The Malik Report
Since Bill already covered Gregg Krupa’s article insisting that the NHL is not attempting to squelch Red Wings fans’ octopus-throwing tradition, but is simply encouraging better timing and protecting both the players and integrity of the ice surface by imposing a $500 fine enforced via the Detroit Police Department…
I’ll say the following regarding the apologist, especially as the News cooked up a Flash game which insists that the youngsters who pick up octopi at Joe Louis Arena have a hard road to go in avoiding hockey players, fans throwing drinks and octopi—something’s definitely redolent here, and it’s not the smell of day-old octopus, nor the fact that the Superior Fish Company already tries to educate would-be octopus throwers in the etiquette of octopus-throwing.
Updated with comments from a few Wings players: As the sagas of the Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers, New York Islanders and other near-insolvent teams have perked up the Canadian media’s ears and inspired thousands of, “They’re going to be the new Winnipeg Jets and/or Quebec Nordiques” stories, it’s been hard for this old Jets fan to not get downright cynical regarding the fact that, since the Canadian dollar stabilized and American teams have found themselves in difficult situations ownership-wise, far too many radio hosts, television personalities and columnists from anywhere with a Sun or Star in its name or .ca suffix have happily jerked around the heartstrings and emotions of fans who were told some fifteen years ago what fans in Phoenix are being told now and what those Nordique fans who travel to Long Island, Miami, Atlanta etc. tell their fan bases—“Your team is in trouble, and you don’t support them well enough, so you don’t deserve a team.”
It’s gut-wrenching, so while I may be less than enthused with Ilya Bryzgalov’s suggestion that Winnipeg is nothing but a frozen wasteland dotted by one single, solitary edifice—a hockey rink—I won’t begrudge Phoenix fans’ their right to support a stand-alone entity with stable ownership seventeen years from now, either.
It would be hypocritical of me to suggest otherwise (and I have other stuff that I can be a hypocrite about instead). Just because a place that I love, have people who I consider to be family living in and nearly moved to to marry somebody is treated like it’s worse than hockey Siberia isn’t worth a knee-jerk reaction of the vulgar kind, especially given that my birth certificate says “Detroit, MI.”
But I’m happy to report that the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen, of all people, offered an assessment of the aftermath of the Phoenix Coyotes’ 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings that represents something we haven’t heard from any media outlet proffering the, “NHL back to Canadian City X or expanding to the Greater Toronto Area City Y” for the sake of stirring up emotion, debate, and advertising revenues.
Friesen feels sympathy for the team, players and fans who represent a city that once poached a Canadian team, and now knows exactly how Winnipeggers felt after a playoff game against the Red Wings in 1996:
Updated 2x at 10:45 PM: Amongst the “Wings return home” stuff, nothing necessarily stood out per se, but the Windsor Star’s Bob Duff delivers and off-day knockout by speaking to Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the team’s first-round performance and hopes going forward:
“We’re a veteran team,” Holland said. “We’ve been through the playoff battles and we know what it’s all about. You look at Game 1. We’re down 1-0 two minutes in, and then they get a five-on-three. I thought we did a great job of staying in the game and then turning the game in our favour in the second period. When you talk about the elements needed to win, patience is one of them, and I thought our team was patient in Game 1, and that was one of the reasons why we were able to win.”
With a few days to rest and relax before launching into second-round play, Holland is confident that his team will be ready to go when the call comes, indicating that both of Detroit’s injured forwards, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, will be game-ready by then. “Obviously, the guys have got to feel good about themselves,” he said. “We’ve played good hockey and we’ve gotten better and better as we’ve gone along, but I still think our team can play better. We’re going to get some important pieces back, and I think our confidence is really starting to build.”
Updated 5x at 10:46 PM: The Detroit Red Wings returned home from their first-round sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes, and, according to WXYZ’s Tom Leyden, they received very good news in that coach Mike Babcock will ask the team to practice on Friday morning, but will then give the team Easter weekend off as the team prepares to rest, recuperate and watch playoff hockey, hoping that every other series “goes long” and that it’s the Wings’ pro scouts who rack up air miles instead of the team.
From the tarmac, Leyden fired off the following Tweets:
As we wait for the Red Wings’ team plane to land at Metro Airport and the Red Wings to emerge from the plane and offer a few quips and quotes to the press—there’s no practice today as the Wings will have spent three-and-a-half hours and 1,700+ miles in the air—here are a few Red Wings-Coyotes tailings for your reading pleasure, anchored by an article from Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating.
Keating, writing from Red Bird II, says that the Wings fans who are already worried about the Wings having to shake off as much as a week’s worth of rust thanks to their sweep of the Coyotes need not to work themselves in a tizzy worrying about about Lady Byng Trophy finalist Nicklas Lidstrom and his supporting cast spending too many evenings watching hockey instead of playing it:
In case you missed this quip in the Wings-Coyotes recap or notebook, the Detroit Red Wings want you to know that tickets for the first three home games of the second round go on sale tomorrow at 12 PM EDT:
RED WINGS SECOND ROUND PLAYOFF TICKETS GO ON SALE TOMORROW AT 12:00 P.M. NOON
… Detroit Advances to Round Two of the Post-Season for the Fifth Straight Year …
Detroit, MI… The 11-time Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings became the first team to punch their ticket to the second round of the 2011 NHL playoffs last night, defeating the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 6-3 at Jobing.com Arena to complete a four-game sweep of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. This is the 14th time the Red Wings have advanced to the second round of the post-season since their current playoff-appearance streak began back in 1991.
The Detroit Red Wings advanced to the second round of the playoffs via a 6-3 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes which included two goals from Patrick Eaves, two assists from Valtteri Filppula, an assist from Jiri Hudler and yet another sterling performance from Darren Helm, but those four forwards are still technically “depth” players given that they’ve tended to rotate in and out of the Wings’ “top nine” depending on the team’s injury situation.
Wings coach Mike Babcock has begun to suggest that, at least in the cases of Helm and Eaves, the Red Wings can’t call the pair “fourth liners,” as he told the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
After the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Wednesday night, I took the high road in stating the obvious—that the Coyotes were a tenacious opponent, that I fully respect the organization’s right to exist and, quite frankly, that even this old Jets fan doesn’t believe that the Coyotes should be the team that relocates to Winnipeg, and, for that matter, the Yotes’ fans proved that they earned their right to use the Whiteout, and that I simply find the Canadian press’s corpse-picking mentality nothing less than distasteful…
Then I look at the box score, and realize how damn hard the Wings’ road was. Down 2-1 and 3-2, battling a team that hacked, whacked, cross-checked, picked pushed and shoved the Wings while continuing to target Nicklas Lidstrom and the Wings’ star players, I remember Jimmy Howard’s big saves, the absolutely vicious nature of what was the nastiest, hardest-fought four-game sweep I’ve witnessed in years…
And I look at the fact that Red Bird II’s scheduled to leave Metro Airport at 6 AM EDT to pick up the Wings to do nothing on Thursday but spend time with their families, and nothing on Friday but practice and watch fans pick up tickets for home games 1, 2 and 3 of Detroit’s second round series when they go on sale at 12 noon.
The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 on Wednesday night/Thursday morning (depending on the time zone you occupy), but the final score doesn’t tell the game’s story at all. The Wings had to overcome the kinds of bad bounces that the Coyotes endured over the first three games of the series, rallying from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits to tie the game, eventually go ahead and hang on against an out-and-out assault by an emotional and determined Coyotes team that may have given the Wings their toughest sweep over the course of their 20-year, 19-season playoff run.
The Red Wings were far from perfect in the first round, but as Scotty Bowman often said, the first round is the most dangerous round, and when you survive it while improving on a game-by-game basis, and then surviving the final game (especially without the services of both Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen)...
You’ve accomplished something important and something significant. You’ve taken the first step, and in the Wings’ case, you’ve taken the first step forward in what you hope will be the chance to earn a long playoff run in the shortest period of time possible so that you can rest, recuperate, heal bruises, as Jimmy Howard told John Keating, earn some rare family time at this time of year and hope that everyone else “goes long” and beats the snot out of each other.
For the Wings, a short series isn’t as much about age as it is about the players who were injured getting time to heal and the odometer on Red Bird II and the time changes the players have to endure being kept as low as possible early on. They might have to fear a little rust going forward, but it’s more than worth what the Wings will earn in the exchange in terms of time to recharge their physical and mental reserves.
According to the roster sheet for the Red Wings-Coyotes game, Mike Modano is in for the Wings and Johan Franzen (ankle, face) is out. He apparently couldn’t go in the warm-ups and the Wings chose not to test it out.
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.