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Prospect news: Sambrook’s Otters take 2-0 lead over Saarijarvi’s Steelheads in OHL final

Of prospect-related note:

In the Ontario Hockey League championship, Jordan Sambrook finished at -1 but his Erie Otters took a 3-2 decision from the Mississauga Steelheads, taking a 2-games-to-none lead in the best-of-7 championship series. Vili Saarijarvi finished at -2 with 2 shots for Mississauga, and you can watch highlights of the game here.

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Red Wings at the Worlds: Larkin registers 2 assists in win over Denmark

At the World Championship in Cologne, Germany:

Team USA defeated Denmark 7-2. Jimmy Howard took a seat to watch Connor Hellebuyck stop 21 of 23 shots in goal; Danny DeKeyser played 20:34, and Dylan Larkin had 2 assists and 2 shots, finishing at +1 in 18:33 of ice time.

The IIHF's website posted a recap, as did USA Hockey's website, and the IIHF posted a highlight clip:

The Red Wings' World Championship representatives will be back in action tomorrow: Team USA plays Sweden at 2:15 PM EDT, (on the NHL Network and streaming at NBCSports.com), and in Paris, Petr Mrazek's Czechs play Finland at 2:15 EDT.

Quick update: the Free Press's Helene St. James, MLive's Ansar Khan and the Red Wings took note of Team USA's peformance.

Update #2: Blashill spoke with USA Today's Kevin Allen after the game:

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On Tomas Nosek’s likely graduation

As I've watched the Grand Rapids Griffins after the Wings' first playoff-less spring in 25 years, I've gleaned a measure of hope for the Red Wings of tomorrow.

If you were to ask me which skater will have the biggest impact upon the team next season, I wouldn't talk about Martin Frk's booming shot, however, nor would I discuss Tyler Bertuzzi's crash-and-bang style of play, the long-suffering Mitch Callahan's trustworthiness or Joe Hicketts' unbridled enthusiasm. I'd talk about Tomas Nosek, because the Griffins use him everywhere--as their first-line center, on the power play, on the penalty-kill, four-on-four, and the 6'3," 210-pound Czech wins faceoffs, he wins battles for the puck, and he's moves the puck up ice with authority.

Nosek posted 41 points in 51 regular-season games for the Griffins this year, he's averaging a point-a-game over the course of 6 playoff games (he had 2 assists on Saturday), and when the big man skates the puck from below the goal line to the and up the ice on the inside route, skating up his team's own slot instead of rimming the puck around the boards or passing the puck to a teammate--under pressure from a forechecker--the fan's pulse doesn't quicken in fear of a turnover or a "forced" error.

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Duff speaks with Danny DeKeyser from the Worlds

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Danny DeKeyser from the World Championship in Cologne, Germany, where Team USA will battle Denmark on Sunday morning (10:15 AM on the NHL Network/NBCSports.com): DeKeyser told Duff that he's looking for something to build upon:

“It would be nice to have a little something positive come out the season,” DeKeyser said. “There wasn’t a whole lot this year. In this tournament, it would be nice to make some good plays, win some games and to have a chance to win a gold medal, that would be great. Just a positive outcome would be great to finish this year off.”

It certainly was a devastating year for the Wings, who missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 season, and for DeKeyser, 27. The 6-3, 191-pound defenseman endured by far his worst season in the NHL, producing dismal 4-8-12 numbers in 82 games, as well as an appalling minus-22 rating. It was the first time in his career that DeKeyser had ever finished as a minus player. He’d been a combined plus-27 as an NHLer entering the 2016-17 campaign.

Fresh off the ink drying on a new, six-year, $30-million pact with the Wings, the downturn in DeKeyser’s game was even more eye-opening.

“I thought I got better toward the second half of the year,” DeKeyser said. “I can’t really put my finger on why I had the struggles I had. Sometimes as a player you go through . . . you have slumps in your game, or you go through lulls where you’re not playing your best and you know that you can play better. For me, it just started to pick up toward the end of the season. But like I said, I don’t know why.”

DeKeyser continues, telling Duff that the team, its players and the organization are determined to do better going forward.

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Prospect news: Griffins bounce back with win over Wolves; Walleye advance to Conference Final

Updated 3x at 2:01 PM: Of prospect-related note, with recaps and videos to come:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins gave the Chicago Wolves a helluva response to a 7-3 thrashing on Friday, scoring 3 first-period goals en route to a 4-2 victory over the Wolves on Saturday evening. Matt Ford, Ben Street and Tyler Bertuzzi scored in the 1st, Joe Hicketts scored a huge bump-up shift goal after the Wolves made things interesting in the 3rd period, and Jared Coreau was superb in the net, stopping 27 shots.

Grand Rapids now leads their 2nd-round series 2 games to 1, and Game 4 will take place on Monday at Van Andel Arena.

In the ECHL, it's on to the Conference Final for the Toledo Walleye. Toledo wrapped up its second-round series against the Fort Wayne Komets with a 5-0 rout over Fort Wayne. Toledo advances to the ECHL Conference Final in 5 games.

Simon Denis scored 2 goals, Tyson and Tylor Spink each scored for the Walleye, A.J. Jenks added a goal and Jeff Lerg pitched a 24-save shutout for Toledo, which awaits the winner of the Allen Americans-Colorado Eagles series.

Here's the Walleye's website's recap:

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Ken Holland speaks at Cleary University’s commencement

From the Free Press's Helene St. James:

[Red Wings GM Ken] Holland spoke Saturday at Cleary University, opening his commencement speech with a comment that drew laugher from the audience.

“Before I begin, we missed the playoffs,” Holland said. “We’ve got some work to do here with the Red Wings.”

In other remarks (courtesy of video provided by Cleary University), Holland told the Class of 2017 stories of how he, at 29 years old and with his career as a minor-league goaltender over, was at a crossroads. He and his wife had three young children at the time. Should he go to university and get a degree? His mom suggested he become an Electrolux vacuum cleaner salesperson. Then Jimmy Devellano, then general manager of the Wings, rang and offered Holland a job scouting western Canada.

Holland said he made the decision to “pursue my passion. That is one of my messages to you today – find your passion. Pursue your passion. Sometimes it doesn't come along when you are at this stage in your life, but keep remembering what your passion is. I chose to accept the job as a western scout of the Detroit Red Wings, and here I am today.”


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Red Wings at the Worlds: Mrazek takes a seat

The Czechs defeated Belarus 6-1 at the World Championship today, but as the Czechs were playing their second game in 2 nights, Petr Mrazek sat out the game and watched Pavel Francouz stop 11 shots.

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Prospect news: Griffins lose in Chicago; Walleye drop tilt in Fort Wayne

Updated 2x at 1:24 AM: Of prospect-related note, with team recaps to come:

In the AHL playoffs, the Grand Rapids Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena for Games 3 and 4 against the Chicago Wolves tomorrow and Monday night, and they'll do so having split their series-opening pair of games in Chicago.

Grand Rapids stumbled against the Chicago Wolves tonight, losing 7-3, despite rallying from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to close the game to single-goal affairs. The Griffins got goals from Criscuolo, Svechnikov and Lorito, and a pair of assists from Eric Tangradi, but neither the Griffins' defense nor Jared Coreau were up to par as the Wolves had their way with Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids also played without Colin Campbell, and lost Brian Lashoff's services, and they're going to need to steady themselves as the second-round series shifts to Grand Rapids. Hopefully the Griffins can "flush" Friday's game; they'll need to as they play back-to-backs and their 3rd game in 4 nights on Saturday evening.

In the ECHL playoffs, the Toledo Walleye also return home for Saturday's Game 5 having let the Fort Wayne Komets off the mat. The Walleye lost 4-1 to Fort Wayne, which trails the teams' second-round series 3 games to 1. Evan Rankin scored the Walleye's only goal and Jeff Lerg stopped 28 shots.

The Walleye can still advance to the Conference Final with a win on Saturday night, and the Walleye have been stellar at home.

Update: Here's the Walleye's website's recap:

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Kulfan profiles Tyler Bertuzzi

The Grand Rapids Griffins are having a rough night in Chicago presently, but Tyler Bertuzzi's registered an assist in the game, and the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan penned a profile of the Griffins' pesky playoff scorer:

Beginning his third playoff spring with the American League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, Bertuzzi has a team-leading [seven] points (two goals, [five] assists) in the season’s opening [five] playoff games including two assists in Wednesday’s Game 1 4-1 victory over Chicago.

“It’s a simple game in the playoffs, this time of year,” said Bertuzzi, a 2013 2nd-round draft pick. “A lot of it is going to the corners, around the net, not the real pretty goals. I like to play that type of way, playing that kind of hockey.”

Bertuzzi, 22, displayed some of that aggressiveness and ability to play a gritty style in a brief, seven-game stint with the Red Wings earlier this season (no points in seven games).

Bertuzzi, though, suffered a high ankle sprain when he was hit by Montreal’s Alexei Emelin in late November which cost him a month of the season.

In 48 games with the Griffins, Bertuzzi had 12 goals and 25 assists (37 points) with a plus-15 rating. Getting that taste of the NHL gave Bertuzzi motivation.

“You have to play hard and you have to earn everything that you get,” Bertuzzi said. “It makes you work harder to get back up there. The injury was frustrating but they happen, and you have to fight through it.”

Kulfan continues, noting that Bertuzzi works out with Glendening, Sheahan and Larkin in the summer surprise

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Red Wings at the Worlds: Mrazek’s Czechs lose to Canada; U.S. upset by Germany

Updated 4x at 10:50 PM: At the World Championship:

In Paris, Petr Mrazek stopped 24 of 27 shots as the Czech Republic lost 4-1 to Canada;

And in Cologne, Dylan Larkin had an assist, Danny DeKeyser took a penalty that led to the Germans' game-winning goal and Jimmy Howard was simply out-goaltended by a heroic Thomas Greiss as Germany won 2-1. Howard stopped 25 shots for the Americans, whose youthful roster was just...jittery.

Larkin played center and looked like less of an out-of-control whirling dervish as the game progressed; DeKeyser, save his penalty, was competent, and Howard was actually very good, but Greiss stopped 42 of 43 shots.

More stats to come shortly; highlights a little later.

Update: Stats from USA-Germany:

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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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