The Malik Report
The Red Wings' 4-game winning streak and 7-1-and-1 stretch pushed the Wings to the top of the Eastern Conference, but the Wings will return to practice today with 4 pre-Christmas home games in store--Tuesday against Columbus, Friday against the Islanders, Sunday the 21rd against Colorado and Tuesday the 23rd against Buffalo...
And thanks to the Wings' shootout and then regulation losses to Toronto, amongst an 0-1-and-2 stretch, the Leafs are now breathing down the Wings' necks. The Wings still sit tied for 1st in the Atlantic Division with a 17-7-and-7 record and 41 points in 31 games played, but they've got 16 regulation-or-OT wins to the Lightning's 18 (who the hell thought "ROWs" and shootout losses would already be faring into the standings equation?), Montreal has 40 points (and 15 ROWs) Toronto now sits at 39 points (with 16 ROWs, and a game in hand on the Wings) after defeating the Kings 4-3 in a shootout on Sunday, and the Wings' Friday loss to Florida helped the Panthers, who are now tied with Boston's 32 points, get up off the mat and back into the playoff mix, too.
The Red Wings' AHL and ECHL affiliates had pretty solid weekends, and things are going really well for one prospect: Martin Frk registered 2 goals on 3 shots (while Marek Tvrdon was held off the scoresheet) in the Toledo Walleye's 5-4 OT win over Fort Wayne on Sunday (Frk had a goal and an assist in Toledo's 5-2 win over Kalamzoo on Saturday) and Frk's up to 8 goals, 8 assists and 16 points in 10 games played with Toledo.
The organization's prospect with the highest level of self-criticism has found his stride in the ECHL after spending a good chunk of time as a healthy scratch with Grand Rapids, which is superb....and from a wider perspective, the fact that the Walleye have become a winning machine is very positive for both Toledo and the Wings' organizational family.
The Walleye's website posited a recap of Sunday's game...
I'm rather surprised at the lack of Wings-Leafs tailings, but after watching Saturday's game, maybe that's a good thing. The Toronto press at least moved on to Sunday's home game against Los Angeles, and the Wings' borrowed charter (hey, if you're superstitious, the Wings haven't won since Red Bird III headed to Ohio for maintenance) brought them back to Detroit to take a necessary day off and a two-day break prior to a set of four home games--Tuesday against Columbus, Friday against the Islanders, Sunday the 21st against the Avs and a final pre-Christmas home game against Buffalo on Tuesday the 23rd.
The Wings may or may not get one of their three players with shoulder (and as it turns out, head) injuries back by Tuesday, but MLive's Ansar Khan reported that Danny DeKesyer and Justin Abdelkader got a good skate in on Saturday...
The Grand Rapids Griffins tried to sweep their on-the-road-and-still-on-the-road series with the Oklahoma City Barons on Saturday night, building upon Friday's 5-2 win, and instead...
The good news is that Anthony Mantha registered a goal (his 4th in 14 games) and 6 of the Griffins' 27 shots. The bad news is that the Griffins dropped a 2-0 lead for the second night in a row, and this time, they surrendered the game-winner with only 2:19 left in the 3rd period, losing 3-2 to Oklahoma City.
The Red Wings flew back to Detroit with their tails tucked between their legs, having dropped a 4-1 decision to the Maple Leafs and dropping their winless streak to 3 (see also: the Wings' 2-1 shootout loss to Toronto on Wednesday and their 3-2 shootout loss to Florida on Friday), and the only theory I can present to you regarding the Wings' particularly poor play against the Maple Leafs of late is this:
The players must think that they have to resemble a dysfunctional, under-performing franchise whose players play an unstructured, sloppy, inefficient and generally sucky game so that Mike Babcock can come and fix them.
The latest week of Babcockian lust ended with this quip from the CBC's Don Cherry, as noted by the Toronto Sun's Keaton Robbins...
Ron [MacLean] asked the question on everyone’s mind these days and that was “is Babcock coming to Toronto next year?”
“No he’s not coming, he’s going to try and get as much money out of (Red Wings’ GM Ken) Holland as he can,” Cherry responded. “He’s not leaving there, he’s got a good thing going."
And a rhetorical question from the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch:
The Toronto Maple Leafs got the last laugh on the Detroit Red Wings, taking a shootout decision on Wednesday and a 4-1 win on Saturday, placing the Leafs on a strong trajectory.
They've won 4 straight and are now only 4 points behind the Wings, while Detroit is now 0-1-and-2 since their 4-game winning streak...But it's hard to suggest that the Leafs had much opposition not named Petr Mrazek, Xavier Ouellet or Darren Helm while winning the "season series" on what was an ugly, ugly, ugly night for an impotent Detroit team.
This is quite literally "yesterday's news," but Ron MacLean said something on The Fan 590 regarding one Mike Babcock that made me laugh out loud, and Sportsnet's Evan Pealsee happened to catch this Wings-Leafs home-and-home series' worth of Bob McCownItis:
Mike Babcock’s future remains a hot topic and Ron MacLean thinks the Red Wings head coach is keeping a close eye on a rival club.
“I think he’s probably watching Toronto as carefully as anything,” MacLean told Brady & Walker Friday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “Not his own team, but Toronto, to decide if he wants to come here.”
That's swell and all, but this?
Not only has the 51-year-old won a Stanley Cup, a pair of Olympic gold medals, an IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, and a World Junior Championship, but he’s missed the playoffs only once in his 11 seasons behind an NHL bench, with his Red Wings sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference so far this season.
“He’s been spoiled with Lidstrom, and Datsyuk, and Zetterberg. (But) I remember when they acquired Rafalski and he knew they’d win a cup.” MacLean said. “He really knows players.
“I think you could look at Babcock watching Kessel and Phaneuf, the two lynchpins of the Toronto team (to see if there’s something he can win with here).”
*snerk* Yeah, Kessel and Phaneuf, just like Datsyuk and Zetterberg...
Pealsee continues, and you can listen to the interview below plus Ken Kal's preview of the game is there too.
Red Wings-Maple Leafs game-day post: Bernier starts, Leafs dislike Wings, Weiss has ‘AC joint’ issue
Updated 6x at 2:27 PM: Both the Red Wings and Maple Leafs took part in "optional" morning skates ahead of tonight's game (7 PM EST on FSD/the NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice/GameCenter Live blackout/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).
The Wings hope to rebound from both Wendesday's shootout loss to Toronto and Friday's shootout loss to Florida, thus the optional skate for Detroit; the Maple Leafs host the Wings tonight and the Los Angeles Kings at 5 PM EST tomorrow, thus the optional skate for them.
The biggest news of the Leafs' skate involved the following from Sportsnet's Chris Johnston...
Jonathan Bernier looks to be the #leafs starter tonight vs. Detroit.
Randy Carlyle being his grumpy self, per the Toronto Sun's Ian Shantz...
Randy Carlyle feeling feisty this morning. Asked if he's looked at game tape, responds sarcastically, "nope, we do nothing."
Shortest Carlyle presser ever. Few questions greeted with few answers. Amen.
Just Wings' scratched and wounded on ice this morning. And Mike Babcock won't be available to respond to THAT question until 4:45 p.m.
HAHAHAH no he wont...
On the Wings' side of things, Jonas Gustavsson made an appearance alongside Petr Mrazek, Jimmy Howard, Danny DeKeyser, Brian Lashoff, Justin Abdelkader and Jakub Kindl...
Updated 4x at 12:03 PM: The Detroit Red Wings hope to rebound from a pair of shootout losses, including Friday's 3-2 loss to Florida, when they battle the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening (7 PM on FSD/the NHL Network U.S. with the usual Center Ice/GCL blackout/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).
The Wings of course dropped a 2-1 decision to Toronto on Wednesday, and whoever wins today's game will win the 5-game season series (yep, this is the last of the 5 regular season games between the team this season...regular season...)
As I wait for the Leafs to take the ice at the Air Canada Centre, I can at least tell you that Dan O'Rourke and Dean Morton will referee tonight's game, with Scott Driscoll and Mark Shewchyk working the lines;
as MLive's Michael Nizolek notes, Jimmy Howard won't start tonight's game (Petr Mrazek will start; Brian Lashoff replaces Jakub Kindl, and Daniel Cleary will sub for Stephen Weiss), but #35 will certainly be stewing in his own juices on the bench after dropping yet another shootout loss:
The Detroit Red Wings head into tonight's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 PM on FSD/CBC/the NHL Network U.S./TVA Sports/97.1 FM) having dropped slightly behind Toronto's 7-2-and-1 record over their past 10 games thanks to the Wings' pair of shootout losses yielding a 7-1-and-2 record.
The first loss came against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, with the Leafs winning 2-1, and as Toronto rested on Thursday and Friday, the Wings dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to Florida before hopping a charter flight to Hogtown.*
We already know that James Reimer will most likely start opposite Petr Mrazek; after Friday's game, Wings coach Mike Babcock stated that Brian Lashoff would replace Jakub Kindl and that Daniel Cleary would replace the slightly-injured Stephen Weiss for a Wings team that's already missing Danny DeKeyser and Justin Abdelkader due to shoulder injuries.
Ironically enough, Sportsnet posted the only clip I could find of Jonathan Huberdeau's hit on Weiss, which hurt Weiss' left shoulder:
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.