las Vegas last week:
This press release from the Grand Rapids Griffins gets a big thumbs up (and it should be noted that Xavier Ouellet's not going to the AHL's All-Star Game due to a sore wrist...and the whole he's probably staying in Detroit thing):
PULKKINEN ASSIGNED BY DETROIT, NAMED TO AHL ALL-STAR STARTING LINEUP
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The American Hockey League on Wednesday announced that Grand Rapids Griffins right wing Teemu Pulkkinen has been selected by fan vote to the Western Conference’s starting lineup for this weekend’s 2015 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica, N.Y.
A native of Vantaa, Finland, Pulkkinen leads the Griffins in scoring with 39 points (20-19—39) in 33 games, in addition to ranking fourth in the league in scoring and tying for first in goals. On Jan. 7 versus Charlotte, Pulkkinen scored a goal for the eighth game in a row, tying Donald MacLean’s 2005-06 franchise-record goal-scoring streak.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Wings forward Riley Sheahan was part of a group headed to Cancun, Mexico. "There's probably not going to be much hockey talk," he said. "It's just going to be relaxation. It'll be nice. I think everyone is looking forward to the break. We don't get time to relax that often, so it'll be good to spend some time just laying low."
Defenseman Brendan Smith was headed to Turks and Caicos with younger brother Reilly, who plays for the Boston Bruins. "We'll both go and hang out and get lots of sun," Brendan Smith said. "It's a good time to get away from the game."
Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said he, his wife and their 15-month-old daughter are "going someplace warm. But if I lived in Florida, I think I would go to a snowy place where I can ski."
Petr Mrazek and Stephen Weiss also were headed to Florida, Weiss to visit his wife's parents.
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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.