The Malik Report
Updated at 10:13 AM: Petr Mrazek returned to the Czech Republic on Thursday, and he promptly gave 2 interviews, one to iDnes and one to iSport. They're extremely similar in terms of content, so while Czech is a particularly problematic language to try to translate, the differences get smoothed out to a large degree by the reader's (your) ability to compare and contrast the takes of Karel Knap and Miroslav Horak, respectively.
What follows are very rough translations of said interviews, starting with his chat with iDnes's Karel Knap:
The Grand Rapids Griffins posted a video in which Andreas Athanasiou narrates the Griffins' rally from a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters 5-4 in Game 4 on Tuesday. Athanasiou scored the game-winning goal:
Datsyuk has all sorts of chemistry going with Sergei Moyzakin, posting 2 primary assists on Mozyakin's goals, and he finally looks like he's got his wheels underneath him again after plodding through the first couple of games...
And in addition to showing more of an offensive flair--which is wonderful to see given that Marchenko can increase his value exponentially if he puts up the occasional goal or assist--Marchenko was out there blocking shots on the Russian PK, even when the Russians were up by 8 or 9 goals.
Datsyuk had 2 assists, a shot and finished at +1 in 15:10 of ice time; Marchenko had a goal, took 1 shot, finished at +1 and played 16:01, and I counted at least 2 blocked shots. His goal was really good, too, a slap shot through some traffic to open the scoring.
Update: Here are the game highlights:
Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
1. The Free Press's Helene St. James suggests that the Dallas Stars' goaltending problem could alleviate the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard problem...
They rode Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi to 50 regular-season victories, but neither proved worthy in the playoffs. The Stars started the playoffs with Lehtonen, switched to Niemi for Game 4 against Minnesota, rode him two games, then went back to Lehtonen. Niemi relieved Lehtonen after the first period of Game 2 in the second round, but Lehtonen was back in net by the second period of the next game. Lehtonen was chased in Wednesday's elimination game after allowing three goals on eight shots, finishing the playoffs with a 2.81 goals-against average and .899 save percentage; Niemi was at 3.29 and .865.
This is where the Wings could benefit, because they are looking to move Jimmy Howard now that Petr Mrazek is the No. 1 man in net. Howard makes $5.3 million, entirely too much for a backup (and Mrazek, a restricted free agent, is due a new contract). Dallas general manager Jim Nill formerly was the assistant general manager in Detroit and knows Howard well from having drafted him in 2003 through seeing him work his way up to starting.
Howard, 32, has had a turbulent 18 months, but he had All-Star numbers in January 2015 and bailed out the Wings the last two months of this regular season, after Mrazek faltered. He earned the start for the first two games of the playoffs. (Being replaced by Mrazek for Game 3 was a reflection of needing to shake things up, not how Howard had played.) In 48 career playoff games, Howard has a 2.58 GAA and .918 save percentage.
St. James continues, suggesting that the Red Wings could acquire Niemi and his $4.5 million salary and then flip Niemi to another team...
[Edit: For what it's worth, the Dallas News's Tim Colishaw provides a look at the anti-Lehtonen perspective in Dallas /end edit]
And in perhaps more tangible news, we've got our first look at the heir to the Zetterberg throne, as it were:
Larkin had 2 assists, took 1 shot, finished at +1 and played 17:13 for Team USA, and this was one of his quieter games in terms of dominance on ice, so 2 points in a "quiet game" is pretty impressive.
I'll post the game highlights when the IIHF uploads them to their YouTube channel.
Update: Here are the highlights:
The St. John's (Newfoundland) Telegram's Robin Short penned another profile of Daniel Cleary, part of the leadership group in Grand Rapids:
Daniel Cleary was making another drive across Michigan’s Interstate 96 this week, a two-hour run from his home north of Detroit to Grand Rapids — “like my buddies back home are saying, just like going to Bull Arm” — resisting the urge to mutter to himself why, after 15 straight years riding National Hockey League charters and a Stanley Cup ring, is he back bothering with the minors?
“Yeah, I’ve had those talks with myself,” Cleary chuckled. “More than once, too. But the drive from home, that’s the easiest part. Man, I’ve gained a lot of respect for the American Hockey League, and the players in the AHL.
“To say it’s demanding in terms of travel may be an understatement. We had one trip, a nine-hour bus ride from Grand Rapids to Iowa. I’m like, ‘Boys, I don’t think I’m gonna make it.’
“And then the bus broke down. So in many ways, it’s been tough, but a lot of fun in a lot of other ways. And I’m still having fun.”
During his latest tenure in the AHL, he’s seen how players react when they’re called up, and when they don’t get the call. He has seen how some players are older than their years, while others — first- and second-year pros — still have some growing up to do.
“It’s been eye-opening, a great experience,” he says. “I tell every one of them that you have to be patient. You have to be ready to play in the NHL, and to do that, you have to do the work down here first.
“We have guys here who will play 10 years in the NHL. Others will play two or three. Some won’t play at all. Balancing those three in the room is unique. I’m excited to be part of that experience.”
Update: Short also spoke with Cleary regarding his post-playing-career plans:
The Grand Rapids Griffins' elimination-staving 5-4 win over the Lake Erie Monsters on Tuesday was an excellent on-ice spectacle, but the best post-game interview was given by one Daniel Cleary, who made it very plain that both and and off the ice, he's thoroughly enjoying contributing to the Griffins' playoff run.
The Free Press's Max Bultman penned a feature article about Cleary's contributions to the Griffins, and as it turns out, Cleary's become an integral part of the team's leadership group--and as Bultman notes, Cleary was out on the ice in the final minute of the game, blocking shots and
Cleary has been in such high-pressure situations, and he proved again Tuesday that he’s still willing to risk his body to protect a lead. That speaks to why Cleary is even in Grand Rapids right now. He could have retired when he was assigned to the Griffins in October, going out in the NHL rather than playing a season in the minors. In fact, he did not immediately agree to report to Grand Rapids. But he wanted to keep playing, so he did. And the playoffs are where that decision pays off most.
“I mean everyone, even if you’re 22 or 37, it’s the playoff time, it is the most enjoyable,” Cleary said. “This has been a great thing. I’m so, so happy that I got to come down and play here. Got to meet friends for a lifetime. And future Red Wings. We’ve got future Red Wings here. Big time. And just to help them out a bit with the pro game, about being professional and taking care of yourself, and little things on the ice.
“I’ve seen so much growth from the young players. It’s been great.”
For his teammates, the feeling is mutual.
“He’s been a great presence,” said Griffins forward Anthony Mantha, one of the future Red Wings that Cleary spoke of. “Obviously a lot of leadership. ... He leads by talking a lot, that’s for sure. Between periods he’s going to talk to everyone, pretty much, and just give them a quick heads-up on this play or that play and what to do.”
Bultman continues, and you can hear Cleary's post-game comments below. Cleary is genuinely helping the Griffins win games, both on the ice and from the bench, and it's been good to see on an in-person basis.
Early overnight report: Nyquist roughly translated, summer storylines, Grand Rapids’ momentum & more
Of Red Wings-related note this evening:
ProMedica is teaming up with the family of hockey legend Gordie Howe to launch a human stem cell trial for traumatic brain injuries.
The announcement was made official on Wednesday at the Inverness Club in Toledo where the health system was joined by its trial partner San Diego-based Stemedica Cell Technologies, Murray Howe, MD, son of Gordie Howe, and Joseph Maroon, MD, team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Gordie Howe Initiative, as the three-year effort will be called, will support clinical research, advance treatment of TBI, and increase awareness about the injuries. It will initially focus efforts on war veterans, athletes, and victims of auto accidents.
Updated 5x at 4:28 PM: At the World Championship:
Update #1: Here are Nyquist's goals from Hockey Webcast's Robert Soderlind:
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