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As newspaper scribes tour the ‘Detroit Events Center,’ Ken Holland fields a question about an ASG

The Detroit News, Free Press, MLive, CBS Detroit and Crain's Detroit Business's "Detroit" and "Sports Business" writers are all taking part in a media tour of the Red Wings' follow-on rink today...

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Wallner: Daniel Cleary serving a mentorship role in Grand Rapids

Daniel Cleary has been in and out of the Grand Rapids Griffins' lineup with injuries, but the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that Cleary has been a positive influence upon the Griffins' players:

"I'm always watching and talking to the guys on what they can do better positionally, especially with the younger players," he said. "I'm here for a lot of different reasons and one of them being that. I know that, so I just do it."

He added: "There are little tricks you learn that with five, six, seven, eight years playing pro where you have more time to think. Like better stick position in the D-zone. Just some minute adjustments that can really help a player out. It takes time, man. It takes time. You work hard at your craft, you be a good teammate and you shut your mouth. First guy on, last guy off. That pays off. It does."

Coach Todd Nelson likes the knowledge he brings and hopes to have Cleary use it on the ice soon, too.

"Obviously, Danny was a part of that nice stretch we had there," the coach said of a franchise record 15 game win streak. "He was a big part of that. He has a presence on and off the ice. He's close. Now it's a matter of getting him in game shape."

Wallner continues, and he posted a short video of Cleary rehabbing his knee on ice:

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On Jensen and Saarijarvi

Of prospect-related note this morning:

1. The Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Nick Jensen regarding his development with the Grand Rapids Griffins and his goal of earning an NHL spot...

“I think being down there has been good for my development,” Jensen said. “Coming from college right in, always when you’re going to the next level it’s a little bit of an eye-opener, a little bit of an adjustment year by year. I think I’ve improved the most on playing solid and consistently on defense and being able to break the puck out and move the puck to the forwards, because that’s the main job of the defensemen. And then just the bonus of being able to play offensively when you got the chance to.”

With NHL games so tight, Jensen understands that he’ll be required to earn the trust of the coaching staff before he’ll be permitted to skate a regular shift in the show.

“That’s the No. 1 focus, playing solid defensively and moving the puck up to the forwards,” Jensen said. “If you can’t do that, you can’t really play defense. We’ve always been told in this association that offense is just a bonus. You’ve got to be able to do those little things. It’s like a requirement almost for a defenseman to play in the AHL and especially in the NHL.”

Duff continues...

2. And the Flint Journal's Eric Woodyard penned an article about Vili Saarijarvi's billet family:

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ESPN’s Custance profiles Dylan Larkin; Savage suggests what Larkin should expect at the ASG

ESPN's Craig Custance penned a fantastic profile of Dylan Larkin, interviewing Larkin's former coaches as well as his current coach, GM and teammates to provide an authoritative take on Larkin's present talents and future potential:

Former Red Wings player Doug Brown shaped Larkin's game as a young player on the powerhouse Belle Tire youth team, and Brown equates Larkin to a really bright quarterback.

"You have to be calm, take the hit and keep the play moving. If you can get it downfield fast, get it downfield fast. If you have to hit the tight end, hit the tight end. But move it, move it to the open player," Brown said. "Dylan's dad was a collegiate soccer player, they grasp the importance of touching the puck and moving it."

Brown's conclusion is that Larkin's combination of smarts, speed and will to improve creates a limitless potential.

"Don't put a ceiling on Dylan Larkin," Brown said. "He is a great player for the modern game."

Custance continues...

And MLive's Brendan Savage spoke with Jimmy Howard, Brad Richars and Mike Green regarding what Larkin should expect to experience at the All-Star game:

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Larkin graduating from a different kind of ‘talented and gifted’ program

The Free Press's Helene St. James penned a profile of Dylan Larkin as he prepares for his first All-Star experience, and as you might expect, Larkin defers much of the credit for his 15 goals, 18 assists and 33 points registered over the course of 45 games played:

“Playing with good players helps a ton,” Larkin said. “Every night they are going to produce, and you just have to be there ready to put pucks away or find them and we’re going to create offense. It’s been going well. I think the games are going to start picking up here as teams start pushing for the playoffs, so it’s going to get harder to be consistent.”

There’s good reason to think Larkin can maintain his pace because he’s so good at creating his own opportunities.

“He’s got a strong stick, and he finds his way to win enough puck battles,” coach Jeff Blashill said. Blashill has made it a point nearly every time he has talked about Larkin to note there are things he still has to learn, areas where he can improve. It’s not belittling Larkin. Just the opposite.

“I think there is even better there,” Blashill said. “But he has certainly been a real good player for us.”

Larkin’s goal in September was to stay with the Wings. That in January he would become the team’s first rookie All-Star since Steve Yzerman in 1984? That wasn’t even a fantasy.

“I couldn’t envision this,” Larkin said. “I don’t think anybody could.”

That's true for the GM, too:

“The birth certificate says 19, but he’s not 19,” general manager Ken Holland said. “I’ve raised four children. I know what 19 looks like. He’s way more mature than his age, and that is why he’s able to do what he’s done. That is his gift.”

St. James continues...

Quick note: Speaking of Ken Holland, from the Livonia Observer:

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Evening news: Quantifying and qualifying Mrazek’s success, and more ‘By the Numbers’ stats

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan provides a statistical take on Petr Mrazek's "elite goaltending"...

■ Mrazek ranked second in save percentage (.932) behind Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth (.934).

■ Mrazek ranked fourth in goals-against average (2.03).

■ His three shutouts are tied for 10th.

“He’s given us a chance (to win) most every night,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said.

2. The Free Press's Helene St. James penned an article discussing Mrazek's demeanor...

"Tats said it once this year, just about Petr - he's the same whether it's the Stanley Cup playoffs or he's playing maybe hockey in the summer," Blashill said. "He just seems to have the same approach all the time, whether it's road, home, none of that stuff seems to bother him."

3. And DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose filed a set of "By the Numbers" articles profiling the 2015-16 campaigns of Justin Abdelkader, Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Green and Gustav Nyquist.

Of note from each player's profile, starting with Abdelkader...

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Prospect news: Griffins lose to Toronto in matinee game

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins are starting to know how the Red Wings feel. The Griffins dropped their 4th straight home game on Wednesday, losing their schoolkids' matinee game to the Toronto Marlies, by a 4-0 tally. The Griffins' website filed a recap...

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Khan: Justin Abdelkader weighs in on hockey analytics

Via RedWingsFeed, MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Justin Abdelkader regarding his analysis of advanced hockey metrics as employed in the term paper that helped Abdelkader earn his business degree, and Abdelkader told Khan that analytics ain't everything:

"I think some of it can definitely be used," Abdelkader said. "And I think some of it is a lot of stats and just because the stats say one thing a player's performance on the ice can say different things.

"I think there's obviously parts of it that can be irrelevant. I think when push comes to shove you're going to put the player on the ice that you're comfortable with, who's playing (well). I don't think coaches are going to have a sheet of paper on the bench and say, 'This guy's analytics are this and he does this, so I'm going to put him on the ice.' It's going to be more the coach's feel.

"Maybe after the season they can look at the overall analytics of a player throughout the season to see how much time he's spent in the offensive zone, his shots against. It can vary and it can be tough at the end of a game to judge a player strictly on what his analytics say and that you're not going to put him out there when you know how he plays on the ice and you know he's an effective player."

Khan continues...

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‘Two Things’: Praise for Mrazek and an interview with Vili Saarijarvi

ESPN's Corey Pronman wrote an Insider-only blog entry awarding "Analytics All-Stars," and Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek earned a nod for the most "Quality Starts":

Category: Quality start percentage
All-Star: Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are tied for second place in the Atlantic Division, and a lot of the credit goes to the consistent play of their new starting goalie, Mrazek.

Wins and losses are an outdated way to measure goaltending, given how they are influenced by factors outside the goalie's control, like how many shots he faces and how many goals the team scored. That's where quality starts comes in, which are awarded in any game that a goalie stops a league average rate of shots faced. In this regard, Mrazek leads the NHL (among goalies with 20 or more starts), with quality starts in 75 percent of his games.

Mrazek also has started the most games without a blown start, which occurs in any game where a goalie fails to stop at least 85 percent of the shots faced. No other goalie has started more than 15 games without blowing at least one of them.

Finally, Mrazek's .932 save percentage is superior to all eight goalies who were selected for the All-Star game and is tied with Corey Crawford for third in the NHL (with a minimum of 15 games played).

Pronman continues, and I'd argue that wins and losse still do a pretty decent job of measuring goaltending, but what do I know.

Also: "Gears and Beer's" Tom Writer and Adam Biggers conducted an inteview with Wings prospect Vili Saarijarvi regarding playing with the OHL's Flint Firebirds:

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Jiri Fischer, Wings alums to take part in ‘Shocks and Saves’ game this Saturday

Jiri Fischer and a gaggle of Red Wings alumni are taking part in the annual "Shocks and Saves" game in Saginaw this Saturday to raise funds for automated external defibrillators. Fischer didn't hide his emotions about the event or its reminders of his cardiac arrest while speaking with the Saginaw News's Hugh Berenreuter:

"There are a lot of emotional things that go on right after the survivor's life-altering event," Fischer said. "There was that reality for me that I would never be able to play in the NHL again. It's been 10 years now. Something that you work for your whole life gets taken away. There are waves of frustration and disappointment and then excitement for being alive. It's a very emotional for every survivor. We try to help people out who are going through those things to help ease the pain."

Fischer expects former Red Wings Darren McCarty, Petr Klima and John Ogrodnick to join him on the ice Saturday as a team of Saginaw-area physicians skates against a team of Saginaw-area emergency personnel.

"Somehow, every year I get energized by the event," Fischer said. "People's lives are being saved. Every time you hear another person is saved, it energizes you. We'll play, but we don't want the game to turn into an alumni game. We want to keep the focus on the cardiologists and the emergency people. They're the ones saving lives."

Berenreuter continues, and the game takes place at 4 PM on Saturday at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, prior to the Saginaw Spirit's game against the Kitchener Rangers. It benefits the Pulse3 Foundation.

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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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