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Hockey’s Future weighs in on the Wings’ NCAA and European-playing prospects

Hockey's Future's Ryan Womeldorf examined the Red Wings' NCAA and European-playing prospects, and suggesting that the group is no longer a "source of strength" for the organization. This player may be the Wings' best European prospect:

Axel Holmström, RW, Skellefteå AIK (SHL)

Drafted 7th round, 196th overall, 2014

Holmstrom continues to show why he may be a diamond in the rough in terms of the Red Wins overseas prospects. On loan to Skelleftea AIK, he acquitted himself well on what was the best team in the SHL this season. With eight goals and 23 points, he found himself among the top 10 scorers on a team that featured two of the top 10 and four of the top 33 scorers in the league. Holmstrom and his team now look to seal the deal in the championship series against Frölunda. He is off his torrid scoring pace from last season, but has a respectable six points in ten playoff games.

At 19, Holmstrom still has time to improve in Sweden before even considering a jump to North America. Perhaps another full season with Skelleftea, with improved ice time, could see him make a huge jump in the Red Wings rankings.

Womeldorf continues, and my understanding is that Holmstrom will play another year with Skelleftea.

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Sportsnet examines 36 RFA’s, including Mrazek and DeKeyser

Among Sportsnet's Luke Fox's "Top 36 RFA's to watch":

Petr Mrazek
Age on July 1
: 24
Position: Goaltender
2015-16 cap hit: $737,500
The stats: Excellent .921 save percentage and 27-16-3 record, with three shutouts.
The situation: Mrazek heisted the starting role in Detroit from Jimmy Howard last spring and looked solid in his first season as a No. 1. Howard’s contract — four more years at $5.3 million per — and no-trade clause means the American will be difficult to move, and Detroit might not want to pin its hopes on Mrazek just yet. He faltered a bit down the stretch, and Howard became the playoff starter. Smart move might be to get Mrazek to ink a bridge deal.


Danny DeKeyser
Age on July 1
: 26
Position: Defence
2015-16 cap hit: $2.187 million
The stats: Has grown into a top-four presence in Motown. Though he didn’t meet last season’s 31 points (a career high), DeKeyser did put up 20 and is playing more responsible hockey.
The situation: A case of a 20-something D-man taking a bridge deal and proving his worth. Now it’s up to the Red Wings to commit.

Fox continues...

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Dylan Larkin’s First Playoff Game

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

The rookie forward for the Detroit Red Wings logged a season-low 11:30 in ice time in his team's 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1.

Larkin, who led the team in goals (23) during the regular season, had no shots on goal and posted a minus-1 rating.

"The biggest thing we talked about ... just about being OK with nothing happening some shifts and making sure you take what's given," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said.; "When you get opportunities, do everything you can to score, but try not to force opportunities out there.

"As a young player, you've got to balance that. You want to attack but you don't want to force. Anytime you force things it usually ends up bad. That balance is critical for a guy like Dylan to understand. When there's opportunities to make plays, make plays. And if there aren't opportunities to make plays, live another day.

"I thought he did a good job of that (Wednesday). I think he got a quick taste of how physical the game is. That increases as the games go on, but that stuff doesn't bother Dylan at all. He's got a great, great toughness to him."

read on

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Lightning Game 2 set-up

The Detroit Red Wings hope to earn a road split as they battle the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday evening (7 PM EDT start on FSD/FS Florida/CNBC/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), and there's a definite theme going on in the Red Wings' slumping offensive players looking to solve Tampa's stifling defense, and for Tampa Bay, keeping the good offensive times rolling as Detroit hopes to clamp down.

Neither team really thought that the nastiness after the whistles was anything other than "playoff hockey," but it will be interesting to find out whether the officiating crew gets instructions to clamp down on what was at times a long skirmish interrupted by spates of skating, shooting, checking and scoring.

For the Lightning, the good times are indeed rolling, and Jonathan Drouin's redemptive story is front and center, as noted by the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith...

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Videos- Henrik Zetterberg And Gustav Nyquist After The Optional Practice Today


added 3:49pm, Blashill added below too...

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Will Brendan Smith Play Tomorrow?

via Helens St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Coach Jeff Blashill said he "believes" everyone is available for Game 2, but that he'd know more Friday, when the Red Wings will try to even their first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

One of the healthy scratches has been defenseman Brendan Smith, who is one of the few Wings who jumps into frays to defend teammates.

Smith can be guilty of risky decisions, but his competitiveness is never in question. Asked about his possible insertion, Blashill said he'd announce lineup decisions Friday. Smith last played March 26. He and Mike Green had good chemistry earlier in the season, though it does pair two risk-takers together.

As for the physicality of Game 1, which featured scrums including one that saw rookie Dylan Larkin entangled with 6-foot-5 Braydon Coburn, Blashill said, "Brendan brings a toughness that can be an element in those situations. I'm not worried about guys pushing each other back and forth. That doesn't do much. In fact, I thought the refs did a great job of policing that.

"What we need to do is make sure that we're taking hits to make plays, that we're making it hard on them."

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It’s An Optional Day

Ansar Khan tweets,

Blashill said he believes everyone who played last night is available for Game 2 but will know more tomorrow.

Henrik Zetterberg said his hand is fine after being slashed last night and Blashill said he is expected to play tomorrow.


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Grand Rapids Griffins playoff tickets go on sale Saturday

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Tickets for the Grand Rapids Griffins’ first two home games during the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will go on sale to the public this Saturday, April 16 at 10 a.m.

Grand Rapids’ opponent and dates for the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals will be announced no later than Saturday night, when the Griffins complete their 20th regular season by hosting the Bakersfield Condors for the first time ever. Game time is 7 p.m.

Currently sitting in third place in the Central Division, the Griffins could finish anywhere from second to fourth and face any of three opponents – the Lake Erie Monsters, Milwaukee Admirals or Rockford IceHogs – in the opening round. Milwaukee (101 points) has already clinched the division title, while Lake Erie (93), Grand Rapids (90) and Rockford (90) are separated by only three points with a pair of games remaining for each team and the Griffins owning the tiebreaker over both rivals.

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Sharp: It’s Howard’s crease

From the Free Press's Drew Sharp:

Blaming the goalie has become the reflex when doubt circles a team’s Stanley Cup playoff chances. Yes, goaltending is part of any series win. But don’t ignore the chronic defensive passivity in front of him. Don’t ignore the lack of scoring from young veterans such as Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar.

Howard deserves the Game 2 start Friday.

Singling him out would let others off the hook, and that’s not the message first-year head coach Jeff Blashill should send approaching a critical game. That would suggest panic. That would suggest desperation. And that would tell Tampa Bay that the Red Wings already think the series is over, after just one game.

“It was a hard-fought game with a lot of back and forth,” Howard said following the Wings’ 3-2 loss Wednesday night. “That’s playoff hockey. That’s how it’s going to be. You’ve got to stick around and keep it close.”

Howard wasn’t spectacular. He was solid. He must elevate his play going forward, but that makes him no different than at least a half-dozen others. Considering the overall mediocrity of the Wings’ goaltending situation, there is no panacea sitting on the bench. Petr Mrazek might still be the goalie who finishes this series against the Lightning, but his late-season struggles make him an extension of the same question: Can the Wings come remotely close to matching up against the Lightning’s potential Vezina Trophy finalist, Ben Bishop?


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Up on the roof (with Al the Octopus)

At Joe Louis Arena, WXYZ posted some raw video of workers placing Al the Octopus on Joe Louis Arena's roof in preparation for Games 3 and 4 of the Red WIngs-Lightning series:

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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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