The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/30/13 at 09:14 AM ET
The Grand Rapids Griffins will battle the Toronto Marlies today at 5 PM (televised on FSD, Sportsnet and other local outlets) on Comerica Park's ice surface, with Luke Glendening and Trevor Parkes in tow (but Petr Mrazek not taking part due to Jonas Gustavsson's sore groin)
The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner noted that the Griffins' morning skate will be the only opportunity for the team to acclimate to the outdoor ice surface, but the Griffins do have four players with outdoor experience in Nathan Paetsch, Glendening (4 games' worth of outdoor experience), Teemu Pulkkinen (ditto) and Adam Almquist.
We're expecting partly sunny skies and teperatures in the high teens today and tonight, so the weather should be perfect for the Griffins, but Mother Nature has thrown a wrench into tomorrow's Alumni Showdowns (1 and 3:30 PM at Comerica Park) as we may experience some snow showers and gusty winds, and the Winter Classic itself may include the beginnings of 1-3 inches of snow!
Update: Via RedWingsFeed, the Free Press's George Sipple (who's taking part in a Freep.com chat at 10 AM today) spoke with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill regarding his team's strengths and weaknesses:
On the play of second-year defenseman Adam Almquist, who has no goals and 19 assists in 27 games: “We just said it as a staff, we’re really surprised that he hasn’t scored. He scored a number of goals last year. He’s got a really good shot. Just one of those things where he’ll score soon and once he does he’ll get a couple right away.”
On team captain Jeff Hoggan, who had 107 NHL games of experience and two seasons in Germany before joining the Griffins in 2012: “Jeff’s been a very good American Hockey League player for some time. … He actually came to us on a professional tryout last year and by the time his PTO was done he was our captain. Scored 20 goals for us and was a real driving force in us winning last year and creating an environment in our locker room, along with other leaders, that has helped the young Red Wings prospects develop.”
On forward Teemu Pulkkinen, who has 11 goals and 26 points in 31 games: “He can really shoot a puck and he loves to shoot a puck. One of those rare guys that can score on one shot. The goals he scores, he could score on any goalie in the world lots of times. He can shoot it. He’s got that kind of offensive abilty. Now he’s not that big (5-10, 194). He needs to make sure he’s a complete player. Sometimes when you’re that gifted you want to cheat offensively a little bit to get those opportunities. He needs to make sure he’s playing a complete game. For him to get called up, you have to play on a third or fourth line as well as a first or second line.”
On the development of Mitch Callahan, who has 12 goals in 31 games this season, topping the 11 goals he had in 71 games last season: “He’s proven himself to be a very good 5-on-5 player, to the point he’s leading us in goal scoring. He’s also developed into a good penalty killer. One of those guys that does all the little things right. He blocks shots, he’s strong to the puck, he goes to the net front. Scores a lot of goals around the crease. And he’s also a pain for the other team. He’s an agitator.”
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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.