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Grand Rapids Griffins-Syracuse Crunch Game 5 open post: Blashill offers takes on 12 prospects

The Grand Rapids Griffins get a second chance to close out the Syracuse Crunch tonight (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio), and they'll do so minus Adam Almquist but including Gustav Nyquist, who the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports was not suspended for whatever happened between Nyquist and Richard Panik last night.

The Crunch expect to have defenseman Radko Gudas back in their lineup, aiding the Crunch's transition game and already physical bite, and as we wait for the game to start, here are a few noteworthy items to tide you over:

1. Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk's facing off against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen in TSN's Play of the Year Semifinals, and voting will end on Monday at midnight EDT;

2. If you happen to be heading to the Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway tomorrow, Niklas Kronwall will be the Grand Marshal;

3. In a very different participatory vein, the Syracuse Post-Standard's Don Cazentre reports that the mayors of Syracuse, NY and Grand Rapids, MI have made a sudsy bet regarding the team that will capture the Calder Cup:

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Do You Want Dan Cleary Back?

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Will Daniel Cleary be back for an encore with the Red Wings?

Talks to that end will heat up in the coming days, about three weeks ahead of July 5, when Cleary can become an unrestricted free agent. The Wings want Cleary back, and Cleary has said he wants to come back, but given the money that gets thrown around every summer once the market opens, Cleary may well opt to look around.

He’s coming off a five-year, $14 million contract, and made a solid case for his value in the playoffs, when he finished second on the team with 10 points, ahead of Pavel Datsyuk.

On top of that, Cleary was the leading scorer in the Blackhawks series, with five points. He’s 34, healthier than he has been in years, and a big body who repeatedly has demonstrated a willingness to go to the hard areas.

All those are reasons why the Wings want him back, of course. They need a big man to provide a net-front presence on each of the top two lines. Justin Abdelkader showed he could be one of them this past season. It’s not a role that Johan Franzen performs well. Todd Bertuzzi is an option, but it’s hard miles on the body, and Bertuzzi is 38 and has a history of back problems.

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Griffins-Crunch Game 5 game-day updates: Nyquist will play, Almquist won’t; Gudas to aid Syracuse

The Grand Rapids Griffins will attempt to rebound from a difficult 3-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night when they battle Syracuse in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Final this evening (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio), and at the present moment, it appears that the New Holland Sentinel's Alan Babbitt's "insider" report that Gustav Nyquist wouldn't receive a suspension for his "spear" on Richard Panik is in fact accurate.

As the Crunch attempt to force the Griffins to endure another bus ride to Syracuse for Games 6 and 7, the Syracuse Post-Standard's Lindsay Kramer reports that Syrcause will add another physical player to their lineup in the previously-injured Radko Gudas, and he also reports that Adam Almquist remains sidelined with a Panik-induced concussion:

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Red Wings overnight report: Griffins drop Game 4; recapping a busy Friday

The Grand Rapids Griffins' 3-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Final is not the end of the world. It sets up a Game 5 on Saturday night (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WXSP in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio), and to some extent, it was predictable given that the Griffins are such a young team that had never been on the cusp of a championship.

They took the Crunch too lightly, blowing power plays and getting caught up in the rough-and-tumble stuff involved when a team that's accumulated 1 playoff loss in three previous series' worth of play is essentially attempting to defend a title that the majority of its roster captured as members of the Norfolk Admirals a year ago.

But it was incredibly hard to watch.

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Red Wings’ Pavel Datsyuk discusses Winter Classic, veteran inspiration

Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk was in New York, NY to take part in a photo shoot for Reebok and the 2014 Winter Classic, and he spoke to NHL.com's Tal Pinchevsky about playing in the first of six outdoor games scheduled for 13-14...

"I like it for the Red Wings and Toronto. Original Six, will be a good game between a Canadian team and American team," Datsyuk told NHL.com Friday. "Also for Michigan, the people need it now. The economy is low. Kids will see, and parents can explain how they played outside. I think it's unbelievable."

The big game at the Big House will be a special event for everyone involved, but particularly for young Red Wings Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser, who experienced a trial-by-fire this season. Datsyuk, having participated in the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago, will play a large role mentoring those players into the fabric of the team.

"We have a younger team now. But we're still a good team. When I came 11 years ago, there were a lot of veteran guys. Now the team is younger, younger, younger. But I'm older, older, older," Datsyuk said.

Thankfully, Datsyuk told Pinchevsky that a certain player who played into his 40's was an inspiration early on--in one Igor Larionov:

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Grand Rapids Griffins drop Game 4 against Syracuse, need to bounce back on Saturday

I had a bad feeling about tonight's Grand Rapids Griffins-Syracuse Crunch game as all the veteran leadership in the world can't prevent a very young team from getting a little over-eager when up 3-0 in a championship series...

And I was right. The Grand Rapids Griffins' power play and a six-minute stretch in which the Griffins dropped a 2-1 lead and ended up losing 3-2 to the Syracuse Crunch, including a spear-that-was-a-not-a-spear yielding Gustav Nyquist tossed (5-minute major and a game) because Richard Panik got a stick on a hand and dove...

Well, to put it politely, the Griffins got ahead of themselves, and they forgot that the fourth win is the hardest against a team that had lost one playoff game prior to its series against Grand Rapids in the hard-charging, big, physical and downright mean Crunch.

But when mean is effective--Panik had a goal and an assist--the game-tying goal was a softy from an otherwise superhuman Mrazek (who channeled his innner Hasek at times, drawing an even-up on the major and getting called for diving once), and the power play stinks, you're not going to sweep your opponent (late-third-period flourish included as Cedric Desjardins hugged the post), and as such, the Griffins need to win tomorrow night's Game 5 (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WXSP/WOOD Radio) lest they face another bus ride to Syracuse for a potential Game 6 or 7.

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Grand Rapids Griffins-Syracuse Crunch Game 4 open post

The Grand Rapids Griffins will attempt to sweep the Syracuse Crunch and capture their first Calder Cup tonight at Van Andel Arena (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio; Adam Almquist won't play tonight), and the Red Wings' website posted a game-day preview video:

Several TMR readers have attempted to "live blog" the game in other threads, so this is an "open post" for live-blogging purposes, save two articles (and the Drew Miller post has been updated, too)::

1. First, a story from Fox Sports' Art Regner regarding Chris Chelios and Chris Osgood's respective roles as player mentors for the Griffins' players:

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Zetterberg Wins NHL Foundation Player Award

Updated at 6:04 PM with two stories from the Wings and news about where Datsyuk finished in Selke and Lady Byng voting:

From the NHL:

CHICAGO (June 14, 2013) -- Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is the recipient of the 2012-13 NHL Foundation Player Award. The award recognizes the NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community. The NHL Foundation will present $25,000 to the Zetterberg Foundation to help fund the creation of three water stations in Kemba, Ethiopia, and provide 1,900 people with clean water for a lifetime. This donation will enable more children in the village to attend school as opposed to spending their days walking hours to get water for their families.

Zetterberg and his wife, Emma, give back to the Metro Detroit community through numerous initiatives as well as international causes in Ethiopia, Guatemala and Nepal. Zetterberg hosts children’s charities, including Metro Detroit area children’s hospitals and mentoring nonprofits, at each Red Wings home game during the regular season in the Zetterberg Foundation Suite. Zetterberg also funds a high school hockey scholarship each year and underwrites the Hockey Weekly High School All-Star Banquet.

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A pair of mid-day Red Wings narratives: on adding a goal-scorer and Kyle Quincey’s trip down under

The Red Wings have re-signed Drew Miller and want to re-sign at least one of Daniel Cleary and/or Damien Brunner. As such, tthe Wings may very well go into training camp and the exhibition season with more than 14 forwards and 23 players (with Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson will all lead what the Wings hope will eventually be a slate of graduates from the Griffins' roster as full-time Wings).

The Free Press's Helene St. James duly notes that the Wings have their reasons for not just possibly but also probably heading into training camp with a glut of forwards (regardless of whether the team decides to buy out Mikael Samuelsson)...

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Griffins-Crunch Game 4 game-day updates: no Almquist for GR; Griffins trying to remain even-keeled

Updated 2x at 2 PM: With the probabilty of Pavel Datsyuk snagging another Selke Trophy nod when the NHL announces its first slate of award winners this afternoon (and, as Sportsnet's Mark Spector suggests, Henrik Zetterberg being snubbed by Mark Messier in the "leadership award" department--though you can make a difference as Pavel Datsyuk faces off against Jake Allen in the TSN Play of the Year semifinals), the spotlight sits squarely upon the Grand Rapids Griffins, who can sweep the Syracuse Crunch and capture their first Calder Cup this evening at a sold-out Van Andel Arena (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio).

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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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