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Red Wings-Penguins wrap-up: dammit!

The Red Wings find themselves in dangerous territory after their 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. With 7 games remaining, the Wings need rather desperately to earn 7-10 points to make the playoff cut--that's winning 4 or 5 games, minimum--and given the Wings' 6-2 loss to Tampa and now this embarassment, it's very difficult to imagine Detroit playing their games against Buffalo, Montreal, Minnesota, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and New York with consistency and poise.

Still, you either believe or you don't, and the Red Wings are going to play like they believe no matter what the outcome. That's their job. It's not necessarily our job to believe them, and I understand that many of you are furious with the Wings for having let us down...

I don't believe in telling you "how to fan" per se, but I most certainly will be cheering the Wings on until that final day against the Rangers, and regardless of what happens, I'm going to remain a proud Wings fan.

That being said, I am very angry and very upset and very sad this evening, and I feel all of those emotions about the team that I care for so very deeply. I believe that this Wings team can still pull off the highly improbable and make the playoffs, but I'm not sure that they believe right now.

CBS Sports' Adam Gretz summarized the biggest problem with the Wings' play over their past dozen or so games--defense:

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Coach Blashill weighs in on the Wings’ loss to Pittsburgh

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill took almost half an hour to meet with the media after today's Wings loss, and when he met with said media corps, he was terse but blunt:

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Datsyuk’s hit on Kunitz may garner a look-see from the NHL

I thought this hit was clean as both Chris Kunitz and Pavel Datsyuk were attempting to hit each other in the shoulder, but one never knows what the Department of Player Safety may think. Datsyuk got 2 minutes for "interference" on this play:

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Red Wings-Penguins quick take: embarrassing, again

The Red Wings really, really needed to win today's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, to both gain some ground on the Philadelphia Flyers (who play in Phoenix tonight) and to climb to within 1 point of the Penguins in the race for a Wild Card spot. With Sidney Crosby on fire and the Penguins having won 6 of their past 7 games, Detroit was in for a rough ride.

Detroit didn't know how rough the ride would be. The Red Wings lost 7-2, with terrible efforts from everybody on the ice, and the Penguins were all too happy to pour it on, adding insult to injury. Now the Wings have to regroup and absolutely, absolutely must win Monday's game vs. Buffalo and Tuesday's game vs. Montreal, and I don't know how they're gonna do it.

I can only hope, as a Wings fan, and maybe pray.

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Ken Holland discusses the playoff streak with Puck Daddy’s Cooper

From Puck Daddy's Josh Cooper, Red Wings GM Ken Holland weighed in on the Wings' tenuous grip on a playoff position:

“This group of players wants to make the playoffs, they want to make some playoff noise and have an opportunity to play in the playoffs,” Holland said. “I don’t think they want to make the playoffs (to make it) 25 years in a row (for the Red Wings). I think they want to make the playoffs because they want to play in the playoffs.”

Really scratching and clawing into the playoffs may be Detroit’s new normal as their once-dominant veterans age.

In 2012-13 the Red Wings used a four-game winning streak at the end of the regular season to squeeze into the playoffs by one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 2013-14 they finished the year three points ahead of the Washington Capitals for the last Wild Card spot. That team saw forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg hurt for much of the year.

“Certainly we’ve been in this position before,” Holland said. “Two of the last three years I would say.”

...

Holland said he wasn’t ready to discuss evaluations about the team – simply because the team’s season could be far from over. The Red Wings have been in the playoffs enough times that an entire course of a year can be changed with a deep run. 

“They want their chance to play somebody in the first-round of the playoffs and see if they can win the series and see how far they can go and how far they can go in the playoffs,” Holland said. “I don’t think we’re going to go down there with any rallying speeches. We’re going to play our way into the playoffs if we’re good enough. And if we’re not good enough we’re not going to play our way into the playoffs.”

Cooper continues...

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Afternoon news: Game-day previews, stats of note and ‘beware the Penguins’

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. Here's the Wings' Game-Day Preview video:

2. Of note from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...

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Focused

from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

Blashill is aware of his team's spot in the standings but it's not something he spends a lot of time worrying about.

"My main focus is on what we control," he said. "The No. 1 thing we have to do is win hockey games. If we don't win hockey games, we don't deserve to get in. That's No. 1. Would I like help in the standings? Yes. But those are things that are out of our control.

"I'm not going to lie and say I haven't peeked at the standings but our focus is on the one thing we can control and that's playing great hockey and winning hockey games."

Petr Mrazek will start in goal for the Red Wings (37-26-11) as they try to win the final meeting of the season with the Penguins, who won the first two games between the teams.

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who didn't practice Friday and has been sidelined with injuries to both knees this season, is expected to play, according to Blashill. But Blashill said the lineup won't be determined until after warmups.

more

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Mark Howe discusses the pro scouting business

Via RedWingsFeed, the Hockey Writers' Michael Pityk conducted an intriguing interview with Red Wings director of pro scouting Mark Howe, asking Howe about the ins and outs of the pro scouting business. Howe gives an expansive explanation of the job of a pro scout and his job as the director of pro scouting, and in my opinion, this is nothing less than fascinating reading:

Michael Pityk (MP): The first question I have for you is a lot of people don’t really know or understand how a hockey team works on the back end. Would you be able to describe you role as director of pro scouting and what some of your responsibilities might be?

Mark Howe (MH): Well a pro scout is by definition a scout that goes out and watches players that are professionals that a signed under professional contracts. Therefore they’d be playing in the National Hockey League, the East Coast Hockey League, the American Hockey League, basically anyone who is not playing amateur hockey. Although the pro scouts will at times go and watch some amateur players to give a little of their feedback on a team.

I know the way a lot of teams work, because between the NHL and the AHL there’s 60 teams, it’s awfully difficult to get a really good read on all the players if you’re trying to cover all of those teams every year. Normally, as in the case in Detroit, we have five pro scouts and every scout is assigned certain teams and you’re responsible for knowing the individual players on that team and their American league affiliates.

Pityk continues...

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The overnight report: Red WIngs-Penguins set-up, take 3: Wings need to snap winless streak vs. Pens

With talk of "magic numbers" in tow, the Red Wings will battle the Pittsburgh Penguins this afternoon (2 PM EDT on FSD/ROOT/Sportsnet/97.1 FM), and this is going to be a particularly difficult game for the Wings.

Coming off a helter-skelter 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, the Penguins are coming off a 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, but that game snapped a 6-game winning streak, and Sidney Crosby is on an scoring tear.

The Wings have also lost both meetings against the Penguins thus far, losing 4-2 at the Joe on New Year's Eve and dropping an ugly 5-2 decision in Pittsburgh on February 18th. Thus far, the Penguins have owned the Wings, and Detroit needs to reverse that trend in what is incredibly close to a must-win game for both teams.

The Red Wings sit just outside the final Wild Card spot with 85 points, and while Pittsburgh has a game in hand on the Wings, it only has 88 points, so its grip on the Metropolitian Division's final playoff spot is tenuous.

PittsburghPenguins.com's CJ Harvey's practice report serves as our introduction to the Penguins' situation (and, according to the Penguins, Sidney Crosby will play in his 700th game today):

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Prospect news: Hicketts’ playoffs open on high note; Walleye win North Division

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action, in the QMJHL, Evgeny Svechnikov had an assist, finished at +1, took 4 shots and won 13 of 26 faceoffs in the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles' 3-1 loss to the Chicoutimi Sangueneens. Cape Breton trails their first-round series 1-0;

Adam Marsh didn't play in the Saint John Sea Dogs' 4-1 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Saint John leads the first-round series 1-0;

In the WHL, Joe Hicketts had a goal and 2 assists, finishing at +3 in the Victoria Royals' 5-3 win over Spokane. Hicketts was named the game's first star, and the Royals lead the first-round series 1-0;

And Dominic Turgeon didn't register a point in the Portland Winterhawks' 3-0 loss to Everett. Everett leads the first-round series 1-0.

(If you're interested, Yahoo Sports' Scott Sepich broke down the WHL's Western Conference playoff match-ups)

In regular-season play, the Toledo Walleye's 6-3 win over the Fort Wayne Komets, back-stopped by Jake Paterson's 21 saves, allowed the Walleye to capture the North Division title:

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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.

 

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