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Blashill will build-on-the-fly at the Worlds

Jeff Blashill has 12 days to ensure that Team USA wins the majority of its 7 round robin games at the World Championship so that they advance to the quarterfinals, and Blashill tells the Free Press's Helene St. James that he's embracing the challenge of team-building on the fly:

“The challenge is to get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible,” Blashill said. “You want to try to develop chemistry before the first game, and then build from there. You want to be good at core values, which is controlling the neutral zone on both sides of the puck, you want to attack with speed and support so you don’t stall on offense. And vice versa, you want to limit their speed in getting out of their zone. And then special teams are always crucial.”

Blashill’s assistant coaches as he makes his debut behind the bench at the World Championship are Jack Capuano, Rand Pecknold and Seth Appert.

“This is going to be a great learning experience,” Blashill said. “It’s an opportunity to learn both from the assistants, but also from a group of players I know but have never had the opportunity to coach before. I'm really looking forward to it.”

St. James continues...

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Mrazek’s Czech World Championship mask revealed

Petr Mrazek will serve as one of the Czechs' go-to goalies at the World Championship--the Czechs open the Worlds against Canada tomorrow at 2:15 PM EDT--and David Gunnarsson revealed Mrazek's mask on Instagram yesterday:

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Prospect news: Griffins open series against Chicago with win; Walleye take 3-0 lead over Fort Wayne

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL playoffs, the Grand Rapids Griffins received a goal and an assist from Martin Frk in his return from injury, a goal from Tomas Nosek, an empty-netter from Ben Street and a 27-save performance from Jared Coreau en route to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Wolves in Game 1 of the teams' second-round series.

The Griffins' website filed a recap...

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Catch-up Wings and Griffins articles: On Machovsky, Nightingale, the Griffins and Walleye

Of Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins-related note over the last 48 hours:

1. The Red Wings signed Matej Machovsky out of the Czech Extraliga. As of last summer's development camp, Machovsky was interested in a second go-round in North America, but he was committed to HC Plzen for the 2016-17 season, and now it appears that Machovsky will work with Jake Paterson in Grand Rapids or Toledo, depending on what happens with Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek.

2. The Wings also rounded out their coaching staff, hiring Adam Nightingale as an assistant coach and video coordinator. Nightingale succeeds Dave Noel-Bernier in the video coordinator's role, and he's going to be working with Jeff Blashill at the World Championship.

3. Team USA took part in its only exhibition game prior to the World Championship, and they won 5-2 over Italy, with Dylan Larkin scoring 2 goals and Jimmy Howard splitting the game with Connor Hellebuyck.

4. The Grand Rapids Griffins signed a blast from the past prior to the start of their second-round series against the Chicago Wolves (game 1 is taking place right now), looking toward next year by signing Corey Elkins. Elkins took part in Wings development camps in the late 00's, but he latched on with the Los Angeles Kings, and he's bounced around the international circuit.

5. The aforementioned Griffins are playing against the Chicago Wolves presently, having opened their second-round series in Chicago this evening, and the Toledo Walleye are battling the Fort Wayne Komets in Game 3 of their second-round series.

Of Red Wings note on a source-by-source basis:

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Adam Nightingale Hired By The Detroit Red Wings As Asst. Coach/Video

DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings executive vice president and general manager Ken Holland announced today that the team has hired Adam Nightingale as assistant coach/video.

Nightingale, 37, spent the 2016-17 season as video coach for the Buffalo Sabres and is currently serving as video coordinator on Jeff Blashill’s staff for Team USA at the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Germany and France. Prior to his time with the Sabres, Nightingale served as head coach of the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s bantam team for two seasons (2014-16), winning a national championship in 2016, in addition to working as video coordinator for the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal. Prior to his time at Shattuck St. Mary’s, Nightingale spent four seasons (2010-14) as director of hockey operations and video coordinator for the Michigan State Spartans.

The Cheboygan, Mich., native split his collegiate career between Lake Superior State University (2000-02) and Michigan State University (2003-05), compiling 37 points (18-19-37) and 160 penalty minutes in 118 games and serving as an alternate captain for the Spartans as a junior and senior. Nightingale also played professionally, recording 27 points (10-17-27) and 171 penalty minutes over four ECHL seasons with the Gwinnett Gladiators, Greenville Grrrowl and Charlotte Checkers between 2004-08.

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Grand Rapids Griffins Sign Corey Elkins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins have signed center Corey Elkins to a one-year contract for the 2017-18 season. 

Elkins, 32, tallied 23 points (4-19—23) and 55 penalty minutes in 41 games for HIFK Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League this season before contributing seven points (2-5—7) in 14 postseason contests. Elkins appeared in a total of 223 regular season games for Helsinki from 2012-17 and logged 129 points (42-87—129). He added 24 points (12-12—24) in 43 playoff games.

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Detroit Signs Goaltender Matej Machovsky

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today agreed to terms with free agent goaltender Matej Machovsky on a one-year contract beginning in 2017-18.

Machovsky, who participated in the Red Wings’ development camp in July 2016, has spent the past four seasons playing in the Czech Republic’s top professional league for HC Plzen. In 178 appearances since 2013-14, he has compiled a 94-84-0 record with a 2.23 goals-against average, a 0.923 save percentage and 14 shutouts. The 6-foot-2, 187-lb., netminder led the Czech Extraliga in save percentage (0.936) as a first-year pro in 2013-14 alongside a career-best 1.67 goals-against average and six shutouts. In 2015-16, he posted a personal-best 26 wins and ranked eighth among goalies who played in 25-or-more games with a 2.43 goals-against average, while finishing third with a 0.920 save percentage. Machovsky’s club reached the semifinals in the Czech Extraliga playoffs, where he led the league with a 0.932 save percentage. He also represented the Czech Republic at the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Russia but did not see game action. This season, Machovsky owned a 21-25-0 record and improved on his goals-against average (2.25) and save percentage (0.925), while adding two shutouts.

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Red Wings at the Worlds: Larkin, Blashill speak with the Wings’ beat writers

Three Red Wings beat writers spoke with Team USA's Dylan Larkin and Jeff Blashill ahead of the start of the World Championship on Friday, and gleaning comments from Locker Room Clean-Out Day still yielded intriguing remarks from both Larkin and Blashill.

Larkin spoke with DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji about taking part in the Worlds...

"It's another opportunity to get better and have fun playing," Larkin said. "USA Hockey, I always enjoyed playing for them and representing my country so I'm really excited about it."

It will also help Larkin get over the disappointment of not making the playoffs with the Wings this season, snapping a 25-year streak.

"As a hockey player, especially in a league like this, it's the best time of the year," Larkin said. "Games are just starting to heat up and this is when the fun happens. It's very disappointing and something that, I'll try to keep this taste in my mouth for the whole summer and remember this moment."

For now, Larkin will join teammates Jimmy Howard and Danny DeKeyser on Team USA and all three will once again play for Wings coach Jeff Blashill.

"Just more opportunity to learn from him," Larkin said. "From talking with him and Torch (assistant coach John Torchetti) and the coaching staff this year, towards the end of the year I think I made improvements on both sides of the puck and (I want to) continue that. I don't know who the assistant coaches will be (for Team USA) but there's another different voice, you can learn different tricks from them and have fun playing. That's ultimately why I'm going."

And Larkin reflected upon his 2016-17 campaign while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James:

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Grand Rapids Griffins post a 7-minute video preview of the Griffins-Wolves 2nd round series

Good stuff from the "Griffvision" crew: a 7-minute preview of the second-round series between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Chicago Wolves, which begins on Wednesday:

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Checking in with Alden Hirschfeld

The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel's Blake Sebring checked in with Toledo Walleye captain Alden Hirschfeld regarding his recovery from brain surgery to rectify a seizure disorder, and Hirschfeld is happy, healthy and productive on and off the ice:

"I got the right help, for sure," he said. "I think part of it was about wanting to keep playing. I had some people say no, and others say yes. Detroit said I wasn't going to be able to play the rest of the year, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to get different opinions and see what everybody is going with. The main thing was about getting better away from hockey, being a dad and a husband. I wanted to do what I felt was best for the future and the long-term. Let's try and get this taken care of and be down with it."

Doctors diagnosed him with cavernous malformation in the temporal lobe behind his left eye, and on March 14 he underwent a craniotomy, a lengthy surgery which opened his skull to remove a tangle of muscles, veins and arteries about the size of a fingertip.

Within a few months, Hirschfeld was cleared to skate again, and just before training camp he received permission to take part in full-contract drills.

"It was tough to get it all figured out, but when you trust in the Lord and have good faith in Him and know that He has a plan, you let Him lead you and guide you," Hirschfeld said. "Everything has been positive since. It was a tough half a year there to get through it all and deal with it, but being able to play again and do what I love has been pretty special."

There have been no more problems, and Hirschfeld easily produced the best season of his five-year career with 23 goals and 49 points in 55 games. Even better, on Feb. 15, he was named captain of the Walleye.

Sebring continues, discussing Hirschfeld's recovery with Toledo Walleye commentator Matt Melzak and Grand Rapids Griffins broadcaster Bob Kaser...

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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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