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Griffins-Crunch Game 5 game-day updates: Nyquist will play, Almquist won’t; Gudas to aid Syracuse

The Grand Rapids Griffins will attempt to rebound from a difficult 3-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night when they battle Syracuse in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Final this evening (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio), and at the present moment, it appears that the New Holland Sentinel's Alan Babbitt's "insider" report that Gustav Nyquist wouldn't receive a suspension for his "spear" on Richard Panik is in fact accurate.

As the Crunch attempt to force the Griffins to endure another bus ride to Syracuse for Games 6 and 7, the Syracuse Post-Standard's Lindsay Kramer reports that Syrcause will add another physical player to their lineup in the previously-injured Radko Gudas, and he also reports that Adam Almquist remains sidelined with a Panik-induced concussion:

Syracuse Crunch defenseman Radko Gudas went full tilt in an optional morning skate on Saturday and could return to the team's lineup in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals against Grand Rapids tonight. Gudas has been sidelined since suffering a leg injury against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the Eastern Conference Finals-clinching win on June 1.

Head coach Rob Zettler said Gudas' status will likely be a game-time decision,

"He looks pretty good out there now,'' Zettler said this morning. "Watching him out there, it looks like he's moving around pretty good.''

Syracuse trails the best-of-seven series three games to one. Gudas is the Crunch's most physical defenseman and would have come in handy clearing out some bodies in front of Syracuse goalie Cedrick Desjardins earlier in the series.

"We all know what Radko does for us out there,'' Zettler said. "He provides a physical presence. The other team doesn't like to see him out there.''

On the other side, Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said injured defenseman Adam Almquist will not play tonight. Almquist was hurt when Syracuse forward Richard Panik checked him into the boards in Game 3.

Kramer also provided a pair of noteworthy Tweets, and he revealed the identity of tonight's referees. One of them has shuffled back and forth between the NHL and AHL this past season, which doesn't bode well for the Griffins, Crunch or their fans:

Burchell's auditioning for a full-time NHL job this evening, and if that doesn't terrify you given the amount of blown calls, blown-off goals, bizarre replays after the fact and dumb shit let go on both sides of the ice, it should.

The AHL posted a "Morning Skate" press release for one team that held a morning skate and another (the Griffins) who appear to have skipped the process entirely...

2013 Calder Cup Finals - Game 5 - 7:00 ET
(GR leads series, 3-1)
TV: Time Warner Cable SportsChannel (central NY), WXSP-TV (Grand Rapids)
Webcast: AHL Live ([http://www.ahllive.com] free offer)

With their backs to the wall and their season on the line, the Syracuse Crunch held on for a 3-2 win over Grand Rapids at a sold-out Van Andel Arena last night to extend the 2013 Calder Cup Finals to a Game 5... Richard Panik's goal with 3:08 left in the second period snapped a 2-2 tie and stood up as the difference for the Crunch, who avoided being swept in the championship series after winning 11 of 12 games through the first three rounds of the postseason... Panik (7-5-12) added an assist for a two-point night, his fourth game of these playoffs with at least two points but his first since Game 2 of the second round vs. Springfield (May 11)... Brett Connolly (5-5-10) and Ondrej Palat (6-16-22) also scored for Syracuse... Cedrick Desjardins (12-4, 2.27, .906) made 26 saves in snapping a three-game losing streak... Joakim Andersson (2-4-6) and Jan Mursak (11-6-17) scored for the Griffins in Game 4... Jeff Hoggan (5-7-12) tallied an assist, his fifth point in the last three games... Petr Mrazek (14-8, 2.24, .920) turned aside 21 of 24 shots but lost for just the second time in his last eight starts... The Griffins are 3-for-18 on the power play in the series after going 0-for-5 last night... The Crunch were 0-for-6 on the power play in Game 4 and are 2-for-23 for the Finals... Tonight is the Griffins' 99th game of the season, and their ninth in 15 days... The Crunch are playing their fifth game in 14 days... Grand Rapids has lost a potential series-clinching game at home in each of its four series this postseason... The Griffins still have not played an overtime game this postseason; the last team to win the Calder Cup without an OT game was the 1978 Maine Mariners... June 15 matches the latest calendar date ever for an AHL game; Hershey defeated Milwaukee on June 15, 2006, to win the Calder Cup in Game 6 of the Finals.

2013 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E3-Syracuse Crunch vs. W3-Grand Rapids Griffins

Game 1 – Sat., June 8 – Grand Rapids 3, SYRACUSE 1
Game 2 – Sun., June 9 – Grand Rapids 6, SYRACUSE 4
Game 3 – Wed., June 12 – GRAND RAPIDS 4, Syracuse 2
Game 4 – Fri., June 14 – Syracuse 3, GRAND RAPIDS 2
Game 5 – Sat., June 15 – Syracuse at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Tue., June 18 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., June 20 – Grand Rapids at Syracuse, 7:00
   *if necessary... All times Eastern

Alumni Watch: Andrew Shaw scored at 12:08 of the third overtime period on Wednesday night to give Chicago a 4-3 win over Boston in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final... Shaw was one of five skaters in the Blackhawks' Game 1 lineup who also played for the AHL's Rockford IceHogs during the 2012-13 season... Game 2 is tonight in Chicago.

I thought you'd appreciate this:


Home is Where the Cup Is
In the last 20 years, teams are 11-4 in home games with a chance to win the Calder Cup:

2013 Game 4 - Syracuse Crunch 3, GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2
2010 Game 6 - HERSHEY BEARS 4, Texas Stars 0
2009 Game 5 - Manitoba Moose 3, HERSHEY BEARS 2
2008 Game 6 - CHICAGO WOLVES 5, W-B/Scranton Penguins 2
2007 Game 5 - HAMILTON BULLDOGS 2, Hershey Bears 1
2005 Game 4 - PHILADELPHIA PHANTOMS 5, Chicago Wolves 2
2003 Game 7 - Houston Aeros 3, HAMILTON BULLDOGS 0
2002 Game 5 - CHICAGO WOLVES 4, Bridgeport Sound Tigers 3 (2OT)
2001 Game 6 - SAINT JOHN FLAMES 1, W-B/Scranton Penguins 0
1999 Game 5 - PROVIDENCE BRUINS 5, Rochester Americans 1
1998 Game 6 - PHILADELPHIA PHANTOMS 6, Saint John Flames 1
1996 Game 7 - ROCHESTER AMERICANS 2, Portland Pirates 1
1996 Game 6 - Portland Pirates 5, ROCHESTER AMERICANS 1
1994 Game 6 - PORTLAND PIRATES 4, Moncton Hawks 1
1993 Game 5 - CAPE BRETON OILERS 7, Rochester Americans 2

Staying Alive
Of the 23 teams to lose the first three games of a best-of-seven Calder Cup Final series, Syracuse is just the seventh to avoid being swept... The others:

2008 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. Chicago Wolves (lost in 6)
1999 - Rochester Americans vs. Providence Bruins (lost in 5)
1974 - Providence Reds vs. Hershey Bears (lost in 5)
1973 - Nova Scotia Voyageurs vs. Cincinnati Swords (lost in 5)
1969 - Quebec Aces vs. Hershey Bears (lost in 5)
1962 - Buffalo Bisons vs. Springfield Indians (lost in 5)

Working Overtime
There have been 13 overtime games played in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs so far... Road teams are 10-3:

Apr. 26 - Texas 3, MILWAUKEE 2 (Brett Ritchie, 11:44)
Apr. 26 - Charlotte 4, OKLAHOMA CITY 3 (Brody Sutter, 3:06)
Apr. 27 - SPRINGFIELD 2, Manchester 1 (Cody Bass, 10:36)
Apr. 27 - W-B/Scranton 3, BINGHAMTON 2 (Chad Kolarik, 8:18)
Apr. 27 - SYRACUSE 4, Portland 3 (Richard Panik, 6:36)
Apr. 28 - Hershey 5, PROVIDENCE 4 (Jon DiSalvatore, 3:05)
Apr. 28 - SPRINGFIELD 3, Manchester 2 (Cody Bass, 18:44)
*May 1 - Toronto 3, ROCHESTER 2 (Will Acton, 5:14)
*May 2 - Syracuse 4, PORTLAND 3 (Ondrej Palat, 19:43)
*May 4 - Springfield 4, MANCHESTER 3 (Nick Drazenovic, 8:06)
May 9 - Oklahoma City 2, TEXAS 1 (Anton Lander, 1:28)
May 15 - Providence 2, W-B/SCRANTON 1 (Carter Camper, 0:31)
May 20 - W-B/Scranton 2, PROVIDENCE 1 (Trevor Smith, 3:26)
  *indicates goal ended series

Watch the Calder Cup Finals Free on AHL Live
As a thank you to our fans, the American Hockey League and NeuLion are offering free streaming of the 2013 Calder Cup Finals on AHL Live... Former AHL broadcasters Bob McElligott of the Columbus Blue Jackets and John Michael of the Cleveland Cavaliers have the call tonight... Visit http://www.ahllive.com for details.

It turns out that Kramer offers the Griffins' spin on tonight game and the state of the series, and boy, it it ever "spin-ny":

"I'd rather be up 3-1 than down 3-1,'' said forward Jan Mursak. "The way they act, I don't care. Different people act different ways. They have a few cocky players on the ice. We'll see who is going to be laughing. Hopefully, that will be us. Let them be. Let them play their game. If they want to be that way on the ice, who cares?''

Syracuse's pitch now is that the Griffins better not let the series return to Syracuse for a Game 6 on Tuesday. That, even though Grand Rapids won the first two games of the series on the Crunch's ice.

"What I know is we're up 3-1 in wins,'' said Grand Rapids forward Joakim Andersson. "We have three wins. They have one win. They should have more pressure to win the hockey game, or else they are done.''

While the Griffins might not feel pressure, they likely showed some fatigue in Game 4 on Friday. Tonight is Grand Rapids' ninth contest in 15 days, while the Crunch is playing its fifth game in 14 days. Grand Rapids at times looked lost in the big moment Friday, playing in front of a sellout crowd for its first chance to win the title. Instead Syracuse jumped on that wave by playing with more fight and taking the fight to the Griffins.

"Obviously, we would have liked to close it out last night. But going into the series, no one thought we'd sweep them. We didn't do it last night so we came in today and got re-focused,'' said Griffins forward Landon Ferraro.

"Of course it was emotional. We had a chance to win the Cup last night,'' Andersson said. "It was a special game. But I didn't think we played bad. We have to play better today if we want to win today.''

Cocky cocky cocky:

"I think with a win tonight, that's a big mental hurdle for (the Griffins),'' said Syracuse coach Rob Zettler. "But we're not looking past tonight. You can go over the line (with emotion) as well. The good thing in our room is we have guys who have been there before. You can't be running a million miles an hour for 60 minutes out there.''

Only 58 minutes...Or after the whistle's blown and you try to do this:

Discipline. The Crunch has it. Not.

From an NH lfan's perspective, in serious-ass honesty, it's hard to watch AHL hockey because on so many very regular occasions, so much more is tolerated in the, "Stupid shit" instigating department--and rewarded because the refs tend to call retaliatory penalties instead of calling off-setting minors or pulling an aggressor out of a scrum--that teams like the Crunch are actually playing the kind of game that is tacitly enouraged by the league's standard of officiating.

Which, as AHL president David Andrews told us, is NEVER WRONG!

In that vein, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner offers three reasons for Griffins fans to be optimistic and three reasons to worry. Excluding the Panik factor:

The good?

Trophy show at home. The Griffins have delivered in the clutch at home. Couple recent memorables: Tomas Jurco’s goal with 12.8 seconds left to seal the Midwest Division on April 19; the 7-0 drubbing of Houston to wrap up the first round of the playoffs on May 4, and the 5-4 victory in Game 7, again on a late goal by Jurco, against Oklahoma City on June 5. This time, it will be the last home game of the season with a chance to secure the AHL championship in front of at least 8,000. Based on the past, they’ll take care of business.

Three to get one. The Griffins didn’t appear too riled up over losing their first game of the series. “If you said to us before the series that it was going to be 3-1 us at this point, everybody would take it,” said Tomas Tatar. Whether it is in Grand Rapids or in Syracuse, the odds are in the Griffins’ favor. No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit in the finals.

Gustav Nyquist. When the media poured into the Griffins locker room Friday, Nyquist was waiting, dressed in his suit and standing alone, ready. No, he said, he didn’t want to talk about his spearing penalty, though he noted how quickly Richard Panik jumped up after the call was made. Yes, he thinks the team will bounce back. Not much else, except for a steely edge to his replies. Understandable, since Nyquist, who has never had more than two minor penalties in a game in his career, missed the third period. He will be with the Red Wings next season, is one of the organization’s top prospects, and has come through countless times before.

The bad:

Momentum swing. Crazy how one win can change things in a best-of-seven series. The Crunch were down for the count, got up off the matt and then went straight to the head. “They should have closed it out tonight,” Syracuse coach Rob Zettler said afterward. “They should close it (Saturday), too. Don’t let us win two. It’s a long trip back to Syracuse.” A loss and the Griffins would have to return to Syracuse where the final two games are scheduled June 18, 20.

Rougher the better. Syracuse wants to mix it up. The Crunch went physical in the first period of Game 3, had success and then abandoned it and lost. In Game 4, they picked their spots throughout. Mike Angelidis took three Griffins with him on roughing calls in the first (Brennan Evans ) and second (goalie Petr Mrazek) and then got a game misconduct in the closing seconds as Chad Billins went off for hooking. The physical play has worked; it’s just a question of whether they can maintain it and, for the Griffins, if they can dismiss it.


In other news...Adam Almquist's interview with HockeySverige.se's Ronnie Ronnqvist--from yesterday--is honestly better in raw Google-translated Swedish than it is in a more nuanced translation (and yes, I do things like look at the original Swedish to find words I'm familiar with, German cognates and then use a dictionary for stuff I'm not familiar with):

Hoping to get a chance in Detroit

Jönköping Son Adam Almqvist has accounted for 31 points in 68 games in the regular season and ten points in 21 games in the playoffs. He has got very good critics for its fine and smooth game during the season, his first in North America.

- It has worked perfectly fine. The first year is a bit different from how it is at home. I've had a lot of fun and it's a very fun hockey being played so it feels all right I think.

Are you disappointed that you did not get a chance in Detroit during the season?

- No, but it is clear that we wanted to get the chance. It's hard to get a chance in Detroit, but you have to just try to play as good as possible and hope that the opportunity will sometime.
- I have not been named sometime this year, but hopefully I might get a chance next year. We'll see what happens then.

Is Grand Rapids a good hockey town?

- There is a decent interest here and it has at least been 5-6000 average of our matches during the season. In the playoffs, it was crowded and it's around 10 to 11,000 on the spot so it's been a good push.

Is it a great interest for the finals?

- In the finals, it has been a very heavy burden on the public and with journalists and such. It is noticeable that it is final, you could say.

Just dropping in the fourth of seven finals and Grand Rapids can thus secure the trophy tonight Swedish time. But Adam Almqvist expect no facile victory.

- Syracuse will probably come out very hard, I think, and maybe take a chance because we were leading 3-0 in matches. They'll probably play hard, tough, and has also played well throughout the series, but we have been slightly improved. At the same time we might have had a bit of luck and so on.

- I believe in all the fall that they will be very Tagged at night to avoid having to go to four straight losses.

Dare you even think you are already champions tonight?

- It would be really fun if we could take it in four straight, but it will be a very tough match.

Speaking of English-as-a-second-language stuff...

1. Sport-Express is now claiming that Sergei Fedorov may both play for CSKA Moscow next season and then supplement his portfolio as CSKA's general manager by taking on an executive role with the KHL itself, and, if we are to believe Vladislav Domrachev, leaving CSKA to work for the KHL full-time during the 2014-2015 season;

2. Interestingly, Pavel Datsyuk appears to be in no hurry to head home to Yekaterinburg:

And finally, this involves a whole other definition of "English as a second language" given that most of the comments players made about the man during his tenure as the team's coach were of the four-letter variety:

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


OlderThanChelios's avatar

Gudas to aid Syracuse

Super. Another goon.

If the Griffs lose this game, they all may need to take Medivac flights to Syracuse.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/15/13 at 06:39 PM ET

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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.