The Malik Report
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.
Updated 13x at 5:19 PM: It sounds like the Red Wings held a brief practice at Joe Louis Arena to begin preparing for Game 3 against Chicago tomorrow night--arriving ahead of a press corps that appears to have endured the joy that is a 40-minute flight between Chicago and Detroit turned into a three-to-four-hour odyssey thanks to traffic, O'Hare and/or Midway Airport delays and security and hauling butt back to Detroit in the middle of the night (Red Bird III > any other method of air travel), and the Wings appear to have gathered for a brief media availabilty session after said practice.
First, ESPN offered a slate of stats related to yesterday's 4-1 Wings win:
The time between the quick take, the Toews entry and the time that this recap hits the web has been an uncomfortable one for me (the norovirus apparently has death throes), so I feel like being a smarmy *#$%@&, and I'm gonna be one. Jonathan Toews most certainly let it be known that his team was hacked, whacked, hooked, held, touched, looked at and otherwise thought of in space-limiting terms, and much to the amusing chagrin of both Toews and his Hawk colleagues, the Red Wings played this mysterious game called puck possession hockey to its hilt over the course of a 4-1 win that shocked all the experts picking the Blackhawks in 2 games.
I'm not saying "seemed to pick the Blackhawks," because I sure as shit could swear, at least by what I read from everywhere on the internet and heard on the TV and radio, that there was going to be a handshake line after Game 2, when the Blackhawks would advance to play for the Stanley Cup against the Los Angeles Kings, and I was quite happy to hope that the Red Wings went out onto actual ice after a two-day break and, with determination, grit, poise and attention to detail, told the hockey world to go *#$%@& itself.
Now I don't believe that the team's really that tuned into what's being said about them--if the 48-games-in-99-nights marathon taught me anything, the players are so damn busy playing every other night that it takes a tremendous amount of effort to pay attention to what's being said about them...
Okay, trying something different: in addition to quick takes, I can generally get multimedia out of the way pretty quickly...And the crush of press interest in the Red Wings-Blackhawks series is forcing me to toss off the various multimedia offerings related to the Red Wings' 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday into a separate post. Enjoy post-break high-bandwidth fun. The wrap-up is still in progress at 4 in the morning (it's been a long night)...
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.