The Malik Report
The Red Wings haven't won consecutive games in over a month, and that trend continued into the post-season as Detroit dropped an ugly 5-1 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, forcing Petr Mrazek out of the net thanks to an enormous amount of stand-and-stare defense...
And Detroit looked for more like the tentative, jittery and fragile team that nearly lost its playoff spot based upon a March slide than it did the Wings team that managed to get its shit together and restore some faith in the Winged Wheel just prior to the start of the playoffs.
With both teams taking Sunday off, the Wings will rest on Sunday and then hope to start putting their playoff game together, because Thursday's rope-a-dope win and Saturday's stinker of a loss do not great confidence in the Wings' playoff chances make.
That being said, there's at least hope that the Wings aired out all their demons at the same time, and instead of "burning the tape," the Wings' lapses against the Lightning's offensive dynamo, their sputtery neutral zone play and their perimeter offense all serve fine illustrative examples as to how this team wants not to play come Tuesday in Detroit (where Petr Mrazek will start and Justin Abdelkader will play).
You know the deal going into this one: the Red Wings promised to avoid the shelling they received in Game 1 while attacking the Lightning and driving possession and control; the Bolts promised tob be even harder on Mrazek while...driving possession and control of the puck and securing better first and second chances, with screening Mrazek a priority. The winner of this game might very well control the series.
Regrettably, the Red Wings' better skating and offensive attack in Game 2 were mirrored by absoultely dreadful defense and horrific attention to detail, and as the Wings' power play struggles continued, there was no way for the Wings--who continued to funnel pucks to the point instead of toward the net--to attempt to equalize the game againast a Ben Bishop that faced single, un-screened, un-pursued shots all game long.
Detroit "got skated," they got outworked, they didn't play good defense and they seemed to get intimidated by the Bolts' "bitingly" physical game, and as a result, Detroit lost 5-1, looking dreadful en route to a hideous loss--but a loss that the WIngs can learn from if they're willing to SKATE instead of stand and stare, and a loss that the Wings can learn from if they're willing to OUT-WORK, OUT-HUSTLE and OUT-DETAIL-WORK the Bolts.
From the Free Press's Helene St. James:
Speaking today at Amalie Arena as he prepared to guide his Detroit Red Wings in Game 2 of the first-round series against Tampa Bay (3:30 p.m., NBC-TV), [Red Wings coach] Babcock maintained that the playoffs -- and his family -- are his focus.
"I'm coaching the Red Wings," he said. "Pumped to do it. My manager is fantastic. Got a great relationship. When the season ends, I've got a daughter going University of Portland on the 12th of June and I've got a son going to Boston on July 10th. Those things are my focus. Everything else will get looked after when it gets looked after."
Babcock, who turns 52 on April 29, is in the last year of a contract. He has spent the past 10 seasons coaching the Wings. He has succeeded in a wildly successful coaching trajectory that's seen him establish himself as synonymous with winning. Now he stands to become the highest paid coach in the NHL. Currently that's Chicago's Joel Quenneville, at $2.75 million annually. Wings general manager Ken Holland has offered $3.25 million annually, but Babcock is eyeing $5 million annually. Neither he nor Holland have talked about negotiations since the season began.
"We're going to do our best to play as long as we possibly can, and then Ken and I will meet," Babcock said. "I don't spend much time thinking about it. I'm flattered I've got a great family, my wife loves me, and they like me enough to keep me here. The rest of this doesn't matter."
St. James continues, and she posted a video of Babcock's comments:
Mike Babcock told the media today there will be no changes to the lineup for today's game.
Here is Ken Kal's preview of the game...
The Detroit Red Wings battle the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon (3 PM EDT on NBC or NBCSN, depending on where you live/CBC/RDS/97.1 FM) hoping to earn firm control of a series that it leads 1-0, and while you may or may not believe that "a weak goal" by Ben Bishop was the only margin between success and defeat for the Red Wings in Game 1, Friday's practice proved that the Lightning felt that they could play far, far better than they did on Thursday...and the Red Wings felt the same way.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper seemed to suggest that the Lightning put up a stinker, as the Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan noted...
Prospect news: Kadeikin’s SKA nears Gargarin title; Turgeon advances, Hicketts out; Griffins hit 100
Three Red Wings prospects took part in playoff hockey on Friday, and one of them is likely headed to Grand Rapids due to the result of the game he participated in:
In the KHL, Alexander Kadeikin remains sidelined, but his team's a game removed from a Gargarin Cup championship. SKA St. Petersburg defeated the Ak Bars Kazan 3-2, and SKA is now up 3-1 on the Ak Bars in the Gargarin Cup Final.
Back over on this side of the Atlantic, in the WHL, Dominic Turgeon didn't register a point, but his Portland Winterhawks defeated the Everett Silvertips 2-1 in OT, and Portland leads their second-round series 3 games to 1;
You're going to have to take this for what it's worth, U.S. resident Wings fans:
NBC has promised that those of you who do not get the Red Wings-Tampa Bay Lightning game at 3 PM EDT (NBC/NBCSN/CBC/RDS/97.1 FM) on your NBC affiliate (the Wild and Blues are playing at the same time) will receive the non-NBC game on your NBCSN station.
As you and I know from the long and proud history of NBC broadcasting Wings games in the playoffs, however, going back to the Kentucky Derby days (when some affiliates broadcast Wings playoff games and others did not), this coverage is usually not seamless, and we'll have to hope that by 2015--even with the NBC Live Extra feature probably enabled for most viewers whose cable companies paid in--the peacock network gets it right.
from Chris Boyle of Sportsnet,
Playoff hockey always breeds unlikely heroes. Many of these heroes are little known goaltenders who rise from obscurity to lead their teams on unexpected playoff runs.
Last night Petr Mrazek raised his hand and pushed Andrew Hammond aside as this seasons top candidate.
One week ago Jimmy Howard gift wrapped a victory for the Montreal Canadiens and assured the Red Wings of a first-round meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Mike Babcock didn’t offer his vote of confidence and it opened the door for the little known Mrazek to run with the playoff starters job.
I looked at this last year in regards to coaching decisions and how sometimes it is easier to go with the unknown because of the chance of greatness then to roll with what you already know is mediocre. Jimmy Howard hasn’t really proven himself to be among the elite of the league, so Babcock’s decision is totally defensible.
Defensible turned to apparent genius on Thursday. Mrazek seemingly stole a Game 1 win vs the Lightning. But did he really?
from Bill Roose of DetroitRedWings.com,
Luke Glendening has all the necessary attributes that any NHL coach could ever want in a fourth-line grinding center.
He’s tenacious, abrasive, and finds way to get under the skin of most everyone he plays against. All of those traits were front and center in Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opener of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.
“The more guys like that you can have on your team the better chance you have to have success,” said coach Babcock, following the Wings’ Friday afternoon practice at the Ice Sports Forum in suburban Tampa.
While Glendening’s shorthanded, spin-o-rama goal stood as the Game 1 winner – earning accolades on ESPN as SportsCenter’s top play from Thursday – it was his relentless defense, particularly on the penalty kill that led to his goal that helped the Wings steal a win.
Glendening admitted Friday that the move he made on Lightning center Valtteri Filppula wasn’t anything fancy. “I was just out of gas actually so I didn’t have enough speed to get to the net so figured if I turned back, I might have a chance.”
continued plus more Detroit topics...
Updated 18x at 4:12 PM: The Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning got off a bit of a late start in terms of practicing after Thursday's 3-2 Wings win, and given that there will be no morning skate ahead of tomorrow's 3 PM-starting Game 2, the Wings and Bolts need to get their work in today in terms of making pre-Game-2 adjustments.
The Wings actually preceded the Lightning onto the ice in Brandon, FL, per ESPN's Joe McDonald...
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