The Malik Report
The Free Press's Helene St. James weaved some news into what is probably her final Locker Room Clean-Out Day article: a summation of captain Henrik Zetterberg's comments regarding the Red Wings' future:
"We have to be more consistent, we have to be better,” Zetterberg said. “We saw this season we can be a good team when we play well, but we were also very bad for stretches.”
Zetterberg added “we want to be a playoff team next year” and that making that happen “is up to us. Some will leave, and we will get some new ones, but most will be the same.”
General manager Ken Holland has told forward Drew Miller he will not be offered another contract by the Wings, but otherwise, everyone else is either under contract or restricted. The Wings could use some upgrades – most notably on the back end – but as Zetterberg pointed out, ditto around the NHL.
“All the teams want a top-one defenseman, and first-line center,” Zetterberg said. "Pretty sure Ken will do everything he can to make this team stronger, but most of it has to come from the guys in here. We have to be better.”
St. James continues, and I hate to say it, but Miller's time with the Wings is probably up for good reason. He's a great teammate and superb penalty-killer, but his plodding speed did him in as players like Tomas Nosek push from Grand Rapids.
Of prospect-related note:
In playoff action, in the SHL, Christoffer Ehn's Frolunda Indians will not defend their SHL title. Frolunda lost 3-1 to Brynas IF in the 7th game of the SHL semifinal, and Ehn played only 2:22 as an "extra forward."
Ehn registered 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points with Frolunda over the course of 52 regular-season games, mostly playing as a checking line or 4th line center, and he scored a goal and added an assist while playing very limited minutes over the course of 14 playoff games.
The Wings like the 2014 draft pick, and they'll probably sign him and allow the skinny forward to continue to develop with the Indians.
At the other end of the playoff spectrum, in the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye opened their playoff quest on Friday, defeating the Kalamazoo K-Wings 4-3 thanks to a goal and 2 assists from Shane Berschbach, a goal and an assist from Kyle Bonis and 27 saves from Jake Paterson.
The Walleye's website posted a recap...
DetroitRedWings.com's Art Regner penned an article regarding Anthony Mantha's Locker Room Clean-Out Day remarks, and Mantha told Regner that his goal for this offseason and next season involves adding consistency to his play:
"I just know the way I play, I know my best games, I know what they are, I know my bad games," said Mantha. "For me it's just something I need to focus on and always have good or great games. This year, I watched Zetterberg practice and play and he's always at the same level. He's always competing, even in practices. So I'll try to get that mentality in for next year."
The Wings had a team meeting on Tuesday after they took their last ever team photograph at Joe Louis Arena. It was meeting where players and staff shared what they need to do during the offseason as individuals and next season as a team to again qualify as a playoff team.
From Mantha's standpoint he wants to become stronger and find a consistency to his game.
"Just little details," Mantha answered when asked what he must improve upon to raise his level of play. "Like I mentioned earlier in the season, not to have a 5-6 game slump for myself and try to reduce that to maybe one game or two in a row is my goal for next year; helping the team win every single night and not just being present a game out of four. I'll go back in the gym and try to put on a little bit more weight, probably take a few power skating lessons this summer, just try to be quicker out there, more mobile."
Regner continues, and the more that Mantha learns how to move his feet on an every-night basis going forward, the better he will be.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Justin Abdelkader is hoping to avoid arthroscopic surgery on his knee, which might allow him to compete for USA Hockey in next month's world championship.
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press today that Abdelkader is seeking a second opinion as he evaluates how to deal with lingering pain in his right knee. “There's something there -- he feels it’s not quite normal,” Holland said. “He played with it, but it's on his mind.”
Abdelkader hurt the knee Dec. 1 against Florida. He returned, wearing a brace, on Jan. 10 and played every game the rest of the season. Speaking this week, after the Wings' season-ending team photo, Abdelkader said the pain “is in the back of my knee. Any time I flex it up to my back, it is sore. I am not sure what it is. I will meet with doctors and try to get a game plan.
“I don’t know if I need rest or we need to go in and scope.”
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan penned an article regarding Frans Nielsen's end-of-season remarks, and Nielsen told Kulfan and the Wings' beat writers that Detroit can improve its playoff chances by playing simpler, smarter hockey:
Nielsen signed last summer with the Red Wings, as an unrestricted free agent (six years, $31.5 million), was intrigued by the organization’s winning ways.
But the Red Wings never could completely recapture the success of previous seasons this time around. One reason, said Nielsen, was because of the team’s unwillingness to play a gritty, hard-edged game when needed.
“It’s a tough a league and you have to show up every night,” said Nielsen, who had 17 goals and 24 assists (41 points). “It’s not going to be pretty every night. You have to grind it out and find other ways to win. We couldn’t get away from that skill game, and when it was off, everything was just going wrong. We have to learn that when we don’t have a good night, we have to learn to find a way and grind it out an do the hard work.”
collectively, Nielsen feels the team needs to get a little “mean.”
“Some nights it’s not going to be pretty and it’s going to hurt to win,” Nielsen said. “Some nights we just didn’t pay the price.
“I believe in everyone in here. Talent-wise, we’re right there. We just have to bring a little more ‘mean’ attitude sometimes and play harder and do all the simple things. I know they’ve always had a tradition (here) of playing nice hockey with a lot of skill guys. But we have to learn how to play the other side of it, too, when we our game is not on.”
The Toledo Walleye open their Kelly Cup quest against the Kalamazoo K-Wings this evening, and the Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe penned a preview of the Walleye's first-round playoff series:
Kalamazoo and Toledo have met just once in franchise history in the postseason. The Toledo Goaldiggers defeated the Kalamazoo Wings in a quarterfinal series during the 1984 International Hockey League playoffs.
Toledo won the second Brabham Cup title as ECHL regular-season champions and has made the playoffs in five of its eight seasons. Kalamazoo has advanced to the postseason for the fourth consecutive season and for the seventh time in eight years.
The Walleye also became the first team in the 29-year history of the ECHL to lead the league in goals scored (4.19 per game), goals allowed (2.65), power play (25.1 percent), and penalty kill (86.8).
Walleye forward Tyson Spink said the Walleye must focus on themselves and what they do well.
“We are aware it’s a new season,” Spink said. “We want to continue our momentum heading into the playoffs. But they have the same exact record we have. They have a good team over there. They work hard. We have to play our game.”
Jimmy Howard –. AGE: 33. CONTRACT: Ends 2019, $5.291 per season. STATS: 10-11-1, .927 SVS., 2.10 GAA. COMMENT: He was the team's best goalie and removed any thoughts he was on the downside of his career. But the future remains murky, because of two No. 1-quality goalies on roster. GRADE: A.
Danny DeKeyser – AGE: 27. CONTRACT: Ends 2022, $5 million per. STATS: 82 games, 4 goals, 8 assists. COMMENT: The consistency that had been a trademark of his game didn't appear for lengths of time. Most nights, DeKeyser looked overmatched against opponents’ top lines. GRADE: D.
Dylan Larkin – AGE: 20: CONTRACT: Ends 2018, $925,000. STATS: 80 games, 17 goals, 15 assists. COMMENT: Larkin didn't have the type of season most envisioned. The hope is Larkin gets back to his projected offensive numbers next season as he gets moved to center. GRADE: D-plus
Here are the final grades (based on performance vs. expectation):
His production declined (seven goals, 21 points, minus-20) from the previous two seasons (23 and 19 goals) for a couple of reasons: He missed 16 games with a mid-season knee injury from which he didn’t fully recover and he didn’t have Henrik Zetterberg as his center. His physical presence is important for a team that lacks size and isn’t hard to play against.
Contract: Six years remaining at a $4.25 million cap hit.
Coach Jeff Blashill and staff
Blashill had an impressive resume before becoming the Red Wings’ head coach but has had two disappointing seasons. The team was out of playoff contention far too soon this season. Too many players failed to perform to expectations. The club ranked near the bottom of the league in goals for, goals against and the power play. Younger players had a far shorter leash than some underperforming veterans. Blashill will return next season, likely with assistants John Torchetti, Doug Houda and Pat Ferschweiler. They must do a better job of maximizing players’ abilities, putting them in positions to succeed.
all the players, only two with an A grade, Howard and Zetterberg and Mantha with an A-
Prior to Sunday's "Farewell to the Joe" activities, DetroitRedWings.com's Art Regner reports that the Wings' alums got a private tour of Little Caesars Arena's construction site, and the gents were suitably impressed:
"It's very impressive; it's very impressive to see everything," Wings legend Nick Lidstrom said. "Everything seems to be so thought out too, they thought of everything in this building. It will be a great setup for the players in the locker room, the lounge, the practice rink and the big main building as well, so it will be a perfect fit for the players."
Lidstrom wasn't alone in his praise of Little Caesars Arena. The extensive tour showcased the entire building from top to bottom and culminated with a group photo taken at the future spot of center ice.
"I think it's going to be really loud for a visiting goalie coming in here; it's going to be ridiculously loud," former Wings goalie Manny Legace said. "It looks awesome - everything goes straight up; they did it right. It's going to be a fun building to play in.
"If you look at all the new buildings now, everything is just spread out, it goes away, it goes away from the game. They're building straight up from the ice, it goes right up in a hurry and it's steep and you're right on top of it. There is not going to be a bad seat in this place."
Of prospect-related note:
In QMJHL playoff action, Adam Marsh's Charlottetown Islanders advanced to the 3rd round of the QMJHL playoffs with a 5-2 win over the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, but the Charlottetown Guardian's Jason Malloy reports that Marsh did not take part in the game due to a 3-game suspension for a check to the head;
In OHL playoff action, Vili Saarijarvi took 5 shots in the Mississauga Steelheads' 4-3 win over Oshawa. Mississauga leads Oshawa 3-1 in the teams' second-round series;
And Jordan Sambrook had an assist and 3 shots in the Erie Otters' 4-2 loss to the London Knights. The teams' second-round series is tied 2-2.
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.