The Malik Report
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.
The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Jeff Blashill and Ken Holland about the state of the Red Wings' defense:
If the Red Wings want to make changes, there will be an opportunity to do so. Kyle Quincey is an unrestricted free agent who isn’t expected to return. In a thin free agent class, a steady player such as Quincey could attract a bigger payday than the Red Wings want to pay.
Danny DeKeyser and Alexey Marchenko are both restricted free agents but unlikely to go anywhere — both are building blocks for the future.
That leaves Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Green and Brendan Smith, with Smith the likeliest trade bait, a relatively young player who still has potential. Kronwall battled through a knee injury that affected his performance throughout the season, while Ericsson and Green both underachieved.
Then, there’s three defensemen from minor league affiliate Grand Rapids on the horizon. Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul and Nick Jensen will all be out of options and must be exposed to waivers if they’re sent back to Grand Rapids after training camp. Ouellet will likely stay with the Red Wings, the organization confident he is ready for the NHL The fate of other two is still to be determined.
General manager Ken Holland said he will explore the trade market and free agency aggressively this summer to improve the roster.
“We’ve got good young players,” Holland said. “Do we have stars? I don’t know. I have to watch. We’ve got to draft, got to develop. We’ve got to explore free agency. We’ve got to change to the mix a little bit.”
Tomorrow at the World Championships, Dylan Larkin and Team USA battle Tomas Jurco's Slovaks at 5:15 AM EDT (on NBCSN), Pavel Datsyuk, Alexey Marchenko and Team Russia battle Gustav Nyquist's Swedes at 1:15 PM EDT and Teemu Pulkkinen's Finns battle Canada at 1:15 PM EDT.
As the Free Press's Helene St. Jaems notes, all of the games are consequential:
Dylan Larkin's U.S. squad can finish no better than fourth in Group B, thanks to back-to-back victories by Germany. The Germans followed up Sunday's stunning 3-2 victory over the U.S. with a 4-2 victory over Hungary today in St. Petersburg, Russia, to secure third place in the group.
The U.S. plays Tomas Jurco's Slovakia in its final prelim game. The Americans need either a victory or a nonregulation loss to survive. The U.S has nine points to Slovakia's six, but if the Slovaks win in regulation (which nets three points), the U.S. would be eliminated because the first tiebreaker is the head-to-head result.
Also on Tuesday, Russia's Pavel Datsyuk and Alexey Marchenko are scheduled to face Gustav Nyquist's Sweden for a shot at first place in Group A. Nyquist leads the tournament with seven goals.
As it stood today, the Russians, Swedes and Czechs (who finish up the prelims with a game against Switzerland) all have a shot at the No. 1 spot in Group A, otherwise finishing no worse than third.
St. James continues, explaining how Thursday's Quarterfinals will break down.
Here's the Grand Rapids Griffins' game-day preview video ahead of tonight's Game 6 between the Griffins and Lake Erie Monsters (7 PM on The AHL Live/ESPN 96.1 FM), and Bob Kaser reports that Eric Tangradi and Martin Frk will remain sidelined with upper-body injuries...
And here are the AHL's "Morning Skate" notes:
Tomas Jurco spoke with SME's Maros Szucs about his scoring drought on the Slovakian national team, and what follows is a very rough translation:
Today, 20 years ago, "History Was Made," big time:
Here's a great longer version of the goal and what led up to it as well:
A pair of Swedish articles with Red Wings-related subjects hit the wires today. Hockeysverige's Uffe Bodin spoke with Pavel Datsyuk in an article that mirrored Francis Chaumont's discussion with Datsyuk;
And Aftonbladet's Mats Wennerholm spoke with Gustav Nyquist as part of an extended profile of #14, and here's a rough translation thereof:
"I had no thoughts about [making a] living playing hockey"
Gustav Nyquist went to the U.S. primarily to get an education--and today he's one of the stars on the classic NHL team Detroit Red Wings.
Moscow: He's alone atop the World Championship's goal-scoring list after his 2-2 goal against Switzerland.
Gustav Nyquist, 26, continues to both produce and impress.
But the Detroit forward, who was part of the Olympic team in 2014 in Sochi, was relatively unknown until then in Sweden.
"But I went to the United States early in order to obtain an education. Even then I didn't expect to be playing in the NHL," he says.
From the Red Wings:
RED WINGS ANNOUNCE STREET HOCKEY SUMMER TOUR
… Tour Set to Make 10 Stops Throughout the State of Michigan This Summer for Free Street Hockey Clinics Offered to Children Ages 7-12 …
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today announced the details for the inaugural Street Hockey Summer Tour, presented by Meijer. Launching this July, the Red Wings will travel throughout the state of Michigan and take over the parking lots of 10 different Meijer locations to host free street hockey clinics for children ages 7-12.
The tour is open to children of all skill levels and hockey experiences. The first hour of each session will feature a one-hour clinic, followed by a 30-minute pick-up street hockey game. The clinics will be instructed by Detroit Red Wings representatives and local hockey players and coaches.
Each stop on the tour will feature two sessions divided for children ages 7-9 and 10-12. The younger age group will start at 10:00 a.m. at each stop of the tour, while the older group will begin at 1:30 p.m. each day.
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.