The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/12/13 at 08:39 PM ET
The Grand Rapids Griffins had a rough go at times during their 4-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday, surrendering the game's first goal and a game-tying goal late in the second period, but the tightly-contested game--went the Griffins' way in the end.
The Crunch took a 1-0 lead on what should have been a controversial play halfway through the first period: Richard Panik boarded Adam Almquist, who fell to the ice in a heap, allowing the Crunch to work the puck around on a 5-on-4 advantage as play continued...And Panik jammed the puck past Mrazek to give the Crunch a lead that stood through a first period in which the Crunch dominated play and turned the Griffins into a Wings-like neutral zone turnover machine.
Early in the second period, Tomas Tatar took the rebound of a Nathan Paetsch shot that went wide and wrapped it around the Crunch's most valuable player and then some in goaltender Cedric Desjardins, and two minutes later, Luke Glendening banged a backhand past Desjardins thanks to some lovely work by Danny DeKeyser (who was up and down) and Jan Mursak...
But the Crunch tied the game 4 seconds short of the halfway mark of the 2nd, with a bizarre floater from Dan Sexton seemingly going off of a Griffins defenseman and past Petr Mrazek from the blueline, and the vast majority of the balance of the game involved Desjardins frustrating the hell out of the Griffins--including stopping breakaways by Tatar and Nyquist--and Mrazek making equally remarkable saves in the Griffins' end.
Eventually, the Griffins stopped turning over pucks and trying to put on a show, starting to out-grind the Crunch while also bearind down and playing smarter, simpler and more efficient hockey, and it paid off in a big way.
Danny DeKeyser may have fallen on his butt after trying to take a slap shot at the right offensive point and whiffing on the puck, but before he fell, he slid the puck in deep, and Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan worked his way past the Crunch defense, wrapped the puck around the net, reversed to go to his forehand on Desjardins' blocker side, and chipped the puck in front, where it went off Jan Mursak's skate...
And after some heroics from Mrazek, including a remarkable behind-the-back glove save on the hard-hitting Panik, Hoggan took a loose puck in the neutral zone, charged toward the net, and while he was thrown into an angry Desjardins, he jabbed the puck who rewarded Hoggan with a couple punches to the head.
From there on out, the Griffins just rode solid defense to a fine conclusion, defeating Syracuse 4-2 and taking a 3-0 series lead.
Helluva game, helluva win, but now we have to worry about what happened to Almquist...Though the Calder Cup will be hiding below another sell-out crowd at Van Andel Arena for good reason on Friday night.
Update: and lest I forget, the Griffins' captain rebounded from behing speared in the balls by Panik to lead his team to an awesome win.
A BALLSY WIN.
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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.