Three Things: A Wings-Blue Jackets set-up; on poke-and-hope hockey and Tomas Tatar’s first game against the Wings

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

  1.’s Brian Hedger penned a fine Wings-Blue Jackets set-up ahead of tonight’s game between the teams (7:00 PM EST on FSD Plus/FS Ohio/Sportsnet/TVA Sports/97.1 FM):

Their 5-4 overtime victory Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche, a come-from-behind win, moved Columbus to 75 points and within one point of the New Jersey Devils (76 points) for the first wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets, who hold the East’s second wild-card spot, are also within four points of the Philadelphia Flyers (79 points) for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

“We’ve got to stop looking at who’s behind us and start looking at who’s in front of us, trying to catch them,” said defenseman Zach Werenski, who had a goal and assists against Colorado. “We’re playing some good hockey right now and we’re not that far off the teams in front of us, so hopefully we can catch one.”

It will help if the offense keeps scoring the way it has the past three games.

The Blue Jackets have scored four-or-more goals in each one, which is the first time all season they’ve scored that many in three consecutive games. After struggling to score goals most of the season, Columbus is starting to find the back of the net more at a great time of the year.

There are only 14 games left on the Jackets’ regular-season schedule and only four of their remaining opponents are currently holding playoff spots. The Devils, meanwhile, play 10 of their final 14 games against teams in playoff position and the Flyers play seven in their final 14 games.

The next two games for Columbus are against teams that aren’t even close to playoff contention, beginning with the Detroit Red Wings on Friday to conclude the Jackets’ 16th of 17 back-to-backs this season.

Hedger continues at considerable length;

2. On the less-than-cheery side of the news, CBS Detroit’s Will Burtchfield took note of Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg and coach Jeff Blashill’s comments regarding the mistakes made by their young players over the course of last night’s 4-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights:

For Red Wings fans clamoring for the team to incorporate more young players, Thursday was evidence of the perils of that approach.

“This is the reality of the growth of a hockey team. This is the pain that you endure at times when you’re asking some young guys to take over. This is the reality of it,” Blashill said. “I don’t think it’s a lesson that gets learned quickly either, especially when it maybe doesn’t come natural.

“If I remember right, when Zetterbreg and Datsyuk came into the league, they had both played a good amount of hockey before they came in. They were older than what some of our guys are, for one, and they went to a team that was great. This is a different animal for these young guys, so will there have to be patience? 100 percent.

“Do I have patience? Yes. That doesn’t mean I ever lower the standard, so that means it’s a constant learning process, that means we have to work through frustration as a coach, and you have to keep understanding that our job as coaches is to show this team and individual players, especially young players, what it takes to be great on a daily basis.”

3. MLive’s Ansar Khan posted an article in a similar vein

As the Detroit Red Wings continue their bumpy transition from one era to the next, Henrik Zetterberg doesn’t like some of what he is seeing from some of the younger players.

They’re not consistently committed to defense, and as a result they’re losing too many puck battles. They’re cheating for offense and it’s costing the team.

This was apparent to Zetterberg in Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights at Little Caesars Arena.

“There is too much poke and hope (by) a lot of players,” Zetterberg said. “If you want to be a solid, good player in this league, if you want to win something, you have to learn to play the right way. Poke and hope might get you 25-30 goals, but you’ll never win anything.”

“You have to play defense first. If you do that, we have guys in here who have enough skill to create chances. You can’t force and gamble all the time. It’s not often you get chances when you cheat. Sometimes you will get rewarded, but not in the long run.”

How long does it take young players to learn that patience?

“Some longer than others,” Zetterberg said.

4. And we return to CBS Detroit’s Will Burtchfield for “24 hours in the shoes of Tomas Tatar“:

Afterward, Tatar said he was glad to get his first game against his former team out of the way.

“For sure. These kind of games are exciting, but also a little stressful. Like, how is it going to feel? Guys battled hard out there. It was a good game, but they missed goals and we scored them, so good for us,” he said.

He’s singing a new tune these days, having gone from a team that struggles to score to one that can’t seem to stop. It has to be refreshing, even for a player who rarely needs a lift. Suddenly, Tatar has so much in front of him, with the playoffs drawing near and his team holding down the top seed in the West.

He declined to look ahead on Thursday, dutifully pointing out the Knights still have work to do in the regular season. It was a businesslike remark from a player who approached an emotional game in a businesslike manner. No, there wasn’t much chirping, Tatar said. No, he never called for a pass from one of his old friends.

It was just 60 minutes of sound hockey and another win for the Golden Knights.

“Honestly, it was so fast we didn’t really have a chance to chirp each other out there. Obviously you can see a lot of smiles, it was a fun game. I will probably remember it for a long time, but like I said, I have to move on and focus on this team,” said Tatar.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

2 thoughts on “Three Things: A Wings-Blue Jackets set-up; on poke-and-hope hockey and Tomas Tatar’s first game against the Wings”

  1. This is as low as the team and the organization have sunk since the seventies. I’ll be watching to see how ownership handles this situation in the next several months. For me that will be much more intriguing than the play of the team on the ice right now. Many major questions need to be addressed, like the GM situation, coaching, who handles the draft, who they draft, free agents and the future direction of the organization. This is a critical time for this team as they will be laying the foundation for years to come. They are at the crossroads, to say the least.

  2. I am not excusing the young guys but the hypocritical comments coming out of Blashill, and now Z, is totally unwarranted and creating a rift within this team.
    The old guard get away with murder while the young guys are thrown under the bus in a very public way. This is a locker room issue and needs to stay there.
    To me, Z is not acting in the best interests of the team by saying these things publicly. There was a ton of valid criticism but to single out the young guys to the media only further adds to the divide in this locker room.
    The country club atmosphere has taken over and young guys are recipients of a painful initiation, led by a clueless coach.

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