The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/24/14 at 07:43 AM ET
Last night, Anthony Mantha and the Val-d'Or Foreurs were eliminated from the Memorial Cup via a 4-3 triple OT loss to the Edmnton Oil Kings, and I did my best to offer some impressions of Mantha's play. This morning, I'm going to do an informal recap just prior to taking in Sweden's World Championship Semifinal against Russia.
In terms of raw stats, the 4-3 3OT loss left Mantha with middling Memorial Cup stats: 1 goal and 3 assists in 4 games, as well as a plus-minus rating of -2. The tournament probably involved heavier checking and a brighter spotlight than Mantha's ever faced during his Major Junior career, however, so Mantha's comment to the Blackburn News's Ryan Brandt's a superb summary of his tournament:
“I’m always going to remember what we did this year.” The Detroit Red Wings prospect said about his team that did what he called the unthinkable. “At the beginning of the year nobody would have imagined we would be here.”
Mantha scored over 80 goals this season.
According to the L'Echo Abitibien's Alex Drouin, the Foreurs will finally hold their QMJHL championship parade on Monday at 3 PM, and while the Foreurs didn't win a second title, the Canadian Press's Donna Spencer reports that they did earn their opponents' respect:
The Oil Kings managed to hold QMJHL leading scorer Anthony Mantha without a goal. That league’s MVP had scored 81 goals in 81 games coming into the tournament and added another in Val-d’Or’s opener.
But the Detroit Red Wings prospect did not score in his final three games of the Memorial Cup.
Edmonton and Val-d’Or played a combined 183 minutes 57 seconds against each other in the tournament.
"They never went away and they had a great season," Lazar said. "They should hold their heads high. Both games could have gone either way. We were fortunate to get that bounce tonight. You can’t say much more. They competed, they battled and they’re great competitors."
If you wish to read more of the Oil Kings' perspectives or more "general" stuff--again, Edmonton will battle Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm in Sunday's championship game (4 PM EDT on the NHL Network and Sportsnet)--the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones, the Oil Kings' website, the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette (with an embedded photo gallery), Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager and Cam Charron, Sportsnet's Patrick King and Gare Joyce, the Memorial Cup's website (photo gallery included) and EdmontonOilers.com's Mark Ciampa (photo gallery included) provide for your needs. The Oilers' website also posted a highlight clip...
And while I can't embed the Memorial Cup's website's highlight clip, post-game coaches' presser or post-game Oil Kings interviews, they're not geo-blocked. Sportnset's highlight clip, their panel's two takes on the game and interview with Curtis Lazar only work if you live in Canada.
NHL.com's Adam Kimelman's recap took note of the fact that Mantha assisted on the game-tying goal...
Edmonton was leading 3-2 in the final seconds of regulation when the Oil Kings were called for icing. With Bibeau pulled for an extra attacker, the Foreurs' Louick Marcotte won a right-circle faceoff in the Edmonton zone. The puck went to Val-d'Or's Anthony Mantha on the wall on the right side, and he slid it back to Gelinas at the point. The defenseman's shot from the right point went through traffic and past Jarry with 36.0 seconds left to force overtime.
Anthony Mantha, the Val d’Or scoring star, misfired on a cluster of shots at net, especially in the third period, but he made a splendid play on Gelinas’s crucial goal. Mantha scored just one goal all tournament, the game-winner in Val d’Or’s 1-0 opening-game win against the host London Knights.
“We never quit,” a red-eyed Mantha said. “It was a hard game and the guys just pushed and pushed.”
If you wish to watch highlight clips or read recaps en Francais, RDS and TVA Sports provide for your needs, but I'm unhappy to inform you that neither of L'Echo Abitibien's recaps provide Mantha quotes, so we'll end with this from the Abitibi Express's Valerie Malthais (who penned a pair of recaps):
"We believed, and we'd taken the momentum for overtime It could've been either team," said Mantha. "When you have a good team, you can surprise people, and that's what we did this year."
Tyler Bertuzzi's in an incredibly different situation from that of his fellow Wings prospect. Bertuzzi's playing as a 3rd-line instigator on the tournament's deepest team in the Guelph Storm, and unlike Mantha, he's very familiar with both the media spotlight of playing in Ontario and thriving upon his opponents' attention.
As a 6,' 170-pound pest, Bertuzzi doesn't exactly have the 30-goal potential of the 6'5" power sniper he's faced once during the tournament, but Bertuzzi's speed, goal-scoring abilities and penalty-killing savvy have shown everyone that he's going to be more than a fourth-line instigator. He spoke with the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette regarding his role...
“I’m an agitator, I guess, and the crowd was booing me for whatever reason,” said the 19-year-old nephew of NHLer Todd Bertuzzi. “My rookie year, I needed to show what I could do, whether it was fighting (which he did a lot). It’s fun. It gets everyone going. You get the other team off their game and (it) gets the guys excited. It gives the team (energy).”
Guelph head coach Scott Walker says he never knows if Bertuzzi is grimacing or smiling. Knights fans jeered the 6-foot, 178-pounder from Sudbury as he was being helped off the ice after taking a knee hit from London’s giant defenceman Nikita Zadorov. Bertuzzi has been receiving treatment for a charley horse on that play.
“A little sore, but it’s hockey,” he said. “It hurt. I just battled through it. We have (three) days off before the final.”
A lot of teams have two solid lines who can score. Guelph is particularly devastating because Bertuzzi, currently on the third line with Stephen Pierog and Pius Suter, is also filling the net. He played only 29 regular season games this year because of injury, but caught fire for 10 goals in the playoffs.
“Over my three years, my skills improved a lot,” he said. “Last year, I scored 13 goals (in 43 games). This year, I had a lot of confidence coming into these big games and it helped out.”
And yes, Bertuzzi the younger speaks to Bertuzzi the older uncle:
"“He’s my role model a little bit,” Tyler Bertuzzi said. “He texts me all the time wishing me good luck and how it’s going. I know he’s watching the games.
At the NHL level, the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger revealed an interesting fact about Montreal Canadiens goaltender Dustin Tokarski's development--Wings assistant coach Bill Peters was Tokarski's coach when Tokarski backstopped the Spokane Chiefs to a Memorial Cup title:
[When] Tokarski steps on to the ice for Game 4 on Sunday, it will come on the same day as the 2014 Memorial Cup final — the same contest in which he had turned in a performance for the ages six years earlier.
On May 25, 2008, Tokarski’s Spokane Chiefs faced a daunting task as they took on the Kitchener Rangers at the Kitchener Auditorium. The Rangers had been ranked No. 1 in the CHL for 15 of the 16 weeks leading up to the tournament, so the hosts, buoyed by a rabid home crowd, were the definitive favourites when the puck was dropped.
Indeed, the Rangers, true to form, peppered Tokarski with rubber. Of their 54 shots at the Saskatchewan native, 25 came in the third period.
Incredibly, only one puck beat Tokarski all afternoon, leaving him as the deserving tournament MVP as his Chiefs beat the Rangers 4-1.
About the only thing that went wrong on that memorable day came when Chiefs captain Chris Bruton was about to hand the Memorial Cup to teammate Trevor Glass. To the shock of all, the Cup became separated from its heavy base and fell to the ice.
From their perch behind the Kitchener bench, Spott and head coach Peter DeBoer, now the bench boss of the New Jersey Devils, could only shake their heads in disbelief. Not about the Cup falling into two pieces — it was, fortunately, a replica trophy — but about how his Rangers had thrown everything at this Tokarski kid only to see him thwart them time and time again.
“On that day, Dustin just decided he was going to be ‘The Man,’ ” Spott said on Friday from Texas, where his Marlies prepared to take on the Texas Stars in the AHL’s Western Conference final.
“Bill Peters, who was the Chiefs’ coach at the time, is now an assistant with the Red Wings. We’ve become friends and we’ve talked about that Tokarski performance a lot.”
And in feel-good news, the Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson reports that the Calgary Flames are going to hold a 25-year-anniversary reunion for the participants in the team's 1989 Stanley Cup title, and one absent player will be there in spirit:
As the Calgary Flames hugged and high-fived immediately after the buzzer sounded on their Stanley Cup-clinching victory at the Montreal Forum, the TV cameras captured footage of Brad McCrimmon wiping blood from the bridge of his nose. It was a telling shot of the man they called ‘Beast.’
“The tougher it got and the more bumps and bruises and cuts he had, he’d just grin and say, ‘This is what it’s all about,’ ” remembered Flames legend Lanny McDonald.
And, as the old saying goes, you should have seen the other guys ...
“He played the right side, and I don’t know how many times I saw guys come down the left wing against him and try to go between him and the boards. I used to think, ‘Those guys must have a death-wish,’ ” said former Flames bench boss Terry Crisp. “And boy, did they get punished. That stick came from left to right and it landed, and when it landed, it didn’t land on the ice. Believe me. I think that may be why they invented dump and chase.
“When Brad McCrimmon walked into the dressing room for the first time, that’s when we became a really good hockey team, not just a group of players,” said longtime Flames GM Cliff Fletcher. “He was a catalyst. He was a no-nonsense guy in the dressing room and at practice and games. He was a big difference for us in making us into a championship team.”
“I think the biggest thing I learned from Beast was his determination and his competitiveness. He came out to compete every single night at a very high level, and that can’t help but rub off on a younger player,” added defenceman Dana Murzyn, McCrimmon’s roomie for a year with the Flames. His commitment was to the highest level. He was driven to be the best he could and to help everyone on his team be the best they could at the same time. It’s easy to get focused on yourself, but you win as a team and he pulled everybody together.”
Almost everybody is planning to be together again as the ’89 Flames mark the 25th anniversary of their crowning moment with a private reunion in Calgary, but McCrimmon will only be there in spirit. His wife, Maureen, is expected to attend.
“It will be a great celebration,” McDonald said. “It would be an even greater celebration if Brad was here to enjoy it with us.”
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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.