The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings play a slightly early New Year's Eve-starting game against the Pittsburgh Penguins this evening (6 PM EST on FSD/Root/Sportsnet/97.1 FM) hoping to shake the post-Christmas malaise that is a 2-game winless streak, and that won't be nearly as easy as you'd think.
The Penguins dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, but Pittsburgh's won...well, actually, they've won 2 of their past 4, and are 2-1-and-1 of late, but that's way more competitive than the Penguis have been for the vast majority of the regular season.
Pittsburgh believes that it's coming around--with Kris Letang back in the lineup, Marc-Andre Fleury "close" to returning and Sidney Crosby finding the scoresheet again--and the Pens plan on spoiling Wings' New Year's Eve party.
On Wednesday, the Penguins fired 41 shots on Jonathan Bernier but were only able to score 2 goals en route to the aforementioned 3-2 shootout loss to Toronto, and depending on your point of view, the Penguins either earned some redemption, as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jonathan Bombulie suggested...
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. MLive's Ansar Khan examines the Wings' offensive struggles in the context of tomorrow's game against Pittsburgh (the Penguins play the Maple Leafs this evening):
The Red Wings (18-12-7) are getting ample shot opportunities (63 in the past two games combined) and power-play chances (1 for 8). They're not finishing.
They close out the calendar year Thursday against a team that has been struggling to score even more than they have and has been worse on the power play – the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's the Red Wings' traditional New Year's Eve game at Joe Louis Arena (6 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit).
The Red Wings, before Wednesday's games, ranked 20th in goals per game (2.51) and 21st in shots per game (28.8).
The Penguins (17-15-3), prior to their game Wednesday against Toronto, were 28th in both goals per game (2.23) and the power play (16.2 percent). That's surprising for a club with elite offensive talent like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.
Crosby is experiencing his worst season, with seven goals and 24 points in 34 games. He never averaged less than a point a game in his first 10 NHL seasons.
2. The Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness discussed Riley Sheahan's attempts to sort out the details of his game:
Wings at the WJC: Holmstrom/Ehn register assists in Sweden win; Saarijarvi has 3 assists for Finland
At the World Junior Championships in Helsinki, Finland:
Vili Saarijarvi had 3 assists (and 3 shots) in Finland's 8-3 win over Slovakia. The Finns' quarterfinal spot won't be determined until Thursday's games, including a Finland-Czech match-up, are played.
And with Switzerland in a must-win situation, the team turned to Joren Van Pottelberghe in the net against the Americans.
Regrettably, Van Pottelberghe was a man on an island, surrendering 5 goals to the U.S. onslaught in the first 16:50 of game time as Switzerland bowed out early, ultimately losing 10-1.
From the Red Wings:
At least Tomas Nosek's sticking around for now. The Griffins need Tangradi's scoring pop.
Update: The Grand Rapids Griffins' website's release quantifies Tangradi's AHL scoring prowess:
Signed to a one-year contract by Detroit in July, Tangradi leads Grand Rapids with 13 goals this season and is second in points (13-9—22). Tangradi has appeared in 24 games with the Griffins and his eight-game point streak from Nov. 27-Dec. 26 set a team best. He recorded his fourth career hat trick in a 4-1 victory over Lake Erie on Dec. 5.
Tangradi will be with the Griffins as they tangle with the Milwaukee Admirals tomorrow at Van Andel Arena. The Griffins' annual New Year's Eve game starts at 6 PM EST.
Update #2: Tangradi displayed a tremendous attitude:
Of Red Wings-related note this morning:
1. The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Wings coach Jeff Blashill prior to last night's game against Winnipeg, and Blashill discussed the methodology of his decision-making process for player personnel--in this case, just swapping out Luke Glendening and Joakim Andersson after suggesting that larger changes were on the way after the Wild game:
"My management style is I go to everybody and talk," Blashill said. "Anybody that's got a different perspective, I like to hear from. I do think it's real important that you don't make decisions out of frustration, and I was probably frustrated a little bit (Monday) night. We have got to make sure we make calculated, sound decisions, and that is what we have done.
"We have had a group that's overall been pretty good for us. I wasn't happy with the way we played, but I also want to evaluate and make sure that we are also not looking for any short-term success and hurt our long-term plan."
When this guy can't get run support from the troops...Your team might have some scoring issues.
On Tuesday evening, Henrik Zetterberg led the Wings with 5 shots, 8 attempts and a 4-and-1 faceoff record while playing with one damn eye open after Adam Lowry's high stick got Zetterberg on the first shift of the game, but the Red Wings still went 1-for-7 on the PP (only scoring in the 3rd period, on a Datsyuk-from-Zetterberg play) and lost 4-1 to the Winnipeg Jets.
The Red Wings flew home to Metro Detroit having dropped 2 of 3 games on their mini road trip, and the schedule gets no easier as the Wings host the Penguins on Thursday, and then head to Buffalo Saturday and New Jersey on Monday.
That's 6 games in 10 nights, and it looks like games 4, 5 and 6 of said stint--preceding a massive 4-game, 2-week West Coast swing (did I forget about that?)--will tell the early January tale as to where Detroit sits in the Atlantic Division standings.
Our friends in Winnipeg were positively plucky from the hop, literally and figuratively, as they told Global Winnipeg's Mitch Rosset:
In prospect news not involving the World Junior Championship's Tuesday action:
In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins lost their 2nd straight game after winning 15 in a row, dropping a 3-0 decision to Milwaukee despite a 22-of-24-save performance from Jared Coreau. Milwaukee and Grand Rapids will resume hostilities back in Grand Rapids at 6 PM EST on New Year's Eve.
The Griffins' website posted a recap of Tuesday's game:
Winnipeg is lovely in the winter if you're in love. Winnipeg is not so lovely in the winter if you're not caught there mid-swoon, however, and the Red Wings were in Friendly Manitoba on business, attempting to salvage a 3-game road trip on Tuesday evening.
Detroit didn't do it, and the Wings did a fine face plant in the snow on top of it, losing 4-1 to the Winnipeg Jets, with Jimmy Howard pulled after giving up 4 goals on 14 shots and Jeff Blashill having to go back to the Datsyuk-and-Zetterberg-plus-screen well to generate a single goal.
The Wings stunk on ice on Tuesday, plain and simple, and after 2 straight losses knocked Detroit from the top of the Atlantic to a wild card spot, coach Blashill and company will have to find some answers in a hurry as the Wings' 5-games-in-8-nights stretch continues on Thursday vs. Pittsburgh, and then on Saturday in Buffalo and Monday in New Jersey.
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
1. This one doesn't translate to "blog" very well: USA Today's Kevin Allen asked six hockey luminaries to "re-draft" the NHL as if the Original Six were the only teams in existence, and former Wings assistant GM Doug MacLean got to pick 2nd. He picked quite the team, though there are some familiar faces rounding out the roster;
2. MLive's Ansar Khan penned a notebook article about Riley Sheahan, and if Sheahan can get better terms of one of his skill sets, he might make himself invaluable:
Jeff Blashill tells the Detroit media in Winnipeg that Luke Glendening will take the pre-game skate and if he feels well enough (flu), he will replace Joakim Andersson.
No other changes expected except for Jimmy Howard starting.
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.