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Griffins hope to get on a good streak come playoff time

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson regarding his team ahead of next weekend's playoff match-up with the Milwaukee Admirals:

Coach Todd Nelson didn't even try to sugarcoat the image of the Grand Rapids Griffins heading into the Calder Cup Playoffs.

"Let's call a spade a shovel - we're a very streaky hockey team. If I said anything different I'd be lying to you," he said.

The roller coaster season is trending downward headed into the postseason. Saturday's 3-2 loss to Bakersfield was the Griffins' fifth in a row.

Not the kind of momentum they want as they open the playoffs Friday against Central Division champion Milwaukee, which had a 13-game point streak snapped in its finale on Saturday.

"We've gone through a lot of ups and downs this year," Nelson said. "The thing is, I feel comfortable going into the playoffs based on how we played (Saturday) and before that I didn't. But I thought our effort was good last night and we executed well, we just couldn't score."

Wallner continues...

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Evening news: Game-day previews; on Smith and Mrazek, line changes and stats of note

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. Joe Louis Arena is ready for the big game...

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Red Wings-Lightning Game 3 notes: What 2 Watch For’ and ‘5 Keys’

Among ESPN's Craig Custance's "What 2 Watch For" list regarding Game 3 of the Red Wings-Lightning series...

  • The Red Wings are also plugging in defenseman Brendan Smith, although whom he's replacing on defense will be a game-time decision. Smith gives the Red Wings more mobility on the back end and will help the breakout, which has struggled at times against a fast, skilled Lightning team. He objected when it was suggested that he’s being plugged in just to produce offense, since his game is more than that. Where he’ll have an impact is getting the puck quickly out of the defensive zone and jumping into the play on offense. The key will be finding that balance while managing turnovers, since turnovers hurt Detroit earlier in this series.
  • Tyler Johnson remains the focus of the Lightning offensive attack, with six points in two games continuing his mastery against Detroit in the playoffs. Finding a way to slow him down will be the key to the Red Wings getting back in the series. Blashill appeared to be constructing a shutdown line of Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan and Justin Abdelkader, but warned not to read into the morning skate lines too much. More importantly that defending Johnson will be forcing him to play defense on the other end of the ice, a point not lost on Blashill.

    “The more you make them defend, the better you’ll be,” Blashill said. “However many goals they have, they may have one more chance than that. They’ve been very good at scoring on their chances.”

Custance continues...

And among NHL.com's Nicholas J. Cotsonika's "Five keys"...


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Red Wings-Lightning Game 3 game-day articles: Mrazek starts, Smith is in for Wings

Updated 7x at 2:42 PM: The Detroit Red Wings will start Petr Mrazek in front of a shuffled defense (Smith in for Quincey) and different lines--we think (Wings coach Jeff Blashill told the media that he may or may not use the lines he employed during the morning skate)--as they face the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the teams' first-round series tonight (7 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/CNBC/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM).

Per MLive's Ansar Khan, the morning skate lines looked like this:

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Red Wings-Lightning morning skate Tweets: Mrazek starts, Smith in, Eurotwins separated

Updated 3x at 11:56 AM: Mrazek in, Quincey out, lines shuffled: The Detroit Red Wings face a must-win situation against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/FS Florida/CNBC/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM). The Red Wings hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena just before 10:30 AM, per the Free Press's George Sipple...

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Morning news: ‘Game-Day Hype,’ Wings notes, a column about ‘Coop’ and Griffins playoff talk

Of Red Wings, Lightning and Grand Rapids Griffins-related note this morning:

1. The Red Wings posted a "Game-Day Hype" video on their Twitter account:

2. The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a long column discussing the ways in which the Red Wings need to step up, noting that the Wings' offense is stuck in neutral:

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Let’s Make It A Series

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

Here are five ways the Red Wings can get back into the series:

Mrazek must step in and excel

Jeff Blashill wouldn't reveal any lineup decisions following Saturday's optional practice. But only one personnel move would have the potential for a huge impact and that's a goaltending change.

Jimmy Howard hasn't played poorly. He hasn't gotten enough defensive support. But his 3.59 goals-against average and .871 save percentage in the series isn't going to get it done.

Putting Petr Mrazek in goal could provide a huge lift. He hasn't started since March 26, when he was pulled for the fourth time in 13 games, culminating a puzzling fall in the second half for a goalie who was dominant in January and early February....

Get Athanasiou more minutes

The Red Wings need to put aside any concerns about rookie Andreas Athanasiou's inexperience or defensive deficiencies and play him more. He logged only 8:45 and 7:33, respectively, in the first two games.

Athanasiou maximizes his ice time by making things happen with his blazing speed and has finishing ability. When he has the puck and turns up ice, he doesn't need much space to gain separation and put defenses on their heels.


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Prospect news: Walleye tie playoff series with Reading; Griffins lose home finale

Of prospect-related note:

In playoff action, in the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye built up a 4-0 lead over the Reading Royals and held on for dear life, with Reading scoring 3 goals on Jake Paterson, but Paterson held tough, stopping 23 of 26 shots as the Walleye defeated Reading 4-3, tying the teams' first-round series at a game apiece.

The Walleye's website posted a recap:

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Red Wings-Lightning Game 3 set-up: Win a game + Albom on Yzerman and Sharp on the rebuild-on-the-fly

The Detroit Red Wings face a must-win situation in Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening (7 PM EDT on FSD/CNBC/CBC/TVA Sports/97.1 FM), at least if the Wings don't want to be staring a 3-games-to-none deficit in the face.

The storylines going into tonight's game are relatively simple as neither team held a full skate on Saturday, with the Wings choosing to address Friday's brawl after an optional practice and the Lightning discussing their desire to "keep an even keel" against the Wings as the series shifts to Joe Louis Arena.

The Lightning did receive bad news in the injury department as J.T. Brown will miss the remainder of the series after blocking a shot with his "upper-body," as the Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman noted...

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Grand Rapids Griffins to open playoffs against Milwaukee Admirals

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins will begin the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs by facing the Milwaukee Admirals in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals.

The fourth-seeded Griffins and division champion Admirals will stage Games 1 and 2 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23 before the series turns to Van Andel Arena for Game 3 on Tuesday, April 26 and, if necessary, Game 4 on Wednesday, April 27. The complete schedule is as follows:

2016 Calder Cup Playoffs - Central Division Semifinals - Best-of-Five

  • Game 1  Fri., April 22  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.
  • Game 2  Sat., April 23  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.
  • Game 3  Tue., April 26  Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS  7 p.m.
  • *Game 4  Wed., April 27  Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS  7 p.m.
  • *Game 5  Sat., April 30  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.

* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com

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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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