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Red Wings at the Worlds: Larkin, Team USA beat the Russians; Mrazek’s Czechs lose to Switzerland

At the World Championship:

In Cologne, Germany, Dylan Larkin registered a goal and an assist (and won a crapton of faceoffs [finishing at +2 with 5 shots in 21:13 played]) as Team USA won its most important game of the World Championship thus far, defeating Russia 5-3. Team USA finishes atop Group A, and their opponent for Thursday's quarterfinal is to be determined. Jimmy Howard was very solid, stopping 16 of 19 shots, and Danny DeKeyser was pleasantly invisible, [finishing at +1 in 16:25 played,] as Team USA won its 6th game out of 7 preliminary round battles;

And in Paris, France, Petr Mrazek stopped 18 of 21 shots as the Czech Republic lost 3-1 to Switzerland.

Stats, highlights and recaps will follow as they are posted.

Update: Here are the highlights from the Czech-Swiss game:

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On the ‘Mitten State’s’ representatives on Team USA’s World Championship team

From NHL.com's Brian Hedger, via the Red Wings' website:

It doesn't take much to notice a trend on the U.S. roster at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. Looking at the hometowns of both players and coaches, one state sticks out like a sore thumb, so to speak. It's the one that has a thumb, otherwise known as the "mitten state" of Michigan.

The U.S. has five players from Michigan, including Red Wings Dylan Larkin and Danny DeKeyser. There are also two players, Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and Colorado Avalanche forward J.T. Compher (University of Michigan), who established ties to the state by moving there.

The links don't end there. Three coaches have Michigan in their background, including Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill - who's running Team USA's bench.

"It just speaks to the level of hockey that's in Michigan," said Blashill, who's from Sault Ste. Marie, played at Ferris State and coached at Western Michigan. "There's certainly great hockey throughout the United States now. It's not restricted to the areas it once was, but I think it says that Michigan's still doing a good job developing players, and certainly I take pride in that."

Hedger continues...

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A couple Wings-related ‘thoughts’ from Friedman

Among Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman's "30 Thoughts":

12. Could see Detroit with interest in Calvin de Haan from the Islanders, who would be worried about losing him in the expansion draft. He’s been very solid at the Worlds.

De Haan, 26, registered 25 points in 82 games with the Islanders this past season, and he made $2.9 million on the last year of a 3-year contract (per CapFriendly).

13. Several NHL scouts came back from the Under-18s incredibly impressed with Finland’s Miro Heiskanen. A lot of the jockeying begins with the third pick, and he is one of the candidates. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if a team like Detroit or Tampa Bay, searching for blueline depth, tried to move up to take him.

Heiskanen is the 4th-ranked European Skater in Central Scouting's player rankings...

And Friedman believes that the Florida Panthers may target a Wings assistant coach to replace Gerard Gallant on a full-time basis:

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Toledo Walleye prepare to hit the road in Conference Final series vs. Colorado

The Toledo Walleye will play a set of 3 games played over the course of 4 nights against the Colorado Eagles, starting tomorrow at the Eagles' rink, the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, CO.

The Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe spoke with Toledo Walleye coach Dan Watson regarding the challenges the Walleye face as they prepare to play three Conference Final games in hostile territory:

“We figure we have to win on the road anyway,” Watson said.

Every series in the Kelly Cup playoffs is supposed to follow the 2-3-2 format. The schedule is established for logistical and financial reasons. It reduces travel costs for both teams, especially when the venues are separated by long distances.

While the Eagles have an opportunity to close out the series at home, Watson said he likes his team’s chances on the road.

“I thought our last two games in Fort Wayne [a 3-2 win and a 4-1 loss] were excellent,” Watson said. “We won one game and we had a good opportunity to win the second game there. We just have to make sure we keep things simple.”

The Walleye lost for the first time at home in the playoffs in Game 2 against Colorado to fall to 8-1 at the Huntington Center. The Walleye finished with the second-best home record (26-7-3) in the regular season.

But Toledo also finished with the ECHL’s best regular season road record at 25-10-1.

Monroe continues...

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St. James sets up USA-Russia

The Free Press's Helene St. James sets up the match-up between Team USA and Russia at the World Championship this morning (10:15 AM EDT on NBCSN):

Russia has feasted on opponents with insatiable hunger. Latvia became the latest to taste Russia’s appetite, losing 5-0 Monday. Before that, Slovakia fell 6-0. Italy got it to the tune of 10-1. Russia hasn’t given up a goal in three straight games, has allowed just six goals total, while scoring 32. The closest game was its opener, a 2-1 victory over Sweden.

Does USA stand a chance? Goaltender Jimmy Howard has built on the very good season he had in Detroit, forging a 1.51 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in four starts (he was supposed to start against Latvia, too, but had food poisoning). Howard has allowed six goals. A good performance from him would certainly help.

There are other reasons to give the U.S. a chance, though. Since scoring one goal against the Germans, USA has averaged five goals a game. Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin has been a key offensive contributor, with eight points. In fact, USA’s 26 goals trail only Russia and Canada (27).

The U.S. would do well to be extra careful about penalties, though, as Russia has the top-ranked power play with 12 goals on 21 chances, for a 57.1% conversion rate. USA’s power play is at 26.3%.

St. James continues...

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Red Wings name Anheuser-Busch ‘Landmark Partner’ at Little Caesars Arena

From the Red Wings:

Anheuser-Busch announced as Landmark partner at Little Caesars Arena
Partnership includes designation of Bud Light as Official Domestic Beer of the Detroit Red Wings, naming rights to outdoor Budweiser Biergarten and Goose Island Pub, and Bud Light Upper Concourse Bar

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings today announced that Anheuser-Busch has signed on to a multi-year agreement as a Landmark-level partner at Little Caesars Arena. As part of the sponsorship, Anheuser-Busch will be the naming rights partner for three areas of the venue--the stylish "Budweiser Biergarten," as well as the main concourse "Goose Island Pub" and celebratory "Bud Light Upper Concourse Bar" inside the arena. Bud Light will also be the official domestic beer of the Detroit Red Wings.

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Mid-day news: On Mrazek, the ‘Wiffins,” Drew Miller, Team USA and Tweets of note

Of relatively brief Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. AWood40 posted a clip of highlights from Petr Mrazek's 2016-17 season...

2. At the same time, the Windsor Star's Bob Duff wrote this in a column comparing and contrasting Jimmy Howard and Mrazek's 16-17 seasons:

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Red Wings at the Worlds: Mrazek sits again; Howard back-stops USA to quarterfinal berth

At the World Championship:

In Paris, France, Petr Mrazek sat on the bench as Pavel Francouz back-stopped the Czech Republic to a 4-2 victory over France. The Czechs will wrap up their round robin play on Tuesday against Switzerland (10:15 AM EDT);

And in Cologne, Germany, Team USA secured a berth in the Quarterfinals with a 6-1 victory over Slovakia.

Jimmy Howard looked solid under a heavy early workload, stopping 19 of 20 shots; Dylan Larkin didn't have an assist, but he played strong-skating, slightly scrappy hockey, taking 1 shot and finishing at -1 in 18:34 played; and Danny DeKeyser looked a lot less "lost" on the big ice, using his positioning to be prepared for puck battles instead of trying to skate into them, finishing with a shot and an even plus-minus rating in 16:23 played.

The Americans will wrap up their round robin play against Russia on Tuesday (10:15 AM EDT on NBCSN). The Americans will go into that game having won 5 straight.

Update: Here are highlight clips from both games...

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St. James takes note of Tyler Bertuzzi’s second playoff break-out performance

Tyler Bertuzzi scored 2 goals and Evgeny Svechnikov scored one during the Grand Rapids Griffins' 5-2 win over the Chicago Wolves last night, and the Free Press's Helene St. James took note of the scoring exploits of two of the Wings' top prospects:

Bertuzzi, a bonus second-round pick from the 2013 draft (earned when the Wings traded down in the first round because they knew they'd still get their target, Anthony Mantha), Bertuzzi leads the Griffins with 10 points in eight playoff games.

Bertuzzi, 22, is cementing his reputation as a playoff performer – he has produced in seven games this spring, three of them two-point games. For his AHL playoff career, he has 30 points (19 goals) in 31 games.

Bertuzzi played seven games with the Wings this past season. With the Wings planning to slide at least one forward prospect into the lineup next season, Bertuzzi is making a strong case to get a good look in September in training camp.

Evgeny Svechnikov, the Wings’ first-round pick from 2015, also scored, and Tomas Nosek had a goal and an assist. Goaltender Jared Coreau made 22 saves.

I'm not sure whether Bertuzzi's going to get the nod over somebody like Tomas Nosek, who's older, not waiver-exempt, and a little more versatile, but that's just my best guess as to how things will unfold come September.

St. James continues, and if you missed the Griffins-San Jose Barracuda series schedule...

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Prospect news: Grand Rapids Griffins to face San Jose Barracuda in AHL Western Conference Final

A couple hours after the Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Chicago Wolves 5-2 to advance to the Western Conference Final in 5 games, the San Jose Barracuda defeated the San Diego Gulls 2-0, advancing to the Western Conference Final in the same 5 games.

As such, the Griffins and Barracuda will battle for the chance to play for the AHL championship, and the series will take a 2-3-2 format, with the Griffins hosting the middle three games as San Jose finished higher in the standings.

Here's the schedule visually and text-ually, via the AHL:

The American Hockey League has announced the following schedule for the Western Conference Finals in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs:

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
P1-San Jose Barracuda vs. C2-Grand Rapids Griffins
Game 1 – Sat., May 20 – Grand Rapids at San Jose, 9:00
Game 2 – Sun., May 21 – Grand Rapids at San Jose, 8:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 24 – San Jose at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., May 26 – San Jose at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., May 27 – San Jose at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Tue., May 30 – Grand Rapids at San Jose, 10:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 31 – Grand Rapids at San Jose, 10:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern

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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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