The Malik Report
The Red Wings flew across the Sunshine State holding a dubious distinction in having won 2 of 7 March games, having dropped a 3-1 decision to the Florida Panthers and hanging precariously to a 4-point lead over the Boston Bruins and now only a 6-point lead over the Ottawa Senators as Detroit bobs along holding the 3rd and final Atlantic Division playoff spot--a 3rd playoff spot that would ensure a first-round match-up with tonight's opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 PM on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM).
If anything pissed me off about the Red Wings' effort, it was this:
Prior to the game, the Panthers insisted to the press that they were going to worry about the "process" more than their on-ice product, but between Roberto Luongo's goaltending, his luck with goalposts and the Panthers' ability to stifle the *#$%@& out of Detroit's offense while victimizing Petr Mrazek's tendency to over-commit to his blocker side, Florida managed to earn a win that pushes the Panthers to within 5 points of the Boston Bruins for one of the Eastern Conference's Wild Card spots.
As Fox Sports Florida's Jameson C. Olive noted, the Panthers were quite happy with Luongo's performance in his return from a shoulder injury...
I'm not going to pretend to have covered the University of Michigan Wolverines very closely, but Dylan Larkin registered a goal and three assists en route to Michigan's 5-1 win over Wisconsin at the BIg Ten playoff tournament, setting up a Friday night semifinal against Michigan State, and the Wings posited a press release regarding said match-ups:
MICHIGAN STATE VS. MICHIGAN HIGHLIGHTS BIG TEN TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS SET FOR FRIDAY
… MSU vs. U-M Set for 8 p.m. Puck Drop, Minnesota vs. Ohio State Face Off at 4:30 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena …
DETROIT – Friday’s semifinal games of the 2015 Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament are set after Ohio State and Michigan earned wins on the opening day of the tournament at Joe Louis Arena. The first semifinal on Friday will feature Minnesota and Ohio State at 4:30 p.m., followed by in-state rivals Michigan State and Michigan at 8:00 p.m.
Minnesota, which won the regular season Big Ten Championship, and Michigan State earned first-round byes by finishing the regular season as the top two teams in the conference.
Fifth-seeded Ohio State defeated fourth-seeded Penn State, 3-1, in the tournament’s first quarterfinal matchup. Marysville, Mich., native Nick Schilkey, Justin DaSilva and David Gust recorded goals for the Buckeyes, while Max Gardiner had Penn State’s lone marker. Ohio State and top-seeded Minnesota have met four times this season, with the Golden Gophers taking three of the four games.
The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson discusses the "dead puck era's" return in his main Hockey World column and quite a few other stories in his "Short Shifts," but this is a bit of a relief in terms of the Red Wings' long-term plans:
The overriding league feeling was the Detroit Red Wings would make the biggest trade push for Edmonton Oilers rental defenceman Jeff Petry because he’s from Michigan and might re-sign there this summer, but the consensus is their impressive Russian rookie Alexey Marchenko, also a rightie, can do Petry’s job for about 15 per cent of Petry’s salary next year.
Marchenko makes $700,000.
Detroit also refused to give up their third best defensive prospect, Ryan Sproul, playing in Grand Rapids in talks with anybody.
The only kids they gave up were middling defenceman Mattias Backman, back in Sweden, and centre Mattias Janmark, maybe a third-liner down the road (to Dallas for Erik Cole).
The Red Wings may have been shopping Jakub Kindl, instead, and his price-point ($2.4 mil cap) is good, but the Oilers obviously weren’t interested in Kindl. I might have been at that price.
The Red Wings' back-to-back tilts against the Panthers and Lightning could either allow Detroit to make up a whole lot of ground on the Bolts or make the Boston Bruins a significant threat to leapfrog the Wings for the 3rd and final Atlantic Division playoff spot, and as such, these games should have the "TRAP" tag on 'em like underwear at a Bangkok strip club (I've not been, but I'm just saying).
Regrettably, the Wings paid the Wings far less respect than the playoff-desperate team from Florida's East Coast has earned, and as a result, just enough screwing up defensively combined with just enough whiffing and/or hitting of the goalpost to ensure that Detroit exited Sunrise with a 3-0 defeat, hugging the 3rd playoff spot in the Atlantic for dear life as the Bruins and now Senators sneak up upon the Wings in the race to battle tomorrow night's opponent, the Tampa Bay Lightning, a month from now.
Of Griffins-related note:
1. This little prospect note isn't as little as you might think, because the Grand Rapids Griffins have very quietly announced that Scott Czarnowczan has earned another AHL contract...
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday assigned defenseman Scott Czarnowczan to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. In addition, the Griffins re-signed Czarnowczan to a one-year contract for the 2015-16 season.
Czarnowczan, 23, has played in 27 games with Grand Rapids during his first professional season, tallying nine points (2-7—9), 26 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating. Czarnowczan secured his first AHL point (assist) versus Toronto on Dec. 19, before scoring his first goal on Feb. 6 versus Rochester. In addition to his time with the Griffins, the Macomb, Mich., native has also notched 14 points (1-13—14), four PIM and a plus-five rating in 16 games with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.
Prior to turning pro, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound blueliner spent four seasons with the Ferris State Bulldogs, where he gathered 63 points (9-54—63) and 212 PIM in 141 collegiate games. In addition to captaining the Bulldogs during his senior season, Czarnowczan made an appearance with Ferris State in the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four Championship game.
2. Via RedWingsFeed, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner penned an extensive feature article discussing the leadership provided by Griffins veterans Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans...
from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
This story appeared in the March 16, 2015 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
At four o’clock on the Friday before the winter solstice, in the gathering gloom of the 58th parallel, Frölundaborgs Isstadion, an arena that holds 7,527 in a Swedish suburb of Göteborg, is filled with little more than 55 spectators and the unmistakable musk of moldering hockey equipment bags. Fifty-four of those people are hockey civilians, awaiting the start of a Junior B tournament game between Västerås and a team from Norway. The 55th is Håkan Andersson, the chief European scout of the Red Wings, who settles into a deserted section between the red line and one of the blue lines. At hand are the three things he finds indispensable in his line of work: a roster, a pen and a paper cup of steeping Earl Grey tea.
Five days earlier, on Sunday, Andersson had flown from his home in Stockholm to Venice. The following morning he had driven 75 miles northwest to Asiago, in the foothills of the Italian Alps, for the second-tier under-20 world championship, where he and 20 or so other NHL scouts saw three games contested by teams from lesser European hockey nations (Norway vs. Austria, Latvia vs. Slovenia and Belarus vs. Italy). Andersson returned home on Tuesday, tookCWednesday and Thursday off, and now had driven five hours across the country to catch a modest four-team tournament. Andersson has been in the epiphany business for nearly 25 years; his roads to Damascus are the autoroutes and tarmacs of Europe. From October through early April every year, he typically will drive 20,000 miles in Sweden and take 65 flights in Europe, hopscotching the Continent. He attends some 200 games each season, distilling about 12,000 minutes of earnest if inelegant hockey to the handful of meaningful seconds in which an ineluctable truth about a player emerges, when a teenage boy reveals himself and, perhaps, foretells his future as a man.
The Red Wings didn't hold a morning skate ahead of tonight's game against the Florida Panthers (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/NHL Network w/ Center Ice/GCL blackout/97.1 FM), but MLive's Ansar Khan penned a superb feature story gauging the Wings players' takes on possibly incorporating 4-on-4 and/or 3-on-3 overtime.
It turns out that the Wings' players told Khan that they'd would rather go straight to 3-on-3...
"I'd rather go three-on-three from the start, just go the full five minutes three-on-three and if we do that there's a good chance it will be ending before the shootout," Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "Playing three-on-three is a lot of fun, a lot of room. I think it will be real exciting for the fans."
Players' opinions varied on which method is better, but many agree that three-on-three will not be gimmicky.
"It's going to be great hockey for the fans," goaltender Jimmy Howard said. "Everyone is on their feet for the shootout, but I think you'll see just as much excitement for three-on-three overtime because there's going to be lots of chances. Teams will be trading chances unless coaches find a way to play a trap in that, too. Who knows what they'll come up with. Maybe somebody will just stand three across the blue line the whole time."
But they're not keen on extending OT to 7 minutes to play 4 minutes of 4-on-4 and then 3 of 3-on-3:
"I think that's too much, especially if you go three-on-three and four-on-four," Niklas Kronwall said. "I wouldn't mind seeing maybe two minutes of four-on-four and three minutes of three-on-three. Keep it at five (total)."
Said Smith: "You're putting more time in and it can be tough with back-to-backs. The toughest part is we already play an 82-game season and there's a lot of minutes people log to begin with. You're just adding time, which I kind of think will be tough on a lot of players."
Khan continues at extended length, and it's interesting to read that the players would rather simply ditch 4-on-4-OT altogether.
With the Big Ten hockey tournament taking place at Joe Louis Arena tonight, tomorrow and on Friday, I had to laugh at University of Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves' non-sequitur to the Badger Herald's Dan Corcorran regarding what will be the first and last Big Ten tournament to take place at the Joe:
“The next time the tournament comes up to go to Detroit, that arena won’t be there,” Eaves said of the only opportunity to play in the historic NHL barn. “They are building a new arena for the Detroit Red Wings, and this arena, excuse the pun, but it reeks of history, like spilled beer and cigarettes and championships gone by.”
The Big Ten tournament will rotate between Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul, so the next tournament at the Joe will take place during the 2017-18 season, when the Wings' follow-on rink is supposed to open.
The University of Minnesota's Central Time-listed schedule is actually the best one I've seen thus far:
2015 Big Ten Ice Hockey Tournament
Dates Thursday, March 19-Saturday, March 21
Location Joe Louis Arena | Detroit, Mich.
Thursday Quarterfinals Game 1: No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Penn State | [4:30 PM EDT], Game 2: No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 6 Wisconsin | [8 PM EDT]
Friday Semifinals Game 3: No. 1 Minnesota vs. Game 1 Winner | [4:30 PM EDT] p.m. CT, Game 4: No. 2 Michigan State vs. Game 2 Winner | [8 PM EDT]
Saturday Championship Game 5: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner | [8 PM EDT]
Television (All Games) Big Ten Network
Updated 5x at 6:03 PM: The Florida Panthers took to the ice first ahead of tonight's tilt between said Panthers and the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 PM on FSD/FSD Florida/NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice & GCL blackout/97.1 FM), so a few articles popped up before the Wings skated:
1. First, via the Panthers' Twitter account, I'm a little annoyed to report that Dylan Larkin didn't make the cut as one of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award's 10 finalists. Larkin's Wolverines battle the University of Wisconsin this evening in the BIG 10 tournament at Joe Louis Arena (latter link via Joe Louis Arena's Twitter account);
This has become an annual battle of exciting alumni note, from the Wings:
RED WINGS ALUMNI TEAM TO SQUARE OFF AGAINST WESTLAND WILD WINGS ON FRIDAY, MARCH 20
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings Alumni Team will face off against the Westland Wild Wings in the Sixth Annual Red Wings Alumni Charity Hockey game on Friday, March 20 at the Mike Modano Ice Arena in Westland, Mich. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. in the charity game to raise money for the Mike Modano Ice Arena and to help grow the game of hockey in the Metro Detroit area.
Red Wings Alumni Association members expected to lace up the skates include Ed Mio, Gregg Malicke, Jimmy Carson, Brent Fedyk, Petr Klima, Darren McCarty, Kevin Miller, John Ogrodnick, Wayne Presley, Kraig Neinhuis, Dan Newman, Pat Peake, Tommy Williams, Tom Ross and Rolf Nilsen. Westland Mayor William R. Wild will also skate with the Westland Wild Wings. Red Wings Alumni members participating are subject to change.
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.