The Malik Report
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
During the first six weeks of 2016, there wasn't a better goaltender in the NHL than the Detroit Red Wings Petr Mrazek.
Beginning with a victory Jan. 2 in Buffalo, Mrazek went on a phenomenal run that saw him post a 10-2-1 record, 1.31 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in 13 appearances through mid-February.
That stretch left the 24-year-old netminder atop the NHL in both GAA (1.94) and save percentage (.934), tied for fourth in shutouts (4) and tied for ninth in wins (21) despite playing at least five fewer game than all eight goalies with more victories.
But things have been much different during Mrazek's last six starts. He suddenly looks human again after cooling off during the past three weeks, something that's not surprising to Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, a former goalie himself.
"The one thing I'd say first is the stretch he went through in January is not sustainable," Blashill said after Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena. "He was at .956 save percentage. You don't do that for a season. There's no way.
"To me, it's just the natural ebb and flow of the season. You're going to have some stretches like he had during January on the road there and you're going to have some stretches like recently."
The most frustrating part of the Red Wings' 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was simple: Detroit was in fact playing very well, and at least as very good as Chicago until the Hawks broke the game open with 2 power play goals scored in 86 seconds.
The Wings were in the game until it was 3-0, and after Brad Richards made it 3-1, Detroit was still in it...Until, once again, the Blackhawks scored in short succession, getting goals from Ladd and Panarin over the course of 35 seconds.
Detroit was probably guilty of too comfortably playing the Blackhawks' game, trading rushes and trading chances with the Hawks, and if anything, you could argue that the Wings weren't willing to get "greasy" or dirty enough in front of Corey Crawford, who had a pretty easy time seeing the 31 shots he stopped.
The Chicago Daily Herald's John Dietz certainly believed that Crawford's goaltending afforded Chicago its margin of victory:
Of prospect-related note:
In the AHL, Mark Zengerle had the OT game-winner and an assist, Tyler Bertuzzi scored a goal and Tom McCollum stopped 20 of 21 shots as the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Rockford IceHogs 2-1 in overtime. The Griffins' website posted a recap...
The Red Wings opened their home-and-home series with the Chicago Blackhawks needing to shake off the novelty of a renewed Blackhawks-Wings rivalry so they could focus on the important thing--earning two points against the highly-heralded Hawks team.
On Wednesday, the Red Wings got embarrassed, but they got embarrassed as they are--not as the team you wish they were due to deadline acquisitions, not a team that isn't playing so-and-so, as they are.
Detroit lost 5-1 because the penalty-kill failed them, surrendering goals against on 5-on-4 and a 5-on-3 (via a lovely interference play by Jonathan Toews, which the NBCSN announcers both acknowledged and praised), and while Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Abdelkader, Kronwall and Marchenko were a cut above their teammates, the Wings couldn't play their top line the entire game, and they simply gave up too many good scoring chances against a great team to compete.
The Wings will have a significant amount of areas of their game to work upon as they prepare for Sunday's back half of the home-and-home; Chicago will go to Boston tomorrow, and hopefully they'll beat the Bruins.
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
CORKS, PUCKS AND BREWS SET FOR MARCH 8
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Grand Rapids Griffins and Easter Seals Michigan are teaming up for the fifth annual Corks, Pucks and Brews, a wine and beer tasting fundraiser to be held on Tuesday, March 8 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Goei Center.
Griffins players will serve over 100 varieties of wine and craft beer samples to guests at the event, highlighted by live music, hors d’oeuvres and silent and live auctions. Items up for bid include a Chicago Cubs package consisting of four suite tickets, food and parking for an upcoming game; an autographed Dylan Larkin jersey; Red Wings tickets, Griffins packages, two tickets to the Elton John concert at Van Andel Arena on March 23; beauty packages; product baskets; wine and beer tours; gift cards and more.
"When our players are talking about an event weeks in advance, you know it must be something special, and this one sure is,” said Bob Kaser, Griffins vice president of community relations and broadcasting. "We take so much pride assisting, in a small way, an organization that for nearly 100 years has been doing great things for millions of children and adults in need."
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Jeff Blashill addressed the Wings' inactivity at the trade deadline in a video posted by WXYZ:
2. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan weighed in regarding the possible fading of the rivalry between the Red Wings and Blackhawks:
Per ESPN's Scott Burnside, Justin Abdelkader's been named to Team USA's preliminary 16-man World Cup roster:
Tomas Tatar is also part of Team Europe.
See the Team North America (aka The Young Guns) roster below...
added 5:29pm, Press release is below too...
added 5:42pm, A look at the Team NA sweater below...
TSN's Kerry Fraser is up in arms after Niklas Kronwall left his feet while hitting Radek Faksa during Monday's Wings-Stars game:
A player is in violation of Rule 42 (charging) if he skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner. Kronwall is clearly guilty of charging on this play as defined by the rule. The Detroit defenceman was not assessed a penalty for his elevated strike on Faksa.
On Friday I wrote about the need to change the current culture of dangerous hitting practices, particularly when an opponent is vulnerable, to ultimately force players to make better decisions. I think Kronwall has had a run of good luck when it comes to avoiding significant contact to his opponents’ heads on the elevated hits he employs on a regular basis.
It was reported that the Red Wings were “shocked” after Kronwall was suspended by the Department of Player Safety for Game 7 of the Wings - Lightning playoff series last season after launching into a hit on Tampa forward Nikita Kucherov in Game 6. I have to think the shock value came mostly from the fact that Niklas was allowed to make those kinds of dangerous hits throughout his career without suspension - or often without even incurring a penalty on the ice.
I find these types of hits, no matter who delivers them, to be needless and potentially dangerous. At the very least, it’s a charging violation that should be penalized. Let’s take a look at how this play developed and moved from an apparent legal bodycheck to a charging violation.
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.