The Malik Report
The Red Wings practiced in Sunrise, Florida ahead of tomorrow night's game against Kevin Spacey's Florida Panthers, and two items dominated the practice news cycle: first, Jimmy Howard will start against Florida because Petr Mrazek's still not able to practice, and second, Niklas Kronwall is hoping to push his return from a sprained knee to allow himself to return to action tomorrow night.
MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Kronwall and Blashill about a possible early return...
"Things felt good today in practice, so we'll see how it is tomorrow in practice and go from there," Kronwall said.
Kronwall had a full practice Friday. He alternated with Alexey Marchenko and Jonathan Ericsson. So if Kronwall plays, it appears he'll be paired with Ericsson and Marchenko will be scratched.
"It'll probably be a game-time decision," coach Jeff Blashill said. "He was going to test it more (Saturday morning), so we'll see how he feels tomorrow and continue to evaluate him."
Red Wings prospect and defenseman James de Haas' Clarkson Golden Knights were eliminated from the ECAC playoffs last weekend in a double OT loss to St. Lawrence, but Clarkson's website reports that de Haas and his captain were named conference all-stars:
Clarkson University Hockey defensemen Paul Geiger and James de Haas have been selected 2015-16 ECAC Hockey All-Stars, earning third-team recognition.
A senior from Stouffville, ONT, Geiger served as the Golden Knights' captain the past two seasons. He led the Green and Gold's stingy defensive effort and contributed three goals and six assists over the last 19 games of the season, finishing with 13 points (5-8) in 33 games in 2015-16. He tallied three goals and six assists in 21 conference games. Geiger was one of the least penalized players in ECAC Hockey with just one league penalty. He was Clarkson's nominee for ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year. Geiger skated in 150 career games and totaled 13 goals and 38 assists from 2012-16. He recently signed an ATO with the AHL's Albany Devils.
Clarkson's leading scorer overall from the blueline with five goals and 17 points, de Haas was the only Golden Knight to skate in all 38 games. In 22 ECAC Hockey contests the junior from Mississauga, ONT recorded two goals and five assists. de Haas tallied both game-winners in 3-2 overtime victories against Princeton (3/4-5) in the first-round series of the conference playoffs. A 2012 NHL Draft choice of the Detroit Red Wings (6th round, 170 overall), he served as a Clarkson assistant captain. de Haas was also selected to ECAC Hockey's All-Rookie team in 2013-14.
The 6'4" de Haas is a strong candidate to be named Clarkson's captain during his senior season.
Matthew Wuest passed away a year ago today from colon cancer. He is missed for his work on Capgeek, RedWingsCentral and his presence online and "IRL":
Matthew and I never got along, but I respected and admired the hell out of him.
Updated 3x at 1:33 PM: The Red Wings practiced in Sunrise, Florida prior to Saturday night's Spacey Night game against the Florida Panthers, hoping to build upon the Wings' 3-1 win over Columbus on Thursday.
DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose was the first to weigh in from practice...
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. MLive's Brendan Savage took note of the praise Henrik Zetterberg's teammates levied at "Captain Z" for his leadership prior to last night's win over Columbus:
"I wouldn't say (it's) unusual but when things need to be said he'll step up and speak his mind, say what the team needs to hear," said Darren Helm, who scored the Red Wings' final goal. "I'm not surprised that he's done it. He does it.
"That's a good leader. He's not always rah-rah or yelling at guys but when he steps up and speaks, you listen. He's leading in the dressing room, leading on the ice. You want to play hard for the guys beside you.
"You want to play hard for the captain."
Zetterberg also did some talking on the ice snapping a 12-game drought with his 13th goal of the season, which proved to be the eventual game winner.
3. NHL.com's "Playoff Platter" is hoping for a certain possible playoff match-up to take place:
The Red Wings posted post-game videos from Detroit's 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on the team's YouTube channel, and they did so late last night/early this morning (after my bedtime), so:
Here's Henrik Zetterberg...
Bob McKenzie was on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 on Friday morning.
As part of a larger discussion on how the Detroit Red Wings have been one of the few ‘rebuild on the fly’ success stories for years, based largely around the fact that they’ve drafted so well in the later rounds:
“We’ll see where it goes. They’ve got some work to do on the salary cap front in terms of signing these guys. Danny DeKeyser’s contract is up. Mrazek’ contract is up. Riley Sheahan’s contract is up. But they’ll get those guys done.
“I’ll be curious to see – I don’t know, and again, this is not me reporting anything, but I’ll be curious to see IF Steven Stamkos gets to unrestricted free agency this summer, would the Wings try to get involved in that and see if there’s a way that they could manipulate it.
Nichols continues, and I'll post the interview as soon as TSN 1260 uploads it.
TSN's Gary Lawless spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the Wings' playoff streak:
With 11 games to go, Detroit is in a fierce wild-card race, and sit just one point ahead of the suddenly hot Philadelphia Flyers.
“I don’t know how I’ll feel on the day after the regular season if we don’t qualify,” Wings GM Ken Holland told The Watercooler. “I’m hoping we’re about to play our best hockey and that we get in. You can’t focus on the streak. You have to be thinking about the next game and how we can win it. I don’t think the streak motivates our players or wears on our players. I’m not sure how much it means to the collective group.”
Holland has been with the Red Wings throughout the streak and while it means a lot to the franchise, he says the present takes precedence over the past.
“I want our team to get in so the players we have today can experience the playoffs. And once you’re in, you never know what can happen,” said Holland.
So what’s wrong with the Wings? How did they find themselves in this spot?
“We haven’t played consistently for long enough stretches. We were outshot 23-3 in the first period in Philadelphia the other night. Then we were really good in the second and third. But you’re not going to win in this league coming from behind all the time,” said Holland. “Our power play hasn’t been very good since around Christmas — one of the worst in the league. When the other team gets a power-play goal, then you have to beat them 2-0 in 5-on-5 to win. It’s too hard.”
The Red Wings are above the playoff line by points and regulation-or-OT wins over the Philadelphia Flyers, who have 2 games in hand again, after a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night, and winning against a team that has (now) a 10-3-and-2 home record against you ain't bad...
But the Wings will have to head into Florida on Kevin Spacey night with a real possibility of Howard starting to one-up themselves, and Detroit still needs to win 7 or 8 of its final 11 games (given the way Philly and Pittsburgh are playing) to make the playoffs.
Thursday night's game was a lot better than what the Wings displayed against the Maple Leafs and especially the Flyers, but it was definitely a "work in progress" game, too. The Wings were up by 1 or 2 goals for the vast majority of the game, the second period was ugly and the third period was a grind.
As a result, the Wings' opponent--and their press corps--were severely underwhelmed with the game, as noted by the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline:
The Red Wings faced quite the task in battling the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday evening.
Columbus owned a 10-2-and-2 record against the Wings at home; Detroit was facing an uphill climb in attempting to finish the regular season winning 8 or 9 of their final 12 games--most likely the "magic numbers" necessary to fend off the Flyers' Wild Card push--having lost 5 of their 7 March games.
The Red Wings had their hiccups, but Detroit scored the game's first goal, the Wings built upon their lead, and while their power play stank on ice as per usual, their penalty-killing was superb and Jimmy Howard was absolutely stout in the Wings' net, helping the Wings earn a 3-1 victory that was only sullied by a last-minute Columbus goal.
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.