Red Wings-Stars series set-up: Limited information makes getting a ‘read’ on either team proves difficult

The Detroit Red Wings will face the Dallas Stars in Dallas for the next two games (Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 PM EST, on Fox Sports Detroit and 97.1 the Ticket). As the Red Wings attempt to rally from 2 straight losses, an absence of secondary scoring and a string of COVID-related absences (see: Filip Zadina, Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne, Jon Merrill and Sam Gagner)…

Trying to sort out the Stars is difficult for a simple reason: three weeks into the 2020-2021 season, Dallas has only played twice due to COVID issues of their own. Dallas won 7-0 against the Nashville Predators last Friday, and they won 3-2 over Nashville on Sunday.

Despite missing captain Jamie Benn due to a leg injury and Blake Comeau to COVID protocols, Dallas’ strong start yielded “Second Star” status for Joe Pavelski, who’s posted 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points over the course of the Stars’ first two games.

Dallas didn’t practice on Monday, so there’s no update on Benn’s status, no update regarding their COVID issues or the lack thereof.

As you may know by now, the Red Wings’ media corps isn’t traveling with the team, either, so we got a pair of Zoom calls with Anthony Mantha and Jeff Blashill today, and a single Tweet showing Troy Stecher picking out a stick from the Wings’ stick rack during practice today.

Long story long, it takes some digging to turn up context for Tuesday’s game. Let’s start with the Stars’ injury situation, per DallasStars.com’s Mike Heika

Continue reading Red Wings-Stars series set-up: Limited information makes getting a ‘read’ on either team proves difficult

Blashill on ‘big man syndrome’

Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha spoke with the media today regarding his issues in terms of goal-scoring and overall play. Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News already filed a notebook article regarding the big man, and MLive’s Ansar Khan noted that Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill has a theory about Mantha’s skating:

“I thought Anthony a year ago started the year really skating and when he skates and he stops he’s a great player,” Blashill said. “When he skates, he closes ground on people, he forechecks well, he tracks well. All those things create situations where he has the puck a lot. And when he has the puck a lot, he’s an excellent player. He’s 6-foot-5, he can move well, he’s got good hands, he can pass, he can shoot.

“He was able to play a long time and have great success without having to move a lot. He could basically stand still and dominate the Quebec Major Junior League. Over a period of years, he’s worked hard to break those habits and replace them with new ones.

“He’s really big, so when he’s not skating, he’s an easy target, but I think he cares a bunch, he wants to be great, and I know he wants to win, and he wants to play better than this. I believe he will play better than this starting tomorrow night.”

Continued;

Update: Here’s more from Blashill on the Wings’ lack of secondary scoring, namely from Anthony Mantha and Vladislav Namestnikov, via the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

Continue reading Blashill on ‘big man syndrome’

Kulfan’s notebook: Anthony Mantha discusses his struggles

Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha spoke with the media for eight minutes today, and he told the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan that, of the Wings’ six games, he’s only played in one “good” game. Here’s more from Kulfan and Mantha regarding the big forward’s struggles:

“We’re not going to hide from it, [Sunday] wasn’t a good game,” said Mantha, who felt many different emotions while sitting and watching. “A little bit of everything. Obviously, I could sit back and be disappointed in myself, but today is a new day and I have to get better on the ice and tomorrow is a new game. I’ll make everything possible in my power not to be sat again this year or in the future. I just have to get my game going and do what I do best.”

Mantha has one goal and two assists through six games, with a minus-5 plus-minus rating. The offense hasn’t been there, the impact on games has been limited, and the consistent hard, forceful skating has been largely missing.

“I wish I had the answer,” Mantha said. “I watched clips the last couple of days and I had a meeting with Blash (coach Jeff Blashill). It’s just a matter of getting my feet moving and being intense in battles and everything will line up from there.”

Mantha met with Blashill before Monday’s practice in Dallas.

“He wants to see the Anthony that was playing last year at the start of the season and I want to see that guy come back ASAP,” Mantha said. “It was just to be a little more physical, stopping on pucks and winning those one-on-one battles, and like we said, skating during the game.”

Continued; here’s the video:

Videos: Anthony Mantha and Jeff Blashill’s Monday media availabilities

Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha and coach Jeff Blashill were made available to the media on Monday afternoon, ahead of the Red Wings’ set of games against the Dallas Stars:

FYI:

Press release: Griffins selling fan cutouts for $50, to help benefit Griffins’ Youth Foundation

FYI from the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins fans might not be able to attend games in person when the home portion of the team’s 2020-21 American Hockey League schedule begins on Feb. 20, but that doesn’t mean they can’t show their faces at Van Andel Arena.

Fans are invited to join our “poster children” – Griffins greats Jeff “Faux-ggan” and Martin “Fake,” along with Terri “DeBoard” and Bill “Stiffen” from WOOD TV8, “Pic” LaFave from WZZM 13, and Deanna “False-one” from Fox 17 – and purchase their cardboard cutout today, securing a spot in Van Andel Arena’s seats when the puck drops next month.

Fans can purchase cutouts of themselves or their pets, perhaps wearing Griffins or Red Wings attire, for $50 each, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Griffins Youth Foundation. These cutouts will make frequent appearances during Griffins AHLTV home game broadcasts, as well as on the team’s social media channels. Throughout the season, cutout buyers will receive links to video clips and photos of fan cutout sections. After the season, fans can pick up their cutout from Van Andel Arena for free or choose to have it shipped to them for $25.

Orders will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans will not have the option to select their own seats. To purchase a cutout, go to griffinshockey.com/fancutouts.

Fans are encouraged to watch Griffins games via a subscription to AHLTV ($34.99 for all 30 games), tune in on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM, and follow the team’s social media channels. Important information for Griffins season ticket members is available at griffinshockey.com.

Roughly Translated: Meet Moritz Seider’s defensive partner with Rogle, one Eric Gelinas

The hardest part of being sidelined is not being able to engage in the day-to-day following of the Red Wings’ prospects, and, on Saturday, defenseman Moritz Seider’s partner, Rogle BK defenseman Eric Gelinas, spoke with Hockeysverige.se’s Uffe Bodin about being a “big brother” to the 19-year-old Seider.

What follows is roughly translated from Swedish:

“I try to be like a big brother to him”

There is a difference of ten years between them, but Eric Gelinas and Moritz Seider have still found each other both on and off the ice. It helps that Eric Gelinas is having hte best season of his professional career–and that he dares to dream of the NHL again.

Kodie (Curran) showed that you can get the chance even though you are a little older,” says the Rogle defenseman to Hockeysverige.se.

Continue reading Roughly Translated: Meet Moritz Seider’s defensive partner with Rogle, one Eric Gelinas

ESPN’s Kaplan speaks with Dylan Larkin

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan filed a notebook article this morning which focuses on the flailing Red Wings and captain Dylan Larkin:

Dylan Larkin has a hard time sugar-coating it — last season sucked for him and the Detroit Red Wings.

It’s tough to finish with a minus-122 goal differential and 23 fewer points than any other team. Larkin called it “embarrassing” to be on the first Red Wings team to finish dead last in the standings in 34 years.

“As much as your support system — your parents, agent, friends, people you turn to for advice — tell you that it’s going to make you stronger, it’s going to turn quick,” Larkin says. “When you’re in the moment of losing every night, and nobody is doing well personally, you feel like it’s never going to end, and there’s no way out of it.”

Larkin kept faith that his GM, Steve Yzerman, had a plan. The offseason was brutally long, thanks to Detroit being one of seven teams not invited to the summer’s return-to-play tournament. In August, Larkin said a handful of players returned to Detroit for optional practices, and by September, there were even more. Then came free agency in October, and Yzerman signed five veteran players — goalie Thomas Greiss, forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Bobby Ryan, defensemen Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher — then traded for longtime New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.

Larkin was on a text chain with his two linemates, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi. “It was just like, another great player, another great player,” Larkin says. “And then Ty texted: Are the Red Wings a wagon now?”

Continued; the Wings are obviously not a tremendous team yet, but it’s important to remember that they’re supposed to be held to a higher standard than last year’s team despite a shitty record right now. Here’s hoping that our and their expectations for a better year hold true…

Press release: Chris Chelios signs deal with BetMGM

I thought this press release was interesting as former Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios is getting into the sports betting business, and it means that Chelios will be promoting a Detroit betting partner on 97.1 the Ticket:

JERSEY CITY, N.J., Jan. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — BetMGM, the market-leading sports betting and online gaming platform, announced today the signing of Hockey Hall of Fame member and three-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Chelios to a multi-year deal as a celebrity brand ambassador. BetMGM will partner with the Detroit Red Wings legend on fan engagements, marketing campaigns and public appearances, among other interactive and promotional opportunities.

“BetMGM is at the forefront of an exciting time for the sports betting industry,” said Chelios. “I’m proud to be associated with the BetMGM brand and the long-standing commitment to Michigan through MGM Grand Detroit.”

Chelios enjoyed a 26-season career in the National Hockey League, having played with the Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and Atlanta Thrashers. BetMGM is an Official Partner of the Detroit Red Wings, with whom Chelios won two Stanley Cup titles. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.

Continue reading Press release: Chris Chelios signs deal with BetMGM

Bultman wonders whether the Red Wings are stuck on a different kind of ‘repeat’

The Athletic’s Max Bultman wonders aloud whether the the Red Wings can get some production from Anthony Mantha, make their netminders’ jobs easier, generate secondary scoring with so much of their secondary scorers out with COVID protocols, and, well…He wonders whether the Red Wings, heading into a pair of games against the Stanley Cup Finalist Dallas Stars, can somehow stop their distressing skid:

The most ambiguous of the bunch here, but perhaps the most important. That’s why Larkin mentioned it early in his news conference Sunday.

The Red Wings are going to have more games like Sunday this season, try as they might to avoid them. That’s just reality for a team with as little margin for error as they have.

But what made the first week of the season significant for the Red Wings was the way they fought back from losses to salvage a pair of series splits. That gave some reason to believe they might not find themselves in so many long losing streaks this season, even if the .500 clip they opened at was not likely to hold up in the long term.

Sunday, though, they went backward from Friday’s loss.

Continued

Belated: Grand Rapids Griffins release 2020-2021 schedule

A little belated, from the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GRIFFINS RELEASE 2020-21 SCHEDULE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday announced their schedule for the 2020-21 American Hockey League season. It will mark the franchise’s 25th campaign overall, 20th as members of the AHL and 19th as the primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.

Under third-year head coach Ben Simon, the Griffins will begin their 30-game schedule on the road on Friday, Feb. 5 against the Chicago Wolves at 8 p.m. EST, kicking off a four-game road stretch that is the Griffins’ second-longest ever to start a season (five straight in 2009-10).

The Griffins will make their home debut on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. when the Cleveland Monsters visit Van Andel Arena for Opening Night presented by Huntington Bank, ending a 346-day home-game drought that dates to their victory over the Iowa Wild on March 11, 2020.

The 14-week slate will conclude with another trip to West Michigan by the Monsters on Saturday, May 15, the latest date ever for a Griffins regular season game. Grand Rapids is scheduled to play nine of its final 12 contests at Van Andel Arena, comprising the most friendly season-ending schedule by far in franchise history. Never before have the Griffins played more than six of their final dozen games at Van Andel Arena.

Grand Rapids’ schedule will be comprised exclusively of Central Division rivals, with 10 games against Chicago, eight versus both Cleveland and the Rockford IceHogs, and four against the Iowa Wild. Cleveland has returned to the Central Division and Western Conference after a two-year stint in the Eastern Conference’s North Division.

The Griffins’ five games in the Windy City this season will be played at the Wolves’ practice facility, the Triphahn Center in Hoffman Estates, as Chicago has temporarily relocated from its longtime den at Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

Click here for the 2020-21 Griffins schedule and breakdown.

The Griffins will commence their training camp on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Van Andel Arena.

While the Griffins remain hopeful for the potential to host fans at Van Andel Arena at some point, it is anticipated that the season will begin without fans in attendance. Fans are encouraged to watch the games via a subscription to AHLTV ($34.99 for all 30 Griffins games), tune in on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM, and follow the team’s social media channels. Important information for Griffins season ticket members is available at griffinshockey.com