The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Griffins have been playing lights-out spectacular hockey while I was away, and on Friday night, the Griffins took a 3-1 lead over the Toronto Marlies in their second round AHL series, defeating Toronto 4-1. The Grand Rapids Griffins' website provides a recap of the game...
The Grand Rapids Griffins pushed the Toronto Marlies to the brink on Friday night with a 4-1 victory at Van Andel Arena, taking a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Landon Ferraro banked the game-winning goal off a Marlies defenseman and past former Griffin Drew MacIntyre with less than 10 minutes remaining, a rare reward for the home team on a night in which Grand Rapids outshot Toronto by a 2-to-1 margin (36-18).
The Griffins will have a chance to close out the Marlies and advance to their first conference finals in seven years on Saturday when they host Game 5 at 7 p.m.
If the Griffins win tonight, they'll advance to play the Oklahoma City Barons, the Edmonton Oilers' AHL affiliate...
I've not wanted to step into this minefield since the summer of 2009, but the Free Press's Helene St. James is a seasoned pro in navigating these sorts of things, so she went out and plainly stated that, for the Red Wings-Blackhawks series, anyway, Detroit needs Johan Franzen to match or eclipse the play of one Marian Hossa, and this is just a snippet from a much longer article:
Franzen himself repeatedly has said this time of year is, for him, “more fun. It’s tighter out there. More energy out there, and that’s fun. When you win, it’s fun. That’s all I care about, is if we win.”
It seems incongruous that Franzen doesn’t care more whether he scores, that he doesn’t connect him scoring with the team having success. It’s how it works, especially this time of year: Star players have to be star players. Like Hossa, who has seven points in six games.
The Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks will resume their "commuter" series (at least by Detroit-to-Anaheim-and-back standards) tomorrow at an early CDT hour (1 PM EDT, 12 noon CDT, on the CBC, NBC and 97.1 FM, with post-game shows on WDIV and Fox Sports Detroit), but if we are to believe everybody from Chicagoland's best to Jimmy Devellano, the Wings are down by more than a single game, and have a vertical climb in attempting to rally against the much-heralded Hawks.
NHL.com's Brian Hedger suggests that the Blackhawks have not only "surpassed" the Wings, but as their ascent has taken place amidst salary cap-era constraints, that the Hawks may in fact serve as the real model franchise going forward:
According to the Free Press's George Sipple, the Red Wings' official playoff theme is "Octopi Hockeytown," and a local artist named Baby G has a tune about "Throwing Your Wings Up"...
As they say, "Pass or fail?"
Update: From, well, me:
It's a solid website, but the octopus-tossing is in picture form only.
Updated 10x at 4:11 PM: The Detroit Red Wings took to the ice for a much-needed practice after a much-needed day off to allow the team to mentally and physically regroup from both their 7-game series against the Ducks and Wednesday's stumble against the Hawks, and while the schedule of the first four games may give the Wings a significant advantage tomorrow's essentially a re-set (1 PM EDT start on NBC, the CBC and 97.1 FM, and both FSD and WDIV are airing post-game shows), and the three-game break between games 3 and 4 also theoretically aids the cause of the underdogs (or "the nail," as it were)...
If the Wings' task in attempting to win four of the next six possible games wasn't enough of an uphill battle, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness noted that the Wings have a significant historical milestone marker serving as something of a millstone...
Via RedWingsFeed, Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner spoke to Red Wings VP Jimmy Devellano, and Detroit's representative on the NHL's Board of Governors doesn't mince words in suggesting that the Wings are the underdog team in terms of attempting to battle the Blackhawks...
“It would be the upset of upsets,” he said. “Chicago is really very, very talented. Our team is in the middle of the pack now. We don’t have the depth of star players anymore. We can match up with Kane and Toews with (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, but we don’t have a Patrick Sharpe or Marian Hossa. Their depth of star players exceeds our.”
He tells Regner that the Wings were unable to keep the aforementioned Hossa for a simple reason...
As we wait for the Red Wings' Friday practice to begin, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner penned a superb article about Tomas Tatar's role with the Grand Rapids Griffins, and Deadline Detroit's Rebecca Powers profiled Fox Sports Detroit analyst Darren Eliot, but a short interview Dallas Stars GM and former Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill gave to the Fan 590's Bob McCown and John Shannon caught my eye (or ear, as it were):
I was particulaly ill and out of the loop when the Wings allowed the Stars to take Nill, and while his interview mostly involves finding a replacement for Glen Gulutzan (the Grand Rapids Press's Wallner wonders whether former Grifins coach Curt Fraser might get a nod, and the Dallas News's Mike Heika wonders whether Nill will try to swipe associate coach Tom Renney from Detroit)...
The Chicago Tribune's Dan McNeil may subscribe to the "Blackhawks in square root of two!" theory:
So this is the dreamy, second-round match up that was to titillate the senses? The type of grudge match that was to rekindle all the deep-seeded ill feelings Chicagoans and Detroiters had for each other in the days of the old Norris Division?
The hammer and the nail have no rivalry. The nail may not like the hammer, but it's disdain for it does not constitute a rivalry because the hammer barely acknowledges the nail's existence.
Right now the Blackhawks are the hammer and the Red Wings are the nail. That will not change during the duration of these Western Conference semifinals.
He continues at length and concludes with the following:
Meantime, enjoy these not-so-spicy Wings, who are nothing more than an annoying impediment that won't take long to remove.
Updated at 12:04 PM: I spotted this clip of Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco attempting to use a "Frankenstick," as inspired by Grand Rapids Griffins equipment manager Brad Thompson, in my subscription feed, and Puck Daddy found it while I was out doing a pop run, too. The Griffins players' reactions to the stick are amusing, and then Jurco gets his hands on the stick...With predictable results:
Update: the Griffins posted a Griffins-Marlies Game 4 preview as well:
I've been in and out of late, so some of the Red Wings-related scuttlebutt (Datsyuk staying, says Mike Babcock? I sure hope so) and prospect news (the Grand Rapids Griffins have a 2-1 lead on the Toronto Marlies heading into tonight's game via a 5-4 win on Wednesday evening, and Martin Frk's Halifax Mooseheads won the QMJHL title and will play in the Memorial Cup), but I would be terribly delinquent if I didn't post the following:
Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer spent 15 minutes speaking to WBBL's Huge Show about both the Wings and their prospects' development, discussing some of his points of emphasis for the team's prospects and the front office's plans regarding filling the hole left on its roster by Jim Nill's decision to leave the team to become the Stars' GM. This interview is more than worth your time as Fischer's thoughtful and eloquent delivery is jam-packed with hockey knowledge:
The most interesting part of the interview? The last couple of minutes involve the ways in which the organization is addressing its prospects' engagement in social media...Intriguing stuff.
About The Malik Report
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.