The Malik Report
Beware yet again, dear readers: an auto-play highlight clip lurks within:
The Grand Rapids Griffins spent Sunday night and Monday morning busing back to Grand Rapids from Syracuse, New York, where some might argue that a bizarre standard of officiating helped the Griffins take Games 1 and 2 of the Calder Cup Final.
Today, the Griffins will get back on the ice and prepare for Games 3, 4 and 5, which take place on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (respectively) at Van Andel Arena, and their leading playoff scorer, one Tomas Tatar, spoke with the Free Press's Aaron McMann regarding the competitive advantage he's found playing with Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist affords him:
“The big difference is that (other teams) have to be careful about those two,” Tatar said. “So I’m not a target anymore. Now they’ve got to beat around us, and there’s open space for me, too. The game is now easier for everybody.”
In his stint with the Red Wings this season, Tatar scored four times and added three assists to lead the rookie brigade that included Andersson and Nyquist. He was sent back down to Grand Rapids in mid-March upon Valtteri Filppula’s return from injury and has been on a tear ever since.
He was sent down for a couple of reasons. First, the Griffins needed some scoring help given that Nyquist was basically swapped out for him, and second, the team knew that demoting Tatar would light a competitive fire under his ass, because Tatar felt like most Red Wings fans did after witnessing him play at the NHL level this past season--that the NHL is where he belonged:
This popped up a little late on Monday evening--right before the trophy appeared at 5/3rd Ballpark--but as an FYI, the Calder Cup will be touring Grand Rapids over the next three days...
The American Hockey League’s Calder Cup will appear at numerous locations throughout West Michigan this week as the Grand Rapids Griffins prepare to host as many as three straight Calder Cup Finals games against the Syracuse Crunch.
Named for Frank Calder, the NHL’s first president and an instrumental figure in forming the AHL, the Calder Cup was first awarded in 1938. It bears the name of the last 20 Calder Cup champions, standing 24 inches tall and weighing 30 pounds. Fans can see the championship trophy at several locations and through various media outlets. Additional locations will be announced through the Griffins’ social media pages.
Well, this was going to happen. In the wake of the controversy regarding officiating during the Grand Rapids Griffins' back-to-back wins over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 1 and Game 2 of the Calder Cup Final, Syracuse Crunch owner James Dolgon made sure to make his voice heard in a conversation with the Syracuse Post-Standard's Lindsay Kramer (in an article titled, "AHL is aware of officiating concerns"):
"Officiating is always a topic of conversation It's tough to say. There's games where you are (concerned) and games where you aren't,'' he said. "I don't think you can make general statements.''
So Dolgon made specific statements. He addressed the fact that 22:13 (or 22:50, depending on how you read the clock)...
"There's nothing you can do about it. They (the AHL) obviously knows everyone is concerned,'' Dolgon said. "That's the way it goes. We train NHL officials. You hope that you are getting the highest quality. Obviously, there are mistakes that are made. You hope they are not repeated.''
And then he lamented the concept that Richard Panik could possibly be called for roughing after seeing Tomas Jurco struggling to jam a puck stuck on the side of the Crunch's empty net into said net, and then skating into Jurco with a heavy hit that sent Jurco flying and hitting the end boards--hard (it was called charging, and neither Dolgon nor Kramer saw it as such):
Somehow, this doesn't surprise me, per the Detroit Free Press:
When it comes to holding a grudge, the Turtle is at the top of the Detroit sports fans’ list.
Former NHL forward Claude Lemieux, who played with, among others, the New Jersey Devils and the Colorado Avalanche, beat out his former teammate, Patrick Roy, in our online voting tournament to “crown” the most hated opposing athlete in Michigan.
Lemieux garnered just over 75% of more than 2,230 votes. He is perhaps most notorious around these parts for this cross-check in the 1996 Western Conference finals that literally rearranged Kris Draper’s face.
In what ended up being a massive overnight report, I tried to do my best impersonation of a person who asks people to pay money to discuss free agent forecasts and rumors in handicapping my guesses as to what the Wings will do in the free agent marketplace.
It broke down as follows [cue speculation]: Brunner signs at the last minute, Miller's iffy, Cleary and Filppula leave [as does White], Samuelsson's bought out, Colaiacovo's traded, depending on whether Helm and Bertuzzi return, Eaves and Emmerton might find themselves shipped out of town after the exhibition season for the Tatar/Andersson/Nyquist line's sake, and the team won't sign a UFA defenseman and will instead swing hard at Bickell, Stalberg and Clarkson, if not Horton...and won't sign anybody if they don't get their targets [/end speculation].
Via Paul, the Calgary Sun's Eric Francis wondered what might happen with one soon-to-be-36-year-old Jarome Iginla if the unrestricted free agent chooses to a) not return to Pittsburgh and b) take half of the $7 million he earned this past season (okay, it was 48 games' worth of $7 million, but still) to make his cap hit more palatable to contending teams.
While most pundits believe that Iginla will either remain with Pittsburgh at a stiff discount, try to latch on with former coach Darryl Sutter in LA, or perhaps explore the option of signing with the cap-strapped team that was #3 on his 3-team, "I will accept a trade to here, here and here" list before the Bruins-thought-they-got-him-but-the-Peguins-did bizarro land trade fandango went down...
The Vancouver Province's Ben Kuzma believes that Iginla should remain in the Eastern Conference...By signing with the Detroit Red Wings:
Grand Rapids Griffins-Syracuse Crunch Game 2 tailings: citing ‘human error’ can’t excuse officiating
Last night, I offered my take on the insanity that was the Grand Rapids Griffins' 6-4 win over the Syracuse Crunch, and the mess was bad enough that Greg "Puck Daddy" Wyshynski gave me a plug (many thanks/much appreciated!) while trying to explain what happened over what was somewhere between 22:13 and 22:50 of play (we still don't know exactly how long the second period of last night's game lasted for sure) and three of the four disputed goals of the first two Calder Cup Final games.
The Griffins and Crunch's press weighed in at a mild-to-moderate level on Sunday night, but the Syracuse Post-Standard prefers to save its articles for 7 AM-the-next-day publication dates...
And as we survey this early afternoon's crop of Red Wings-related stories, the Post-Standard's Brent Axe offers both 5 reasons why the Crunch aren't yet crunched and a very blunt assessment of the daffy standard of officiating while pointing out that the Crunch had serious issues with the waved-off goal scored with Brett Connolly in the crease during Game 1, Tomas Jurco's goal in Game 2 and a gaggle of non-calls that the AHL is literally saying are only attributable to "human error":
Beware, Red Wings fans, auto-play highlight clips lurk within!
The best way to approach the strange tale that is the Grand Rapids Griffins' 6-4 win over the Syracuse Crunch in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Final, having played out over 62:13 of regulation time, involving an awarded goal to Tomas Jurco that may or may not have hit the crossbar and went out, depending on what you saw from a video camera that looked like it was looking out of the window of a hot shower, involving a Francis Pare game-winner that was scored after 20 minutes of second period time had been played, and involving a game-tying 4th goal for Syracuse that initally was stated as having been scored before the team's 3rd goal.
Between the goal-awarding strangeness and the fact that 40 minutes of penalties played out as an 8-4 disparity toward the home team for the first 56...I mean 58 minutes of play, and the fact that those who watched the game on TheAHLLive.com were listening to the Crunch's director of community relations and a scratched player tell the home team's side of the story...
It was hard to figure out exactly what was going on and what was a penalizable offense from the viewer's standpoint, so we're going to go with the Associated Press's recap for a summary of events to start:
I think that the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Syracuse Crunch 6-4 over the course of...63 minutes of regulation time...In Game 2 of the AHL's Calder Cup Final against the Syracuse Crunch...For now?
I've been watching hockey since 1991, but I have never, ever witnessed a more ridiculous display of refereeing at its worst, at any level, than what I witnessed on the AHL Live's stream of the Syracuse Crunch's broadcast. A team that can't stop rubbing its hands over its opponent at every stoppage was awarded a 4-4 goal on a bizarre review, the Crunch were given a boatload of power plays, and yet, if you are to believe the Crunch and their fans, Tomas Jurco's 4-3 goal never went in (despite the fact that the goal cam looked blurry and steamed) Francis Pare's 5-4 goal was scored after the second period should have ended (the 2nd period was 23 minutes long), and the Crunch hav not YET been awarded the goal supposedly scored with Brett Connolly in the crease on Saturday...
The Grand Rapids Griffins lead the Syracuse Crunch 2-1 after 1 period of the second game of the Calder Cup Final, and in very convenient fashion, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff offered one helluva statement from Red Wings GM Ken Holland regarding both the out-of-waiver-options players that are Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Tomas Tatar and Brian Lashoff, as well as Danny DeKeyser (he's been okay--hands are fine, but is understandably a step behind) and the Wings' "next wave" of prospects:
“We’ve got some big decisions because there’s a push from below,” Holland said. “When the season started, guys like Brian Lashoff, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Brendan Smith, they were all in Grand Rapids. Tomas Tatar’s in Grand Rapids, and we signed a Danny DeKeyser. There’s five or six players that at the start of the ’12-’13 season, weren’t on our roster, weren’t on our radar screen other than depth.
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