The Malik Report
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press answered a few questions from the fans....
Biggest hole in the lineup that could be addressed in free agency or via trade?
HSJ: With Niklas Kronwall in decline (he's 35 and has a bad knee), the Wings really need an upgrade on defense, a solid top-four guy who can be the all-situations workhorse like Kronwall was in his prime. There's been talk of St. Louis' Kevin Shattenkirk, but the asking price was Dylan Larkin, who is off limits. This is where trading Jimmy Howard (most likely in a package deal) could pay off, as a candidate such as Calgary could yield Mark Giordano or Dougie Hamilton. The Wings also have to make decisions on three defensive prospects, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Nick Jensen, who no longer are waiver exempt. Ouellet, for one, has shown he's NHL caliber.
two more Q & A, one about moving Datsyuk's salary and the other on the health of Franzen.
My opinion, Mark Giordano? Better load up the package deal to get him.
Pete Wallner tweeting on exit day for the Griffins...
Daniel Cleary, after exit interview with #RedWings #Griffins "hopeful" for return.
Jeff Hoggan thinks he has some more to give with #Griffins, still uncertain what direction organization will take.
Tom McCollum will weigh options as unrestricted FA but sounded like he has nothing more to accomplish w #Griffins
from Bill Roose of DetroitRedWings.com,
The familiarity that Salajko has with the franchise’s goalies – and them of him – should make the transition from Grand Rapids to Detroit smoother than had the team decided on an outside hire.
“I saw first hand his ability to work with Petr Mrazek, his ability to help Jared Coreau and Tommy McCollum get better,” Blashill said. “He’s got a relationship with Jimmy Howard, so for me he hit everything that I was looking for and I thought it was a real good fit."...
“He has similar beliefs in what I do in terms of how to train goaltenders in their habits and using simple drills to create good habits, which allows a goaltender to play without thinking and rely on those habits,” Blashill said. “It’s that approach that he takes which is similar to my beliefs in coaching and I think it’s the most successful ways to help goaltenders get better.”
Salajko will now be tasked with helping Mrazek return to the form he had through the first 3 ½ months of last season. At one point, Mrazek led all league goalies in goals-against average and save percentage only to finish the season far off the NHL lead with a 2.33 GAA and .921 save percentage.
But Blashill doesn’t believe consistency issues are the root cause to Mrazek’s struggles that began in mid-February.
“He dipped during that month for certain,” Blashill said. “I’d also say our team didn’t play as well in front of our goalies as we need them to. But overall consistency, I’ve got a larger sample size than just one season, I’ve got multiple seasons with Petr and I know that consistency in my mind is not an issue. I said lots of times Petr has special qualities, especially from the mental side of it. He doesn’t get nervous. He’s got a short memory. He loves the moment. He’s very competitive. I think there’s room for improvement on the technical side of it and as you improve your technical acumen at the goaltending position it allows you to make sure that when you do lose your game a little bit you can get it back as fast as possible. So I want Petr to concentrate on certain things. Jeff Salajko will come up with a plan for him for the summer when Petr is back home that he can work on certain things and then Petr and Jimmy both will get that plan and hopefully they’ll come back into camp better goaltenders than when they left.”
Updated 2x at 4:28 PM: At the World Championship in Moscow, Russia this afternoon/evening:
1. Russia defeated Sweden 4-1 on Tuesday evening, Moscow time, and the Russians will play Germany in one of Thursday's two Quarterfinal games; Sweden will battle Canada, who lost 4-0 to the Teemu Pulkkinen-less Finns, in the other "evening game"; Dylan Larkin's Americans will battle the Czechs on Thursday, too.
The Wings playing for Russia had good games:
Datsyuk scored the 3-0 goal and had an assist on the 4-0 goal as well, and it's taken 10 months, but his surgically-repaired ankle finally looks like it's healing and not hobbling him nearly as much as it did during the regular season and playoffs. He doesn't necessarily have more speed in his stride, but that old jump in his step is back, and 10 months into an 18-month recovery, he's playing very well.
Here's Pavel Datsyuk's goal...
Updated 3x with more on Salajko at 3:48 PM: Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:
"I made the decision to hire Sal based on my belief in Sal, and my knowledge of how he teaches," Blashill said. ""Jeff and I had an opportunity in Grand Rapids to work together, and he has similar beliefs in terms of how to train goaltenders and their habits and using simple drills to create great habits to play without thinking."
Salajko, 41, joined the organization in 2013-14, one year into Mrazek's career with the Griffins. Salajko further has familiarity with Jared Coreau, who is next on the goaltending depth chart. Salajko has been a part of Wings main training camp for three years, so he knows veteran Jimmy Howard, too, although Howard is likely to be traded this summer because otherwise the Wings would have around $10 million allotted to goaltending once Mrazek is re-signed.
Having first-hand knowledge of the players in the organization "allows Sal to hit the ground running," Blashill said. "He's been to camp and worked with all our goalies, and his knowledge of them and their knowledge of him will allow for a quicker transition."
2. In the multimedia department, via RedWingsFeed, Michigan Hockey posted a photo gallery from last night's Grand Rapids Griffins loss to Lake Erie, and the Free Press posted a 98-day time lapse of construction at Little Caesars Arena:
Was with the Griffins and knows Mrazek well.
added 11:38am, Press release is below...
I got to watch Team USA's quarterfinal-clinching 3-2 OT loss to the Slovaks on Tuesday morning--the Americans snagged a point and it's all they needed to get to Thursday's quarterfinal against the Czechs...
And I paid close attention to the Red Wings' players participating in the game:
Dylan Larkin played on a line with Auston Matthews, and Larkin was very good skating with speed in straight lines, earning several rush chances, and he both up Auston Matthews for a fine 2nd period chance and he got an assist on Nick Foligno's 2-1 goal. Larkin also scored a would-be 3-1 goal, and it was waved off due to a "crease violation."
Larkin also had stick jitters for the first half of the game, and he turned the puck over pretty regularly, so he was up and down. His "ups" in the second half of the game were superb, but he and his teammates struggled through the first period.
Tomas Jurco was...Okay. He played on the Slovaks' first power play unit and used his size and strength there, but for the vast majority of the game, he was "just there." He didn't get many chances in a game that the Slovaks got all sorts of grade-A chances on Keith Kincaid.
Larkin had an assist, 3 shots and finished at +1 in 17:11 played; Jurco finished at +1 in 21:35 played.
Update: Here are the game's highlights:
Another 240 mile round-trip down, a trip to Traverse City to go, and it'll be curtains on 12 months' worth of the 2015-16 season.
The Grand Rapids Griffins' season ended with a 4-3 OT loss to the Lake Erie Monsters on Monday, and that means that this morning's 5:15 AM-starting game between the U.S. and Slovakia in St. Petersburg (on NBCSN) is one of two locations in the world--both in Russia--where players who are Red Wings property will remain active.
The Griffins' loss was devastating, despite my best attempts to pretend to the contrary while standing with the assembled media in a warm locker room of Griffins players nursing injuries, disappointment, and Bud Light tallboys, it really hit home that in the AHL, a year of moderate player turnover is a third to a half of the locker room changing.
The Griffins' players were all too aware of the fact that half the faces they sat next to for 76 regular season and 9 playoff games won't be there come September.
Updated 6x at 2:53 AM: The Grand Rapids Griffins lost 4-3 in overtime to the Lake Erie Monsters on Monday night, ending their seaso. Grand Rapids had built a 3-1 lead over the Monsters, chasing Joonas Korpisalo, but Anton Forsberg was a big part of the reason Grand Rapids went 1-for-6 on the power play, and Lake Erie ultimately broke through Jared Coreau's wall when Zach Werenski scored at 12:32 of the first OT.
Grand Rapids had hoped to rally from their 3-games-to-none deficit against the Monsters, but Lake Erie will be playing the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference Final instead.
It was a disappointing game. The Griffins built 2-0 and 3-1 leads, but after Korpisalo bid adieu and after Mitch Callahan absolutely leveled Kerby Rychel with a right to the jaw, the Griffins seemed to come off their game, if only ever so slightly, and in a hot building on ice not fully healed from a Garth Brooks concert, Lake Erie came storming back, firing a total of 47 shots on Jared Coreau and slowly but surely whittling the Griffins' lead down and then wearing Grand Rapids out.
Lake Erie played like a team that didn't want to go to a Game 7 in Columbus, and to their credit, they vanquished the Griffins, who face a long summer of questions about their roster going forward.
The players gave a long slate of interviews after the game, and I'll post them shortly, but I want to get a recap up and get the blog entry going, so there will be more content folded into this over time. Here's the AHL's recap...
From WXYZ's Brad Galli:
Detroit Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan gave one cancer patient a surprise of a lifetime over the weekend.
22-year-old Morgan Behen is battling an inoperable brain tumor. She was invited to attend a special prom in Detroit on Saturday, organized by Wish Upon a Teen.
The non-profit group helps boys and girls battling life-threatening conditions.
Behen wrote a letter, inviting Sheahan to be her date at the dance.
He said yes, but didn't tell her until he showed up to the event.
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.