The Malik Report
Updated 15x at 3:54 PM: The Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning practiced at the Bolts' practice facility in Brandon, FL today due to The Who's concert at Amalie Arena, and the "stacked" nature of the Bolts' 11 AM and Wings' 11:30 AM practices, interspersed with a rare media availability for Steve Yzerman around 11:45, yielded...Let's say staccato coverage of the Wings' skate.
We know that Braydon Coburn will most likely return to Tampa Bay's defense, and that Justin Abdelkader's murky status (the Free Press's Helene St. James reported that Abdelkader wore a gray no-contact jersey in practice) will determine whether coach Babcock chooses to play the Eurotwins on the same line...
And we also received our first "Playoff Babs" presser, as noted by the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith and TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns:
While I waited for the beat writers to posit their daily articles, ESPN's Scott Burnside took a dig at the Wings while issuing "playoff power rankings"...
From the Red Wings...
RED WINGS OFFICIAL VIEWING PARTIES SET FOR ROAD PLAYOFF GAMES
... Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar to Host Game 1 on Thursday, Hockeytown Café for Game 2 on Saturday …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are proud to announce the continuation of the Red Wings Official Viewing Parties for the team’s first two games in Tampa Bay during the opening series of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Official Red Wings Viewing Parties give fans an opportunity to cheer on their team in an exciting environment with hundreds of their peers.
The fun gets underway on Thursday, April 16 at Ciccarelli’s Sports Bar in Shelby Township (46793 Hayes Rd.) as the Red Wings travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The party moves over to Hockeytown Café in Detroit (2301 Woodward Ave.) on Saturday, April 18 for Game 2 of the series. If necessary, the Viewing Party for Game 5 will be held at Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale (279 W. Nine Mile Rd.) and Hockeytown Café for Game 7.
Updated 6x at 1:02 PM: The Red Wings and Lightning officially began their playoff preparations for Thursday's series opener today in Tampa Bay, and the Lightning preceded the Wings onto the ice at the Bolts' practice facility in Brandon, Florida:
The Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith took note of the Lightning's personnel...
Coburn on ice for #tblightning practice. Team will know better after today if he'll return tomorrow. Killorn out here too.
Sustr also out here, hoping to return tomorrow. Garrison skated on his own before practice.
Garrison out here in regular jersey. Making progress it looks like.
As did TampaBayLightning.com's Bryan Burns...
This story from Yahoo Sports' Eric Adelson, telling the story of Henrik Zetterberg and a young cancer patient who's passed away, hits you in "the feels":
Before every home game, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg looks up during the warm-up skate to where she would sometimes sit. There isn’t much time to think about anything other than hockey in those moments leading up to the opening faceoff, but he makes sure he takes a moment. And somewhere in that moment within a moment, he thinks of her.
“It’s so hard to say how and why we connected,” Zetterberg said. “That’s how life is; you connect better with some people.”
From the very beginning, he connected with Mollie.
There really wasn’t any story behind that name. It just seemed to fit her. Mollie was a sunny name for a bright girl. She seemed to be smiling right out of the womb.
“I wanted a name that made her different,” said her mom, Colleen Moquin, “and she was different.”
The Red Wings would rather not address Mike Babcock's contract status, they insist that the goaltending situation may be a little jagged in terms of coach-vs-goalie communication but remains a supportive situation for a strong position (we'll find out more about that once the puck is dropped and games are played).
While Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave has suggested that the Wings' goaltending situation is reminiscent of a Glen Hanlon-Greg Stefan transition in the late 80's, I'm sure that the Wings would rather have Gave and the rest of us play up their "underdog" status, which is relatively accurate given that Sportsnet's Gord Stellick's the only "expert" of over 30 people that's picking the Wings to defeat the Bolts. The Wings addressed said situation while speaking with Gave...
"I've been hearing a lot today that we're the underdog," he said, "but I was hearing a lot at the beginning of the year that we weren't supposed to even make the playoff, so. . . I'm not worried about that."
Truth be told, Babcock knows how wrong those so-called experts in the media can be. Or rather, how bad his teams can make them look. In 2003, he was a young coach in the NHL with Anaheim when nobody -- but NOBODY -- gave his team a chance against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, who finished that season under first-year coach Dave Lewis with a 48-20-10-4 record and 110 points to lead the old Central Division of the Western Conference.
The result: The Mighty Ducks -- that's what they were called then -- swept the Wings right out of the playoffs, four games to none.
"I've been in a lot of these series, coached a lot of teams," Babcock said. "I like our team."
Prospect news: Holmstrom ties record; Bertuzzi bows out; Larkin to WC; Griffins prepare for playoffs
Tuesday was a busy day for several Red Wings prospects, and Tuesday night marked the end of one player's Major Junior career.
In playoff action, in the SHL, Axel Holmstrom registered an assist in 11:20 of ice time as Skelleftea AIK defeated the Vaxjo Lakers 3-0, tying the SHL final at 1 game apiece. Axel's assist was an important one, as noted by DRW Prospects on Twitter...
And WDIV's David Bartkowiak Jr.:
I despise the endless Babcock-to-team-x rumors, but I'm glad that, at least in a roundabout way, Mike Babcock addressed the chatter surrounding him on Tuesday, as noted by CBS Detroit's Ashley Dunkak:
“We’re playing Tampa,” Babcock said Tuesday after practice, referring to the team’s first-round series against the Lightning. “That’s what I’m dealing with 100 percent. Not spending any time thinking about that. [Red Wings general manager] Ken [Holland] and I can work all that stuff out later. I’m not concerned about that one bit.
“I like winning,” Babcock continued. “I really like winning. So we’re going to do everything we can to prepare and to focus on the task at hand. I like Tampa. It’s a nice place. The weather’s nice. Let’s go.”
As would be expected, whether Babcock will stay or go after the season has not been something players have considered much, either.
“To be honest, I haven’t thought about that at all,” forward Darren Helm said. “He’s probably saying the same thing. It’s about now, what we’re going to do with our team, with the opportunity we have right now. It is a good opportunity that we have. We’re a good team. We’ve just got to find a way to play it.
“Whatever happens with Mike Babcock next year will happen,” Helm added.
Hmmm, he likes winning...That doesn't sound like Toronto...Or Buffalo...Or Philly...
From the ECHL:
Toledo's Lalonde named ECHL Coach of the Year
The ECHL on Tuesday announced that Derek Lalonde of the Toledo Walleye is the 2014-15 recipient of the John Brophy Award as the league’s Coach of the Year.
The John Brophy Award is the trophy presented annually to the ECHL coach selected to have contributed the most to his team’s success as selected in a vote of league coaches. The trophy is named for John Brophy, who won a record three ECHL titles with Hampton Roads in 1991, 1992 and 1998, and was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame in 2009.
Updated 9x at 4:26 PM: The Red Wings engaged in a spirited practice on Tuesday, under a watchful eye, before flying to Tampa Bay...
And Jimmy Howard made some...interesting...comments after practice, as noted by the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
"It's his decision," Howard said of coach Mike Babcock after Tuesday's practice, as the Red Wings prepared to head to Tampa Bay. "He's the coach. He makes the decisions."
Babcock announced his goalie decision Monday. Howard was 23-13-11 with 2.44 goals-against average and .910 save percentage and two shutotuts this season. He was named to the All-Star team in early January, only to be injured later that evening, suffering a slight groin tear. Returning a month later, Howard was never able to recapture the form he had before, with a 2.99 GAA and .896 SVS over his final 21 games.
"I'm just going to continue to work and when my number is called upon, I have to respond for the guys," Howard said.
Kulfan also asked Howard if he'd spoken to coach Babcock about the decision, and Kulfan received a blunt response:
The Red Wings took to the ice at Joe Louis Arena quite late by Wings standards, at 12:15 PM, per the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa...
@DetroitRedWings on ice Joe Louis Arena, two days in advance of conference quarter-final versus Tampa.
All three goalies working with Bedard.
And Fox 2's Jennifer Hammond:
This note from the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness is good given that Darren Helm didn't practice yesterday:
Helm is on the ice, in Red.
There was some confusion as to Abdelkader's status, per MLive's Ansar Khan...
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.