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Grand Rapids Griffins shifting focus to influx of new players, AHL season as training camp begins

The Grand Rapids Griffins opened their training camp today at their practice facility in Grand Rapids, a few new Wings cuts and one temporary one included...

Mrazek will remain with the Wings for the present moment, Almquist is likely to earn another exhibition game, and the Left Wing Lock's Sarah Lindenau reported that Coetzee's recovering from knee surgery, and as she pointed out, Nick Jensen has to remain on the Wings' roster (and the LTIR) while he recovers from shoulder surgery.


The Grand Rapids Press's Wallner spoke with Griffins coach Jeff Blashill after practice (Wallner's article also includes a 15-image photo gallery), and Blashill pointed out that having a training camp after skating with the Wings may better-prepare the Griffins to defend their Calder Cup championship...Or it may have distracted the team a wee bit:

“This is way different to prepare,” Blashill said after the first practice was completed. “… That probably helped us last year because it was my first year with the team, so it allowed me time to put forth exactly what we were doing. That said, what Mike Babcock does in Detroit and what we do are very similar, and these guys have been well schooled through the camp. Now it’s just a matter of understanding the slight difference, and hearing our verbiage and getting prepared.”

Defenseman Adam Almquist, forward Teemu Pulkkinen and goalie Petr Mrazek practiced Monday, but they are expected to head back to Detroit after Tuesday’s practice. After Wednesday, Almquist and Pulkkinen will return with Mrazek probably remaining as backup to Jimmy Howard while Jonas Gustavsson recovers from a groin injury.
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The Griffins plan to scrimmage Friday and then play exhibition games against Lake Erie on Saturday at Compuware Arena in Plymouth and Sunday at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario.

...

“Every year is a new team and the makeup and chemistry is always different, and we’ll find out about that as we move along,” he said. “I think we have good talent; we don’t have the same proven scoring that we had a year ago, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a lot of scoring. It’s just an unknown.”

Last year, Gustav Nyquist led the AHL in scoring until he went to Detroit late in the season. Tomas Tatar was dominant in the playoffs. Both are likely targeted for Detroit this season. Blashill has been impressed with the defensemen at Red Wings camp and at the prospect’s tournament in Traverse City.

“Just observing them, I think our young (defensemen) have done a good job – really all of them,” he said. “In particular (Xavier) Ouellet and (Ryan) Sproul have really, really played well, I think, and showed themselves for first year guys the ability to play in the exhibition in the NHL and do a really good job. I think as a group our D have done a good job.”

Fox 17's Steve Amorose just filed a first-day-of-camp report, too:

Head coach Jeff Blashill, along with assistant coaches Jim Paek and Spiros Anastas and Red Wings liaisons Chris Chelios, oversaw 22 skaters and two goaltenders through drills at Griff’s IceHouse Monday morning. During the Griffins first practice, the Detroit Red Wings announced that eight more players including forwards Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan, and Landon Ferraro would be joining the Griffins on Tuesday.

Forward Teemu Pulkkinen was on the ice in Grand Rapids today with the Griffins, but will have to return to Detroit on Wednesday to fulfill the final game requirement of his four-game NHL preseason suspension.

The Griffins will be holding a week-long training camp at Griff’s IceHouse in Grand Rapids and every session is open to the public. The Griffins camp schedule for the rest of the week is:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 24 – Practices from 10:30-11:20 a.m and 11:35 a.m.-12-15 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 25 – Practices from 10:15-11:05 a.m. and 11:20 a.m.-Noon
  • Thursday, Sept. 26 – Practices from 10:15-11:05 a.m. and 11:20 a.m.-Noon
  • Friday, Sept. 27 – Practice from 10:15-11:05 a.m. and a Scrimmage from 11:20-Noon

The Griffins will take on the Lake Erie Monsters in a pair of preseason games. The first game is on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7:00 p.m. at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich., with the second game set for the following night at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario.

The Griffins AHL season opener is Friday, Oct. 4 in Rochester and the home opener (Championship Banner Night) is Friday, Oct. 18 against the Milwaukee Admirals.

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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.