The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/02/14 at 02:10 AM ET
In terms of the Red Wings' respective AHL and ECHL affiliates, things have "gotten back to normal." The Grand Rapids Griffins withstood a rough stretch and are winning on a regular basis once again, and the Toledo Walleye are...Well, still losing.
The Grand Rapids Griffins swept their weekend series with the Abbotsford Heat via a 4-3 shootout win on Friday evening and a 5-2 win on Saturday, as reported/recapped by the Griffins' website (though there is some...uncertain...news regarding the Griffins' goaltending):
The Grand Rapids Griffins fought back from a two-goal deficit in the first period and topped the Abbotsford Heat, 5-2, to move into first place in the Western Conference on Saturday at Abbotsford Entertainment & Sports Centre.
In the final regular season matchup between the two teams, the Griffins walk away with three wins in four meetings.
Max Reinhart solved Tom McCollum twice in the first period, with goals at 1:23 and 19:48. Dean Arsene’s shot from the left point hit off Reinhart behind the net, and bounced forward to deflect off the back of McCollum into the goal. Reinhart sniped his second tally into the top shelf from a tight angle to McCollum’s right to give Abbotsford (33-18-4-2) a two-goal advantage.
Reinhart also scored twice in Friday’s meeting between the two teams, in which the Griffins defeated the Heat, 4-3, in a shootout.
Grand Rapids had a chance to tie the game 3:04 into the first frame when the puck jumped over the shoulder of former Griffin Joey MacDonald (2002-07, 2010-12) and fell behind him onto the goal line. The play was reviewed, and it was ruled no goal.
Petr Mrazek started the second period in relief of McCollum, who turned away 8 of 10 shots. Mrazek eventually saved all 14 shots he faced.
The Griffins dominated the second period, outshooting the Heat 20-6. Andrej Nestrasil put Grand Rapids on the board at 13:20 when he sent a bullet from the high slot and beat MacDonald in the upper right corner.
Jeff Hoggan evened the score 4:34 into the third period with a stuffed puck into the lower right corner from behind the Heat net.
About four minutes later, Jordin Tootoo sent a cross-ice pass to Nick Jensen at the left point, who controlled the puck before slamming a slap shot. David McIntyre was at the doorstep to redirect the shot in for the 3-2 lead at 8:39.
With 5:49 remaining, Tootoo scored with a quick wrist shot from the top of the right circle off a pass from McIntyre.
MacDonald, who finished with 37 saves, was pulled for an extra skater in the final minutes, and Teemu Pulkkinen scored on an empty net at 18:19 for his fifth goal in three games. Jensen was awarded the primary assist on Pulkkinen’s tally, earning him his first three points as a Griffin in two consecutive games.
The Griffins return home to take on the Midwest Division opponent Chicago Wolves at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Grand Rapids (35-17-2-3, 75 pts.) leads the division, but the Wolves (32-17-4-2, 70 pts.) trail only five points behind.
Three Stars: 1. ABB Reinhart (two goals); 2. GR Jensen (two assists); 3. GR Hoggan (goal)
Meanwhile in Toledo, well...The Walleye may have raised money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in their second of two "Pink in the Rink" games, but the Red Wings' ECHL affiliate dropped Dan Watson's coaching debut, losing 3-1 to the Greenville Road Warriors.
Jared Coreau stopped 23 of 26 shots for the Walleye, Max Nicastro didn't register a point and Richard Nedomlel got in a fight. The Walleye's website posted a recap...
Greenville scored twice in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and beat Toledo 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 8,200 at the Huntington Center Saturday night. Toledo has an overall record of 16-32-3-1 and is 9-15-0-0 at home.
Greenville would get the first goal of the game at 15:26 of the first period when Josh Nicholls beat Jared Coreau with a deflection.
“We played a solid game tonight,” said Head Coach Dan Watson. “I liked our effort in our zone. We will watch some video tonight and tomorrow and continue to get better.”
Kyle Rogers would score the lone goal of the second period. Max Shalunov fed a backhand pass in front of the Greenville net that Rogers slapped in for his 12th goal of the season.
Greenville would get a pair of goals in the third period to cap the scoring. Former Walleye forward Scott Arnold beat Coreau on a penalty shot at 6:36 of the third to put the Road Warriors in front for good.
Walleye Notes: Goaltender Jared Coreau made 23 saves on 26 shots in net for Toledo. Coreau has a record 1-10-3-1 on the season.
And the Toledo Blade's Rachel Lenzi spoke with the Walleye about their latest setback:
Dan Watson admitted to having a few nervous moments before his debut as the Toledo Walleye’s interim head coach. He insisted it was more out of excitement than anxiety, yet finally found some balance during the opening moments of Saturday’s game at the Huntington Center.
“I’d done a lot of the pregame speeches and the preparations before this,” Watson said. “Once I got through those first few shifts of managing the bench, with the forward side versus the ‘D’ side, it felt good.”
However, a pair of former Walleye spoiled Watson’s first game as a head coach, as Scott Arnold and Emerson Clark scored third-period goals to help Greenville to a 3-1 win.
The loss to the Road Warriors was the end of a whirlwind week for the Walleye, as Nick Vitucci stepped down after nearly five seasons as the only head coach in team history.
“It was a bit of a surprise to go through all this,” Toledo goalie Jared Coreau said. “There wasn’t much talk or anything leading up to it. We just came to practice Tuesday and found out, and then there was a press conference. I think we were a little shocked, at first, but we all believe in Dan Watson. There’s no need to panic.
“Nick was a great guy, but I think with a change, sometimes it revitalizes everyone. We’re a lot fresher.”
The Walleye did post a highlight clip if you're interested in watching it:
Elsewhere, in the Swedish SHL, Mattias Janmark scored a goal and played 19:38 in AIK Stockholm's 2-1 win over Lulea;
Mattias Backman didn't register a point but played 20:23 in Linkopings HC's 5-1 win over HV71;
In Major Junior hockey, in the OHL, Jake Paterson stopped 29 of 33 shots as his Saginaw Spirit lost 4-2 to Erie;
Zach Nastasiuk didn't register a point in the Owen Sound Attack's 4-1 win over Mississauga;
Marc McNulty didn't register a point in the Prince George Cougars' 2-1 loss to Victoria;
In the statistical outlier that is the BCHL, David Pope scored 2 goals and an assist in the West Kelowna Warriors' regular season-ending 8-3 win over Trail, giving Pope 27 goals, 23 assists and 50 points over the course of 45 games played, and setting up a 1st round playoff series with the Vernon Vipers, which will begin on Tuesday, March 4th;
Tyler Bertuzzi went to Detroit on Monday to see Detroit Red Wings medical personnel. Second opinion on his ongoing neck/head/shoulder issues that nobody has labelled a concussion.
Saxon posted that report on February 24th, and we haven't heard anything about Bertuzzi the younger, who battled neck issues and an honest-to-goodness concussion last season, too.
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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.