The Malik Report
by George Malik on 04/24/14 at 12:14 AM ET
If Xavier Ouellet does not play for the Red Wings on Thursday--and MLive's Brendan Savage reports that the signs aren't necessarily positive regarding "X-Man's" playoff debut--he may get to Abbotsford, British Columbia in time to join his Grand Rapids Griffins teammates when they begin battling the Abbotsord Heat on Friday and Saturday.
The Griffins may receive another blueline addition as they amass Wings prospects who've been eliminated from playoff competition (see: Mattias Janmark, Mattias Backman, Andreas Athanasiou, Zach Nastasiuk), and neither the big defenseman nor his WHL-playing teammate will have to travel far:
Big defenseman Mitchell Wheaton and once-and-future Griffin Marek Tvrdon's Kelowna Rockets dropped a 5-1 decision to the Portland Winterhawks, and the Rockets now trail the WHL's Western Conference Final 3 games to 1.
Portland's won 3 straight games, and they can eliminate Kelowna when the series shifts to British Columbia's Okanagan region on Friday.
Wheaton, who finished scoreless and at -1, has posted 5 assists in 13 playoff games, and Tvrdon, who also didn't register a point and finished at -2, has registered 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points in 13 playoff games.
In the QMJHL, Mr. Gold Hat Hat Trick's team is having a rough go, too. Anthony Mantha scored yet another goal on Wednesday, but his Val-d'Or Foreurs dropped a 5-4 decision to the QMJHL's defending champion Halifax Mooseheads, marking their second straight loss (and tying the Q conference final at 2 games apiece).
Mantha now has 15 goals, 7 assists and 22 points in 14 playoff games played, but Halifax's lineup includes Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin and a still-stacked lineup despite Nathan MacKinnon's departure, so Drouin and linemates Nikolaj Ehlers (draft-eligible, Wings kind of player) and Philipe Gadoury (ditto) are out-scoring Mantha and his high-scoring teammates.
The series shifts to Halifax on Friday and will conclude with 6th and 7th games on Monday and Tuesday, and as Yahoo Sports' Neate Sager notes, it's kind of hard to believe that Val-d'Or's gonna out-gun Drouin and his ilk over the long haul:
No. 1 star: Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Any night where a player ties Mario Lemieux for career playoff points is usually a good night. Drouin now has 98 points in 47 games over the past three post-seasons after putting up five on Wednesday, matching what Super Mario put up for the old Laval Voisins from 1982 through '84 in a much higher-scoring era.
Drouin (2G-3A, +1, with seven dangerous shots) carried Halifax to a 5-4 series-tying win at Val-d'Or in the QMJHL's road-warrior semifinal. The Tampa Bay Lightning prospect's massive night started innocuously enough with a mere two power-play assists during the opening stanza to pull the Mooseheads, who have Kevin Darveau in goal instead of national team 'tender Zach Fucale, even after 20 minutes.
Halifax has had a knack for big second periods in these playoffs. Drouin scored through an Andrew Ryan screen 2:57 into the frame. Just more than two minutes later, after rookie Andrew Shewfelt drew a penalty, Drouin set up Nikolaj Ehlers for the 4-2 goal.
The Foreurs dominated the final period, but a Drouin breakaway goal gave Halifax just enough cushion.
I'm hoping for a Red Wings miraculous comeback and I'm hoping that Val-d'Or persists, but going forward, RedWingsCentral made some pointed comments about Mantha's potential on Twitter:
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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.