The Malik Report
I had noticed that Nicklas Lidstrom was doing a couple of autograph sessions with Detroit City Sports, and I assumed that the late February dates coincided with Lidstrom's participation in the Stadium Series alumni game, but NHL.com's Janne Bengtsson reports that Lidstrom is coming to Metro Detroit on a business trip:
By the time the puck drops for the first game of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Team Sweden coach Rikard Grönborg will have his passport full of customs stamps from the United States and Canada.
Grönborg and his assistants, Peter Popovic and Johan Garpenlov, along with advisory board members Mats Sundin and Nicklas Lidstrom, will be well-traveled and well-equipped with knowledge about the players Sweden will face and the players that will represent Tre Kroner.
"We started out with a group of 40 players, and now we've trimmed it down to a group that'll form the backbone of the team," Grönborg said.
Grönborg, Garpenlov and Lidstrom will watch 19 NHL games in person during a two-week span in February, before naming the first 16 players to the Team Sweden roster.
The Swedish coaches and advisory board members, which also includes former Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson, has combined for 5,250 regular-season NHL games, and an additional 557 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This is also a good reminder of the fact that World Cup teams will be naming the bulk of their rosters in early March.
NHL.com's Patrick Williams engaged in an intriguing conversation with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson, discussing the team's tremendously streaky play over the course of the 2015-16 season, and Nelson was both blunt and insightful in discussing the process by which he and the Griffins' coaches gained traction with the team:
"I think what it really came down to was that we're a whole new coaching staff, and these [players] have been together for two or three years," Nelson said. "So it was almost like we were the stepdads coming in."
That transition proved difficult. The Griffins, a Calder Cup favorite before the season, lost eight of their first nine games. Opponents outscored them 28-11. It was not until mid-November that the Griffins began to show signs of life.
"I think it just got to a point where the guys accepted us," Nelson said. "We found common ground. I had to tweak a few things that I did, and they had to tweak a few things. Just like anything, you have to earn trust and respect for guys to buy in.
"They didn't know a lot about me, and I didn't know a lot about the players, so in order to push the right buttons, I have to get to know the players. You have to communicate well and build that player-coach relationship. I really firmly believe that is where [coaching] is going. It's based on relationships with players.
"Being a good communicator is key. I think the biggest thing is earning their trust and earning their respect, but it's a two-way street."
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. The Free Press's Jeff Seidel summarized the "State of the Wings" as they enter the stretch drive with what's now a 2-and-0 record on their 5-game home stand:
This is a critical time of the season for the Wings and, over the last few games, the Wings have built some momentum. They have scored eight goals in their last two games, giving up only one.
“It’s not enough,” Datsyuk said. “We need more scoring.”
And some more wins at home.
2. MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Jeff Blashill's take on the Eurotwins reunion...
For Red Wings fans, Pavel Datsyuk's 2-goal performance, Henrik Zetterberg's pair of assists, Tomas Tatar's tip-in and Petr Mrazek's shutout--for his 20th win--are what were wonderful about the game, with Justin Abdelkader's fight with Derek MacKenzie serving as something of an afterthought.
For the Florida Panthers, Abdelkader's hit on Aleksander Barkov was the game's story in its entirety:
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov offers the Panthers' take on the hit--big time, suggesting that Abdelkader leaped at Barkov:
This week, the team of 16- and 17-year-olds play for the United States in a five-nation tournament against the best players their age from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden.
They start against Russia at 7 tonight in the former Compuware Arena, which the USA Hockey Foundation purchased two years ago and is renovating and expanding.
It is the first international tournament in the new home of the NTDP.
“These tournaments are great developmental tools,” said coach Don Granato, brother of Red Wings assistant Tony Granato and U.S. Olympian Cammi Granato, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. “And really that’s what this whole program is about: Developing the kids beyond here, and developing them in the hopes of winning a U-18 World Championship, which is what our older team is going for in April.
“It’s going to be experience gained for our players. Having to perform against Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland — in this case, in our own building — it’s thrusting those expectations and that pressure on the team. It’s very important.”
Justin Abdelkader hit Aleksandr Barkov pretty heavily during the Red Wings' 3-0 victory over Florida on Monday, and Barkov left the game with an "upper-body injury," never to return. Abdelkader told the press after the game that he didn't attempt to hit Barkov in the head, that he kept his feet down and tried to finish through the body, but something tells me that Gerard Gallant and the Panthers will be lobbying the Department of Player Safety for a review:
Derek MacKenzie fought Abdelkader at the end of the game in retaliation, but Abdelkader won the fight.
The Detroit Red Wings faced long odds in defeating a Florida Panthers team that had won 5 straight against the Wings and 5 of 6 in Detroit, but the Wings had to defeat the Panthers to not fall further out of the Atlantic Division's playoff race.
The Wings played exactly the kind of game you'd hope, especially from a team shorthanded on the blueline: Detroit scored 3 3rd-period goals, including a power play marker, en route to a 3-0 shutout win over the Panthers, out-working and out-grinding the Atlantic Division leaders while reducing the points deficit between the teams to 6.
Just as importantly, Pavel Datsyuk scored two big goals on 7 shots, Henrik Zetterberg had 2 big assists, Jakub Kindl fared in the scoring on Tomas Tatar's game-winner and Danny DeKeyser played 25:32 as the Wings killed 5 Florida power plays and scored a power play marker.
The only question will be whether Justin Abdelkader's hit on Aleksander Barkov will be reviewed by the Department of Player Safety (see below for video of the hit); otherwise, the Wings left no doubt that they can out-grind and out-skill a tough opponent, with Mrazek pitching a 23-save shutout as the cherry on top.
This story is very hard to translate into "hockey," but the Associated Press reports that the Paul Reddam-owned colt "Nyquist" is the odds-on favorite to win the Kentucky Derby as of February:
Winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Nyquist is gearing up for his 3-year-old debut in the seven-furlong San Vicente at Santa Anita on Saturday. On Sunday, he worked five furlongs in 59.38 seconds.
"He's got so much class, so much raw ability," Nyquist's trainer, Doug O'Neill, said after the colt's workout. "It's hard to believe that he's any more mature than last year, but he's doing everything right and thriving on training; he's doing super."
Named for Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, the colt is owned, trained and ridden by the same team that campaigned 2012 Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another. J. Paul Reddam is the owner; Mario Gutierrez is the jockey.
Nyquist's odds? 9-1:
1. Nyquist (Doug O'Neill, trainer; Mario Gutierrez, jockey): Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old won all five races in '15. ... Trainer, rider and owner (J. Paul Reddam) won 2012 Derby and Preakness with I'll Have Another. ... Sired by Uncle Mo ... Next start: San Vicente, Santa Anita, Saturday. ... Derby future odds: 9-1.
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. Here's the Red Wings' Game-Day Preview video...
2. Here's the Panthers' version:
Red Wings GM Ken Holland and Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill spoke with the Canadian Press's Jonas Siegel regarding the outlook ahead of the trade deadline, and both GM's feel that the parity in the NHL = far fewer "sellers" than ever before:
"That's going to be the unknown," said Nill, whose Dallas squad sits comfortably in a playoff spot at the moment with 71 points. "There's probably 3-5 teams that are saying 'Hey we're probably out of it', but I think everybody else is saying 'You know what, we're in it.'"
Injuries and losing streaks in the ensuing weeks could quickly alter such conversations, he added. Detroit GM Ken Holland has never been a seller at the deadline. His Red Wings have made the playoffs in 24 consecutive seasons.
What he's hearing currently from rival general managers is "wait and see."
"They're saying 'I want to see what happens in the next month,'" said Holland. "If you're two points out of a playoff spot on the trade deadline it's hard to pull the plug and start letting players go."
Holland said the standings give general managers of a good idea of what they're going to try to do leading up to the deadline. But with more teams conceivably in the playoff race, it's harder to make definitive plans until days before the cutoff. It was at about this point last year — a few weeks before the deadline — that Holland dialled up then-New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello inquiring about the availability of Marek Zidlicky, a right-shot defender on an expiring contract that the Red Wings coveted.
"Lou told me 'Ken, I want to see where my team goes,'" Holland recalled.
Siegel continues, and if you recall, Holland told the Wings' media corps that he's not going to be in the player rental market this year.
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.