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Prospect news: Holmstrom 1+1 in playoff opener; Griffins win 12th straight

Updated 2x at 1:45 AM with a note from Joe Hicketts and a profile of Chase Perry:

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action, in the SHL, Axel Holmstrom scored the 5-1 goal and had an assist in Skelleftea AIK's playoff-opening 6-1 win over HV71. Holmstrom played 10:29, winning 71% of his faceoffs, and he finished at +2 (click on the link for highlights);

And Christoffer Ehn didn't register a point in the Frolunda Indians' playoff-opening 4-2 win over Djurgardens IF, playing 10:01, winning 77% of his faceoffs and taking two shots.


In regular season action, in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins won their 12th straight game on the strength of a goal and an assist from Ryan Sproul, Zach Nastasiuk's first AHL goal and mostly Tom McCollum's 40-save performance en route to a 4-1 win over Texas. The Griffins' website posted a recap:

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Blue Jackets set-up, take 3

The Red Wings will sit outside the playoff picture when they battle the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 PM EDT on FSD/FS Ohio/97.1 FM) as the Flyers defeated Chicago on Wednesday night. If that isn't enough motivation to take their frustration out on the Jackets, last week's wretched 5-3 loss in Columbus should serve as enough motivation to ensure that the Wings come out flying tonight.

The Red Wings are in the middle of a 4-game road trip, and have lost 2 straight games, too;

Columbus will be playing the 4th game of a 5-game home stand, and they've lost two games as well, with their most recent defeat coming in the form of a 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday, so the Blue Jackets have been stewing for the past four days.

For Columbus, the Wings are a welcome sight: the Blue Jackets have a 10-2-and-2 record over their past 14 games against Detroit, and they've won both of this season's meetings against the Wings.

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Wallner: Griffins’ goaltending has been spectacular

Among MLive's Peter J. Wallner's "10 reasons why the Grand Rapids Griffins have the best goaltending in the AHL":

In the current 11-game win streak, the Griffins have allowed 11 goals, including one three-goal game. The rest have been two goals or less.

During the streak, Coreau has six wins, three shutouts and a 0.99 GAA (.967 save percentage). McCollum has won five, with a shutout and a 1.00 GAA (.967 save percentage).


Let's talk about Coreau's numbers. Here is how he stands among the league best: Save total of 1,208 (1st); save percentage of .931 (T2nd and .001 off the lead); win total of 29 wins (2nd); six shutouts (T2nd), and goals against average of 2.15 GAA (3rd).

Wallner continues...

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Afternoon news II: Beat writer notebook round-up

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James duly noted that the Red Wings hope to apply the lessons learned in their recent losses as the team attempts to assuage last Tuesday's loss to Columbus in tomorrow's rematch:

The Wings were handed a deserved 5-3 loss March 8 at Columbus, when they were careless with the puck and undisciplined. Now they return, smarting from a 4-3 loss Tuesday at Philadelphia. Their coach sounded an alarm after a lack of composure set in as soon as the Flyers scored five minutes into the first period. He lamented how easily the Flyers kept building on it.

"We can't give away goals," Blashill said. "We've got to make teams earn goals. We had real, real bad mistakes that were preventable. We've got to keep pucks out of net early and, when we get scored on, we can't let the momentum get away from us. We haven't done a good enough job of that."

Blashill zeroed in on the back end, saying, "Our D corps is way better than that. We've got six real good NHL defensemen, and they've got to play better than that on Thursday, and I think they will."

No one is being called up from the minors, general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press, because the Wings already have used two of the four nonemergency call-ups teams are allowed after the NHL trade deadline.

St. James continues...

2. St. James also posted an 11:44 podcast in which she discusses Anthony Mantha's debut and speaks with director of pro scouting Mark Howe regarding the team's defensive corps and the health of Mr. Hockey:

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Choosing to cheer

I've leaned toward saying nothing about the Red Wings' play of late, mostly because fans appear to be so pissed off that it doesn't seem like anything I can say would be comforting.

After yesterday night's loss to Philadelphia, the "odds" suggest that Detroit's a 50-50 shot to make the playoffs. I thought Paul Woods offered a pretty good estimate of how many games the Wings need to win out of their final 12 when he told WDFN's Matt Sheppard that the Wings need to go 8-and-4 or 9-and-3--which seems unlikely given the Wings' record of late--to make the cut.

Looking at the Wings' predicament, there's lots of blame to go around, from the lack of secondary scoring to dearth of decisive play on defense, the squeakers Mrazek's let up of late (despite playing stellar hockey), the special teams coaching, the coaching in general...You don't get to this point without multiple reasons for a lack of success.

I keep wondering when Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist are going to score in the same game, for example, or when we'll see consistent dominant performances from the top six forwards and top four defensemen, but those are my concerns.

We're going to have a LOT of time to talk about the ways in which the team can and must improve over the next couple of months, regardless of whether the Wings actually make the playoffs.

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Afternoon news: HSJ chat highlights; on Tatar, Svechnikov and Wings Tweets

From the Free Press's Helene St. James' chat on Freep.com:

Helene is this not a cross roads for the organization, Senior management which has been amazingly spot on with some decisions in the past has gone blind to some players right now. Ericcson, Quincey, Smith and Glendening all should be replaced by the start of next season. Will there be any heat on Ken Holland if they fail to make the playoffs ? Will Danny Dekeyser ever learn any moves and quit drop passing the puck everytime we start a break out ? Am I going crazy ? by Wes 12:06 PM

Helene St. James: They are trying to remain competitive while their core veterans age and await a push from below. Needs to be more from mid20s guys such as Tatar and Nyqvist. Can"t hinge season on Larkin, and now Mantha, and Athanasiou.

Hi Helene... do you see as some do... more of Ken Holland's hand in how the Wings are "headed"... in other words... Coach Blashill has less say in trades and acquisitions than Mr. Holland... and that kind of forces Blashill to use the players he's given to use... rather than let him pick? by NorrisSmythe 12:31 PM

Helene St. James: It's a giant myth that Holland operates as an island. He has his advisors - Ryan Martin, Blashill, pro scouts, and more, and they all weigh in, for example, at trade deadline on whether to get player x or player y, or not. Ditto July 1. Holland got Weiss because Babcock wanted him, for example. Same with Jordin Tootoo.


Is Franzen ever coming back? Do you wish they would have signed Hossa instead?by Webby 12:37 PM

St. James: I'd be shocked if Franzen finds a doctor who will clear him. ... They tried to sign Hossa, Holland got the OK from Mike Ilitch to offer Hossa long-term deal, Hossa wanted to leave. Please pass it on.

The chat continues...

Otherwise...TSN's Scott Cullen notes that Tomas Tatar has been warming up of late...

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Thought On The Wings

via Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet in his 30 Thoughts...

Do not underestimate the pride the Detroit Red Wings have in their playoff streak. As Henrik Zetterberg said in a must-win game at Dallas three years ago, “We are not missing the playoffs on my watch.”

That’s why Anthony Mantha got the call, and it was instructive head coach Jeff Blashill used the “long-term” terminology. Detroit felt strongly Mantha was not to be recalled on a one game up, one game down basis. GM Ken Holland has talked about that before, how a team can create an impression a player is not doing very well if there’s a yo-yo up and down. They want Mantha in a position to succeed and you’ve got to give him a chance to jump into the deep end. In a perfect world, I’m not sure he gets this opportunity yet. But the Red Wings are desperate for scoring, and that is his greatest skill.

No doubt the organization hoped for a day Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Mantha and Petr Mrazek would be so critical to its success. No way anyone thought that time would come so quickly.

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A bit more about Mantha’s debut

As the Wings have an off day today, MLive's Ansar Khan looks back at Anthony Mantha's successful NHL debut during the Wings' loss to Philadelphia:

"I thought Mantha played really well. I thought he showed really, really well," coach Jeff Blashill said. "He must have had three or four either chances himself or created chances. If you win stick battles like this on a regular basis in the NHL he's going to be a good player for a long time."

Mantha didn't record a point, but he generated some chances, with four shots on goal.

Mantha said of his experience: "Amazing, that's for sure. Unfortunately, we lost, but the experience is there and I hope we can step back in Columbus (Thursday)."

He broke his stick during his first career shot – a slapper from the left wing early in the third period. He fired a shot off the goal post in the third.

"I think in the O-zone I played pretty decent," Mantha said. "Got a few opportunities, got a few battles down low. First period I was just trying to keep it simple, tried to find my legs and then as the game went along got better and better."


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Paul Woods speaks with WDFN’s Matt Sheppard

Red Wings analyst Paul Woods spoke with WDFN's Matt Sheppard this morning, addressing the panic in Hockeytown regarding the Wings' difficult play of late. Woods believes that the Wings need to win 8 or 9 of their final 12 games to make the playoffs, and he's wondering where Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist are, too:

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It’s the hot topic of the day

TSN's Dave Hodge gives a "Thumbs Down" to the Red Wings' struggles of late...again...

Not to pick on the Detroit Red Wings, but their battle to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 25th straight time is liable to be the most interesting part of this season’s final month. As great as that record has been, failure to add to it threatens to embarrass the Wings.

When Detroit lost 1-0 to the Leafs on Sunday, it became popular to identify that game as the one that would be considered the streak-buster if the Red Wings missed the playoffs by a point or two.

Embedded ImageNot so fast, for next came the first period of last night’s game in Philadelphia, truly a more important game than the one against Toronto, because it’s the Flyers who are the most direct threat to Detroit’s playoff longevity.

The Wings “responded” with a reminder of what the “Philly flu” used to look like. They were outshot 23-3 (“thumbs down, obviously), and went with bowed heads to their dressing room trailing 2-0.

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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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