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Mrazek Stars In Grand Rapids Griffins 2OT Win

ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia – The defending Calder Cup champions never played overtime during their 2013 playoff run, but they more than made up for it during Friday’s record-setting playoff opener in Abbotsford, as the Grand Rapids Griffins rode a historic 55-save performance by Petr Mrazek to a 2-1 double overtime win against the Heat.

Ryan Sproul ended the marathon at 19:26 of the fifth period when his long shot from the right boards deflected past Abbotsford netminder and fellow AHL All-Rookie Team member Joni Ortio, ending the third-longest game in franchise history and giving the Griffins the upper hand in their best-of-five conference quarterfinal series.

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The No-Talking Mule

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Babcock began his presser today by revealing that Jonas Gustavsson will start again in Game 5, because Jimmy Howard is weakened by the flu. After that, it was a Franzen fiesta. Babcock made a point of noting that Franzen is "a real good person, real good man and real good family man, tries to be a real good teammate."

Then came the good stuff.

"Sometimes he doesn't handle, probably, you people as well as he should to help himself — to me, if you just step right up and you just talk, it makes it easy. When you don't, things build, and I think that puts more pressure on yourself. I don't know why you'd do that, as a human being.

"It's no different than companies — you see this every day in business. You have a meeting, no one says anything. You walk out the door, you talk behind each other's back. If you just call each other out and have the hard meeting, then everyone would leave, and we'd get on with progress. Have the hard interview and get on with it. Make it easier on yourself. He's a man, he's got to deal with that himself."

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Wrapping Up The Wings’ Day

from Chuck Pleiness of Red Wings Front,

Wings coach Mike Babcock has pegged Jonas Gustavsson to start Game 5 in Boston, Saturday afternoon.

He expects Jimmy Howard, who didn’t practice, to be well enough to be the backup.

Henrik Zetterberg said he’ll play as well....

Daniel Alfredsson practiced and said he won’t know if he’ll play until after the pre-game skate in Boston, but he anticipate he’ll be ready.

Pavel Datsyuk was the only other regular that didn’t practice.

Besides picking Gustavsson to start, Babcock said he told the team he would post who’s playing in the locker room Saturday.

read on

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The Practicing Detroit Red Wings

Taken from the tweets of Ansar Khan...

Jimmy Howard not on the ice, Jake Patterson appears to be called-up and is the second goalie today.

Zetterberg and Datsyuk not at practice, Alfredsson is.

More as it comes in...

added 12:22pm, via Khan tweets,

Abdelkader skating on line with Bertuzzi and Andersson. My guess is Bertuzzi and Andersson are scratched, just holding places for 40 and 13.

Based on skate, looks like Jurco scratched again.

added 12:37pm, Beat writers report Alfredsson feels like he will play tomorrow and Gustavsson not sure if he is starting.

added 12:54pm, Zetterberg says he will play tomorrow...

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Bad ‘Timing’

from Justin Bourne of The Score,

I believe that teams have the most success when their best players are in their prime producing years, and in the case of true superstars (think Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews), that’s a lot younger than most people think. Incidentally, that’s why I say seasonist, not just ageist - true stars who've been in the league for four seasons at 22 are different from 24-year-old rookies.

All this brings me to the Detroit Red Wings. Watching them this post-season, I can’t help but feel like they have a terrific roster with messed up ages. If their young guys were older and their old guys younger, they might be Cup contenders. But as it goes in hockey, timing is everything, and this year it isn’t on their side....

I’m looking strictly at forwards because I believe scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in the playoffs when everyone doubles down on defensive responsibility, and it’s part of the reason the Red Wings won’t be able to upset Boston.

Here’s the Red Wings group:

Ages 24 & under - on the come-up

Five young players who’ve all seen consistent ice in the post-season. Not the youngest, but as inexperienced as you can get.

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Red Wings prospect Ryan Sproul relates the tale of his first NHL appearance

The Sault Star's Peter Ruicci penned a catching-up article profiling former Soo Greyhounds defenseman, Red Wings prospect and Grand Rapids Griffins blueliner Ryan Sproul, and instead of chopping it up, I'll suggest you take it from here:

Showing up at the arena two hours prior to the afternoon start, Sproul saw his name posted among those in the lineup. He was about to live the NHL experience.

“I was just trying to turn my nerves into energy,” recalled Sproul, who starred for the 2012-2013 Greyhounds, eventually being named the Canadian Hockey League's top defenceman.

With Danny DeKeyser and Niklas Kronwall held out in order to rest up for the playoffs, and with Jonathan Ericsson sidelined with an injured finger, Sproul played alongside Ouellet on the Wings third defensive pair. Wearing jersey No. 48, Sproul, an outstanding skater with a lethal shot, didn't look out of place during a game that was broadcast nationally in the United States on NBC.

“I was pretty much pinching myself,” admitted Sproul, a six-foot-four, 205-pounder, who played three seasons for the Hounds. “This is my dream. This is where I want to be.”

Ruicci continues...

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Red Wings-Bruins Game 4 wrap-up and overnight report: the next generation’s learning painful lessons

The Boston Bruins flew back to Massachusetts after their 3-2 OT win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 3, likely assuming--like their self-sanctimonious media corps, the rest of the hockey world, and, regrettably, Wings fans who fear that they've witnessed the last Fox Sports Detroit broadcast of the 2012-2013 season, the last home game at Joe Louis Arena in its next-to-last season and the last Wings game of the year--that the Bruins will have an easy time of mopping up the Wings in NBC's Saturday matinee before moving on to battle Montreal in the second round.

Do I agree with their assessment?

I'm not sure whether I do or whether I don't. I know that the Red Wings will practice at noon today at the Joe, that the team will fly to Boston after having said all the right things about rallying from a 3-games-to-1 deficit one shift at a time, and regardless of who starts in the net, I know that Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall will do the best to lead their team.

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Red Wings-Bruins Game 4 quick take: adrenaline takes you only so far

Henrik Zetterberg came back. Pavel Datsyuk worked his ass off. But the Detroit Red Wings blew a 2-0 lead to the Boston Bruins, were out-shot 12-3 in OT, and this happened:

Faceoff loss by Glendening, Bruins go D to D, Krejci to Hamilton, Hamilton shoots...And the puck goes off Glendening's stick near the blueline, Iginla tips the puck, and it goes off Danny DeKeyser's skate...And past Jonas Gustavsson at 13:32 of Ot.

TRIPLE DEFLECTION.

NO CHANCE FOR Gustavsson, who started in Jimmy Howard (flu's) stead.

3-2 Boston in OT, Bruins up 3-1, last game of the season very possibly on Saturday at 3 PM on NBC.

Discuss.

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Two Bruins witnessed Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg’s darkest injury hours

The game-day post is packed to the gills with news regarding Red Wings captain's Henrik Zetterberg's highly likely return to the Wings' lineup in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins this evening (again, 8 PM start, not 7:30, on FSD/NESN/NBCSN/TSN and 97.1 FM), and the post contains oodles of video and other place-setting storylines as well...

But you may recall hearing that Henrik Zetterberg returned to North America from the 2014 Olympics on the same NHL-chartered plane as the Slovak Olympic team, and that Zdeno Chara ended up carrying Zetterberg's suitcase.

The Canadian Press's Stephen Whyno spoke with Chara and Bruins forward/Team Sweden Loui Eriksson about Zetterberg's fateful exit and then departure from Sochi due to a back injury which required a "discectomy," 2 months' worth of recovery, and is now hopefully ending with something of a classic, "Sports team captain returns from major injury during playoffs, rallies team from deficit" storyline:

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Wallner: New and old faces will help the Grand Rapids Griffins defend their Calder Cup championship

The Grand Rapids Griffins spent yesterday traveling from GR to Abbotsford, BC as they'll begin their 5-game first-round playoff series against the Abbotsford Heat on Friday and Saturday. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner wrote a fantastic, comprehensive article (and this excerpt is just part of it) which sets up the series by asking both last year's Calder Cup Champs and this year's new faces how they plan on defending their title.

Wallner duly pointed out that several of the Griffins' biggest early-season contributors are in Detroit now, and he did note that Anthony Mantha may eventually join the cause if Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs continue to get ran over by the QMJHL's defending champion Halifax Mooseheads:

“I think you draw upon all of your experiences,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “One of those is the emotional roller coaster than we went through a year ago. I don’t know if that’s an advantage, because, no matter the experience or how you’ve been playing, it’s how you execute on Friday that matters the most.”

The most consistent – and regularly available – player has been Teemu Pulkkinen, who led the Griffins with 31 goals and 59 points during the regular season. A year ago, the right winger from Finland got into 14 playoff games before the arrival of the Detroit players put him on the bench.

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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.

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