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THN praises Anthony Mantha’s transformation into an NHL player

The Hockey News has taken note of Anthony Mantha's strong play with the Red Wings, and Jared Clinton penned a profile of big #39:

It’s become clear how impactful Mantha can be with his size, too. There’s no shortage of examples of how he can use his strength, either. Looking through his highlight reel, you’ll see him win puck battles, force his way into space and power his way to rebounds. It wasn’t just about tacking on pounds of muscle, however.

“Because of how good he was, he could play the game standing still and still have lots of success, not necessarily having to move his feet all the time before he came into pro hockey,” Blashill explained. “That’s because he had a skill package that’s a lot better than the people he was playing against.”

At every other level, his style of play worked wonders. He led the QMJHL in goals in 2012-13 as a sophomore player, then topped that feat with a monster 57-goal, 120-point season that led him to QMJHL MVP and CHL Player of the Year honors. In the AHL, he continued to be dominant, even as a young gun. He opened with a 15-goal, 33-point rookie season and scored 20 goals and 45 points in his second season. But for Mantha to become a consistent NHL scorer, he needed all aspects of his game working at once. That’s where Mantha’s dedication to using his skating ability in unison with his offensive gifts has really helped.

“When he skates, he’s an elite player,” Blashill said. “He’s a big body with really good hands and really good offensive sense. When he skates with the puck, he’s hard to handle, hard to handle on rushes, he’s hard to handle in the offensive zone. He’s got an excellent shot. So he really creates a lot of space for himself.”

Clinton continues...

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Griffins vs. Sled Wings on video

The Grand Rapids Griffins played the "Sled Wings" recently, and the Griffins posted a video of the event:

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Red Wings-Capitals game-day articles: Mrazek starts, Sproul in for Ouellet

Updated 4x at 2:48 PM: The Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals held optional morning skates ahead of tonight's game (7 PM EST on FSD/CSN Mid-Atlantic/97.1 FM), but CSN Mid-Atlantic's J.J. Regan believes that the Capitals will ice the following lineup...

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Five Thirty-Eight examines the ‘crumbling’ of the Red Wings’ empire

Five Thirty-Eight's Neil Paine examines the "crumbling" of the "Red Wings' empire" from a statistical standpoint, and if there is anything the Red Wings truly screwed up along the way from a contender to a bubble team, it's pretty obvious: Detroit never meaningfully replaced Brian Rafalski or Nicklas Lidstrom:

On April Fools’ Day in 1990, the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers skated for the final game of the season at The Spectrum in south Philly. Captain Steve Yzerman banged home a goal late in the third period to earn the Wings a 3-3 tie, ending Detroit’s campaign with 70 points and a last-place finish in the Norris Division. Soon after, the 1989-90 Red Wings cleaned out their lockers and parted ways for the summer.

In the nearly 10,000 days since then, Detroit has played 2,035 regular-season games and employed 246 players. It’s gone through three captains, four general managers and six head coaches. But the one constant throughout the last 25 full seasons of Red Wings hockey has been extra action in the spring — and often deep into the summer. Detroit hasn’t missed the postseason since that April day in 1990, a mind-boggling run that beats any playoff streak outside of hockey1 and is tied for the third longest in NHL history. (That it has come partially during the NHL’s salary-cap era is especially impressive.)

But it could all come screeching to a halt this season. With a 22-21-10 record, Detroit currently occupies last place in the Atlantic Division, five points out of the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot with seven teams ahead of them. According to Hockey-Reference.com’s playoff simulator, the Red Wings have just a 7 percent probability of continuing their run for a 26th straight postseason. Every streak has to end eventually, but how did Detroit go wrong after so many years of success?

Paine continues...

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Krupa: Waiting on the knee doctor (orthopedist)

From the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa:

Jimmy Howard "tweaked" his knee during last night's Grand Rapids Griffins win over Manitoba.

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Red Wings-Capitals morning skate Tweets and articles: Mrazek starts vs. streaking Caps

Updated 2x at 12:08 PM:

The Detroit Red Wings face an incredibly stiff task in battling the Washington Capitals this evening (7 PM EST on FS/CSN Mid-Atlantic/97.1 FM). Washington's won 10 straight games at home, and as the Capitals' game notes point out, Washington's been nearly unbeatable at the Verizon Center:

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Grand Rapids Griffins recall Cal Heeter

It remains to be seen whether this means that Jimmy Howard's "tweak" is serious, but the Grand Rapids Griffins recalled some insurance this morning:

GRAND RAPIDS RECALLS HEETER FROM TOLEDO

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday recalled goaltender Cal Heeter from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

Heeter shows a 7-2-0 record in nine games with the Griffins this season. If he met the 900 minutes requirement, Heeter’s 2.11 goals against average would place third in the AHL and his 0.932 save percentage would lead the league. The 6-foot-4 netminder recorded his first shutout in a Griffins uniform when he turned aside 35 shots in a 5-0 victory against Cleveland on Jan. 21.

Rattling off eight consecutive victories to begin the 2016-17 campaign in Toledo, Heeter is 10-1-0 in 11 games with the Walleye, totaling a 3.03 GAA and a 0.898 save percentage.

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Capitals set-up—long odds

The Detroit Red Wings will play a team that is nothing less than "scary good" in the Washington Capitals this evening (7 PM EST on FSD/CSN Washington/97.1 FM). If their 37-11-and-6 record isn't intimidating enough, the Capitals are coming off a pair of 5-0 shutout wins (over Los Angeles and Carolina, respectively), they've won 8 of their past 10 games, and they ended 2016 on a 9-game winning streak.

According to Capitals website's Mike Vogel, the Capitals are rolling on an incredible home run as well:

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Duff speaks with Thomas Vanek regarding his uncertain future

The Windsor Star's Bob Duff spoke with Red Wings forward Thomas Vanek regarding the possibility that the 33-year-old forward might be traded at the deadline:

“You try not to think about it, but I think anyone will,” Vanek admitted. “It would be a lie if they tell you they don’t think about it. Obviously, you think about it.

Experience has made it easier to deal with his name being bandied about but the added years also mean that more than Vanek’s life would be impacted were he to be traded.

“It’s not like it would have been 10 years ago if you had a wife or girlfriend and you just pack your stuff and move on,” Vanek said. “It gets hard as you get old. I’ve got three boys, they’re all in school. I like it here, it’s comfortable. It’s definitely a place I could see myself being here. But, again, at the end of the day it’s business.

“I signed a one-year deal, so even before the year I knew there would be a chance I could be traded. It’s something you can’t focus on too much, but it’s definitely in the back of your head.”

Duff continues, and Vanek suggests that even if he were to be traded, he'd consider returning to Detroit:

“For sure,” Vanek said. “But again, things have to be right. Like I said, I’ve enjoyed my time here and we all like it here. It’s a good culture to be around.

“We have a lot of young talent here. They’re getting some minutes and you can tell they’re getting better, they’re learning slowly how to win close games. I think the future is pretty good here. It doesn’t take much to turn around and be real good, so it’s definitely a place I would consider.”

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Prospect news: Howard’s ‘tweak’ dims Griffins’ 4-1 win over Manitoba

Of prospect-related note:

In the AHL, as Paul noted, Jimmy Howard suffered a "tweak" to his healing right knee during the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-1 win over the Manitoba Moose. The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reported that Howard will check in with doctors in Detroit before following the Griffins to Des Moines, Iowa, where the team plays on Friday and Saturday:

Jimmy Howard left Wednesday's Grand Rapids Griffins game because he felt "a little tweak" to his right knee, said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, who was encouraged it was not anything serious.

"He felt a little tweak so we're going to take him back home (to Detroit) and see our doctor and hopefully he gives him the green light to go back and join the team in Iowa," Holland said. "But we'll see what they say in the morning."

Howard, in his second game with the Griffins on a rehab assignment after missing more than a month with a sprain right knee, made a sprawling save against Manitoba that at one point had him on his back.

...

After tests, Nelson said, it will be decided if Howard will catch a separate flight and join the Griffins for games Friday and Saturday in Des Moines. The team will depart Thursday morning.

Wallner continues, and he includes a video of Griffins coach Todd Nelson addressing Howard's injury.

As for the rest of the Griffins, they received a 2-goal performance from Martin Frk and 2-assist nights from Ben Street and Matt Lorito en route to their 4-1 victory over Manitoba. The Griffins' website filed a recap:

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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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