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Grand Rapids Griffins-Syracuse Crunch Game 5 open post: Blashill offers takes on 12 prospects

The Grand Rapids Griffins get a second chance to close out the Syracuse Crunch tonight (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio), and they'll do so minus Adam Almquist but including Gustav Nyquist, who the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports was not suspended for whatever happened between Nyquist and Richard Panik last night.

The Crunch expect to have defenseman Radko Gudas back in their lineup, aiding the Crunch's transition game and already physical bite, and as we wait for the game to start, here are a few noteworthy items to tide you over:

1. Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk's facing off against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen in TSN's Play of the Year Semifinals, and voting will end on Monday at midnight EDT;

2. If you happen to be heading to the Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway tomorrow, Niklas Kronwall will be the Grand Marshal;

3. In a very different participatory vein, the Syracuse Post-Standard's Don Cazentre reports that the mayors of Syracuse, NY and Grand Rapids, MI have made a sudsy bet regarding the team that will capture the Calder Cup:

It took a while, but the mayors of Syracuse and Grand Rapids have finally agreed on what they are betting on the outcome of the Calder Cup American Hockey League championship series between the Syracuse Crunch and Grand Rapids Griffins.

Beer.

Each mayor also agreed to wear the jersey of the opponent if their hometown team loses.

But back to the beer.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner agreed to send a case of Syracuse Pale Ale, brewed at Middle Ages Brewing Co., to Grand Rapids if the Crunch lose.

In return, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell promised to send a case of beer from his city's Founders Brewing Co. to Miner if the Crunch prevail.

And in more pertinent news, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner asked Grifins coach Jeff Blashill to assess the pluses and minuses of TWELVE Red Wings prospects, and here are some of his takes:

Luke Glendening (RW): Luke Glendening is a rare person who has an unbelievable will and work ethic combined with an unbelievable ability to get better at things. He never played center before, but he improved his face-offs to be one of the best face-off guys in the league. I believe he will not be denied the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League. (Glendening is not under contract with Detroit, but that is expected to change very soon.)

...

Tomas Jurco (RW): Jurco has gone from being a highly skilled player to being a very good player, there’s a huge difference. Early in the year, he was a skilled player that necessarily didn’t know how to play winning hockey. Now he’s a winning hockey player that’s extremely talented.

Gustav Nyquist (RW): The biggest thing I’d say about Gus is that he’s extremely talented. He’s a great locker-room guy, a great character guy that people may not understand the impact he’s had on this team (Grand Rapids). When he came back, it was a big factor in us being here (Calder Cup Final) today.

...

Landon Ferraro (C): Landon has had a real good year, a breakout year in the American League. He has great speed, he has a great shot and he can score goals.  His element of speed is transferable to the NHL. Landon has had injury problems and has gone through this year, knock on wood, fairly unscathed. As he continues to develop, he has an opportunity.

...

Calle Jarnkrok (C): When Calle was here (he played nine games for the Griffins), it was a good experience for him to see that everything happens quicker in North American hockey. He’s going to take that lesson and apply it this summer to get better at those things. With added strength, he’s an extremely smart hockey player with extremely good skills. He needs to add strength to his body.

Teemu Pulkkinen (RW): Pulkkinen has a real good shot, the hard part for these guys (European players) is that they come in and they haven’t learned the systems. Once he becomes comfortable with the systems, it will allow his ability. He has a real ability to shoot a puck and that’s what he’s going to have to rely on to be an impact player.

You'll have to read the other six assessments on your own.

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Comments

George Malik's avatar

Per the Crunch’s broadcasters, Radko Gudas will not play for Syracuse.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 06:02 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

can anyone figure out how to get the game? The AHL site says its free, but no idea how to get it

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 06/15/13 at 06:03 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Just got home from doing some consulting. Doesn’t look like much has happened so far. Glad I didn’t miss any action

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 06:23 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Fuch.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 06:26 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 06/15/13 at 07:03 PM ET

Go through the sign up process by first creating an account, then selecting the Calder Cup package near the bottom of the page. Fill out all the essentials—credit card info not required. You’ll receive an email saying your purchase is complete.

Reload the webpage, click the “get this” button, and enjoy free hockey.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 06:28 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

you have to click where it says watch FREE and make account use the code Calder2013 I think they will send you an e mail to verify .. then you have to log in

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 06/15/13 at 06:32 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Don’t have to add credit card info…Leave it blank.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 06:33 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Fuuuuch.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 06:42 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

This is going very badly. And Paetsch assisted on goal #1 and was near goal-scorer #2.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 06:43 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Awesome! Grant getting us on the board!

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 06:45 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Great chip-in by Callahan, hard shot Ferraro, rebound goes to Grant, 2-1 with 2:22 left 1st.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 06:45 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

If you believe in momentum, the Griffins are taking it back.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 06:47 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Good conclusion to the period.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 06:53 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Griffins are back in it at least.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 06:55 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Tatar with the equalizer!

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 07:14 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Crunch line change yields Tatar turnover neutral zone up in Gus to Tatar JAM JAM 2-2. PPG!

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 07:14 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Darcy Burchell, one of tonight’s refs, has done some NHL work. He’s auditioning for an NHL job. Thus the classic stick-on-hand fouls.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 07:18 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Dumb penalty by Ferraro, dumb goal by Panik. 3-2 despite Griffins dominance…Mrazek has to close his five hole there.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 07:28 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Griffins rope-a-doped their ways to wins. Syracuse is rope-a-doping their way to a win right now. Griffins desperately need to tie it up.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 07:31 PM ET

Alan's avatar

That ref has been getting in the way of everything in the past few minutes.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 07:36 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

AHL Twitter:

That’ll do it for the 2nd period. @SyracuseCrunch hold the 3-2 lead with shots 33-14 @griffinshockey. (Shots were 20-5 this period alone)

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 07:42 PM ET

Alan's avatar

We can’t say it’s a lack of effort, because clearly the Griffins want to shut the door tonight.

Let’s hope we can put it away.

Skate to the throat, boys.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 07:44 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

General observation (other than Griffins PA guy Zane is still an asshat): Between Tatar and Nyquist, Tatar is, by far, the more complete player.

Gus looks like he’s trying to be a “dazzler” (i.e., the second coming of Pavel Datsyuk). Reality check for ya, Gus. It ain’t gonna happen. Try being a team player.

Tatar, however, looks like a mini-Z. He’s fricking tenacious. And he’s really, really hard on the puck. I see now why he was pissed off that Gus got the NHL time ahead of him.

As for Danny DeK, wow, what the hell happened to him? He took the first two Griff penalties, and both of them were more than earned. On the other hand, he was playing in the CHL a few months ago, so I guess a learning curve is to be expected.

Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. If the Griffs keep it up, it has to pay off eventually.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/15/13 at 07:54 PM ET

Alan's avatar

D’oh. 4-2. Ungood.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 08:01 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Gus has been trying to out-skill his opponents…Tatar is trying to out-will them.

What you are witnessing is typical at the AHL level for NHL-level players who return to the league. It is more chaotic, chippy and less skilled, so players who assume that the level of execution in terms of both their teammates and opponents will be elite struggle mightily to deal with the mess, while those who’ve remained at the AHL level are more familiar with the increased level of mucking, grinding and by-chance plays.

Ditto for DeKyeser, who is STILL trying to get his legs under him and is STILL obviously not at 100% in terms of his thumb. And the first penalty against him was TERRIBLE.

You don’t need to worry about Nyquist’s heart or compete level, nor DeKeyser. They are having a hard time being over-checked and tying to over-skill…

Meanwhile, Syracuse scores the 4-2 goal on a crappy play by all five Griffins on the ice, and the goalie too…

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 08:03 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

This one is on the Griffins. They’ve peppered Desjardins but haven’t screened him, and Mrazek’s given up some softies (though he’s had help).

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 08:04 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Panik just head-butted Glendening.

Posted by Primis on 06/15/13 at 08:08 PM ET

Alan's avatar

I saw that, Primis. Cheap shit antics.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 08:10 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Desjardins looks a lot more solid tonight.  That’s not a good sign for the Griffins.  He’s been a little shakey since the start of the series.  He looks fairly confident now though.

He’s an NHL-caliber goalie when he’s on.

Posted by Primis on 06/15/13 at 08:23 PM ET

Alan's avatar

EN makes it 5-2.

We’ll do this again Tuesday night, I guess.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/15/13 at 08:30 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Wow, Griffins, not a very inspired performance at home.

Stupid penalties.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 06/15/13 at 08:34 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Series probably over.

If you think the Griffs have any chance in hell of going in to SYR now and getting anything, with this one-sided officiating…. you’re high and not been paying attention.

The league fought and fought until they got their way and got Syracuse on track.  They’re not going to let GR suddenly take anything back.

Posted by Primis on 06/15/13 at 08:37 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

You don’t need to worry about Nyquist’s heart or compete level, nor DeKeyser. They are having a hard time being over-checked and tying to over-skill…

No one has questioned Nyquist’s “heart,” George. What’s in question is his commitment to team play. I’ve already noted that Gus is trying to “over-skill” the opposition. What’s your point?

As for DK,  being “over-checked” is no excuse for his sloppy play tonight. He was simply out played by the opposition. But, as I said originally, that’s all part of the learning curve of someone moving from the CHL to the NHL/AHL. But that’s exactly why the Wings wanted him to play in this series. Next spring, he’ll know how hard the the opposition will play. It sucks now, but it’ll pay dividends later.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/15/13 at 11:29 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

In every game I’ve seen Nyquist play for Grand Rapids, he’s not used his teammates well enough. It’s been Nyquist versus the World, and he’s struggled and his linemates have struggled as a result. I don’t have an answer for you as to why it’s happening.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/15/13 at 11:41 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Final thoughts on Game 5…

This game proved, beyond a doubt, that Mrazek is at least a year (if not two) away from being NHL-ready. Right now, he’s Hasek Jr. He has all of Dom’s great scrambling abilities. But he also has some serious weaknesses, like his propensity for stopping the most diffucult shots while failing to stop the really weak ones. On the other hand, he’s only 21. Two or three years from now, no one will care about his “weaknesses” in 2013.

The Wing first call-up in 2013-2014 will be Tomas Jurco.
And if he adds another 10 pounds between now and then, I don’t know how they’ll ever get him out of the line-up. I always thought of him as a weak player with great hands. But he’s shown that he’s got the cahones to play with the big boys. And he’s a lot better skater than I ever expected him to be.

Ferraro is the next Darren Helm, just a little bit slower. He’ll never be the 2nd-line (or maybe even the 3rd-line) center the Wings thought he’d be when they drafted him. But he just might make Wings fans think he’s even better than Kris Draper was in his prime.

Jan Mursak’s timing is horrible. Right now, he’s playing exactly like many of us thought he could play two years ago. Unfortunately, injuries hit him at all of the wrong times. So, next year, he’ll play in the KHL. But don’t count this guy out. He’s got “Babcock-style” qualities (hard on the puck, crashes the net, etc.). Maybe he’ll give the Wings another chance (and vice versa) a year from now.

As for the end result in this series, I’d give the Griffs a 51-49 chance of winning it all. But even if they lose, they’ll have shown that the Griffins are a “major player” in the AHL. And next year, when the Griffs line-up will include the top Wings top prospects (like Sproul, Ouellet, Backman, Almquist and Marchenko on the blue line plus Jurco, Frk, Pulkkinen, Sheahan, Ferraro and, maybe, Jarnkrok as thier forwards), they’ll truly be a force to be reckoned with.

In the end, “slow and steady” may actually win the race. The prospects are coming – and they’re looking pretty damn awesome. I can’t wait to see what the Wings get with their 18th pick this year (or whatever picks they get by trading it).

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/16/13 at 12:34 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

It’s been Nyquist versus the World, and he’s struggled and his linemates have struggled as a result. I don’t have an answer for you as to why it’s happening.

Well, I’ll give you a very simple answer to why he’s doing that, George. As I stated earlier, I think he’s trying to be Pavel Jr.

He seems to think that the “weight” is all on him. But it’s not. He has two highly capable linemates in Andersson and Tatar. All he has to do is use them.

That’s a negative about Gus right now. However, no matter how the Calder Cup Final ends, I’m guessing that he’ll get it by the start of next year’s NHL season. If he doesn’t, Babcock won’t hesitate to put him on the 4th line (or in the press box) until he does.

Eventually, I think he’ll accept his role as a team player (just like Pavel did) and he’ll be an extremely productive Red Wing for many, many years.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/16/13 at 12:48 AM ET

Alan's avatar

Everyone has a bad game every once in a while. This was just a bad time for several players to have a bad game all at once.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 06/16/13 at 10:07 AM ET

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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.