The Malik Report
Updated 6x with tons of stuff at 8:47 PM, and Helene St. James says that Mike Commodore will play instead of Jakub Kindl tonight: The Detroit Red Wings are currently engaging in what is a very, very optional morning skate head of tonight’s match-up with the Calgary Flames (9:30 PM EST, FSD/TSN/WXYT), but the Wings have no option as to putting their controversial loss to the Canucks behind them. Let’s get to what substantive news exists as of this moment regarding today’s match-up, via Fox Sports Detroit’s John Keating…
Ty Conklin starts in goal for Wings in Calgary tonite. Flames without Alex Tanguay, whom Sutter just said has played best hockey last 4 gms.
Very limited morning skate for Wings in Calgary after tough loss in Van last nite. Det and Cal split first 2 mtgs, both at JLA. #RedWings
Jan Mursak pre- skate in Calgary, reports he’s feeling REALLY good now. Off to GR before back w/wings. http://t.co/mvUrhtDs
This is the extent of the morning skate for the Wings in Calgary. Commodore, injured guys and Conklin starting in goal. http://t.co/2Wvz1rXC
MLive’s Ansar Khan confirms...
You can say pretty much whatever you wish about the Red Wings’ controversial 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night (and I did), but the bottom line as it applies to tonight’s match-up with the Calgary Flames (9:30 PM, FSD/TSN/WXYT) is a relatively simple one: the Wings’ loss makes tonight’s game all but a must-win, and after taking an extremely late flight to Calgary, the Wings will have to battle both tired legs and a team that believes its playoff life depends on winning every game, starting with tonight’s tilt.
The Wings didn’t have to say much about facing the Flames—they didn’t have anything to say, given the events that transpired in Vancouver. The Wings have a nine point lead on the Flames in the Western Conference standings, but Calgary defeated Minnesota 2-1 on Tuesday, snapping a four-game losing streak, and the Flames did indeed sound like a team desperate to gain ground at the expense of their opponent while speaking with the Calgary Herald’s George Johnson:
Updated with a rather inflammatory comment by one Kevin Bieksa in the multimedia department at 5:36 AM: The Detroit Red Wings boarded a very late flight to Calgary where they’ll face a Flames team (9:30 PM EST, FSD/TSN/WXYT) which must have enjoyed watching the Wings expend an enormous amount of energy in pursuit of an unfavorable result. The Wings showed up late for and made too many mistakes during their 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, and along the way, a pair of Wings didn’t exactly enhance their reputations.
This is one of those recaps where I have to posit a disclaimer, in two parts: First and foremost, this game included the kinds of controversial plays which generate disagreement, not consensus, so don’t be surprised if we interpret them differently; and second, I’m a Wings fan, so if you’re from Vancouver, you may not like my interpretation of the game. If you wish to go on your merry way, that’s fine, and if you wish to comment, please direct your statements at me, not your fellow readers.
Updated w/ Kronwall’s hit and Kesler’s knee on Z: The Detroit Red Wings came late to the party and found themselves devoured by their own mistakes—and what only Larry Murphy could call a “good play” on a ridiculous insurance goal—playing far too indecisively for far too long against a Canucks team with which they spent the morning complimenting, dropping a 4-2 decision.
If this makes any sense, I wasn’t surprised that the Wings’ players basically stood around and watched the Canucks make decisive and determined plays as Detroit’s forwards and defensemen cheated toward offense in the first period very specifically because of the game-day love affair.
Updated 4x at 7:29 PM: As the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks prepare to face off tonight (10 PM EST, FSD/TSN/WXYT), the teams’ coaches traded compliments instead of barbs, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James:
“You always get really psyched up for these games,” [Canucks coach Alain] Vigneault said. “We always like the type of games that these are: fast-paced, lot of tempo, lot of skill on the ice. It makes for great hockey games for the players and for the fans.”
In discussing the Wings, Vigneault said: “They play to their strengths. Their strengths are speed, skill, great puck control. When it’s time to carry the puck in, they carry it in, when it’s time to chip it behind and go get it on the forecheck, that’s playing the right way. That’s what Detroit does well; they read the game real well, both offensively and defensively.”
The Detroit Red Wings face off against a Vancouver Canucks team (10 PM EST, FSD/TSN/WXYT) which is, in theory, anyway, a sort of “mirror image” of the team the Canucks trail by one point in the Western Conference standings. Both teams are on a roll—the Wings’ middling 3-2 win over Edmonton on Monday was their second straight, as was Vancouver’s 4-0 win over Minnesota—having won seven of their last ten game; both teams have won seven of their past ten games. Moreover, if you believe what you read, the teams preach the same kind of high-flying, up-tempo puck possession hockey that should make tonight’s game a match of near mirror-image skill versus skill, as the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap suggests...
Detroit has 21 wins, 43 points and 107 goals scored. Vancouver has 20 wins, 42 points and 110 goals scored. Both teams’ top offensive players are European. Both teams’ top offensive defencemen are Swedish. Since Nov. 19, the Red Wings are 12-3-0. Since Nov. 20, the Canucks are 11-2-1. So there isn’t much to choose between them, which makes Wednesday’s game a rather appealing one.
“You’ve got two teams that, in our mind, play the right way,” Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday. “Detroit plays a high-paced game and they like to play fast. There are a lot of components to our game that are probably similar to theirs.”
Updated 2x with some very late-breaking stuff at 10:13 PM: Very briefly, for the moment, anyway, the Red Wings plan on returning to their dominant ways against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James...
Wings just got done practicing here in Vancouver. No changes to lineup for tomorrow against Canucks. Wings say it’s good “measuring game”
Zetterberg on the Sedins: “They’ve been playing with each other for basically their whole lives, so they’ve got pretty good chemistry.”
And MLive’s Ansar Khan:
Update which supersedes all others for now: According to NHL.com’s Dave Lozo, Jimmy Howard leads All-Star write-in votes with approximately 144,000, but that still places him 5th among goaltenders. Nicklas Lidstrom has a better chance of leapfogging Kris Letang than Howard does of gaining any real ground in the ASG voting race.
Updated 3x at 1:17 PM: As we wait for some mid-afternoon (Eastern Time) updates from the Red Wings’ practice in Vancouver, the Edmonton Journal’s David Stapls gives us one more take on the Wings’ 3-2 win over Edmonton on Monday night via a rather elegant analysis of one of the Wings’ biggest systemic tweaks—-a layered screening of opposing teams’ goaltenders:
The Red Wings play a cagey game, with a masisve emphasis on making the most out of what the pro game will give you. It employs a screen-and-shoot attacking style, particularly a brilliant and highly-effective double-screen, the play that led to the winning goal against the Oilers.
What is the Detroit Double Screen? On [the Wings’ game-winner], the puck goes out to the point, most often to a d-man like Nicklas Lidstrom. Lidstrom waits or moves to find a shooting lane. At the same time, one Detroit forward, usually Tomas Holmstrom or Daniel Cleary, stakes out a position right in front of the opposition goalie.
A second forward, usually a smaller skill player, moves out to the high slot, positioning himself in between the shooter, Lidstrom, and the net. Lidstrom then fires, with either the high slot screen man or low slot screen man having a chance to deflect the puck on goal.
The Detroit Red Wings didn’t exactly play an elegant hockey game in defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Monday night, but the Wings managed to work just hard enough and play just well enough to bag two points before boarding a late evening flight to Vancouver, mostly because the Wings’ depth players delivered by doing the kinds of things that last year’s team didn’t when the team was less than in full flight—this year’s Wings continue to work the puck down low, find their way to the faceoff dots to take lateral or diagonal passes, tip pucks, and usually go to the net in numbers, providing both tips and screens which drive opposing teams’ defenses and goaltenders nuts.
So while the Wings weren’t necessarily happy with their up-and-down game, they earn bonus points because, to use a highly technical term, they frustrated the hell out of and plain old pissed off the Oilers, as noted by the Edmonton Sun’s Robert Tychkowski:
The Detroit Red Wings were neither perfect, nor did they deliver a particularly aesthetically pleasing game in their 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, but for a team with a (now) 8-and-8 road record, style points just don’t count right now.
While out-shooting the Oilers badly at times, the Wings dominated in terms of puck possession and in terms of time in the opposition’s zone, but they just didn’t play particularly dangerous hockey when compared to Edmonton’s ability to cause havoc, scrambling and panic in the Wings’ end. That resulted in an uncharacteristically squeaky goal by Ryan Jones early in the second, countering Danny Cleary’s first-period marker, and after the Wings went ahead on a slick Hudler tip, the air went out of the Wings’ balloon in a hurry as they gave up a game-tying goal with half a second left in the second period, thanks in no small part due to a missed offside call…
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.