The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Griffins' 3-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 1 of the AHL's Calder Cup Final was what you might expect from a team that was coming off a seven-game series (Grand Rapids) playing against a rested-to-rusty team (Syracuse): a bit of a rope-a-dope win involving some superb goaltending by Petr Mrazek (29 saves), some clutch goals and a bit of luck.
The Griffins received a 1st period goal from Mitch Callahan thanks to a hard net-front-crashing presence by Callahan, Landon Ferraro and Jeff Hoggan with a puck relay back to assist-makers Brennan Evans and Chad Billins...But after that, the Griffins basically played a Wings-like solid defensive game and relied very heavily on Petr Mrazek to stop a ton of first shots as Grand Rapids cleaned up most of the rebounds.
Every year at this time--or within two weeks of the Stanley Cup Final in a non-lockout year, anyway--we tend to hear the media insist that whichever team wins the Cup will shape the game for years to come as each and every one of the 29 defeated teams will obviously completely alter their teams' player personnel and coaching trajectories to emulate the champ.
This doesn't always pan out, though there's no doubt that the last couple of Cup champs are very big, very hard-checking and very defensively-minded teams. The previous three were more slanted toward high-skill and up-tempo hockey, though, and as such, the National Post's Cam Cole duly notes that even if the Blackhawks prevail against LA and upset the mighty Bruins, Chicago's "blueprint" is going to be hard to emulate (that, and thanks to the declining salary cap, like so many championship-caliber teams, it won't last in its current guise):
These Blackhawks have the most of the most: better top-end talent, better scoring depth, better speed throughout the lineup. Size, too, in forwards like the aptly-nicknamed Hoss, Marian Hossa, and Jonathan Toews and playoff stud Bryan Bickell, and a deep blueline that was comfortably able to compensate for the loss to suspension of their best defenceman, Duncan Keith, in Game 4 Thursday.
Updated 3x at 3:39 PM: As Paul noted, the Calder Cup Final between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Lake Erie Monsters begins tonight (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com; Game 2 takes place tomorrow at 6 PM EDT), and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that no gnus is good gnus (with Gary Gnu) from the Griffins' morning skate...
The Grand Rapids Griffins held a final late-morning skate at War Memorial Arena before tonight’s start of the Calder Cup Finals against Syracuse. The routine game-day light skate went for about an hour, and followed a similar short workout by the Crunch.
The teams meet in Game 1 at 7 p.m. Game 2 will be 6 p.m. Sunday before the series moves to Grand Rapids.
from the Grand Rapids Griffins,
It All Ends Here: After 1,140 regular-season games and three playoff rounds, only the Grand Rapids Griffins and Syracuse Crunch are left standing, and they will battle for the Calder Cup after winning their respective conferences. The Griffins advanced to the Calder Cup Finals after defeating the No. 5 Oklahoma City Barons in a thrilling seven-game series, capped off with a wild 5-4 victory at Van Andel Arena on June 5. The third-seeded Griffins, who won the Robert W. Clarke Trophy as Western Conference playoff champions, also defeated No. 6 Houston in five games and No. 2 Toronto in six games. Fellow third seed Syracuse beat the same seeds in sequence: No. 6 Portland (3-0), No. 2 Springfield (4-0) and No. 5 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (4-1) to capture Richard F. Canning Trophy as champions of the Eastern Conference.
The Grand Rapids Griffins begin their Calder Cup Final series against the Syracuse Crunch this evening (7 PM EDT on http://www.AHLLive.com--you have to register to watch the games but you don't have to fill out credit card info; Game 2 takes place tomorrow night at 6 PM EDT, and the series shifts to Grand Rapids for three games starting next Wednesday), and to some extent, the Red Wings' management hopes that the Griffins players' progress complicates their off-season plans...
But there's no doubt that the fact that full-time Red Wings-to-be Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson and Danny DeKeyser (who's been cleared to play and will play tonight) have taken part in 2 NHL playoff rounds and will have taken part in 2 more at the AHL level is "a good thing," as Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan:
Via RedWingsFeed, the Detroit News's Mike Martindale reports that the long-standing legal feud between the Howe family and Del Reddy, the manager of Gordie and Colleen Howe's business interests during the time that Colleen was battling Pick's Disease, has reached the courtoom in a surprising second iteration:
Attorneys faced off Friday in Judge Leo Bowman's courtroom in the civil case. Attorney Steven Matta said Howe, his son Mark and their Power Play International Co. have suffered well into "seven figure" damages in the destruction of personal property that had been ordered returned to Howe.
The defendants' attorney, Anthony Randazzo, said such claims are baseless and the lawsuit is being driven by Howe's celebrity and a personal "vendetta" by Mark Howe against former business managers Del Reddy and Aaron Howard because they resigned without notice.
Reddy's father, Michael Reddy, and their Immortal Investments Co. are also named as defendants.
Why is this legal feud simmering again? Martindale clarifies the Howes' complaint:
Interesting late-night news from TSN and Pierre LeBrun:
When the Canadian Men's hockey team takes the ice at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, they will have some familiar faces behind the bench.
TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com is reporting that Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock, the man that led Canada to gold at the Vancouver 2010 Games, will once again be the team's bench boss.
LeBrun is also reporting that St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock and former Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff will return as associate coaches.
The staff will be rounded out by Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien.
Babcock captured the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008; he also coached Canada to gold at the 1997 and 2004 IIHF World Championships.
MLive's Ansar Khan spoke to soon-to-be-ex-Red Wing Ian White during locker room clean-out day, and noted that Wings coach Mike Babcock held no ill will toward a player who lost the coaches and management staff's trust when he followed up the, "I haven't asked for a trade yet, but my agent and I have talked to the team" spiel with poor play...But White made it known that he's officially outta here while speaking with the Free Press's Helene St. James as well...
White didn’t appear in any playoff games, and hadn’t played since April 7. “It’s somewhat doubtful they’re going to bring back a guy who’s not going to play,” White said. “Probably the most unfortunate part of our business is moving around all the time, switching teams. I loved playing here.”
St. James reveals that White, who bounced around from Toronto to Calgary, Carolina, San Jose and then Detroit over the year-and-a-half prior to signing with the Wings, may have dug his own hole in matching Jimmy Devellano's tale of cattle and ranchers with a lockout jab of his own:
One of the most vocal critics of commissioner Gary Bettman during last fall’s labor dispute, White’s comment in November that, “I personally think he’s an idiot,” did not go over well with the Wings organization, with the prevalent feeling one of distaste that White’s name-calling reflected poorly on the club.
Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill told the Syracuse Post-Standard's Lindsay Kramer that his team appeared to have a case of heavy legs one day after a 10-hour bus ride to Syracuse, NY and two days removed from their Game 7 win over Oklahoma City in the AHL's Western Conference Final...
Blashill was not pleased with his team's first practice in the War Memorial on Friday, but wrote it off to a long bus ride from Grand Rapids the day before.
"I didn't think the practice was very good,'' he said. "We had a long, long travel day yesterday. The energy level today was the guys want to play tomorrow.''
But the Griffins recieved good news in the personnel department. Danny DeKeyser has proclaimed himself ready to play after his first full practice with the team (he practiced with the Wings during their series against Chicago):
Updated 3x at 3:28 PM: Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related stories:
- While Pavel Datsyuk battles Magnus Paajarvi in TSN's Play of the Year semifinals, the Free Press's bracketed list of Michigan's most-despised opposing teams' athletes has boiled down to Claude Lemieux vs. Patrick Roy. That's such a nexus of arrogance, hubris, temper-tantrum-throwing self-important pomposity combined with such an utter denial of culpability when things go wrong that even Gary Bettman might say, "Wow, that's where ass and hole meet."
- In a very different vein, in Twitter-related news, from DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
And, via RedWingsFeed, the Montreal Gazette's Dave Stubbs:
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.