The Malik Report
Here's the Grand Rapids Griffins playoff scene-setting press release ahead of this week's series against the Lake Erie Monsters:
GRIFFINS BATTLE MONSTERS IN CENTRAL DIVISION FINALS
2016 Calder Cup Playoffs
Central Division Finals – Best of Seven
Game 1 Thu., May 5 GRIFFINS at Monsters 7 p.m.
Game 2 Sat., May 7 GRIFFINS at Monsters Noon
Game 3 Sun., May 8 Monsters at GRIFFINS 4 p.m.
Game 4 Tue., May 10 Monsters at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
*Game 5 Sat., May 14 GRIFFINS at Monsters 7 p.m.
*Game 6 Mon., May 16 Monsters at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
*Game 7 Tue., May 17 GRIFFINS at Monsters 7 p.m.
* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com
How We Got Here: Entering the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs as the fourth seed in the Central Division, Grand Rapids swept division champion Milwaukee in the division semifinals. The Griffins outscored the Admirals 9-3 and completed their first sweep in 13 years. Second-seeded Lake Erie also made quick work of third-seeded Rockford, outscoring the IceHogs 15-6 during a three-game sweep that saw the Monsters celebrate the franchise’s first-ever playoff series win. As the regular season wound down and with Milwaukee clinching the division, it appeared the Griffins and Monsters were on a collision course for a first-round playoff matchup as the teams jockeyed for second and third place in the division. However, a five-game losing streak to close the season by Grand Rapids coupled with a 6-1-1-0 stretch by Lake Erie and a 4-2 mark by Rockford saw Grand Rapids fall into the fourth spot and Lake Erie claim the second.
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 second-seeded Lake Erie Monsters (43-22-6-5, 97 pts.) in the Central Division Finals, marking the first time the teams have squared off in the postseason. Grand Rapids won the season series against Lake Erie by way of a 7-4-0-1 record, including a 4-2 tally at Van Andel Arena. Lake Erie returned to the playoffs for the second time in the franchise’s nine-year history, with its lone appearance in 2011 resulting in a Game 7 loss to Manitoba in the North Division Semifinals. Grand Rapids is 8-2 in playoff series over the last four years, while Lake Erie is 1-1 in series over its nine years of existence.
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
GRIFFINS SIGN SANTOS TO 2016-17 CONTRACT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins have signed forward Mathew Santos to a standard player’s contract for the 2016-17 season.
Santos, 21, has spent the last four seasons competing for the North Bay (Brampton) Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. The 2015-16 season proved to be the most productive for the 6-foot, 209-pound forward as his 69 points (29-40—69), 29 goals and plus-29 rating all ranked second on the team. Santos’ seven shorthanded goals placed fourth in the league.
Santos also appeared in 11 games in the 2016 playoffs for North Bay, registering five goals and six assists as the Battalion advanced to the second round.
A native of Etobicoke, Ontario, Santos has played in 251 games for the Battalion since 2012, accumulating 127 points (53-74—127) and 186 penalty minutes. In 53 career playoff contests, he has totaled 23 points (13-10—23).
If you're interested in a little lunchtime hockey in the U.S., YLE is airing a Finnish-language broadcast of a USA-Finland exhibition game taking place in Helsinki, and Teemu Pulkkinen's scored the Finns' goal, while Dylan Larkin got a breakaway chance that went off the post.
You can watch the game with US IP's here: http://areena.yle.fi/1-3441702
Gustav Nyquist gave a Twitter shout-out to his namesake horse today...
And Fox Sports' Sam Gardiner spoke with "Nyquist's" owner, Paul Reddam, about his Red Wings fandom...
The Grand Rapids Griffins are holding Watch Parties at Grand Rapids' Peppinos while the Griffins play iin Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, and the Griffins posted a video previewing the Griffins-Monsters series as well:
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The Detroit Red Wings defenseman is exploring ways to improve the left knee he had scoped in January. General manager Ken Holland told the Free Press today that Kronwall "is getting opinions."
Kronwall appeared hampered by the knee down the stretch and through the five-game playoff series against Tampa Bay that saw him produce just one point. When he spoke last week, after the Wings gathered for a team photo, Kronwall described his knees as "all right."
"What's done has been done," he said. "We're looking at some different options now to try to take care of that fairly soon. I'm glad we had it done. Now we know what's going on. Let's find a way to solve it and move along."
Via RedWingsFeed, I don't think that Brad Richards has a future in Detroit, but DetroitRedWings.om's Dana Wakiji spoke with Richards regarding his future career plans on locker room clean-out day:
Richards, who turns 36 today, said he hadn't started thinking about his next move when he spoke after the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers last Monday.
"Going to go get away and relax for a bit," Richards said. "Three teams in three years, a lot of hockey, so I think mentally I think I need to just go recharge the batteries."
Richards won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last season and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the season before with the New York Rangers.
"I've been fortunate the last two years to play 'til June and you get spoiled," Richards said. "Watching playoff games now and there's nothing like that time of year.
"As far as playing for the Wings and wearing the jersey, all that stuff's been an honor. But obviously the season didn't go the way I wanted it to or the team wanted it to."
From the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner:
Andreas Athanasiou has not played in a game since April 21, but he expects to be ready for his postseason transition from the Detroit Red Wings to the Grand Rapids Griffins by Thursday.
The forward, who was allowed to tend to a family matter after the Red Wings were eliminated from the playoffs, rejoined the Griffins on Saturday and went through his second practice Monday.
"No, it's fine. You kind of get right back into it," said Athanasiou. "I had a good skate the other day and I didn't feel bad after being off for a little bit."
Athanasiou expects to be ready for Thursday's Central Division finals opener at Lake Erie, but coach Todd Nelson was a little more coy. He wants to ensure Athanasiou is game-ready before he green lights his availability, though there seems little question about the outcome.
"Oh, he's going to play it's just a question of when," Nelson said. "We're undecided and we'll see where we're at (Wednesday) and we will go from there."
Continued, and Wallner posted a video of Athanasiou's comments:
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS ANNOUNCE 2016 YOUTH HOCKEY CAMP DATES
… Andreas Athanasiou, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan Join Kirk Maltby and Goaltending Coach Jim Bedard to Lead Camp from Aug. 1-3 …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings Youth Hockey Camp, presented by Perani’s Hockey World, returns to Joe Louis Arena this summer from Aug. 1-3. For $289 for skaters and $239 for goalies, young Red Wings fans will have the opportunity to skate on the same ice as their favorite National Hockey League players and receive instruction from current Red Wings Andreas Athanasiou, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan, four-time Stanley Cup champion Kirk Maltby and Red Wings Goaltending Coach Jim Bedard.
Minor hockey players between the ages of 6 and 14 are able to participate in this one-of-a-kind camp. Players aged 6-10 will take part in exclusive morning sessions, while players in the older age group (11-14) will hit the ice at The Joe during the afternoon.
The three Red Wings players, along with Maltby and Bedard, will serve as special guest coaches during select sessions of the three-day camp. All camp participants will receive at least one hour and 15 minutes of on-ice instruction from these NHL-level players and coaches each day. In addition, Mark Cadotte, who runs Cadotte Hockey Academy and played 10 years professionally, will be on hand to help with instruction for the skaters and goalies.
ESPN's Matthew Coller penned an Insider-only article examining Alexander Radulov's "fit" with seven possible destinations, including the Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens, and *cringes* the Red Wings:
Nothing is official yet, but the Red Wings expect legend Pavel Datsyuk to retire from the NHL and return to Russia. Datsyuk's exit leaves a gaping hole in the Red Wings' top-six forwards.
Detroit has a number of offensively gifted players -- headlined by Dylan Larkin, who was a candidate for the Calder Trophy this season -- but the Red Wings struggled offensively in Jeff Blashill's first season as head coach, finishing the season 24th in the NHL in even-strength goals. Even with the possibility of top prospect Anthony Mantha making the jump from the minors for good next season, Detroit will need a big boost in order to remain competitive in the East.
And I hate to say this, because I've read about Radulov's continued discipline and attitude issues in the KHL, where he's still very much so a "bad boy" who plays hockey well enough for CSKA Moscow to put up with him...
But if he can keep his head on straight, the 29-going-on-30-year-old forward would fit pretty damn well with the Wings. The 6'1," 205-pound forward is built like a fire hydrant, he goes to the front of the net and stays there, he's got a mean streak and he could very well score 20 goals.
On a team where Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan and the still-learning Anthony Mantha are the net-front guys, Radulov could be a real difference-maker...IF he keeps his head on straight.
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.