The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/21/14 at 04:14 AM ET
I've been spending most of my time recapping Memorial Cup games and World Championship games, so this overnight report's a little light, but it's not due to a lack of effort on the Foreurs-Oil Kings recap or any of the Worlds news.
As Paul posted on Tuesday evening, the World Championships' quarterfinals schedule was finalized after Tomas Tatar's Slovaks bowed out of the tournament, Justin Abdelkader scored 2 goals for the U.S. and (I missed this one) Jakub Kindl had an assist in the Czechs' 5-4 OT win over France.
On Thursday, Abdelkader's and Danny DeKeyser's Americans will play Kindl's Czechs at 9 AM EDT (USA Hockey's website reports that NBCSN will air the game on tape delay at 9:30 AM).
The winner of the U.S.-CZE game will play the winner of Thursday's Canada-Finland game in Saturday's semifinal 1, which takes place at 7:45AM;
Also on Thursday, Gustav Nyquist's Swedes will play Belarus at 2 PM (and yes, the Swedish press is already freaking out thanks to flashbacks of Belarus beating Sweden at the 2002 Olympics).
The winner of the SWE-BLR game will play the winner of Thursday's Russia-France game in Saturday's semifinal 2, which takes place at 11:45 AM.
On Saturday, the IIHF will induct Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, Ruslan Salei and other players into their Hall of Fame.
The bronze medal game takes place on Sunday, May 25th at 9:30 AM EDT; the gold medal game takes place on Sunday at 2 PM EDT.
There's basically a three-in-8 chance that the Swedes, Czechs or Americans will win a gold medal. Quite frankly, the Russians are super-stacked, and Canada's pretty bloody good, while the Swedes are top-heavy, the Czechs are middling and the Americans are super-young. I honestly don't expect any Wings to make the gold medal game.
The Free Press's Helene St. James took note of the Wings' statistical exploits:
After each playing seven games, Nyquist and Tatar have four goals apiece, while Abdelkader had three goals in six games. None of the three had a goal for the Wings during the five-game series against Boston.
Hokej.sk posted a photo gallery from the Slovaks' win, and Tatar's red gloves are hard to miss. You can also see Abdelkader's second goal at the 40-second mark of the IIHF's "Daily Recap," which consists of goals and saves interspersed with "boobie shots"...
Abdelkader's first goal makes an appearance at the start of the "Top Assists" video...
In terms of tonight's Wings-related action, Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm will battle the London Knights at the Memorial Cup. The game takes place at 7 PM EDT, and will air on Sportsnet and the NHL Network.
Guelph will play in Sunday's Memorial Cup final regardless of tonight's result, and Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs punched their ticket to Friday's Semifinal when they beat Edmonton on Tuesday evening (Mantha had an assist on the game-tying goal).
Things get complicated from there, however. If London wins tonight's game, they play in a "tiebreaker" against Edmonton on Thursday; if London loses, Edmonton automatically earns a rematch vs. Val-d'Or on Friday.
All that matters for you and me is that Mantha's Foreurs have to win Friday's game against whoever to make Sunday's final against Bertuzzi's Storm.
In terms of Red Wings interaction with fans, I expect WJR to post Mitch Albom's interview with Henrik Zetterberg on his podcast page at some point today. Zetterberg spoke about his charitable foundation, which just raised $8,800 for Detroit schools, among other topics;
Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples also noted that Jimmy Howard's going to "take over" Vaughn Hockey's Twitter account tonight at 8 PM:
Jimmy Howard might not be on Twitter, but tomorrow, hockey fans will have a chance to interact with him on the popular social media network.
The Red Wings’ goaltender will be taking over the Vaughn Custom Sports’ official Twitter account during tomorrow’s Western Conference Finals Game 2 matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
Fans can interact with Howard by tweeting to @VaughnHockey and using the hashtag #HowieOnTheHotseat.
Vaughn made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon:
Interestingly, Vaughn's also asking fans to weigh in the color combination Howard will choose for his leg pads next season:
I quite honestly don't know whether the Grand Rapids Griffins are going to hold any sort of end-of-season media availability today, but the players and coach were busy on Twitter:
I don't have much to say about Ron Cook's article lambasting Penguins fans' and pundits' fascination with Mike Babcock--Cook's a shift disturber, a Drew Sharp-or-Terry Foster-style instigator, so its mostly fluffernutter (save Cook not suggesting that Scotty Bowman wasn't just a better coach than Babcock, but that Bowman was also the best coach in team sports, period).
In the prospect department, I've got some good news about Anthony Mantha and some bad news about Anthony Mantha to file away for later. The good news is that Mantha's learning how to deal with heavy, heavy checking and is learning about having to perform under an immense spotlight at the Memorial Cup.
The Wings' management is present, too, so I would imagine that they're setting the table for the kinds of changes he's going to deal with when he turns pro--i.e. living on his own and relocating from tiny Val-d'Or, Quebec to what will seem like a huge metropolis in Grand Rapids, MI (again, Daniel Alfredsson of all people let us know that it's a real pain in the ass to have to change your phone, your bank account, your health care information, government ID, etc. from Canadian to American systems).
The bad news is...Kind of good news. According to the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy, Mantha had quite the learning experience while taking part in a star-studded summer camp conducted by one of hockey's notorious agents:
Two summers ago, the big right winger took part in a summer training camp in Los Angeles put on by CAA Hockey, the player agency headed by Pat Brisson and J.P. Barry. The firm also represents Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and the Sedin twins, while this particular camp featured several stars of tomorrow. Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones were there, as was Curtis Lazar, who became a first-rounder himself when the Ottawa Senators nabbed him in 2013. Lazar is now a star center with the Oil Kings.
And while Mantha also knows Lazar from Canada’s world junior team, both took part in a seminar at that CAA camp taught by motivational speaker Steve Shenbaum, who has a concept about “coins” that he imparts on participants. These metaphorical “coins” are held in one’s pocket and help bring out confidence, key to a young athlete such as Mantha.
“I don’t remember much, but he talked about points like family, our potential in hockey, our potential outside of hockey,” Mantha said. “For me, it’s maybe golf, family, girlfriends and friends; things like that.”
Along with Shenbaum’s class, the players got on-ice training from skills coach Darryl Belfry, hung out with Hollywood titan Jerry Bruckheimer and did training on Venice Beach with T.R. Goodman, the man who helped Chris Chelios play so long in the NHL.
“Seriously, it was a great week,” Mantha said. “We had fun, we did great training, met a lot of people. It was great.”
That's superb. Mantha's attitude about the Foreurs being an underdog at the Memorial Cup is excellent, too:
“At the start of this year, I don’t think anybody saw us getting here. We were predicted to be in the bottom five of the standings, but we’ve proved ourselves to be the big team now. We play big. In our own league, we had great success skating around teams. We had a great power play, a great penalty kill – it’s just an average of everything.”
Mantha has always been gifted when it comes to goal-scoring, but during his draft year, the knock was on defense and play away from the puck. Nevertheless, eyebrows were raised when the always-deft Red Wings selected him 20th overall. Did Detroit steal another gem through the draft?
This season, Mantha has been on fire with 81 goals in 81 games (including playoffs). In total, he had 158 points. Not only has he maintained his lofty position as a mega-talent in major junior, but it’s harder to find knocks on his game.
“I think I progressed in the right way,” he said. “There were complaints about my consistency and I proved everybody wrong about that this year.”
Yes, though Mantha readily admits that he has to continue to humbly admit faults in his game and work very hard to address them.
The bad news? I don't know if you remember the Sergei Fedorov divorce's parameters, but Pat Brisson played a large role in Fedorov's decision to leave for Anaheim, and he is an absolute pain in the ass as an agent. Nowadays, he's known as Sidney Crosby's agent and mentor, and he's known as someone who gives no team a "hometown discount."
The Wings were incredibly smart to sign Mantha to a 3-year entry-level deal in October; Capgeek reports that the deal "slid" to next season, but it's got the second-highest entry-level cap hit the Wings have awarded anyone at $894,167, including 3 years' worth of $92,500 signing bonuses (Danny DeKeyser's entry-level deal had a $925K cap hit, but he earned both $925,000 and $850K in "performance bonuses" this past season, so expect DeKeyser to sign for nothing less than $2-2.5 million as a restricted free agent).
If Mantha fulfills his potential and becomes a perennial 25-to-30 goal-scorer, as we all hope he will become, the Wings are going to have to be very proactive in signing Mantha early and to generous deals.
At the other end of the prospect pipeline, while Landon Ferraro's got a pro pedigree, he'll likely make the Wings' roster next season as a grinding forward. DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose looked back on Ferraro's NHL debut as part of his "Red Wings Firsts" series:
With his parents in the stands and the Toronto Maple Leafs on the visiting bench, rookie center Landon Ferraro couldn’t think of a better way to make his NHL debut at Joe Louis Arena.
“I think just at the end, everyone, all the guys putting their sticks up and I just kind of took an extra second looking around,” said Ferraro, who made his league debut in Detroit’s 3-2 victory on March 18. “There was a lot of Maple Leafs fans out but at the same time the Detroit fans were real loud and real excited at the end so that’s probably what I’m going to remember most.”
The 22-year-old’s first NHL game was everything he had imagined and more – almost.
“I mean if I were to get or were to ask for more it would’ve been nice to score, maybe one more shot and a little backhand,” Ferraro said. “But no I’m really happy with how everything went. It was just kind of nice to get that one under the belt and kind of be able to move on now.”
Landon Ferraro logged 7:47 of ice time in 13 shifts against Toronto, recording one shot, two hits and one blocked shot. The center also played on the Wings’ penalty kill, gaining valuable experience in a position he knows he has to excel at in order to eventually earn a permanent spot in Detroit’s lineup.
“They chose to have confidence in me and that they can count on me on the PK and that’s where I’m going to have to try and make this team next year is being solid five-on-five and then being really good on the PK,” Ferraro said. “That’s where I’m going to have to try and earn my ice time and earn a spot so it’s kind of nice to get a feel for it.”Ferraro finished the regular season with 15 goals and 16 assists through 70 games with the Wings’ minor-league affiliate in Grand Rapids.
And finally, I'll be out of the home office for a good chunk of Wednesday, so Paul will keep you up to date while I'm gone. Fun fun fun errand Wednesday is here, and the four hours of sleep that comes with it is here due to its early start.
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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.