The Malik Report
Ansar Khan of Mlive answers questions from the fans...
Q: I was wondering about Teemu Pulkkinen. Is it just a numbers game as to why he isn't in the lineup or are there some other issues keeping him from playing more? I've heard that he may not have the best work ethic but with the team struggling to score goals (especially before the last few games) I would think they would want his big shot in the lineup.
A: There is no room for Pulkkinen in the top six, where his ability is best suited. Jeff Blashill believes he has better options for the top two lines. They tried Pulkkinen on the fourth line for a few games but that didn''t work. That leaves the third line. It basically comes down to Pulkkinen or Tomas Jurco and right now Blashill prefers Jurco. He said he wants to give Jurco an extended opportunity instead of alternating him with Pulkkinen, and Jurco had a decent game in Pittsburgh.
Also, despite Andreas Athanasiou's limited minutes, Blashill likes the speed element he brings and his ability to kill penalties.
Other than Jurco or Athanasiou, I don't see Pulkkinen replacing anyone else in the lineup. So he might need to wait for an injury to get back in there.
Q: Think the Wings get in on any of the marquee free agents in the summer? Some team is going to sign (Steven Stamkos) to the league max with money and term if he gets to free agency. Do the Wings have a chance?
A: I highly doubt it. I think Stamkos will either re-sign with Tampa Bay or bolt for Toronto. I don't think he's worth the league maximum (20 percent of the upper salary-cap limit). I'd rather have two quality players making $5 million each than Stamkos for $10-12 million.
I could see the Red Wings, depending on their cap space, exploring the possibility of adding a decent-sized forward in free agency. Andrew Ladd (Winnipeg), David Backes (St. Louis), Milan Lucic (Los Angeles) and Eric Staal (Carolina) are among those slated to hit the market, though a couple might re-sign with their current club.
continue for more Q & A...
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
"I didn't think we were good enough defensively," said coach Jeff Blashill. "I didn't think as a five-man unit we weren't even close. We cannot play that way and have long-term success.
"I thought we were way too loose, we gave up way too many chances. Certainly credit to them, they played really well but I focus on our team. I thought it was our weakest five-man unit defensively we've had in a while."
In Mrazek's last start, the Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins 6-5 to complete a homestand that saw them earn nine of a possible 10 points.
Blashill thought Mrazek was better against the Penguins than he was vs. the Bruins, when he faced just 22 shots.
"I thought he was fine tonight," Blashill said. "I thought the other night he was a bit off. He would tell you that as well. Tonight I didn't see that. The only thing is making sure his crease management is real good, where he doesn't get too far out of the cage, so he can continue to battle for all those rebound goals.
"But I just think – I don't care who's in the net – you can't play that way defensively and have long-term success."
The Red Wings faced a stiff task in battling the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday evening, facing a team that they could very easily end up battling for a Wild Card spot should the Wings fall off their pace even slightly.
The Wings were also absolutely embarrassed by the Penguins on New Year's Eve, losing 5-2 in a game that they were absolutely dominated, so there was pride on the line on Thursday evening.
The Wings sure didn't play like pride was on the line, giving up rush after rush and being out-worked, out-hustled, out-ground, out-executed and thoroughly out-played as the Penguins defeated Detroit 6-3.
Petr Mrazek looked very ordinary, the defense in front of him was so bad that Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall appeared to be missed, and on a night where the Wings needed balanced scoring to show up, Smith, Green, Tatar, Richards and Sheahan were conspicuously absent.
Instead, Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Abdelkader generated 17 of the team's 38 shots, Larkin found chemistry with Glendening and Helm of all people, and Ouellet and Marchenko looked to be punching above their weight not only against Crosby and Kessel, but also Cullen, Hornqvist and Kunitz.
It was a disturbing game all the way around, and the Wings get no break as they play in Ottawa on Saturday, New York against the Rangers on Sunday, and at home against Columbus on Tuesday.
from Bill Roose of DetroitRedWings.com,
With only 25 games left, there isn’t much time for the Red Wings to lock down a playoff spot while extending their impressive postseason streak to 25 consecutive seasons.
Currently, the Wings are one of two teams with a negative goal differential that are holding on to a playoff position. The Wings have scored one fewer goals than the 147 goals allowed but are in third place with 67 points in the Atlantic Division trailing first-place Florida (72 points) and second-place Boston (68). New Jersey, which holds the Eastern Conference’s first wild card – by one point over Pittsburgh – has a minus-6 goal differential.
The Wings know they can’t afford to finish this season like they did a year ago when they posted a 10-11-4 record in the final seven weeks to end with 100 points.
“That’s been like that all year,” Wings forward Gustav Nyquist said. “You feel like you go on a small little run, take points in five straight games and win four of them, but you’re not really running away with a good lead. A lot of teams are right there in the mix, five, six points, there’s not a lot of difference between the teams. For sure a big two points tonight.”
PLYMOUTH, Michigan — USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, has been selected to host the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship, it was announced here today by USA Hockey.
The event, tentatively slated to run from April 1-8, 2017, will include 22 games and feature the top female hockey players in the world. The majority of the games will be played on the main rink of the two-sheet facility, with the remaining games being staged on the secondary sheet.
added 2:03pm, from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
"They said he played really, really good," Blashill said. "He didn't just get a hat trick, he scored NHL goals. He did a real good job. There were some areas of the game where he's got to make sure he continues to improve at -- plays on the wall to get pucks out, breaking out of his zone -- those are going to be critical things, because when you get up here, you're only allowed a couple of mistakes."
Get up here? Could Mantha be nearing an NHL debut? No so fast. Much as Dylan Larkin had to be a top-nine forward to make the team, Mantha isn't joining the Wings any time soon unless he can supplant some veterans.
"We'd have to be convinced that he could beat out a (Tomas Tatar) or Larkin or (Henrik) Zetterberg or (a Justin) Abdelkader and be in a situation where he is on one of those top two lines and be able to beat those guys out and be better than them," Blashill said.
Blashill pointed out that he has a line with Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and Darren Helm "that's been great since we put them together. They do a great job of both creating O-zone time and energy and playing against the other team's best line.
Mrazek in net.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Detroit Red Wings face the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center (7, NBCSN, FSD) for their second meeting of the season. The teams are far removed from having met in the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup finals, but pair them off any time, and the rivalry flares.
"I think it's still there," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said after the morning skate. "When you look back and you're coming right off a playoff run, it's a little different, it's a little more heated. But I think it's still there.
"Both teams have a lot of pride, and when you go through games like that, there is a history. It's really competitive and two teams that like to play a pretty similar style. So, yeah, I would say it's still there."
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
Mantha Among Boys
Feb. 17, 2016
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Anthony Mantha’s first career hat trick powered the Grand Rapids Griffins to a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.
Mantha scored in each period and added an assist to also mark his first four-point game, as the Griffins toppled a first-place team for the second straight home game. Milwaukee began the night tied atop the Central Division with Rockford, which Grand Rapids beat 4-3 in overtime on Feb. 6.
from Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News,
Derek Langlois, the lead on-ice instructor at the Detroit Hockey Academy, stood to the left of the net and along the goal line of the larger of two practice rinks.
He fired a series of pucks up along the glass, out toward a line of four players 30 feet away. Each player grappled with a difficult puck to handle, gained possession, abruptly and laterally skated left, and fired a shot toward the net.
Defensemen call it “walking the line.”
On and on the drill went, puck along the glass after puck along the glass, possession after possession, shot after shot. Then, Langlois led some skating drills.
And so hockey class went for the day.
Before and after hockey class, the four players were in academic classes in a room just beyond the fitness room.
The school day for the 23 students enrolled in grades 6-12 at the Detroit Hockey Academy, owned in part by former Red Wings goaltender Manny Legace, is both traditional and modern. Hockey lessons are mixed with academic learning, every day, unless a student’s school work lags. Then, ice time may be denied.
The annual tuition is $12,000.
from Peter J. Wallner of Mlive,
Anderson, who played twice for the Griffins over the weekend at Iowa and Rockford, has played sparingly with the Red Wings this season. He played twice for them this month and just 28 games on the season with one goal and two assists. He cleared waivers in late January but stayed up with the team due to injuries.
"You just have to stick with it when it doesn't go your way," Andersson said. "I talked with (general manager) Ken Holland and we agreed it would be good to get to playing some hockey. It's good to get some games in, touch the puck a bit and we'll go from there."
The plan is shake off the rust and see if he can get going offensively.
"The role I've played up there I haven't played a lot of minutes and so the first couple games here I've played a lot more than I'm used to, but that's good," he said. "Get my legs used to it. That's what I want and come back to the player I think I can be."
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.