The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/18/13 at 10:19 PM ET
Of Red Wings prospect-related note this evening:
The Grand Rapids Griffins will have to head back to Toronto for the last third of their 2-3-2-format series with the Toronto Marlies after dropping a 4-1 decision to Toronto on Saturday night. The Griffins lead the second round series 3 games to 2, and Games 6 and 7 take place and may take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Griffins' website hasn't posted a recap yet, but here's a highlight clip (and it ruins the atmosphere of a superb pre-game video homage to the team's goaltenders) and post-game interviews...
And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke to the Griffins about their difficult game:
The Griffins failed on two five-on-threes in the second period, gave up two power-play goals in the third and lost 4-1 to Toronto before 3,428 at Van Andel Arena.
The loss prevented the Griffins from clinching the Western Conference semifinal series at home. The Griffins lead the series 3-2, with the final two games scheduled for Toronto. Game 6 will be 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The Griffins failed on two, two-man advantages and also gave up two goals in the fatal second period.
“I thought the second period was as bad a period we’ve played in the playoffs,” Blashill said. “And if you don’t put 60 minutes of real good hockey together, you’re not going to give yourself a chance to win. When you get opportunities on five on three, you’ve got to score,” he added. “That’s a big difference in the game … we lost the special teams battle and when you lose the special teams battle 2-0 against a real good team, it’s hard to win.”
The Griffins were 2 of 15 on the power play coming into Game 5, and failed to capitalize on five chances Saturday.
“When you go 0-for-five, you’re selling yourself short, “said Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan. “Five on threes, those are things you have to bury. But we didn’t get that boost we needed, but we’ll keep working at it and keep coming at these guys.”
With their season on the line, the Toronto Marlies ensured that the conference semifinals would return to Ontario’s capital city for at least Game 6, thanks to a 4-1 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins, who had won two straight in this series and three straight playoff games overall on home ice, were victimized by their own special teams play. Grand Rapids went 0-for-5 on the power play, including a pair of two-man advantages in the second period, while surrendering two goals during Toronto’s seven chances.
Still, Grand Rapids carries a 3-2 series lead back to Ricoh Coliseum, where it closed out the Marlies during the 2006 North Division Semifinals and holds an all-time playoff record of 4-1. Game 6 is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Neither team scored during the opening period, much to the credit of former Griffin Drew MacIntyre, who denied a flurry of chances during a late Grand Rapids power play and finished the frame with nine stops.
The Marlies struck with 9:08 remaining in the second, when Spencer Abbott deflected Will Acton’s low shot over Petr Mrazek’s glove. Less than a minute and a half later, consecutive Toronto penalties afforded the Griffins 1:28 of a 5-on-3 advantage, but despite Acton breaking his stick and having to play without one for an extended period, Grand Rapids was unable to capitalize.
That failure was magnified with 4:02 left when Abbott and Acton again teamed up for a goal, this time with Acton finishing off a tic-tac-toe play on the doorstep for a 2-0 Toronto lead.
Goals continued to elude the Griffins, as Jeff Hoggan rang a shot off the post with three minutes showing on the clock, and what would have been 1:22 of another two-man advantage was cut short by an interference call on Chad Billins.
Mrazek robbed Acton twice in the opening minute of the third, but Toronto went back on the power play and made it a three-goal contest when Morgan Rielly roofed a blast home from the bottom of the left circle at 2:20.
Luke Glendening finally lit the lamp for Grand Rapids at 4:25 with a backhand from the slot as the Griffins were hovering around MacIntyre’s net, pruning the deficit back to two and prompting Marlies coach Dallas Eakins to call his timeout.
Toronto scored another power play goal to ice it with 7:02 remaining, as Mike Zigomanis connected on a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle to make it 4-1.
MacIntyre made 32 stops in the win, while Mrazek finished with 20 saves.
Notes: The Griffins have owned a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series four times in their history, going on to win three of them…Grand Rapids, now 3-8 all-time on home ice when its opponent faces elimination, is 6-4 on the road under the same circumstance.
At the Memorial Cup, Martin Frk registered the game's first goal and an assist as the Halifax Mooseheads defeated the Portland Winterhawks 7-4 in the first game of a set of 3 round robin games--and Halifax trailed 3-1 at one point.
There's a CP recap up now and the London Free Press's Ryan Pyette and the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix posted recaps, Yahoo Sports' Cam Charron posited a slate of 3 stars and Sportsnet posted a highlight clip which includes Frk's goal:
Sweden will play Switzerland for gold tomorrow at 2:30 PM EDT, and the U.S. and Finland will battle for Bronze. Henrik Zetterberg told Aftonbladet's Per Bjurman and Erik Karlsson that the Swedish team should simply enjoy itself as it attempts to secure a gold in Stockholm (Finland advance to the gold medal game when the Stockholm-and-Helsinki-hosted Worlds' medal round was held in Helsinki last year, but lost to the Czechs, and this is the last of the two-year arrangement), and he stated that he was glad that the Wings were able to hold the lead against the Blackhawks after struggling against the Ducks.
There is some irony in the fact that the Swedes were so insistent that Jarnkrok play in 9 AHL games only and be returned to them by mid-April when Jarnkrok's registered 1 assist, 4 penalty minutes and is a -2 with 14 shots and an average of 11:09 of ice time per game (i.e. he's been playing on the fourth line) over the course of 9 games played for Sweden.
The Griffins somewhat ironically posted a tribute to their goaltenders prior to the game...
And building upon an article Hockey's Future's Adam Schnepp penned about the Wings' NCAA and European prospect pipelines, Schnepp's doled out end-of-the-season prospect awards (and these are three of Schnepp's 10 awards):
Hardest Worker: Calle Jarnkrok, C, Brynas (SEL): Calle Jarnkrok gets consistently compared to current Red Wings captain and fellow countryman Henrik Zetterberg for a reason, and it is one that Red Wings fans are going to appreciate over the next few seasons. Jarnkrok grinds out every shift, and his game is so much more than just scoring. He is great in the faceoff circle, adept at two-way play, and is working to add to his slender frame so he can play more physically. Jarnkrok recorded a career-high 42 points in the SEL in 2012-13 before coming to North America to further accelerate his progression. In what could be the only nine games he plays in the AHL, Jarnkrok recorded three points. He will get the opportunity to make the NHL club out of training camp in September.
Hardest Shot: Martin Frk, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL): In a close contest, Martin Frk edged out Ryan Sproul as the Red Wings' prospect with the hardest shot. Frk boasts an incredibly heavy, hard shot, so much so that it may be his best asset. Frk's menacing slapshot made him a natural fit to run the point on Halifax's powerplay, and he parlayed his shot into 35 goals in 2012-13.
Best Defensive Prospect: Ryan Sproul, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL): A player does not win the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL's best defenseman by accident. While Ryan Sproul's defensive game is sufficient, it is likely that his incredible offensive capabilities are what allowed him to capture the award. Despite the fact that he missed six weeks of the season with a broken forearm, Sproul recorded 20 goals and 46 assists in 50 games. Sproul could very likely be a star in the NHL, and almost certainly will one day be a top-four defenseman.
And if you're keeping score at home, the Grand Rapids Griffins had Jarnkrok play for them via a pro try-out, Saginaw Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson practiced with the team (he will return to Saginaw for one more year) and Alexei Marchenko did so as well (the defenseman will probably sign with the Griffins if CSKA Moscow allows him to do so), and the team is utilizing Teemu Pulkkinen in games and has signed prospects Richard Nedomlel (well, the Wings will sign Nedomlel soon), Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen available via amateur try-outs.
While the Wings don't have to sign Barrie Colts forward Andreas Athanasiou until next season, they did sign Athanasiou to an amateur try-out on Saturday, so he's available for the remainder of their playoff run.
If you missed it, Jared Coreau is not playing for the Wings or Griffins as DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose reported that the free agency-signed goaltender had shoulder surgery in Detroit toward the end of the regular season, and Roose also reported that Marek Tvrdon, who had a rib removed due to a blood clot last fall, will turn pro with the Griffins next season as well. I remember that article because I was just about to post it when all hell broke loose health-wise, and I've always felt guilty about not posting it!
Update: Zetterberg told Expressen's Gunnar Nordstrom that he believes Sweden will defeat Switzerland 4-2 to win the gold medal on Sunday.
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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.