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Free Press’s Seidel: young coach, developmental league, older players no conflict for Jeff Blashill

The Free Press's Jeff Seidel asked Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill an intriguing question--and a slightly obtuse one given that Blashill spent a year as an assistant coach in Detroit--but it's worth asking (via RedWingsFeed):

Blashill is just 41 years old, which would create an interesting dynamic considering that Pavel Datsyuk is 36 and Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall both are 34. So I flat out asked him: "How do you think you will handle older players?"

He paused, sitting in his office at Van Andel Arena.

"I don't like talking about stuff that is hypothetical," he said. "But the one thing I would say is, the best thing about the Red Wings' job is you have what I would call three of the best winners in hockey, in your captains there, in Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall. There are three of the best winners, not just hockey players, winners."

Four years ago, Blashill saw them in action when he spent a season as an assistant under Mike Babcock.

"I got to see that firsthand, how hard they work every day, how they lead every day, their attention to detail, their calmness in pressure situations," Blashill said. "I think, when you have guys that are of that quality character and that great of leaders, to be honest with you, those guys are easy to coach. It's no different from here."

Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans aren't spring chickens, but they've been the Griffins' leadership group under Blashill, and the coach seems to deal with them quite well.

Seidel continues, discussing Blashill's relative youth and his work with Brian Lashoff, who insists that the "nicer guy" coach is no pushover:

"When he has something to say, he doesn't hold back," Lashoff said. "You know where you stand with him. I think that's a big thing with players."

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On losing as building a foundation for playoff success

ESPN's Craig Custance penned an intriguing Insider-only entry discussing how teams learn from playoff losses, speaking with Ken Hitchcock about the way that the Wings bounced back from the famous Langenbrunner-on-Osgood-from-center-ice goal in 1998 and Ryan Getzlaf about the Ducks' learning curve...

Detroit, a team that looked tired in the overtime loss, shut out the Stars 2-0 in Game 6. Osgood, after letting in that memorable goal, was perfect. Dallas’ season was over. The Red Wings went on to win another championship.

“I’d never seen a team play with that type of ferociousness in their competition, in their game – shift-by-shift, man-by-man,” Hitchcock said when we chatted on Monday. “That game in 1998 set us up for three years. We thought we were at a level, there was a whole other level out there that no one had experienced other than a few guys who had played for Montreal. We had never seen it before.”

And the article includes quite the quote from Kirk Maltby:

[It] can’t just be some of the players -- it has to be all of the players competing with that sense of detail in every moment.

“How many times have you seen in the playoffs where guys that try to get out of the way of the puck in a regular season game are blocking a puck in the playoffs?” said former Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby, winner of four Stanley Cups. “They’re taking a hit, making a hit. It’s just like making an Olympic team -- you might be a 50-goal scorer on your team but you take a different role on a national team. It’s about adjustments and learning and buying in to achieve.”

This sounds campy, but the Red Wings' "next generation" players have received over the last two years have learned a ton about the kinds of efforts they need to bring to the table through the Wings' losses to Boston and Tampa Bay, and as much as it's stank watching Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, DeKeyser and now Mrazek come up short against their opponents, this past year's first round in particular was chock full of learning about the levels at which everyone has to play, produce and "buy in" to stepping up to win four games out of seven each round.

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‘Three things’: about a film screening, chips for charity and Gustavsson

Of brief Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

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Prospect playoff news: Larkin’s goal-scoring, McCollum’s goaltending deliver in Griffins win

Sometimes box scores paint wildly inaccurate pictures of hockey games, but in the case of the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2, Western Conference Final-tying win over Utica, the box score actually does a fine job of telling the game's story.

The Griffins got two late-1st-period goals from Dylan Larkin, they earned a pair of power-play markers in a 2nd period where they were playing rope-a-dope hockey, and in the 3rd period, they held on for dear life. Grand Rapids was out-shot 26-8 over the last 40 minutes of play, and they surrendered a pair of 3rd-period goals as a result, but Grand Rapids held on for the 4-2 victory.

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Quick note: Griffins defeat Utica 4-2, Larkin scores first 2 pro goals

The Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Utica Comets 4-2 on Monday, building a 4-0 lead and hanging on for the 3rd period as they were out-shot 32-18 overall and had 8 shots after the 1st, but Tom McCollum was very strong in the net, and despite giving up 2 late PPGs, Grand Rapids has tied the series at 1-1 going into 3 home games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday).

Dylan Larkin also happened to score his first two pro goals in the game:

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Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets Game 2 open post

The Grand Rapids Griffins hope to rally from a 1-game deficit in the Western Conference Final against the Utica Comets this evening (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/WOOD Radio).

Here's an open thread to suit your needs and hopefully include some "alternate means" of watching the game.

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A bit about Petr

The Free Press's George Sipple has penned another "emptying the notebook" article, this time discussing Petr Mrazek's outlook going into an offseason in which his summer preparation better prepare him to battle for the starter's job in an open competition with Jimmy Howard for said spot:

"Only one goalie can play," Mrazek said recently. "I'm going to do my best to play as much as I want to and do the best job."

Mrazek was 16-9-2 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 29 games for the Red Wings during the regular season. He also had two shutouts in the playoffs with a 2.11 GAA and a .925 save percentage in the seven-game, first-round loss to the Lightning.

Mrazek, 23, will compete next season with Jimmy Howard.

Howard, 31, was 23-13-11 with a 2.44 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 53 games.

Mrazek said he wouldn't prepare differently this summer than he did previously despite knowing that he would make the team next season. He said he learned a lot from the opportunities he received this season.

Sipple continues....

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‘How did Larkin do?’ Part 2

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Dylan Larkin regarding his pro debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins last night, and this afternoon, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples checks in with Larkin to discuss both is pro debut and Larkin's reasoning behind his decision to leave the University of Michigan and turn pro after his freshman year:

“Yeah, it was pretty cool,” Larkin said of the moment he officially signed his name on his new contract. “I kind of felt relieved to finally make a decision, and go along with it. Obviously it was one of the days that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

The decision to leave school wasn’t any easy one for the 18-year-old.

“Yeah, it was probably one of the more difficult decisions of my life,” Larkin said. “It was tough. I’m going to miss it. I think it will all work out, and I’ll always be a Wolverine. Hopefully one day I can go back and finish school.”

Larkin said that his experience at Worlds – his opportunity to compare himself with NHL-caliber talent – wasn’t a solidifying factor in his decision, saying it was decision made over the few days leading up to the contract signing between him and his family.

“Probably a day or two before, you know, I didn’t really know, I was still thinking about it and weighing the options and talked to my teammates at Michigan and I just kind of made the decision.”

Caples continues...

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Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets game 2 game-day preview and notes

The Grand Rapids Griffins take on the Utica Comets in Game 2 of the AHL's Western Conference Final this evening (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/WOOD Radio), hoping to rally from last night's 2-1 loss, and the Griffins posited a game-day preview video in which Bob Kaser reports that Colin Campbell will replace Marek Tvrdon...

And the AHL posted a set of series notes as part of its "Morning Skate":

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Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Drafts Petr Mrazek

from Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,

The Detroit Red Wings drafted netminder Petr Mrazek in the fifth round, 141st overall, of the 2010 draft. Less than five years later and Mrazek’s draft stock has risen significantly – at least in the KHL.

In Sunday’s first round of the 2015 KHL draft, Mrazek, who met the criteria for the draft by virtue of being under the age of 24 and not having his rights owned by any club in the league, was selected seventh overall by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. However, after a season in which he may have possibly pushed fellow goaltender Jimmy Howard out of the Detroit net for the number one job, it’s probably safe to put his chances of heading to Russia next season at about zero percent....

The Red Wings have Mrazek locked up for the 2015-16 campaign on a one-year, $737,500 pact, but he’ll be a restricted free agent following the upcoming season. If he were to move on, that would likely be the time for him. With Howard’s play raising questions about how much longer he’ll be battling for the starting role in Detroit, it seems as though Mrazek will likely get another deal with the Red Wings, even if only another short-term contract.

read on

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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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