The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/04/14 at 11:00 PM ET
The Red Wings' prospects had a bit of a mixed...Well, okay an entirely losing day on Friday, and the trio of teams taking part in playoff series (though one is "playing out the string" all had difficult efforts).
Starting in Sweden, in the SHL, Mattias Backman and Linkopings HC lost 4-1 to Skelleftea AIK, and LHC trails that series 3 games to none. Backman finished the game at -1 in 18:30 of ice time, and he had 3 shots;
Mattias Janmark's future with AIK Stockholm is somewhat uncertain because AIK is going to be relegated to the Allsvenskan next season, so their "Kvallserien" fate has already been determined. They lost 2-1 in a shootout to Orebo on Friday, with Janmark finishing at -1 with 2 shots on goal, a minor penalty to his credit and a 3-and-2 faceoff record;
In the QMJHL, as second-round playoff action got underway, Anthony Mantha scored 2 goals--both 3rd period markers, as his Val-d'Or Foreurs rallied from a 3-1 deficit--en route to a 4-3 OT loss to Drummondville. Mantha now has 5 goals, 4 assists and 9 points in 5 playoff games played.
In regular season play, the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins have been a winning machine until very recently. They lost 4-1 to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday night, and the Griffins' website recounts the game's events (and the teams will battle again tomorrow night in Grand Rapids; Mitchell Callahan apparently visited his teammates, too):
The Hamilton Bulldogs used a trio of second-period goals to rally for a 4-1 victory on Friday at Van Andel Arena, snapping the Grand Rapids Griffins’ three-game winning streak.
The seventh sellout crowd of the season saw the Griffins suffer a regulation loss for just the fourth time in their last 19 games (14-4-0-1) and squander an opportunity to increase their seven-point lead over idle Chicago in the Midwest Division race. Hamilton, meanwhile, kept its flickering playoff hopes alive after entering the night nine points down on the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.
The Griffins (44-21-2-4) won’t have to wait long to atone for their performance as they’ll host a rematch with the Bulldogs (31-33-1-5) on Saturday at 7 p.m. The first 2,500 fans will receive replicas of the Griffins’ 2013 Calder Cup championship ring.
In a historically rare matchup of the two most recent Calder Cup-winning goaltenders, Petr Mrazek watched his club take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission against Dustin Tokarski, who won the AHL championship with Norfolk in 2012. Off a faceoff win in the Hamilton zone, Jordin Tootoo collected the puck at the left half-wall and centered a pass to David McIntyre, who patiently measured up a wrist shot from the high slot that flew past a completely screened Tokarski at 14:08.
The Bulldogs took advantage of some sluggish defensive play by Grand Rapids to light the lamp three times before the second period was nine minutes old. Gabriel Dumont jammed the puck past Mrazek’s pad just 55 seconds into the frame, and the visitors went on top at 4:36 when Mike Bluden warded off a defender to score on a partial break that resulted from a poor Grand Rapids line change.
A subsequent timeout by Griffins coach Jeff Blashill couldn’t rouse the troops, as a Sven Andrighetto blast from the left circle found the far corner of the net at 8:11.
The score stayed 3-1 until 3:13 remained in the third period, when Greg Pateryn sailed a long shot into an empty net that Mrazek had vacated for an extra attacker.
Mrazek, who had surrendered exactly one goal in each of Grand Rapids’ three straight wins, made 23 saves while sustaining only his second loss in his last 13 decisions. Tokarski countered with 27 saves in the victorious effort.
Notes: The Griffins’ seventh sellout (10,834) of the season – and third in the last four games – equals their combined total from the last two seasons and represents their most in a single season since recording eight in 2006-07…Tonight marked just the fourth time in the last seven AHL seasons that the two most recent Calder Cup-winning goalies started against each other. The other three all happened last season between Tokarski (then with Syracuse) and Binghamton’s Robin Lehner…Mark Mowers, who enjoyed one of the most prolific seasons in Griffins history with 34 goals and 81 points in 2002-03, attended the game as a scout for the Montreal Canadiens.
Three Stars: 1. HAM Blunden (goal, assist); 2. HAM Tokarski (W, 27 saves); 3. HAM Andrighetto (goal, assist)
The Griffins' website also posted a Flickr photo gallery and a set of highlights and post-game interviews...
And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner (whose recap also includes an embedded photo gallery) took note of the Griffins' post-game discontent:
Coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t pleased with the Griffins’ performance in a 6-1 win at home against Iowa on Wednesday, so his reaction to Friday’s 4-1 loss against Hamilton before 10,834 at Van Andel Arena, was predictable.
“I told the guys in between periods,” Blashill said. “This is an everyday business. You can’t afford not to show up every single day. I don’t think we were as mentally detailed as we need to be."
The record is hard to complain about. The Griffins (44-21-2-4) lead the Midwest Division, started the night second in the Western Conference by a single point, and are a win from the best record in the AHL. They are one of just three teams that have already qualified for the playoffs.
Still, the performance the past two games, however, was the main topic. Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan answered "no "when asked if the team was playoff-ready.
“You don’t want to enter the playoffs playing like this,” he said. “There’s no rah-rah. Each guy has to take it upon themselves to find the right groove and the right mindset so we can take that into the playoffs."
Blashill said a greater attention to detail is needed.
“We’re just not doing the little things,” he said. “You have to get back to the puck better. You have to stop on the puck better. We are just playing too careless right now and you can’t play this way right now and have any chance of success over the long term at all. I thought we were lucky it didn’t cost us on Wednesday and tonight it did.”
And in the ECHL, the hapless Toledo Walleye can't win for losing. They also can't win. Toledo lost 4-1 to Fort Wayne on Friday, with Jared Coreau sitting the game out and Richard Nedomlel registering a shot.
The Walleye's website recounts the game's events...
The Komets scored three straight goals in the third period Friday night at the Huntington Center as the Walleye lost 4-1. Toledo has an overall record of 21-41-3-2 and is 11-21-0-1 at home. More than 20,000 fans celebrated the first-ever Opening Day Downtown Doubleheader.
The Mud Hens hosted 12,787 to Fifth Third Field to open their 13th season in downtown Toledo. The excitement continued with 7,284 cheering the Walleye on at the Huntington Center against Fort Wayne.
The Komets would start the scoring at 7:11 in the first period when Brandon Marino deflected a pass behind goaltender Hannu Toivonen. Toledo would tie the game late in the first period when Max Shalunov wristed a shot past Komets goaltender Ben Meisner for his 15th goal of the season.
“They are a very good first period team and I was played them even,” said Head Coach Dan Watson. “We gave ourselves a great chance tonight but they made the plays at the end of the game.”
The game would remain tied until 6:18 of the third period when Fort Wayne scored a power play goal. They would tack on an empty net goal and one with just a second left to end the scoring.
Walleye Notes: Goaltender Hannu Toivonen made 27 saves on 30 shots on goal. Toivonen has a record of 12-15-0-0 on the season. Toledo is 1-5-1-0 against the Komets this season.
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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.