The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/15/14 at 02:46 AM ET
Tomas Jurco's absence didn't deter the Grand Rapids Griffins from defeating the Texas Stars on Wednesday, but that series does not resume until Friday evening. Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs won't open the Memorial Cup in London until Friday (on Sportsnet in Canada), either, and there are no NHL games today, so if you want to watch hockey, the World Championships are pretty much your only option.
As MLive's Ansar Khan notes, three Red Wings players will be taking part in the Worlds today, and two of three will appear on TV:
The U.S., with Red Wings Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser, meets Latvia Thursday at 9:45 a.m. The U.S. (2-1) is in a three-way tie for second place in Group B with six points, six behind Russia (4-0).
Sweden, with Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, faces France Thursday at 1:45 p.m. The Swedes lead Group A with eight points.
The balance of this entry focuses upon one Anthony Mantha--if only eventually, after a lot of Memorial Cup scene-setting--but after he and Val-d'Or won the QMJHL title on Tuesday, even the Wings' website weighed in on Mantha's potential, let's allow said scene-setting to dial the superstar expectations down for just a moment here.
As far as the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette is concerned, this year's Memorial Cup field lacks any real star quality...
There is no Sidney Crosby this time around. The chance to see a generational talent at the Memorial Cup in London crashed after Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters were knocked out by Guelph this spring.
There won't be a hyped-up NHL draft prospect like Sam Reinhart on the Budweiser Gardens ice (though his older brother Griffin is the Western league champion Edmonton Oil Kings' main man).
It would be a stretch to call this the no-name Cup, but there isn't the same buzz in hockey circles there was in Saskatoon last year when Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin dominated the headlines.
"We've got four of the top-rated teams in Canada and that's more important to me than individual star power," Knights governor and Cup chair Trevor Whiffen said.
There are a ton of highly-talented hockey players and the usual assortment of high NHL draft picks and world junior skaters spread out among London, Guelph, Val d'Or and Edmonton.
But who's that marquee guy? Max Domi, perhaps. Bo Horvat, maybe.
(both members of the London Knights of course)
Goal-scoring machine Anthony Mantha?
When Windsor won their back-to-back Cups in 2009 and '10, the folks of Rimouski and Brandon got to eyeball Taylor Hall.
And as far as the host London Knights, who Pyette notes are in their third straight Memorial Cup tournament (this time as hosts; they didn't win the OHL championship--Tyler Bertuzzi's Guelph Storm did--but the host city's team gets an automatic Memorial Cup berth), don't believe that the Foreurs are all that and/or a bag of potato chips:
Nikita Zadorov isn't exactly biting his fingernails out of concern.
“He (Mantha) is getting a lot of points this year, but it doesn't matter,” the Knights' star blue-liner said. “We've got a pretty good D-corps here and we're going to shut him down.”
This tournament will prove once and for all if the Hunters [Dale Hunter is the head coach and Mark Hunter's the president/GM--George's note] did enough to address the club's back end this season. A year ago in Saskatoon, the Knights had Olli Maatta, Scott Harrington, Tommy Hughes and Zadorov on defence. They still gave up nine goals to Halifax and couldn't contain Portland star Ty Rattie.
This time around, the offensive weaponry is equally impressive. Val d'Or was the only team in the Quebec league to score 300 goals. Guelph, of course, led the Canadian Hockey league with 340. The Edmonton Oil Kings scored 290 times, good enough for third in the Western league. Their biggest feat, though, was holding high-flying Portland's top four snipers to three goals in seven playoff games.
No one resembling the Saskatoon Blades are entered in this Cup.
“Here, it's going to be harder,” said Zadorov, who went man-to-man with Mantha at the world juniors. “All the teams are at a different level – the highest in junior hockey. I think it's awesome and you have to start games well. Good teams aren't going to let you come back a lot. Here, you have one game and it's a lot like world juniors. You have to win to live or you lose and die.”
[sarcasm] Want to read more about how awesome the Knights are and how they're totally going to win? [/sarcasm] Pyette provides for your needs, but
NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale approached the tournament from a, "Who can increase their stock for the 2014 draft?" perspective...
The four-team round robin tournament takes place May 16-25 and will feature the host team London Knights along with the Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm, Western Hockey League champion Edmonton Oil Kings and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Val d'Or Foreurs.
Make no mistake, NHL scouts and general managers pay close attention to the tournament and which prospects rise to the occasion in a big spot.
"We approach it as a body of work over the whole season but if some guys do well and play over their head at the Memorial Cup, you have got to take into consideration what he did," Buffalo Sabres assistant GM Kevin Devine told NHL.com. "Look at a guy like [Nathan] MacKinnon in last year's tournament. He put that [Halifax Mooseheads] team on his back and cemented his No. 1 status."
Since the round-robin format was introduced in 1972, the OHL has won 14 Memorial Cup championships, including the 2005 title when the Knights last hosted the event. The Halifax Mooseheads, led by forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, and goalie Zachary Fucale, won the first Memorial Cup in franchise history last year with a 6-4 victory against the Portland Winterhawks.
"Whether scouts would agree or not, the Memorial Cup is your last viewing of a player so that's what remains in your mind," Florida Panthers director of scouting Scott Luce said. "Last year, you had a final that pitted the top two guys [MacKinnon and Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones] going head-to-head. That's what people remember. It's important but not the end-all, be-all. The biggest thing is not to get caught up on what we like to call momentum picks. There are positives but also traps coming out of the Memorial Cup as a scout, so it's a double-edged sword, but there's no question it's an exciting event."
And he does note that Mantha's not the only player powering the "Drillers'" drive:
Mantha has 24 goals, 38 points and a plus-17 rating in 24 playoff games for the Foreurs, who will look to win a fourth consecutive Memorial Cup for the QMJHL.
Right behind Mantha in playoff scoring is left wing Louick Marcotte (6-0, 189), who is No. 198 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. Marcotte has 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) and a plus-16 rating in 24 games for Val-d'Or.
The London Free Press's Pyette did note that the tournament's...Not rocket science...
The key to the whole thing isn’t first place, the free pass to the final or an extra day of rest.
It’s simply getting that one win in your first three games. The only absolute is you can’t go 0-3 and feel good about it.
If you get one victory — and the earlier, the better to shed some jitters — you have as good a chance as anyone else.
You can win the whole thing now from the tiebreaker game. You can end up in a parade even if you sat out since the second round of your playoffs.
These aren’t seven-game series with ebbs and flow.
It’s a bunch of one-off coin flips.
“People wondered if our style was good, too much up-tempo and can we play defence,” [Storm coach Scott] Walker said. “There’s a lot of great styles but my players, they’re great hockey players. If people wanted to fight, play hard and check, we could do that. Our guys didn’t mind that and our highest-skilled players were some of our hardest hitters.If teams want to play an up-tempo, high-skilled game, we had guys who loved that way too.”
They also made the biggest trade splash by acquiring veterans Kerby Rychel and Nick Ebert from Windsor for a player and nine draft picks in December. Rychel, a Columbus first rounder, scored the OHL playoff title-clinching goal with 26.3 seconds left in regulation of Game 5 against North Bay last Friday and led the club in playoff scoring. Ebert was a standout on the blue-line.
“They didn’t have to be the superstars but they came and chipped in,” Walker said. “Could we have done it without them? Probably not, but they became part of the culture laid here by (captain) Matt Finn, Scott Kosmachuk, Jason Dickinson, Brock McGinn and the rest of the veterans. Those guys (Rychel and Ebert) wanted to be part of that here.”
And in a pinch, there’s all that offence.
The Storm averaged five goals a game in the regular season, then kept pace in the playoffs. Robby Fabbri, the NHL draft eligible everyone will be watching, was named postseason MVP playing mostly with Rychel and overager Zach Mitchell.
“They’ve got strong 1A and 1B lines,” said Windsor GM Warren Rychel, a Guelph hockey dad this month. “Just like all the strong London and Windsor teams that won the Cup.”
As well as Mantha's Foreurs...
[T]here is more there to which head coach Mario Durocher can turn in times of need. Louick Marcotte, a 20-year-old winger, posted 42 goals and 100 points this season. Mantha (38 points), Marcotte (12 goals, 37 points) and Guillaume Gelinas (11 goals, 34 points) finished 2-3-4 in postseason scoring behind Halifax’s Jonathan Drouin this spring.
Gelinas, a veteran defenceman, had 23 goals and 92 points from the blue-line this year. That more than doubled his previous career best. He also holds the record for points in a season playoff by a Foreurs defenceman. The previous best was by current Pittsburgh rearguard Kris Letang, who had 31 in 2007.
Val d’Or was the only Quebec team to crack the 300-goal mark this season.
They leaned on their big three gunners, but also had seven players with at least 20 goals. Samuel Henley, a Val d’Or native, scored a career-high 30 times in his fifth QMJHL campaign. Defenceman Randy Gazzola, an over-age defenceman originally from Thorold, provided 16 goals and 74 points from the back end — second in the league behind Gelinas.
Maple Leafs draft pick Antoine Bibeau backstopped the Foreurs to all 16 playoff wins. He had a 2.80 goals against average and .913 save percentage in the process. He surrendered only five goals in a first-round sweep of Acadie-Bathurst and held the fort in a tough six-game set against Drummondville.
He knocked off Montreal prospect Zach Fucale and the defending Memorial Cup champion Halifax Mooseheads on the road in Game 7 in Round 3, then got the best of Baie-Comeau’s Philippe Cadorette in this final.
Who Baie-Comeau Drakkar coach Eric Veilleux and his friend, Knights consultant Danny Dumont, tell Pyette are a gassed bunch of Drillers:
Veilleux's Baie-Comeau Drakkar succumbed to the Foreurs on home ice in Game 7 of the championship series on Tuesday. His former Shawinigan assistant, Danny Dupont, has been working with the Knights the past month.
“I sent Eric a text and he'll give me a hand,” said Danny, the son of ex-NHL defenceman Andre (Moose) Dupont. “He knows I would do the same thing for him. He's obviously disappointed and I wanted to give him some time to turn around there, too. But it's really just to confirm what we've seen on video. When you play the games, you can see more. We've watched the videos probably twice, but he's probably seen them three times.”
Veilluex has seen plenty of Mario Durocher's Val d'Or crew over the last few weeks. So has Dupont, previously the head coach of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, whose old club was swept by the Foreurs in the first round.
“I thought Baie-Comeau would get the better of them, but Val d'Or's goatending was stellar,” Dupont said. “(Leafs prospect Antoine) Bibeau was the MVP and their defence, they blocked a ton of shots and really answered the Bell. They have the Mantha-(Sam) Henley-(Louick) Marcotte line that's very good and they didn't win it by chance.”
Val d'Or, an Owen Sound-sized city in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue western region of Quebec, paid a heavy price in travel to win their franchise's third President's Cup.
“They've been flying all over and these playoffs must have cost them a ton of money,” Dupont said, “but their building's been full every night. Still, it's a grind. You could see (Tuesday) in the third period (when Val d'Or surrendered a three-goal lead). Although the players wanted it, their energy levels were low.”
For what it's worth, the Guelph Mercury's Tony Saxon reports that Little Bert is being a fine pain in the ass himself (Saxon also penned an article about "How the Storm were built" and a list of players to watch at the tournament)
When a North Bay player leaned over the boards in Game 2 at the Sleeman Centre following an on-ice scrum and yelled, "Hey Bertuzzi, how's your head?" in reference to the injury issues he's had in the past, Bertuzzi didn't skip a beat.
"Eight goals and about nine assists," he replied, referring to his playoff totals at the time.
A postgame popcorn shower courtesy of a possibly drunk Battalion fan in North Bay following Game 3 only made his smile wider — as did his third-star selection appearance.
Yes, it is his dogged work ethic, decent scoring touch and attention to his defensive responsibilities that make him a candidate for playoff MVP. But it is also that edge, that character, that pain-in-the-buttness that makes him so valuable.
Many were surprised, some shocked, when Bertuzzi was selected in the second round of the National Hockey League draft last June by the Detroit Red Wings. But lots of people can skate, shoot and fight. Not many have what Bertuzzi has.
Teams are crying out for "pests," "agitators," "grit." The good teams all seem to have one, a player whose value is not measured in goals and assists. Chicago has Andrew Shaw. Boston has Brad Marchand. Montreal has Brendan Gallagher: all players who make their teams better by having the same qualities that Bertuzzi does.
Rubbing people the wrong way has gotten Tyler Bertuzzi this far. It will also likely make him a millionaire somewhere down the road in the NHL, where someone else looks after your equipment bag.
But Mantha earned this rave review from McKeen's Hockey's Brendan Ross...
Anthony Mantha (Red Wings – 2013, 20th overall) Big time sniper brings his 81 combined regular season and playoff goals, the most by any CHLer, to Bud Gardens for all to witness. He will be the focus of defences as the tournament’s most natural goal scorer. It is hard to believe that Detroit traded down to acquire this stud prospect.
As well as this from the Canadian Hockey League...
So yes, the Foreurs did briefly fly back to Val-d'Or to share their championship with their fans, and after coach Mario Durocher promised that his team would maintain their identity, he had to admit to the Guelph Mercury's Saxon that Tuesday and Wednesday wore his team out...
"I think the players were going to watch the Canadiens game and probably fall asleep during it," Durocher said of his squad. "But when you win, you can find some energy."
Laxdal's Oil Kings had a long day of flying after winning the Western title on Monday.
All four teams arrived in London on Wednesday, settling into different hotels around the city.
All teams practice Thursday (Guelph at 2:45 p.m.) and the tournament gets underway Friday night when the host London Knights, who haven't played a game in five weeks, play the Foreurs.
Val-d'Or's Mario Durocher, who coached the Victoriaville Tigres in the 2002 Memorial Cup in Guelph, experienced a similar feeling, winning a Game 7 on the road in Baie-Comeau.
"In the Memorial Cup, you're on the road, too. Hopefully, we bring that way to play hockey," Durocher said.
Asked if he felt his team had an advantage opening against a Knights team that hadn't played in weeks, Durocher said maybe early on, but that London would get a boost from an arena packed with London fans. "It will be an interesting game. The first win is so important in the Memorial Cup. When you're behind, it's difficult and you need one to go further in the tournament."
But we must eventually come to the "local takes," with the Free Press's Helene St. James saying this about both Bertuzzi and Mantha...
Mantha, who has 24 goals in 24 playoff games this spring, opens the round-robin tournament when he leads Val-d’Or Foreurs against host London Knights on Friday. The Wings selected Mantha in the first round of last year’s NHL entry draft, ironically trading their 18th overall pick to San Jose for the Sharks’ 20th and 58th overall picks. The Wings still were able to get Mantha at 20th overall — and used the 58th pick on Tyler Bertuzzi.
Bertuzzi is in the Memorial Cup tournament with the Guelph Storm, the Ontario Hockey League playoff champion. Bertuzzi, 19, has 10 goals and seven assists over 18 games. Guelph opens Saturday against the Edmonton Oil Kings, champions of the Western Hockey League.
Mantha, 19, had a big hand in Val-d’Or finishing as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion, scoring in the last minute of Tuesday’s Game 7 against Baie-Comeau to secure a 4-3 victory. Mantha has 38 points in the playoffs, on top of the 120 points he had over 57 games in the regular season. That included 57 goals, adding up to a goal-a-game scoring in the regular season and playoffs.
The Knights are in the tournament by virtue of hosting only. Round-robin runs through Wednesday, with playoff rounds beginning May 22. Val-d’Or and Guelph meet Monday.
Jiri Fischer getting a bit gushy while speaking with DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose...
“He's taken over the Quebec League,” said Jiri Fischer, Detroit’s director of player development. “In Val d'Or, they have a fantastic power play. In the Subway Series, he played for Team Quebec. He was on the bubble for the Canadian World Junior team, even though he led the Quebec League in scoring by 25 percent more than the next guy at the time.
“I saw him play in the Subway Series. In the first game, he had a goal and an assist. The next game, he scored another goal on the power play. Then he makes the World Junior roster and he leads Team Canada in scoring in the tournament.”
Mantha played in 63 games with the Foreurs in his first full year in 2011-12 and represented Canada at the 2012 U18 World Junior Championship, earning 22 goals and 29 assists.
The forward was Val-d'or's second-leading scorer during his second season, ranking first in the QMJHL with 50 goals and had 39 assists in 67 games. The Foreurs reached the second round in the playoffs after finishing fourth in the West Division.
Mantha scored five goals with seven assists in nine playoff games.
“He's just a big, strong, 6-foot-4 guy who holds on to the puck under pressure in the offensive zone,” Fischer said. “Month after month, week after week, he just keeps proving that he is a dominant offensive power forward. I'm really excited about him turning pro next year.”
And the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa declaring Mantha as having, "What it takes to become the next great Red Wing," speaking at length with his mentor, Marc Andre Dumont...
Mantha is one of two first-round draft picks the Red Wings have had since 2008. When the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec league, whom Dumont used to coach, drafted him at age 15, Mantha was 5-foot-11.
“He was a decent-sized young guy, but we didn’t know he would grow five or six inches,” Dumont said. "Practices were in the morning and in the afternoon, he would come for a 45-minute session, passing the puck and working on one-timers, wrist shots and tip-ins. We’d do 400 at a time, to the point his hands had blisters on them and they were bloody sometimes. He’s not scared to get his hands dirty to get better, and it’s no surprise to me he is where he is today.”
You already know what Mike Babcock thinks about Mantha, but as Krupa continues and Dumont assures us that Mantha has the character to become an NHL player, you might be surprised to find out what a player who scored 57 goals in 57 games says he focused upon this past season:
“This season, I think the defensive part of the game is something I hoped to improve and I think it has,” said Mantha, who speaks with a light accent. “It is something where I wanted to put the effort, and it has been better. I got a lot of ice time on the penalty kill, also, which helped me out. And, obviously, the offensive side of my game, it got even better from last year. But I think that the best improvement was my own-end zone coverage.”
Asked if he is aware that some anticipation about his arrival is already building among fans of the Red Wings, Mantha is straightforward.
“Yes I am, especially because of Twitter and that kind of stuff,” he said. “I’m not putting myself up to any pressure because of that. It is what it is. If I start telling myself what every fan would like of me, I will just get out of sight from myself. And I just I need to play my game and be responsible for myself.”
Krupa continues, profiling Mantha's lineage (his grandfather's Andre Pronovost), his athletic family (he's the only boy among four siblings), delving deeper into his relationship with Dumont, before adding this from Kris Draper...
For Kris Draper, Holland’s assistant, a particular goal at a game in Gatineau in December struck a chord.
“He probably was the only guy on the ice who could score that goal,” Draper said. “It was size. It was reach. It was just a goal scorer’s goal. Kenny and I just looked at each other and smiled. It was that kind of moment.”
And this surmising of the challenges at hand for big Tony Mantha...From big Tony Mantha:
“Adaptation, probably,” Mantha said. “Going from juniors to a professional level is a big step and I need to get ready this summer, to be ready for next season.”
Mantha tells Krupa--whose article you should read and probably reread--that he understands that his professional hockey journey may begin in the AHL, possibly for multiple seasons, and the road to the NHL is not a straight or linear path.
It's hard, if not foolhardy, for anyone to fearlessly predict that so-and-so will become a star, never mind a superstar. If they were superstars in the making, they'd probably be playing in the NHL. The Wings have no Nathan MacKinnons or Seth Joneses.
It's harder still to predict a "when" than an "if," because the Red Wings' prospect development pipeline may be stocked with player mentors, coaches of all kinds and people who want to help young men grow up into professional hockey players, but the key to becoming an NHL player is to find one's physical maturation, mental maturity and hockey skills intersecting at the same time.
It's like a naval aviator landing on an moving aircraft carrier bobbing up and down in the ocean and moving forward, all while adjusting your aircraft to account for your and the carrier's relative motion, the wind and the waves, and to not only land safely, but to do so while catching the 3rd of 4 arresting cables with your arresting hook. It's hard, very hard, and the CBA makes it tougher for talented players who might need more time than the CBA allows (see: Landon Ferraro, Adam Almquist, Tom McCollum) to reach maturity in a waiver-exempt fashion.
Just as importantly, as Ken Holland reminded us all, the NHL is not the QMJHL: in a league where goals-against averages are measured in 1's and 2's instead of 2's, 3's and 4's, somebody who's a 50-goal-scorer in another league might, might, hopefully become someone who can register 20-25 goals on a regular basis at the NHL level.
But I will say this: of the players I've met who possess comparable physical, mental and hockey skill sets to Mantha, from the first prospect camp I attended in 2007 on down?
All of them have played in the NHL, in no small part due to the Wings' injuries this past season. The best of them made up the Wings' "Kid Line," part of their second defensive pair or their back-up goaltender's spot.
The best of them led the Wings in goal scoring.
And while Mantha has a long way to go, and I would bet he starts the year and probably spends most of the year adapting that big, lanky 6'5" frame to playing against men who are 10 years older and 20 pounds heavier than he is, learning how very little "time and space" he'll have outside a league of 16-to-20-year-olds...
I've only met one or two other players who've been able to not only take part in the summer camp and verbalize what they needed to do to improve by the fall prospect tournament, but also did so, experienced setbacks, and then adjusted, came on strong in the tournament, stepped back as the main camp began, and then earned a couple of exhibition games...
And I've never seen a player as big as Mantha do so, that I cannot deny. The best part about Mantha's skill set is that he's already an elite sniper (he will never be the big, mean, nasty power forward you've been hoping for, Wings fans; he's a massive sniper, not a Mike McKee or a Brendan Shanahan II), he's already a superb skater, and he is someone who is humble enough about his game to admit his flaws, smart enough to be able to verbalize what he needs to fix in English, hard-working enough to adjust on the fly, and then confident enough to back up his words.
I've had players surprise me--I never imagined that Luke Glendening was going to embrace being a pissant, I didn't think that Danny DeKeyser would turn from a poor man's Brad Stuart into what he's becoming (to my credit, Jeff Blashill feels similarly), and I certainly didn't think that Tomas Tatar's road to the NHL would be so bumpily interrupted by Clearys and Samuelssons--but at present, I'd suggest that Mantha's going to get a long, most-of-the-exhibition season look before playing in Grand Rapids for the majority of the 2014-2015 season.
In all honesty, of the post-Jurco wave, Mantha and Teemu Pulkkinen are pretty bloody equivalent in terms of their ability to snipe pucks into the net, and while Pulkkinen's half a foot shorter, he was playing in the Finnish SM-Liiga for two years before he came over. They're your most-likely-to-score-20-to-25 players (though Martin Frk's attempts to recharge his pro prospects are also worth watching). Andreas Athanasiou, Zach Nastasiuk, Mitch Callahan, Ferraro, the rest, they're complimentary players.
On defense, the names are obvious past the wild card that is Almquist--Marchenko, Backman, Jensen, Sproul and Ouellet have all got what it takes--and in goal, Petr Mrazek is small by modern-day standards but is obviously going to be a good one, and Jake Paterson's got potential, too.
There is no one with Mantha's combination of size, skill, work ethic and maturity, perhaps nobody since Gustav Nyquist or Brendan Smith (and he still has some work to do in the latter category, which may be the key to maximizing his potential)...
And that's worth getting excited about.
I'm willing to suggest that Mantha will be an NHL player by the latter half of the 2015-2016 season, and I'm willing to suggest that he will be successful. How far will he go? Will he become the next 30-goal-scoring, 60-point-registering successor to Zetterberg and Datsyuk that Wings fans hope he can become, or at least part of the Nyquist-Sheahan-Jurco-Tatar-and-? committee that will have to take the puck possession mantle from Hank and Pav down the line?
I don't have that answer for you. Only Anthony Mantha does, Mantha and time.
Otherwise...MLive's Brendan Savage has been doing some TSN Play of the Year number-crunching, and he believes that Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist may end up battling each other in the Play of the Year final...
Tatar got 80,707 of the almost 108,000 votes cast – that's more than 78 percent – to rout Spezza and advance to the finals of his bracket.
Nyquist is already in the finals of his bracket and the two Red Wings could meet in the final if each win their next two rounds.
Nyquist will face the winner of the Pool D matchup between Colorado Avalance teammates Matt Duchesne and Reto Berra that begins Thursday.
Tatar will square off against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury beginning Monday in Pool B.
Semifinal voting begins May 29 and the final round starts June 6.
The Detroit Free Press's sports staff took note of where the Wings rank in the Hockey News's "lists" issue...
OVERALL RANKING: They’re fourth, behind Chicago, Boston and Pittsburgh, in the cumulative rankings based on 10 categories.
FREE-AGENT BUSTS: Stephen Weiss was ranked the second-worst signing after two goals and two assists in an injury-plagued 26 games.
MOST OVERPAID: Mikael Samuelsson was second here after costing the Red Wings $1 million for each of his three points. Again, injuries were a factor.
BEST JERSEYS: They’re third, behind Montreal and Chicago (all home jerseys): “So classic, so clean. ... Understated and elegant.”
BEST-SELLING JERSEYS: We slipped in this one from the NHL: Pavel Datsyuk’s jersey was second in sales only to Sidney Crosby’s this season.
For the record, The Production Line noted that a Pittsburgh radio host insists that Mike Babcock's heading to Pittsburgh (again, if he's said all that he's said publicly and bolts, as far as I'm concerned, that will speak very poorly of his character)--and as you might know by now, the Babcock-to-elsewhere storyline isn't going to go anywhere until he either re-signs or doesn't, with the media likely to go even more ape about the concept that Babcock can't possibly be satisfied enough in Detroit as the playoffs go on and the draft and free agency approach:
And finally, regarding those Foreurs, they posted a 125-image gallery of the QMJHL championship-winning game on Facebook. Or a gentleman named Andy Klink did.
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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.