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The Malik Report

‘Two Things’: A Little Caesars Arena construction update and a strange remark

Of brief Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Wings posted a video updating construction at Little Caesars Arena:

2. Bob Wojnowski, Sean Baligian and Dan Miller sat down to talk sports on Sunday's Fox 2 SportsWorks, and when they eventually got to the Red Wings, it was very weird to hear the trio suggest that the Red Wings have "no talent" in the pipeline, which just an accurate assessment:

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Wallner looks back at the Griffins’ 16-17 stats of note

As the Grand Rapids Griffins prepare for their playoff series against the Milwaukee Admirals (which starts on Friday at Van Andel Arena), the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner listed many statistics of note from the Griffins' 2016-17 regular season:

High marks despite second place: The Griffins held the lead in the Central Division most of the season until a late swoon left them second behind Chicago by one point. They finished 47-23-1-5 with 100 points. The 47 wins was a team best since 2011-12 (when 76-game season was adopted) and the 100 points equaled the 76-game high reached by the 2014-15 club.

50-point club: Four players reached 50 points on the season. Scoring leaders were, in order, Matt Lorito (22-34-56), Ben Street (25-30-55), Evegeny Svechnikov (20-31-51) and Martin Frk (27-23-50).

...

Real goal getter: Martin Frk, who didn’t even start the season with the organization, led the Griffins in goals with 27. That included 12 via the power play. The fourth-year pro equaled his total from last season. He was claimed on waivers by Carolina before the start of the season, but re-claimed by the Detroit organization Nov. 1 and returned to Grand Rapids.

Net results: Jared Coreau, who once was pegged for 50 to 60 games in net this season, spent part of the year with the Red Wings, and now looks to settle in for the playoffs. He finished 19-11-3 with a 2.33 goals against average and .911 save percentage. He allowed 11 goals in his final five starts and will shoulder the load in the postseason.

Wallner continues...

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Andreas Athanasiou On His Play

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Through it all, he finished second on the Detroit Red Wings with 18 goals in just 64 games, while ranking 11th in average ice time (13:27) and ninth in power-play minutes (1:12) among the club's forwards.

He believes he's capable of taking a bigger step next season.

"I don't want to say I'm happy with my production because I always want to do better than what happened, but I think the goal for next year is to step it up and do even better," Athanasiou, 22, said. "For this year, I don't think they're terrible numbers. I did well with what I was given."

His blazing speed and finishing ability have made him a fan favorite.

"I see the support I get from the fans; it's definitely a good feeling to see them support my play, my game, so I like that," Athanasiou said. "If I can provide them with some entertainment and some good hockey that's what I got to do."

Despite his flair, Athanasiou is still learning to play a 200-foot game and improve defensively. Blashill has called him out for a lack of competitiveness.

"I don't look at it too much (being singled out by Blashill); obviously, I see some people comment on it, message me about it or tell me about it, but I don't pay too much attention," Athanasiou said. "This is a team and every night it's going to take a team effort to win. As for individual efforts, I'm going to take care of that and make sure that I'm good for this team and making sure I give us what I can give."

read on

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Prospect news: Sambrook scores in Otters playoff loss

Of very brief prospect-related note this evening:

In playoff action, in the OHL, Jordan Sambrook scored the Erie Otters' only goal as Erie lost 2-1 to London in OT, knotting the teams' second-round series at 3 games apiece. London and Erie will play for the opportunity to advance to the OHL's Conference Final on Tuesday.

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Krupa talks about the Wings’ ‘downfall’

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa penned something of an anthology of the major personnel moves that contributed to the Red Wings' fall from grace from their 2008 season to today. It's a "meaty" read, and it's also a painful one in terms of having to recall how many tremendously skilled players the Wings lost since Jiri Fischer collapsed in 2005 (there's a reason Krupa starts there).

Wings GM Ken Holland admits that the Wings are looking at an uphill climb:

“Certainly a number of players regressed, or had off-years,” Holland said. “While we’re trying to draft and develop and get better long term, our short-term goal is to try to make the team as good as it can be and hope that that team can qualify for the playoffs.”

Plainly, the next Stanley Cup contender in Detroit is some seasons down the road.

“We’re not going from here to there in two or three months,” Holland said. “We’ve got to work our way slowly up the ladder.”

Krupa continues at extended length, and his work is worth your time.

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St. James on the Griffins’ top prospects

As previously noted, the Grand Rapids Griffins will open their best-of-five first-round series against the Milwaukee Admirals this Friday at Van Andel Arena, and the Free Press's Helene St. James took note of some of the standout prospects' play:

The Griffins wrapped up the regular season by routing the Admirals, 5-1, Saturday in Milwaukee. It was a good night for forward Evgeny Svechnikov, the Wings’ first-round pick from 2015, as he celebrated a career-high four-point performance. He finished his first year of pro hockey with 20 goals and 31 assists for 51 points in 74 games. After turning pro last spring, Svechnikov, 20, snuck into two playoff games with the Griffins, recording one assist. He will be one of their go-to guys this year.

Defenseman Filip Hronek, Detroit’s second-round pick from 2016, has elbowed his way into the Griffins' lineup since turning pro this spring after producing 61 points in 59 games with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit.

Forward Tomas Nosek, who asserted himself well in an 11-game stint with the Wings the last month of the season, finished with 26 assists among 41 points in 51 games for Grand Rapids. Forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who put in seven games with the Wings before suffering a high-ankle sprain, had 37 points in 48 games. Nosek and Bertuzzi are both candidates to be with the Wings full-time next season.

St. James continues, and it's worth noting that between the Wings' end-of-season returns to Grand Rapids (Lorito, Street, Nosek, Russo) and improving health (Tangradi, Bertuzzi), the team's almost at full strength, hoping that Martin Frk will join a completely healthy team come Friday night.

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Pavel Datsyuk, SKA St. Petersburg capture the Gargarin Cup

Pavel Datsyuk wasn't quite able to return from a broken kneecap in time to help his KHL team, SKA St. Petersburg, battle Metallurg Magnitogorsk, but Datsyuk watched SKA defeat Metallurg 5-3 today, and the win saw Datsyuk capture the Gargarin Cup as SKA defeated Metallurg in 5 games.

Datsyuk finished the 16-17 season with 12 goals, 22 assists and 34 points over the course of 44 regular season games played, and he played in 7 playoff games, finishing with 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points.

I miss Datsyuk wearing the Winged Wheel terribly, but it's good to know that he's won the KHL title.

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Checking in with Evgeny Svechnikov

Evgeny Svechnikov registered a goal and 3 assists in the Grand Rapids Griffins' 5-1 win over Milwaukee last night, hitting the 20-goal and 50-point marks as a rookie. Svechnikov looks like an incredibly promising prospect going forward,

The Cape Breton LocalXPress's Andrew Rankin spoke with Svechnikov regarding his short tenure in the NHL, in which the former Cape Breton Screaming Eagles winger scored a shootout winner against the Ottawa Senators...

"I wanted to score and I knew I'm going to score," said Svechnikov with a hearty laugh on Thursday as he reflecting on his goal. "I knew my move and I knew it was going to be a goal. It was impossible to stop it."

It turned out to be a short two-game NHL stint for Svechnikov, but Detroit's 2015 first-round draft pick departed for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit's AHL affiliate, feeling confident, especially after a short conversation with Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill.

"He said they see me as an NHL player and he was happy with my performance, but that I have to improve (my footwork), be a little faster. They're just happy and they want me to keep going with my improvement."

And Svechnikov told Rankin that he overcame a rocky start to his pro career thanks to help from the Griffins' coaches:

"We have a great team of young and old players and a really good coaching staff," said Svechnikov. "I remember I was very upset and unhappy with my play and my coaches worked with me and I changed little things. Everyone really helped me keep focused and things kept getting better. I am happy now."

Rankin continues, discussing the Svechnikov family (Evgeny's mom is taking care of Svechnikov's younger brother Andrei, who played for the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks as a 16-year-old this past season) and Svechnikov's goals for the AHL playoffs.

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A bit about the Griffins-Admirals first-round match-up

The Grand Rapids Griffins will play the Milwaukee Admirals in the first round of the AHL playoffs, squaring off in a best-of-five series that starts on Friday, April 19th, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner took note of the particulars of the series:

The teams open the best-of-five series in Grand Rapids on Friday. Game 2 will be Sunday at Van Andel Arena before heading to Milwaukee. If needed, a Game 5 would be back in Grand Rapids on May 1.

The higher seed has the option of playing the first two games or the last three games at home.

The Griffins (47-23-1-5, 100 points) won seven of the 12 regular season meetings against the Admirals (43-26-4-3, 93 points), who finished third in the Central.

The Griffins won won four of the season's first five meetings against the Admirals. They were 3-3 at home and 4-2 on the road.

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The other side of the ‘painful rebuild’ argument

I don't usually interject with this kind of stuff, but if we're going to talk about a long, painful and total rebuild as on the table, the New York Post's Larry Brooks' Sunday column suddenly becomes Red Wings-related in its message:

It is, of course, fashionable to suggest that teams should bottom out rather than seek to retool or rebuild while continuing to contend. But a second look reveals just how long it takes to go belly up. For despite the self-congratulatory claims from Sixth Avenue regarding parity, the NHL still has a semi-permanent underclass. Upward mobility is no easy task.

Carolina has been out of the playoffs eight straight seasons, Buffalo six, New Jersey and Arizona five, with Florida out 10 of the last 12 years and without a playoff round victory since 1996. The Coyotes have won two playoff series in their history, both in 2012. Colorado has been out for six of the last seven years and Winnipeg has missed 10 of 12.

And though Pittsburgh, Edmonton and Toronto invariably will be cited as franchises that did it the right way, all three franchises received Masters in Pingpong-ology, winning lotteries to select generational players Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. The Oilers had been out 10 straight times until this year and the Maple Leafs missed 10 of the previous 11 years until both rode the backs of their wonder kids to make it this time.

So bottom out if you will, but good look on getting to the bottom’s up portion of it.

Brooks continues with the usual New York hockey-related commentary...

I won't deny that the Red Wings don't have hidden gems in Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader or Danny DeKeyser, and the Wings will have scant cap space for this summer and summers to come, but shit, are you really ready for half-a-decade or more of paying more money for even worse hockey at Little Caesars Arena, until sometime in the mid 2020's?

That's the reality of a total rebuilding effort, unless you land the perfect picks in the draft and make all the right free agent moves and trades, and not everyone is Stan Bowman inheriting Dale Tallon's Blackhawks team that stank for a decade.

The Red Wings could be very mediocre for a decade, too, and there is something to be said for mediocrity while rebuilding. All of a sudden, Ken Holland looks borderline competent having made some serious "cap era" contractual mistakes, and maybe the Wings' kids are good enough to deliver semi-regular playoff appearances while the team retools and waits to buy out the back end of some bad contracts.

That's the other side of the argument, at least. I'm sort of stuck in the middle, torn between the, "Tear it down" argument and the, "Mediocrity is underrated--look at Winnipeg-and-or-Atlanta" argument, but that's me.

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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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