The Malik Report
Updated substantially at 12:49 AM: Repeating as a champion is the hardest task a hockey team can accomplish--at any level--and the Grand Rapids Griffins fell short on Sunday night, dropping a 7-1 loss to the Texas Stars (including 2 empty-net goals against) which eliminated the Griffins from the Calder Cup playoffs.
Having watched the game, I can tell you that the Griffins went down fighting, but they also went down in a disturbingly familiar fashion: playing against a bigger, heavier team, the Griffins struggled mightily to defend against the Stars' dynamic offense, and they did so for the most part because they couldn't sustain puck possession.
Very briefly: Jakub Kindl didn't register a point but played 19:30 and had 1 shot in the Czechs' 1-0 win over Norway on Sunday. The Czechs' spot in the quarterfinals (the top four teams out of an 8-team pool make the playoffs) isn't secure, however, as IIHF.com's Peter Westermark notes:
The win takes the Czech team up to 10 points, giving them an opportunity to secure third place in Group A with a win in the next game versus France.
via the AHL,
Game 6 - 8:00pm ET, AHL Live (TEX leads series, 3-2)
The Texas Stars get two cracks at knocking out the defending Calder Cup champions, beginning with tonight's Game 6 at the Cedar Park Center.
Chris Mueller (2-1-3) scored 3:18 into overtime to give Texas a 3-2 win over Grand Rapids in the pivotal Game 5 on Friday... Mike Hedden (5-3-8) extended his scoring streak to six games with a goal in Game 5... Brendan Ranford (7-1-8) added his fifth goal of the series and his seventh of the postseason, tied for the league lead... Cristopher Nilstorp (4-1, 1.84, .929) earned the win in Game 5, stopping all four shots he faced in relief of Jack Campbell (2-1, 2.54, .917), who left the contest with an injury late in regulation.
Mitch Callahan (1-4-5) and Teemu Pulkkinen (4-6-10) scored for the Griffins, who battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie Game 5 before falling in OT... Petr Mrazek (5-4, 2.49, .920) turned aside 26 of 29 shots in the loss... Cory Emmerton (2-7-9) picked up an assist, and now leads all scorers with 1-6-7 in the series... To continue its Calder Cup defense, Grand Rapids needs to become the ninth team in AHL history (but the sixth in the last five years) to win Games 6 and 7 of a playoff series on the road.
The World Championships' round-robin play's winding down, and Team USA needed to nail down a quarterfinal spot sans Justin Abdelkader in the lineup.
The Americans did just that by defeating Finland 3-1, but the score's deceptive--the "green" American team nursed a 2-0 lead into the 3rd and were badly out-shot and out-chanced by the Finns, and just prior to the Finns scoring a 2-1 goal on a still-shaky Tim Thomas, Danny DeKeyser actually made the save of the game, reaching out with his stick to stop a Finnish shot that hit his Bauer TotalOne stick before it glanced off the post.
The Grand Rapids Griffins face a boatload of adversity this evening. They're trailing a Texas Stars team that's been far more offensively potent and more dangerous on the rush during the teams' second-round series, needing to win both Games 6 (at 8 PM EDT tonight, on WOOD Radio and the AHL Live) and 7 (Monday at 8:30 PM EDT) to stave off elimination.
According to the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner, while Texas Stars coach Willie Desjdardins hopes to eliminate the Griffins this evening, he wouldn't be surprised if the series "goes 7"...
“They’re not coming in there to just show up,” he said. “It’ll be a real tough game and we expect (a Game) seven because they’re just going to play so hard.”
“They’re feeling better about themselves and they’re starting to play good, so it’s going to be tough,” he said.
And the Griffins plan on taking the Stars up on that theory:
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
Let's clear this up once and for all: Mike Babcock will coach the Detroit Red Wings in 2014-15, no matter how much other teams might want him, no matter what the media dream up. He has a year left on his contract. The Wings want him back. He doesn't want to leave.
Babcock said even if the Wings fired him now, he would not look for another job until after next season. The youngest of his three children will be a senior in high school in the Detroit area. He will not uproot his daughter, and he will not coach elsewhere during that time.
"I ain't missing it," Babcock said.
There are no guarantees beyond that – not for the Wings, but not for other teams, either. General manager Ken Holland plans to discuss an extension with Babcock at some point this summer. Babcock is in no rush one way or the other.
"I have a contract for a year; Ken Holland has a contract for a year," Babcock said. "I assume the sequence of events are, they deal with Ken Holland first, and then they deal with Mike Babcock. But I'm real comfortable, and I mean that, and I've said it. I'm on record. I'm comfortable in my situation. It's not like I need someone to do anything right now. I’m fine because I think our team’s going in the right direction again.”
This is more of a "reminder post" than anything else. However, in terms of Red Wings players taking part in hockey games today:
At 1:45 PM, Jakub Kindl's Czechs will battle Norway;
Grand Rapids trails Texas 3 games to 2, and both tonight's game and tomorrow's possible Game 7 take place in Austin.
Tyler Bertuzzi keeps on surprising people--myself included. The Guelph Storm opened their Memorial Cup tournament against the Edmonton Oil Kings on Saturday, and instead of playing as a support player, Bertuzzi stole the spotlight, matching the highly-heralded Kerby Rychel's 2-goal performance as Guelph defeated Edmonton 5-1.
Bertuzzi's goals were numbers 4 and 5, but he still served notice that the scrawny kid wearing #17's to be underestimated at one's peril by tagging a pair of sniper's markers (click for the one highlight clip I could find as Sportsnet geo-blocked their stuff).
Storm coach Scott Walker told the Canadian Press that he's used to Warren Rychel's son, Todd Bertuzzi's nephew and one more Storm player with pro ties dislaying both inherited and learned savvy when the spotlight's on 'em...
Tomas Tatar's Slovaks kept their hopes of making the World Championships' quarterfinals alive today via a 4-1 victory over Italy, but the Good Tatar and the Bad Tatar were equally visible in the parts of the game I was able to watch (thanks to a wonky feed of a Polish broadcast).
The good Tatar scored the Slovaks' 3-0 goal, had an assist on their 4-1 goal, and he co-led the Slovaks with 6 shots in 15:39 of ice time, including a significant amount of time on both the power play and penalty-kill.
The bad Tatar, however, deked himself and Italian goaltender Daniel Bellissimo out of a penalty shot attempt which Tatar literally had to stop because he'd lost control of the puck four feet in front of a slowly-opening net (Bellissimo bit on deke 15 or 16)...
And the bad Tatar took an incredibly stupid penalty with all of 1:25 left in the game, chasing an Italian player up the ice and grabbing and shoving him--while the Slovaks were already down a man--giving Italy a 5-on-3 to close out the affair.
Jakub Kindl's already wrapped up his World Championship game (a loss vs. the Danes), so today's Red Wings-player-or-prospect-playing schedule now reads as follows:
At the World Championships: Tomas Tatar's Slovaks are battling Italy presently--Slovakia's up 2-0 halfway through the game, but Tatar hasn't registered a point yet;
And at the Memorial Cup in London, ON: Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm vs. the Edmonton Oil Kings @ 4 PM (on the NHL Network and Sportsnet).
This entry's going to be even ramby-er than usual, so please bear with me.
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.