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Detroit’s New Goaltender Coach Jeff Salajko On Petr Mrazek

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

“Petr is back in the Czech Republic, but I want to put a plan in place for the summer for how to make himself better,” Salajko told the Free Press. “There are certain things we want him doing.”

When Salajko, 41, joined the Griffins — then coached by Jeff Blashill, now his bench boss in Detroit — Mrazek had just won the AHL Calder Cup as a rookie, the kind of accomplishment that infuses confidence. Mrazek, 24, had that, but he also had a drive to keep improving.

“What really impressed me about him was how hard he worked and how in tune he was with everything,” Salajko said. “He is a student of the game.

“There is no doubt about Petr’s athleticism and compete level. He likes things fast-paced. As with many young goalies, you can add more structure to their game, more technique, so they become more polished. Petr is very young, very coachable. We want to make things simpler for him, to put him in a better place to make second-saves.”


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Red Wings at the World Championship: Larkin registers 2 assists in U.S. loss to Canada

Dylan Larkin overcame some early jitters to play an absolutely superb game as Team USA lost a narrow 4-3 decision to Canada on Saturday. Larkin had 2 assists during the Americans' 3-goal second period and seemed to be on the ice for half the game as the U.S. pressed for the game-tying goal in the third.

Larkin had 3 shots, 2 assists, finished at +1 and played 17:34, and he was named the Americans' player of the game.

The Americans will play vs. Russia for bronze tomorrow at 9:15 AM EDT (NBC Sports Live Extra); Canada will play Finland for gold at 1:45 PM EDT (also on NBC Sports Live Extra).

Larkin both got an assist on and went to the front of the net in order to facilitate Auston Matthews' goal...

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Even more on Nyquist the hockey player and Nyquist the horse

From the New York Times' Melissa Hoppert:

Gustav Nyquist, a right wing for the Detroit Red Wings, was fast asleep in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was representing his native Sweden in the hockey world championship, when his phone began to buzz.

Across the world, his equine namesake had just captured the Kentucky Derby while pushing his record to 8-0. Nyquist, the two-legged version, had a game the next day, but he could not resist sneaking a peek at the replay. He has watched it several times since.

“He did great — the Exaggerator there, he made a run for it at the end, he came hard on the outside, but Nyquist was strong,” said Nyquist, who was not a fan of horse racing before this capable colt came along.

Nyquist calls the Kentucky Derby simply the Kentucky and a race a tournament, but he is learning about the sport fast and now follows Nyquist’s every move.

“I was never really into it in Sweden,” he said of horse racing. “It’s kind of a big sport, but none of my friends that I grew up with, we never really watched races or anything like that — we were more into hockey.”

Hoppert continues, snagging quotes from Justin Abdelkader, Tom Mazwey and Eddie Olczyk...

And NHL.com did a cute little overdub of Nyquist the player and Nyquist the horse for a smartly-placed Tweet:

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Red Wings at the World Championship: Marchenko registers assist in Russian collapse vs. Finland

Pavel Datsyuk was very, very solid at both ends of the rink, generating offense, playing strong defense and showing good leadership--playing the "net-front"/slot player role on the PP (seriously) capably--and Alexey Marchenko made some excellent, well-timed forays into the offensive zone, registering an assist, but he also took two penalties...

But their teammates pulled the Classic Soviet-Era Russian Faceplant against Finland, blowing a 1-0 lead and ultimately losing 3-1 in the first World Championship semifinal.

It was an almost predictable, "We've got them where we want them! Oh well, it's 1-1, we've got them where we want them! Never mind, 2-1, but we've got them...3-1, uh oh!" collapse in which the Russians dominated the first 10 minutes of the 1st period and thought that was all they needed to win, while their bitter rivals kept grinding down the KHL-heavy Russian roster and scored 2 key power play goals (one on a Marchenko penalty), and the Finns pulled away and then clamped down with some suffocating defense and superb goaltending as Mikko Koskinen stifled a pass-first Russian attack.

As a result, Russia will play for bronze on Sunday, while the Finns will battle the winner of today's Canada-USA game (1:15 PM EDT on NBC Sports Live Extra).

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Early overnight report: On Datsyuk, prospects, alumni, Albom and Nyquist the Horse

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. If you haven't heard by now, Pavel Datsyuk's agent has denied the report that his client has signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL, as the Windsor Star's Bob Duff noted:

“I know for a fact that Pavel has not discussed a contract while playing for the national team in Russia,” Milstein said. “I spoke with him to confirm this again.

“For a fact we don’t have a contract with any (Russian club) right now.”

Milstein indicated that the plan remains the same as it was when Detroit’s season ended and Datsyuk, 37, left for his homeland to play in the worlds. He is coming back to Detroit next month to meet with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and discuss his future plans.

“He’s coming back to the U.S. first or second week of June,” Milstein said. “We plan on meeting with Ken Holland, not later than (June 16) because Pavel will be in town for his (hockey) camp from (June 17-21).”

2. In the prospect department, Hockey's Future's Sean Shapiro took note of the playoff performances of Grand Rapids Griffins forwards Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi:

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McCarty, Kevin Miller discuss the state of the non-alumni

The Free Press's Lev Facher recently took in a Red Wings Alumni game, and he spoke with Darren McCarty and Kevin Miller about the state of the current team:

[T]he Red Wings haven’t finished first in their division since 2010-11, and many of the alumni want to see the team coast into the playoffs, not clinch a spot in the regular season’s final days.

“It’s a big tradition, being a part of the family,” said former Red Wings forward Darren McCarty, who helped keep the streak alive between 1993-94 and 2008-09, with the exception of the two years he spent in Calgary. “The heritage is huge.”

There was no shortage of former players watching with bated breath from the seats at Joe Louis Arena this season and on television at home, McCarty said. The Red Wings have an impressively organized network, and there’s plenty of passion for the streak and its continuation.

“We want to see those guys succeed and continue the legacy on,” McCarty said. “It was a little nail-biting there, but we got it done. Hopefully, this will bring us toward moving forward, and we’ll have a chance to win a Stanley Cup sometime.”


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Dylan Larkin checks in from the World Championship

Dylan Larin and Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer spoke with ESPN's Julie Robenhymer at extended length.

Fischer and Larin discuss #71' evolution from a player who was essentially "trying out" pro hockey at last year's World Championship to someone who is looking forward to a strong sophomore NHL campaign:

"Dylan surprised a lot of players on the ice with his speed and how hard he fights for the pucks and how mature his game is," Fischer said. "Next year, in order to be as successful or more, he's going to have to reinvent his game a little bit. It's something that every elite offensive player has to do throughout their career.

Fischer, who played all of his six seasons with Detroit before transitioning to the front office, says that Larkin will have a target on his back next season and can't let up on his training. "You can't just keep doing the same thing and think that success is going to keep coming," Fischer said. "That's not how it works in the NHL. There are smart players and they hate failure and losing and being beat, and they'll study who they play against so that doesn't happen. Dylan's biggest thing is going to be taking the next step physically this summer to improve and get stronger and more powerful. He needs to be hungry for more."

If his past is any indication, there should be no concern about Larkin's willingness and desire to improve every day.

"I don't believe in a sophomore slump and I don't intend on having one. I'm just going to prepare as best as I can like I did last summer and go into the new season even stronger," Larkin said. "I think I need to prepare more this offseason for a marathon and I'm excited to do that. This past year was great, but I don't plan for it to be my best one."

Robenhymer continues, and there's a video interview with Larkin as well:

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The World Championship semifinals take place on Saturday

On Saturday, two World Championship semifinal games will take place, and both games involve Red Wings players and prospects.

At 9:15 AM EDT (on NBCSN's Live Extra service), Pavel Datsyuk and Alexey Marchenko's Russians will battle Finland for the opportunity to play for the gold medal on Sunday...

And at 1:15 PM EDT, Dylan Larkin and Team USA will battle Canada on NBCSN Live Extra:

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Russian rumor: Datsyuk to sign with SKA St. Petersburg after World Championship

Updated substantially w/ news from Kulfan @ 2:32 PM: I don't know what to think about this one, because I've never heard of the website referenced, and this is a developing story, so let's call it what it is: a rumor.

Sovetsky Sport's Dmitry Spirin points us toward a website called "Sportfakt.ru," which is reporting that Pavel Datsyuk will sign a 2-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg after the World Championship. Sportfakt claims that the financial details of the contract are unknown.

I tend not to trust Russian rumors--and I don't see any confirmation from more familiar Russian news sources like Sport-Express, Championat, R-Sport, etc., though AllSport claims that a "source" states that Datsyuk will sign with SKA--so we'll see how this plays out.

Update: Sportsdaily.ru is claiming the same, so there's smoke here.

Update #2: From the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:

And here's Kulfan in text form:

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said of the report. “I plan on sitting down and meeting with Pavel when he returns from the world championship, sometime in early June. I would need to know his decision by the middle of June.”

Update #3: More from Kulfan:

“It’s definitely not true,” Milstein said. “Pavel hasn’t spoken to anybody, hasn’t spoken to any team, and he hasn’t spoken any media other than talking about the (world championship) tournament. There’s nothing to it (the report).”

Update #4: From MLive's Ansar Khan:

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Five Wings alums taking part in a ‘Legends League’ game

Chris Chelios, Igor Larionov, Dino Ciccarelli and other former Wings have made the trip to Moscow to take part in a "Legends League" game tonight, per the TASS News agency:

The gala match at the 12,000-seat VTB Ice Palace in Moscow, which kicked off at 5:45 p.m. local time (14:45 GMT), brought together world’s legendary players such as Vyacheslav Fetisov, Pavel Bure, Alexander Yakushev, Alexey Kasatonov, Valeri Kamensky, Igor Larionov, Sergey Fedorov, Chris Chelios, Ari Sulander, Hannu Virta, Jari Kurri, David Moravec, Mats Naslund, Dino Ciccarelli, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson and many others.

The "World Legends Under Moscow Stars" gala match marks the 70th anniversary of Russian ice hockey and was organized by the World Hockey Legends League with the support of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and the Park of Legends sports and entertainment complex, which is an official partner of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships.

The Legends League is a one-of-a-kind tournament established with the support of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the Park of Legends sports and entertainment complex. The competition is for retired world hockey stars, some of the best players of the 20th century, Olympic champions and medallists, world champions, Stanley Cup winners, NHL Hall of Fame and IIHF Hall of Fame members.


Update: According to R-Sport's Roman Solovyov, the Russian team won 9-5.

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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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