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The Malik Report

Grand Rapids Griffins will get back to work after Wednesday’s All-Star Game

The AHL's All-Star Skills Competition took place on Tuesday evening (the AHL won 18-17 over Swedish SHL team Farjestads BK) and the All-Star Game itself takes place on Wednesday at 6:30 PM--and the AHL will stream Red Wings prospect Alexei Marchenko and Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill's appearance in an AHL-vs-Swedish team affair on Wednesday at 6:30 PM--but I figured "better late than never" regarding posting the Grand Rapids Griffins' weekly press release:

GRIFFINS HOST RAMPAGE FOR PAIR AFTER ALL-STAR BREAK

This Week’s Games
Tue., Feb. 11      2014 AHL All-Star Skills Competition            6:30 p.m.    Fox Sports Detroit / AHLLive.com
Wed., Feb. 12    2014 AHL All-Star Classic All-Star Game   6:30 p.m.  Fox Sports Detroit on Feb. 13 @ 1 p.m. (delay) / AHLLive.com
Fri., Feb. 14        San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS     7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 15      San Antonio Rampage at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Wed., Feb. 5 
    Lake Erie Monsters 4 at GRIFFINS 0     29-14-2-2, 62 pts. (1st, Midwest Division)
Fri., Feb. 7     GRIFFINS 1 at Toronto Marlies 4     29-15-2-2, 62 pts. (1st)
Sat., Feb. 8     GRIFFINS 5 at Rochester Americans 1     30-15-2-2, 64 pts. (1st)

Northern Business: Grand Rapids earned two of six possible points last week against three North Division foes. On Wednesday, the Griffins were shut out by the Lake Erie Monsters, 4-0, at Van Andel Arena. Goaltender Petr Mrazek saw the end of his 10-game winning streak in a Griffins sweater, not having lost a game since a 5-0 home shutout by the Charlotte Checkers on Oct. 25. On Friday, the Griffins closed out their season series against the Toronto Marlies with a 4-1 loss, finishing regular season play with a 0-2-1-1 record against the Maple Leafs’ affiliate. Landon Ferraro contributed the only goal of the game for the Griffins, while Mrazek was stuck with his fifth loss of the season. However, Grand Rapids reversed its luck on Saturday with a commanding 5-1 decision over the Rochester Americans at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. In the Griffins’ first game on NHL ice since April 26, 2006, Tom McCollum backstopped the win with 27 saves, and Jeff Hoggan and Cory Emmerton tallied a goal and an assist each. In contrast to a four-loss season series against the Marlies, the Griffins ended their series against the Americans with a 4-0 record.

The Midwest Division: Although the Griffins have been trading wins and losses of late, the team still holds on to a five-point lead over the Midwest Division. The Chicago Wolves (27-16-3-2, 59 pts.) rank second after posting a 7-2-1-0 record through the last 10 games. The third-place Milwaukee Admirals (22-14-6-5, 55 pts.) are tangling with the fourth-place Rockford IceHogs (24-21-4-2, 54 pts.) in terms of placement within the division. The Iowa Wild (20-17-5-4, 49 pts.) rank fifth. The Griffins tie for second in the Western Conference with the Texas Stars (29-15-2-4, 64 pts.) and trail the Abbotsford Heat (31-15-3-1, 66 pts.) by only two points. Grand Rapids ties for fourth overall in the AHL, behind Abbotsford, the Springfield Falcons (31-13-1-4, 67 pts.) and the Manchester Monarchs (31-14-2-5, 69 pts.).

Friday Promotions: Friday’s game versus San Antonio gives fans the opportunity to enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. College students can purchase an upper bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden’s concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden’s. Every Friday night is also a Griffins D-Zone night, where fans can have $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served directly to their seats, and a Free Ride Friday, permitting any fan to enjoy complimentary fare on the Rapid busses by showing their ticket to that night’s game. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit http://griffinshockey.com/dzone to order D-Zone tickets, and visit ridetherapid.org for information on bus schedules, routes and maps.

Jeff Hoggan Calder Cup Figurine Giveaway: 2,500 fans attending Saturday’s game will receive a Jeff Hoggan Calder Cup figurine presented by Lake Michigan Credit Union. In addition, Landon Ferraro, Calle Jarnkrok and Alexey Marchenko will sign autographs from the Griffins bench following the game, presented by Huntington Bank. Saturday night also gives fans the opportunity to redeem Fan 4 Packs. For select games, receive four tickets and $12 in concession cash for a great low price. Valid for games on Feb. 15 and 22; March 8 and 29; and April 5. Visit http://griffinshockey.com/f4p or call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2.

Sochi Impact: On Thursday, Grand Rapids forward Tomas Jurco will become the fifth player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics while an active Griffin when his Slovakian team faces the United States at 7:30 a.m. EST at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Sergei Kolosov (2010 Belarus), Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (2010 Norway) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland) have also competed in the Olympic Games while active Griffins. Teamed on the Slovakian squad with former Griffins Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Tatar, the 2013 Calder Cup and 2011 Memorial Cup champion will be among a contingent of 11 Griffins alumni competing for six nations during the Games. Last Monday, Gustav Nyquist was announced as Johan Franzen’s replacement for the Swedish team, but Finland’s Valtteri Filppula will miss the Olympics due to a broken ankle suffered last week.
All-Star Duo: Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill and defenseman Alexey Marchenko will participate in the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Assante Wealth Management, which will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Milw One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The AHL All-Star Team, a 20-man squad consisting of the league’s top contributors, will battle Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in a two-day competition. The 2014 All-Star Classic will mark the first time that a Swedish Hockey League team has competed in North America. Blashill, 40, will be the first Griffins head coach in 12 years to lead an AHL All-Star Team, following Bruce Cassidy’s participation in the 2002 AHL All-Star Classic. Blashill will be joined by Rob Zettler, head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, whom the Griffins defeated in the 2013 Calder Cup Finals. In 2012-13, his first season as a head coach at the pro level, Blashill led the Griffins to the Calder Cup, marking the first championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. Blashill was named by the Detroit Red Wings as the ninth head coach in Grand Rapids Griffins history on June 25, 2012. Marchenko, 22, is just the third rookie defenseman in Griffins history to be named to the AHL All-Star Team, following in the recent footsteps of Chad Billins (2013), also a member of the 2014 AHL All-Star Team representing Abbotsford, and Brendan Smith (2011). The Moscow, Russia, native has had a storybook inaugural season with the Griffins, tallying 18 points (3-15—18), a plus-14 rating and 10 penalty minutes through 44 games. On Jan. 4, Marchenko finished with a plus-two rating in his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings, becoming the 140th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.

All-Star TV: The 2014 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Assante Wealth Management will see the AHL All-Stars – led by Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and featuring rookie defenseman Alexey Marchenko – face off against Sweden’s Farjestad BK in Tuesday’s skills competition (6:30 p.m. EST) and Wednesday’s all-star game (6:30 p.m. EST). The events will take place at the Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Tuesday’s skills competition will air live on Fox Sports Detroit, which will also offer a tape-delay of the all-star game broadcast on Thursday at 1 p.m. Wednesday’s all-star game will be carried live by numerous outlets across North America; for a complete list, go to http://theahl.com/2014-all-star-tv-p189957

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Hoggan’s Homecoming: After missing 11 consecutive games due to a lower body injury, Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan returned to the lineup last Wednesday for a 4-0 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters at Van Andel Arena. Hoggan was able to shake off the rust from his injuries by the end of the weekend, as he tallied an assist on Landon Ferraro’s goal in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Marlies on Friday and a goal and an assist in a 5-1 freezing of the Rochester Americans on Saturday. Earlier this season, on Nov. 20, Hoggan was a healthy scratch for the first time, ending a 116-game streak since joining the Griffins at the beginning of the 2012-13 season. Overstocked with veteran players delivered by Detroit, the Griffins have sat veteran players on a rotating basis when necessary. In 33 appearances with Grand Rapids this season, Hoggan has tallied 11 goals, 13 assists, a plus-five rating and 22 penalty minutes.

Team Leaders: Right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (18-23—41) continues to lead the Griffins in scoring, with Adam Almquist (2-31—33) ranking second. Almquist ranks sixth among AHL defensemen and has tallied the second-highest number of assists (31) among league d-men. Tomas Jurco (13-19—32), who returned from the Wings on Saturday, follows in third and averages a point per game. Cory Emmerton (11-20—31) has sole possession of fourth place.

Milestones Ahead: Center Cory Emmerton needs just one more point to tie Gustav Nyquist for 10th place on the Griffins’ all-time scoring list at 143 points, and he will become the eighth player in franchise history to reach 100 assists as a Griffin if he tallies three more helpers this season. Center Landon Ferraro needs seven more points to become the 28th player to reach 100 points as a Griffin. Goaltender Tom McCollum will become the third goalie to appear in 150 games with the Griffins after two more appearances this season, following in the footsteps of Joey MacDonald and Jimmy Howard. With Petr Mrazek’s next win, he will tie Pokey Reddick for eighth all-time on the Griffins with 35.

McCollum Stays Strong: In his most successful professional season to date, Griffins netminder Tom McCollum ranks seventh among AHL goaltenders with a 2.28 goals against average, along with a 19-9-0-1 record, two shutouts and a 0.924 save percentage. McCollum’s 56th career win on Dec. 20 put him in sole possession of third place on the Griffins’ all-time list. In addition, his four career shutouts tie Jani Hurme and Martin Prusek for seventh all time. McCollum enjoyed a six-game winning streak from Oct. 4-Nov. 6 to begin the season, tying with Mrazek’s 2012-13 franchise-best goaltending start. After two more appearances with the Griffins, McCollum will become the third goalie in franchise history to appear in 150 games.

Olympic Changes: The Detroit Red Wings recalled forward Mikael Samuelsson from the Griffins on Sunday after assigning right wing Tomas Jurco and center Riley Sheahan to their AHL affiliate on Saturday. Samuelsson, 37, has skated in two games with the Griffins this season, his first AHL stint since eight appearances in the 2001-02 season with the Hartford Wolf Pack. Drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (145th overall), Samuelsson has notched three points (1-2—3) and six penalty minutes in 26 appearances with the Wings this season. In six total seasons with Detroit, Samuelsson has produced 163 points (68-95—163) and 152 PIM from 2005-09 and 2012-14. With an NHL career spanning 12 years, Samuelsson has tallied 346 points (149-197—346) and 370 PIM in 699 games. Jurco, 21, has netted 32 points (13-19—32) in 32 games with Grand Rapids and ranks third on the team in scoring. A native of Kosice, Slovakia, Jurco made his NHL debut on Dec. 15 in Detroit’s 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay, becoming the 138th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Detroit’s first choice (35th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, he has earned seven points (3-4—7) in 19 games with the Wings this season. Jurco will compete for the Slovakian Olympic Team at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, later this week, becoming only the fifth player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics while an active Griffin. Sheahan, 22, has competed in 28 games with the Griffins in his second professional season, posting 18 points (8-10—18), a plus-one rating and 10 PIM. Detroit’s first choice (21st overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Sheahan tallied two assists — his first career NHL points — in Detroit’s 5-4 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 21. In 18 games with the Wings this season, Sheahan has recorded 11 poin ts (3-8—11) and a plus-two rating.

Walleye World: The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye (16-25-3-0) took two of three road games last week. On Tuesday, the Walleye narrowly defeated the Cincinnati Cyclones, 3-2, at the U.S. Bank Arena and once again edged out the Cyclones by one goal, 4-3, on Friday. The Kalamazoo Wings ended Toledo’s brief winning streak on Saturday, when the Walleye fell 5-4 to the North Division leader at Wings Stadium. Trevor Parkes (17-17—34) continues to lead the Walleye in scoring, while Travis Novak (8-17—25) ranks third on the team and Alden Hirschfeld (6-18—24), who is currently signed to a professional tryout with Grand Rapids, ranks fourth. Toledo ranks last in the North Division, 17 points behind the fourth-place Fort Wayne Komets.

Scouting Report

Fri., Feb. 14 vs. San Antonio Rampage (19-21-3-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 15 vs. San Antonio Rampage – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through http://woodradio.com All-Time Series: 34-20-1-4-0 Overall, 17-9-1-2-0 Home. Season Series: 0-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of four meetings overall, first of two at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Tom Rowe (1st season). Notes: In their first meeting of the season on Jan. 26, the San Antonio Rampage edged out the Griffins, 6-5, in overtime at the AT&T Center…The Rampage tie with the Charlotte Checkers for fourth place in the West Division, only two points behind the third-place Oklahoma City Barons. San Antonio ranks 13th in the Western Conference and 22nd overall…San Antonio has struggled on the road this season, accumulating a 6-14-0-3 mark away from home, a 11.6% road power play record and a 77.4% road penalty killing record…Since Dec. 20, left wing Eric Selleck has amassed 22 penalty minutes in five consecutive games with the Rampage and ranks first on the team for penalty minutes…Rookie center Vincent Trocheck (14-20—34) sits atop the team in points, followed by right wing Bobby Butler (15-13—28) and right wing Greg Rallo (9-15—24)…San Antonio defenseman Doug Janik (1-7—8) played for Grand Rapids from 2009-12 and stands as the fourth-highest scoring blueliner in franchise history, with 92 points (21-71—92) in 193 games.

The Griffins also posted a press release about their representatives in Sochi:

ELEVEN GRIFFINS ALUMNI READY TO TAKE THE ICE IN SOCHI

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids forward Tomas Jurco headlines a contingent of 11 Griffins alumni who will represent six nations in the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Play will begin Wednesday and conclude with the gold medal game on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Jurco is just the fifth player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics while an active Griffin, joining Sergei Kolosov (2010 Belarus), Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (2010 Norway) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). Impressively, Jurco is also one of four members of Grand Rapids' 2013 Calder Cup championship team who will play in Sochi, along with fellow countryman Tomas Tatar, Sweden's Gustav Nyquist and Slovenia's Jan Mursak.

Sweden edges out Slovakia (Jurco, Tomas Kopecky and Tatar) with four former Griffins on its roster -- Jonathan Ericsson, Jonas Gustavsson, Kronwall and Nyquist -- while four other countries have a single Grand Rapids alum within their ranks: Norway (Tollefsen), Slovenia (Mursak), Switzerland (Vauclair) and the United States (Jimmy Howard). Finland's Valtteri Filppula was set to make it an even dozen before he broke his ankle in a game with the Tampa Bay Lightning last week.

The Griffins have a long and storied relationship with the Olympics, with 13 alumni having donned their nations' uniforms after concluding their Grand Rapids careers, including a record three appearances in the Games (2002, 2006 and 2010) by the late Pavol Demitra of Slovakia. In the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, Kronwall became the first Griffins alumnus to earn an Olympic medal, winning gold thanks to Sweden’s victory over Finland in the championship game. Filppula became the second to medal in 2010 in Vancouver, earning a bronze with Finland.

Thanks to Grand Rapids' impressive representation at the Olympics -- including Howard becoming the first former Griffin to make the roster of the U.S. squad -- 14 of the 18 games in the Preliminary Round will involve at least one Griffins alum. The 12 Olympic teams are divided into Group A (Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States), Group B (Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway) and Group C (Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland).

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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.