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Grand Rapids Griffins post playoff primer ahead of first-round series with Milwaukee

The Grand Rapids Griffins posted a massive playoff primer ahead of their first-round series with the Milwaukee Admirals, and it's a little too much to post in digest form, so:

How We Got Here: Grand Rapids clinched a 2016 Calder Cup Playoff berth on April 3, thanks to a 5-2 victory at Rochester, but much was still to be determined for playoff positioning in the Central Division over the final two weeks of the regular season. With just over a week left in the regular season, Grand Rapids climbed to second place in the division following its 4-3 home win against Chicago on April 8, but a five-game losing streak to close the campaign saw the Griffins drop to the No. 4 seed. In the penultimate game of the season, Grand Rapids came up short in a matchup at Rockford that would have locked the Griffins into third in the division and a first-round matchup against the Lake Erie Monsters. Instead, the Griffins finished fourth and will face off against the division champion Milwaukee Admirals. Milwaukee won its fifth division crown since joining the AHL in 2001 and its first since the 2010-11 season. When the calendar turned to March, the Admirals sat in second place in the Central Division as the top four teams were bunched together and separated by a mere two points. Aided by a 13-game point streak from March 13-April 12, Milwaukee distanced itself from the rest of the pack over the final two months, closing the regular season with a 15-5-0-1 record.

Setting the Stage: The Griffins qualified for the postseason for the 14th time in their 20-year history with a 44-30-1-1 record, claiming the fourth seed in the Central Division and finishing 12th overall in the AHL. Grand Rapids will face the division champion Milwaukee Admirals (48-23-3-2, 101 pts.) in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals, marking only the second time the teams have squared off in the postseason. Grand Rapids won the season series against Milwaukee by way of a 5-3 record, including a 4-0 mark at Van Andel Arena. Milwaukee is returning to the playoffs following a one-year absence that broke a string of 12 consecutive appearances. The Admirals’ 101 points are the most since accumulating 102 during the 2010-11 campaign. The Griffins and Admirals last met in the postseason exactly 10 years ago, as Milwaukee swept Grand Rapids in the 2006 Western Conference Finals.

Series Schedule:
2016 Calder Cup Playoffs – Central Division Semifinals - Best-of-Five

Game 1  Fri., April 22  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.
Game 2  Sat., April 23  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.
Game 3  Tue., April 26  Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS  7 p.m.
*Game 4  Wed., April 27  Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS  7 p.m.
*Game 5  Sat., April 30  GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals  8 p.m.
* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com

The Griffins continue...

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Pavel Datsyuk speaks with Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson

Datsyuk was incredibly forthcoming and eloquent while speaking about the disappointment of the Red Wings' 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay, and he did speak about the privilege of being a Red Wing, thanking the fans for their--our--support:

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ESPN’s Custance suggests that blueline fix is among Wings’ biggest offseason needs

ESPN's Craig Custance has already penned an article highlighting "Three Keys for the Red Wings' offseason." Among the keys in the Insider-only entry:

3. Fix the defense

This won’t be an easy task. The Red Wings' defense is aging, slow and in need of a serious revamp. Jonathan Ericsson had a rough season, and he has four more years left on a deal with a salary that averages $4.25 million annually. The Red Wings should probably decide whether they’re in or out on Brendan Smith, but he’s the kind of defenseman this team needs, guys who can move the puck, skate, have a physical edge and are still fairly young.

There are options in free agency who might work, with players such as Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski potentially available, but it’s going to take more than one free agent signing to address the defense. If Holland can spin some of his skill and depth at forward into a young defenseman, that would be ideal.

The other keys? Figuring out Datsyuk's situation and going after Stamkos.

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The handshake line

FSD posted a clip of the handshake line, focusing on #13, as the Wings shook hands with the Tampa Bay Lightning:

Update: Sportsnet also posted the handshake line:

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Matheson talks Datsyuk, Wings adding size

Of note from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson's Hockey World:

• With Pavel Datsyuk, 37, going back to Russia, the Wings need a team to take his $7.5 mil cap hit off their cap books in a trade and it’s obvious they’re looking around for a team with lots of cap room. Maybe Carolina. If I’m a team willing to take Datsyuk’s contract, I have to get a prospect forward, not a draft pick, along with Datsyuk, who could go and play for Sergei Fedorov’s CSKA team in Moscow. Say Tomas Jurco or Teemu Pulkkinen. One other thing on Datsyuk: He’s a Hall of Famer in my books, almost a point-a-game NHLer.

...

• One team that will go hard to sign UFA Troy Brouwer this summer is Detroit. Other than Justin Abdelkader, they are painfully small up front. “Detroit’s got skilled forwards but they’re small and not that fast,” said one Eastern-based pro scout. Detroit needs help on defence, too, because Niklas Kronwall’s body is beat up. UFA Alex Goligoski (Dallas) is a possibility.

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Red Wings-Lightning Game 5 quick take: Terrible error costs Wings the series

Win or golf. The Red Wings faced a simple do-or-die equation on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Detroit lost on a catastrophic set of mistakes by Mrazek, Kronwall and Ericsson, losing 1-0 on a Killorn goal scored at 18:17 of the 3rd period.

Detroit has been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, and it's going to be a long summer.

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Prospect news: Ehn, Frolunda a win away from SHL title

Of prospect-related note:

In the SHL, Christoffer Ehn played 4:48 in the Frolunda Indians' 3-2 win over Skelleftea AIK. Frolunda has taken a 3 games-to-2 lead over the Axel Holmstrom-less SAIK, and the SHL championship may be decided on Saturday.

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Evening news: Game-day previews; on Tatar, Larkin, keys to the game and ‘horsing around’

Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

1. Here's the Red Wings' Game-Day Preview video:

2. The Tampa Bay Lightning posted a game-day video, as well as comments from Tyler Johnson, Brian Boyle and coach Jon Cooper:

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Red Wings send Xavier Ouellet back to Grand Rapids

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

RED WINGS ASSIGN OUELLET TO GRAND RAPIDS; GRIFFINS ASSIGN CHOUINARD TO TOLEDO

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings on Thursday assigned defenseman Xavier Ouellet to the Grand Rapids Griffins while the Griffins assigned defenseman Joel Chouinard to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

Detroit’s second choice, 48th overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ouellet collected 29 points (4-25—29) and a plus-18 rating in 61 games with the Griffins this season. In January, he was selected to participate in the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic – his second consecutive all-star selection – as he became just the fourth Griffins player ever to be named an all-star participant in back-to-back years (Niklas Kronwall 2004-05, Gustav Nyquist 2012-13, Michel Picard 1997-98 in the IHL). Ouellet was unable to play in the 2015 All-Star Classic because he was on recall with the Red Wings.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound blueliner played in five games with the Red Wings this season and recorded one point (0-1—1) and two penalty minutes.

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‘Three Things’: On the Mule in Tampa Bay, Ericsson’s errors and Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan

Of Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins-related note this afternoon:

1. From DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose and MLive's Ansar Khan:

2. You may take these comments, relayed by the Windsor Star's Bob Duff, for what you will:

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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.

 

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