The Malik Report
Mid-day news: Wings insist they’re in no danger; on Sawchuk, Coreau & FSD’s tribute to Matthew Wuest
Updated 2x at 6:45 PM: The Red Wings "got Florida swept" via last night's 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay, a loss that represented Detroit's 7th in 10 March games, and as understandably upset as Wings fans are with their under-performing team and their suddenly precarious spot in the Atlantic Division playoff race, the post-game comments made by a team that's now dropped 4 of its past 5 games were just as exasperating.
As MLive's Brendan Savage noted, the Wings insisted that they're fine, from the goaltender on out...
[W]ith 12 games remaining in the regular season, the Red Wings are simply shrugging off the slump. Sure, they know they have to get better to keep their playoff streak alive but they also look at the skid as something that happens from time to time during a long and grueling season.
"Sometimes you go through things like that," said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who was outstanding in the loss to Tampa Bay. "I don't think there's really any panic button being pushed around here whatsoever. Like we said after the game in here, I thought we played a much better game than we did last night in Florida. It just came down to they got a bounce."
And Henrik Zetterberg's comments were surprising given that the Boston Bruins sit 4 points behind Detroit and Ottawa 6 in the "hunt" for the Atlantic Division's 3rd playoff spot..
"We're not hunting," he said. "Teams are behind us and we're still ahead. Little bit more concern before the Pittsburgh game, in my mind. The way we played in the last three, we've been doing a lot of good things. Obviously you want the points. That's important. If we keep playing like this we'll be fine."
As were those of his coach:
The Red Wings flew back to Michigan having gone 0-for-Florida ahead of Sunday's matinee game against the St. Louis Blues, and after having played so very lethargically over the course of 120 minutes of play in Thurdsay's 3-1 loss to the Panthers and Friday's 3-1 loss to the Lightning, perhaps it's a better thing that the Wings aren't practicing on Saturday, because the 3-and-7-for-March Wings have looked absolutely exhausted--mentally and physically--throughout the first 20 days of March.
The Wings' most recent setback ensures that Detroit won't be able to close the 8-point gulf between the Wings and 2nd-in-the-Atlantic Bolts over Detroit's final 12 games, but it also makes the possibility of the Boston Bruins, who are 4 points in arrears of Detroit, or the Ottawa Senators, who are 6 points behind the Wings, possibly clambering up over the Wings and pushing Detroit from the 3rd and final Atlantic Division playoff spot and causing them to tumble into a furious battle for one of 2 Wild Card spots.
It's going to be Wings prospect vs. Wings prospect in the BIG TEN ice hockey championship at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night (8 PM on the Big Ten Network).
And Larkin's Wolverines will face Ben Marshall and the University of Minnesota. Marshall registered an assist as Minnesota defeated Ohio State 3-0 on the strength of a 39-save effort from goaltender Adam Wilcox. Whichever team wins the game will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Hockey tournament, but it's pretty safe to assume that both teams will get nods.
In regular season action, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins played in a Wings-like "squeaker" of a game, but they came out on top, defeating the Milwaukee Admirals 3-1. The Griffins' website posited a recap...
The most popular theme leading up to the Red Wings' [x-x loss/win against/over] the Tampa Bay Lightning among Wings fans reflected Tampa's 6-of-7 record against Detroit of late and 2 wins by a combined 9-4 goals-for record: Wings fans were expecting a 3rd straight loss, and they were expecting an ugly loss at that.
That theory wasn't out of line by any stretch of the imagination, and looking at the Wings' March record as a whole, Fox Sports Florida apparently agreed:
They weren't wrong. Detroit managed to rally from a 1-0 deficit to take a hard fought 1-1 tie into the 3rd period, but Detroit laid another 3rd-period egg and-a-half, allowing Alex Killorn to score the gamer off a DREADFUL Gustav Nyquist turnover at the Bolts' line, and the fact that Stamkos' empty-netter came off a fantastic clearing attempt by Ben Bishop--on a night that Jimmy Howard played out-of-his-mind good to try to win the damn 2 points himself--made this one sting all the worse.
2-and-8 3-and-7, Detroit is no longer in the business of attempting to catch the Lightning for 2nd in the Atlantic. Now they've got to worry about the Bruins, who are 4 points behind Detroit for the 3rd and final spot in the Atlantic Division, and the Senators, who are 6 behind.
The Red Wings aren't practicing on Saturday, but MLive's Brendan Savage reports that a very important person will still be put through some medical paces at Joe Louis Arena:
From NBC Sports:
PROGRAMMING REMINDER – PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY CONTENDERS SHOWCASED IN NHL DOUBLEHEADER ON NBC AND NBCSN THIS SUNDAY
NHL Game of the Week – St. Louis Blues vs. Detroit Red Wings – Sunday at Noon ET on NBC
Anaheim Ducks vs. New York Rangers – Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Blackhawks-Rangers Wednesday Night Rivalry & Kings-Ducks Wednesday Nightcap Matchups Post Strong National & Local Ratings
STAMFORD, Conn. – March 20, 2015 – Presidents’ Trophy contenders will be showcased on NBC Sports Group’s NHL doubleheader this Sunday, beginning at Noon ET with the NHL Game of the Week on NBC, when T.J. Oshie and the St. Louis Blues visit Jimmy Howard and the Detroit Red Wings. Coverage shifts to NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, when Rick Nash and the New York Rangers host Ryan Getzlaf and the Western Conference-leading Anaheim Ducks.
All four teams are primed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in April, and the Blues, Ducks and Rangers are in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded annually to the team with the highest regular-season point total.
Red Wings-Lightning morning skate Tweets/articles: Palat returns for Bolts; Wings face uphill battle
Updated 9x @ 1:30 PM: The Red Wings don't face a must-win situation against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening (7:30 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/97.1 FM), but it's pretty damn close. With the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators 4 and 6 respective points behind Detroit, and Tampa Bay 6 points ahead of Detroit (Detroit has 2 games in hand on Tampa, but Tampa's 93 points include 43 wins to Detroit's 38 and 41 Regulation-or-Overtime Wins to Detroit's 35)...
The Wings rather desperately need to make hay over their last 13 games to plain old set up a 1st-round series with the Lightning; they absolutely must win tonight's game and the teams' in-Detroit matinee on March 28th to leapfrog the Lightning and earn a 2nd-in-the-Atlantic finish.
Sportsnet's Mike Johnston's calling tonight's Wings-Bolts tilt the "game to watch"...
from Brendan Savage of Mlive,
Tonight's game in Tampa got a little bit more important after the Detroit Red Wings squandered one of their games in hand on the team they're chasing in the Atlantic Division standings.
A 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday at BB&T Center left the Red Wings six points behind the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning and reduced their games in hand to two entering tonight's matchup at Amalie Arena.
So not only did they let one of their games in hand go to waste against a team not holding down a playoff spot, the Red Wings find themselves in a four-point game against the Lighting - win and they're four points behind with 12 games to play but lose and they're eight back of the Lightning.
Both of those scenarios, of course, assume tonight's game ends in regulation but you get the picture of how important the game is after the loss to Florida.
So do the Red Wings. Some of them, anyway.
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.
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.