The Malik Report
Maybe it was the rink (the same one where Team USA played a trainwreck game against Latvia), or maybe it was the fact that Expressen's Mattias Ek reported that Jimmie Ericsson and Erik Gustafsson (Gustav Nyquist's roommate) battling fevers, but Sweden played just well enough to eke out a 2-1 victory over France on Thursday (Sweden's playing back-to-backs like Team USA, with a showdown with Tomas Tatar's Slovaks set for Friday)...
And Gustav Nyquist didn't look like himself. He played 15:44 and had 1 shot, but finished at -1 playing a line with Calle Jarnkrok--whose speed has turned into a lot of chasing after the puck and trailing the play instead of anticipating where the puck's going and getting to areas of the ice before the puck does (that, and he's still getting bumped off the puck pretty easily)--but Nyquist's own speed, poise, playmaking savvy and shot have been noticeably absent as he's posted a goal and an assist over the course of four games thus far.
If you read the surprisingly rambly overnight report (I didn't mean to bury Gregg Krupa's fantastic Mantha profile at the end, but the narrative unfolded that way), the London Knights may not have won the OHL championship (Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm did), and they may not have played for three weeks, but the Mastercard Memorial Cup's hosts certainly seem to believe that an exhausted Val-d'Or Foreurs team and Mr. Mantha will be easy pickings in Friday night's tournament-opener (on Sportsnet at 7 PM; Sportsnet's already geo-blocking their videos, so that's swell).
There's no doubt that Mantha and Val-d'Or--and Bertuzzi and Guelph--will be playing the best of Junior Hockey's best in each other and the Edmonton Oil Kings, as well as those stacked Knights. That means Mantha, Bertuzzi et. al. will have to battle through some incredibly heavy checking, but some of this bluster is...
Bluster, and the whole, "Mantha is a one-dimensional player, we can check him into submission" line's been the line about him since the get-go.
DeKeyser, Abdelkader take part in a trainwreck of a U.S. loss to Latvia; Americans look disorganized
Updated 2x with Abdelkader quotes at 1:34 PM: The Red Wings' first two participants in World Championship hockey today have wrapped up a game that was...Interesting. As in, "What the hell was that?"
The Americans basically have a bunch of recent college graduates and yet-to-"arrive"-in-the-NHL prospects, Justin Abdelkader wearing the "C" and Tim Thomas in the net, and in front of what really was a "home crowd" for Latvia, with the Russian refs seeming to have a quota (though they let the really gratuitous stuff go on both sides) and whistles raining down on both teams...
Tim Thomas played like he was defending Vladimir Putin, Danny DeKeyser did not have his best game on defense, and I'm wondering if the "fever" that Expressen's Mattias Ek reports has spread to Gustav Nyquist's roommate, Erik Gustavsson, and linemate, Jimmie Ericsson (Sweden will be undermanned when they play France at 1:45 PM EDT today) somehow spread to both the Americans and Latvians.
"Awww," warp factor ten. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that Jordin Tootoo penned an even happier ending to the viral video which took the hockey world by storm(!) thanks to a kind gesture prior to the Griffins' 3-2 win last night:
Camden Smith, a 5-year-old from Lowell who got a dream gift from hockey veteran Jordin Tootoo last month, received a surprise follow-up.
Tootoo, a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins, met Smith before a playoff game on Wednesday, May 14, and signed a stick he gave the youth April 19 in a video captured by the AHL team that went viral with more than two million views.
Smith, unaware that his favorite player was coming, squealed “Tootoo!” as the forward arrived to the team’s locker room - just as he did when he first received the gift on April 19.
The first video went like this...
Tomas Jurco's absence didn't deter the Grand Rapids Griffins from defeating the Texas Stars on Wednesday, but that series does not resume until Friday evening. Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs won't open the Memorial Cup in London until Friday (on Sportsnet in Canada), either, and there are no NHL games today, so if you want to watch hockey, the World Championships are pretty much your only option.
As MLive's Ansar Khan notes, three Red Wings players will be taking part in the Worlds today, and two of three will appear on TV:
The U.S., with Red Wings Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser, meets Latvia Thursday at 9:45 a.m. The U.S. (2-1) is in a three-way tie for second place in Group B with six points, six behind Russia (4-0).
Sweden, with Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, faces France Thursday at 1:45 p.m. The Swedes lead Group A with eight points.
The balance of this entry focuses upon one Anthony Mantha--if only eventually, after a lot of Memorial Cup scene-setting--but after he and Val-d'Or won the QMJHL title on Tuesday, even the Wings' website weighed in on Mantha's potential, let's allow said scene-setting to dial the superstar expectations down for just a moment here.
As far as the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette is concerned, this year's Memorial Cup field lacks any real star quality...
The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital is a special place, and as such, I'm quite happy to give this promotional advisory from the Wings some bandwidth:
There will be plenty of “Bingo Bango!” and “Here we go!” coming through the speakers this Friday afternoon when Red Wings legend Mickey Redmond joins a cavalcade of stars for WTKA’s 11-hour radio-a-thon for a great cause.
Redmond is scheduled to host a one-hour segment during the WTKA Mott Takeover at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The radio-a-thon on Sports Talk 1050 AM will dominate the local air waves from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the radio station’s annual fundraising efforts to help one of the nation’s best pediatric hospital.
In its ninth year, the WTKA Mott Takeover has helped raise more than $6 million used to help pediatric physicians perform medical miracles every day at the hospital on the University of Michigan campus.
Updated 3x at 11:43 AM: The Grand Rapids Griffins are probably playing the most offensively-talented team in left in the AHL playoffs, and they had to deal with what was deemed a "precautionary" pulling of Game 3 hat-trick-scorer Tomas Jurco from the game due to an "upper-body injury," as well as losing Jordin Tootoo to some sort of wrist injury (and Tootoo was in because Landon Ferraro was out), but the Griffins built upon last night's win and rode a 3-goal second period--and 33 saves from Petr Mrazek--to a 3-2 win over the Texas Stars on Wednesday night, tying the teams' best-of-7 series at 2 games apiece.
As AHL series have 2-3-and-2 formats, Game 5 will take place in Grand Rapids this Friday, and all eyes are on the Griffins' injury situation, as Fox 17's Steve Amorose noted (and Adam Almquist remains out with some sort of unspecified issue):
I'm rather aggravated at present, so exuse my bluntness:
Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar registered a goal and an assist as Sloakia defeated Norway 5-2 at the World Championships on Wendesday (he finished at +2 in 17:07 of ice time and was named Slovakia's best player; Jakub Kindl also played quite well for the Czechs in their 2-0 win over Italy).
It's very good to see Tatar earn huge minutes on the power play, penalty-kill and at even strength, but the Slovaks are a top-heavy team even when Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara and Michal Handzus are on the team. While Tatar's playing the kind of go-to-the-front-of-the-net-and-stay-there game that he needs to harness in Detroit, with a thin defense and Jan Laco in the net, it's hard to believe that the Slovaks will make a dent come the quarterfinals.
Regarding the percolating talk regarding Mike Babcock's availability to Toronto, Pittsburgh, et. al., I only have one thing to say: either the coach has repeatedly and enthusiastically stated that he's quite happy in Metro Detroit for a reason, or if the scuttlebutt's true, he's repeatedly lied to Wings fans for the sake of holding his ambitions to himself, and the latter option would speak quite poorly of his character.
This is, by far, the "most interesting" version of a, "Where are they now?" article about a former Red Wing that I've read in ages. Most of the Red Wings' alums tend to fall into predictable post-hockey-career categories: if they don't become player commentators, coaches or trainers, they tend to go to business school and become player agents, certified financial planners, accountants, real estate developers, stock-brokers.
Around here, they often cash in on their celebrity cachet by working for auto parts suppliers or other local businesses who quite happily employ former professional athletes as sales representatives, because even high-profile clients don't mind rubbing shoulders with an ex-Wing.
According to the Williams Lake Tribune's Monica Lamb-Yorski, Brent Gilchrist, the player who famously played through massive, massive groin issues to help the Wings win the 1998 Stanley Cup championship, may live in golf-friendly Vernon, BC, but he's spending his time a few hundred miles north of Vernon...Mining for magnetite?
Red Wings mid-day news: on Jurco, Khan questions, a Subban offer sheet’s feasibility and more Mantha
Updated 3x at 2:17 PM: As I'm writing this, Jakub Kindl's Czechs wrapped up a 2-0 win over Italy (no points for Kindl, but he finished at +2 in 19:07 of ice time), and Tomas Tatar's Slovaks will battle Norway at 1:45 PM EDT...
And much of Red Wings fans' focus has involved the exploits of Anthony Mantha--quick update, the Val-d'Or Foreurs open the Memorial Cup on Friday against London, not Thursday, sorry about that--to the point that the Red Wings posted an article in which Jiri Fischer discussed his progress, and Michigan Hockey posted Mantha's game-and-series-winner from last night's game (so did I, FTR), the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner and Michigan Hockey's Pat Evans want us to set our sights a little closer to home.
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.