The Malik Report
The Griffins do a fantastic job of chronicling their team's adventures via the team's "Between the Benches" video series, and while the ending can be spoiled--the Griffins defeated Toronto 3-1 in Game 5, rallying from an 0-and-2 deficit to win the teams' five-game first-round series--the Griffins' first playoff installment of "Between the Benches" features nine-and-a-half minutes of footage regarding the Griffins' losses in Games 1 and 2:
Team USA's game against Russia was supposed to be something of an acid test for the very, very young American team, but instead, the Americans rolled over Russia, winning 4-2, and while Dylan Larkin didn't register a point, he continued to look more than pro-ready.
He had some hiccups and finished at -2, but Larkin also played on the penalty-kill in the 3rd period, when Team USA was nursing a 3-1 lead, and Larkin held his own against the Kovalchuks and Malkins in 14:55 of ice time.
Larkin's going to have some rough outings as Team USA's second-line center, but he's looking calm, composed and very, very smooth at the highest level of play he's faced--and the Americans are 3-and-0 in group play thus far, which is pretty damn impressive as well.
Amongst this afternoon's Red Wings-related news stories:
MLive's Ansar Khan asks three "off-season questions" regarding the Red Wings, and two of them have to do with the team's coaching situation. If--and it's a big if--Mike Babcock leaves, Khan duly notes that the Wings have a very capable in-house replacement:
The most interesting things I learned during Ken Holland and Mike Babcock's respective media availabilities on Sunday involved Holland's revelation that none of the Red Wings' defensive prospects have to clear waivers next year, which buys Detroit the time and ability to add one more veteran defenseman if they really do wish to find a second-pair offensive defenseman externally instead of "organically," and I learned that Babcock's very intrigued by the young U.S. team that's playing at the World Championships and not just Dylan Larkin, who both Babcock and Holland are going to watch when they head to Prague after Wednesday and Friday's Griffins games (and oh hey, Team USA plays Russia at 10:15 EDT on Monday on NBCSN).
I learned that the pair are also still high on Anthony Mantha's potential despite his mediocre rookie AHL season, and the fact that they both indicated that Mantha needs to "hit the gym," using the same parlance and almost the same damn sentences in suggesting as much, was an amusing little footnote given...let's say the rest of it.
The Grand Rapids Griffins made AHL history in becoming the 11th team to rally from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-5 series, defeating the Toronto Marlies 3-1 on Sunday night, and watching the Griffins absolutely disassemble Toronto was plain old delightful to watch.
As soon as Alden Hirschfeld snapped a 1-1 tie with a fluky goal just after the game's halfway mark, there was really no doubt which team was going to win the scrappy, penalty-filled affair, and I haven't seen or felt that kind of certainty in a playoff game since the Wings took out the Ducks two springs ago.
The Griffins will move on to play the Rockford IceHogs in the second round of the playoffs; the Marlies will return to Toronto having built up a 2-0 lead and having allowed the Griffins to rise off the mat and eliminate them.
The Griffins' website posited a recap...
So I was attending the Grand Rapids Griffins' 3-1 win over the Toronto Marlies on Sunday, a game which will afford the Griffins a second-round match-up with the Chicago Wolves starting Wednesday and Friday (I'll be in GR for the latter game), and the press corps was informed that Ken Holland and Mike Babcock were going to be available to the media during the second intermission.
I regrettably have no massive scoops--Holland and Babcock kept things mostly prospect-oriented--but the pair said that they'd begun to talk, Holland stated that he wants to get a contract done by the end of the month if Babcock is to stay, and both Holland and Babcock were more than willing to talk about the Griffins, Teemu Pulkkinen, Anthony Mantha, and the fact that after Wednesday and Friday's games, both gentlemen will go to the Czech Republic to watch the World Championships, with Babcock expressing interest in both the Americans' very young team and Dylan Larkin, who hasn't decided whether he'll turn pro yet.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – After rallying from a 0-2 series deficit to defeat the Toronto Marlies 3-2 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Midwest Division champion Grand Rapids Griffins will continue their quest to "Bring It Back" by facing the Rockford IceHogs in the best-of-seven conference semifinals.
Grand Rapids, which finished off Toronto 3-1 in today's Game 5 to become just the 11th team in AHL history to win a best-of-five series after trailing 0-2, will host Rockford for Games 1 and 2 of the 2-3-2 format at Van Andel Arena this Wednesday, May 6 and Friday, May 8. The complete schedule is as follows:
Of brief Red Wings-related note from the World Championships:
Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco began their Worlds campaigns for Slovakia today, playing on the same line, and whlie the Slovaks' 2-1 OT over Belarus was mostly a snoozer, Tatar provided the drop pass to Andrej Meszaros and Jurco provided the screen in front of Kevin Lalande as Meszaros provided the OT winner.
Both registered assists on the play and Tatar played 16:18 while taking one shot; Jurco played 11:55.
There's a point when you watch a highly-heralded prospect who you think is using a stick that's 3-5 inches too long continue to look over his head in the AHL playoffs, you continue to watch the player's fundamentals, their comparative "greenness" compared to an OHL graduate that's under the weather but playing above his weight in more ways than one, and you say, "OH! That player could have gone to the ECHL and gained some confidence, but for a lack of a better term, the decision was to let this kid suffer a bit and realize how much game shape he'd lost" (a la Darren Helm coming off his back issues) "and how far he has to go to play up to the level of his competition as more than a goal-scorer," and you're understanding why Anthony Mantha has Keith Gave's scouts suggesting that a highly-heralded prospect is already on the road to "washed up" when that's the furthest thing from the truth.
That's a very long-winded way of saying that yes, I'm paying attention to the Grand Rapids Griffins with significant attention to detail over the next couple days, and it's a very long-winded way of saying that nothing is the way it seems in hockey until you put in the observation time to attack the issues that are concerning and confusing you.
The Grand Rapids Griffins rallied to tie their best-of-5 series at 2 games apiece on Saturday, defeating the Toronto Marlies 5-4, but the score was somewhat disproportionate to the game's narrative.
Grand Rapids surrendered an off-the-crossbar-and-in goal only 46 seconds into the game, but the Griffins rallied to build a 5-2 lead; in the final 1:04, however, the Griffins gave up two late goals after the Marlies pulled goaltender Chrisopher Gibson, yielding a razor-thin margin of victory in a game that was plain...plain weird.
Grand Rapids will play the 5th and decisive game of the 1st-round series at 5 PM on Sunday, and the Griffins were kind enough to allow me to take in Saturday's affair, so I'll be traveling back across the state (I live just far enough from the rink that it's cheaper to drive home for the night than it is to stay in Grand Rapids) to take in that game; in the interim, the Griffins' website has posited a game recap...
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.