The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Griffins will head to the Lone Star State to battle the Texas Stars in the second round of the AHL playoffs this week--as the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner notes, the AHL employs a 2-3-and-2 series format, too, so it must be mentioned that "home ice advantage" is interpreted a little differently there--and the Detroit Free Press's George Sipple spoke with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill about managing his team's 6-day break between the series clincher over Abbotsford last Friday and this round's opening game on Thursday, May 8th:
“We took Saturday off and thought we’d practice today,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “If we play Texas, Tuesday is a travel day for us and not a practice day. We wanted to make sure we got three skates in before we played them.”
The Griffins will play the AHL regular-season champion Texas Stars in the best-of-seven conference semifinals, beginning with Games 1 and 2 on Thursday at Saturday at Cedar Park Center in suburban Austin, Texas. The series switches to Van Andel Arena for games May 13-14. The Griffins won three of the four meetings versus the Stars in the regular season.
Blahsiill tells Sipple that the Griffins' playoff scoring leader, Teemu Pulkkinen, still has some improving to do...
Per the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins will play the Texas Stars in the second round of the AHL playoffs...
And I know this because Griffins assistant equipment manager Andrew "Steggy" Stegehuis was checking his phone:
Update: The AHL just posted the Griffins-Stars series schedule...
This morning's entry's going to be something of a mishmash, so please bear with me.
The first bit of news I have isn't "big" per se, but it's particularly pertinent given that Gustav Nyquist (Sweden), Tomas Tatar (Slovakia), Jakub Kindl (Czech Republic), Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser (USA) begin their World Championship journey this Thursday, May 9th: After Sweden dropped a 3-2 decision to the Czechs at the Oddset Cup, the last round of the Euro Hockey Tour (and final warm-up tournament promoting the World Championship), Team Sweden coach Par Marts told Expressen's Mattias Ek that Calle Jarnkrok will be joining the Three Crowns/Tre Kronor, but Wings forward Johan Franzen's staying home.
Just as Jimmy Howard's about to become a dad for the second time, Mrs. Franzen recently gave birth to the couple's second child, so I'm guessing that baby duty trumped hockey this spring. Given the seasons that Franzen and fellow no-thanks-I've-got-diapers-to-change teammates Niklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk and Howard all faced difficult, injury-marred seasons, less wear and tear is not a bad thing.
Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha was the only Wings prospect in action on Saturday, and he registered 2 assists (and a +2) as his Val-d'Or Foreurs rallied from a 2-1 deficit against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (with Mantha assisting on the game-tying and go-ahead goals), fell behind 3-2, forced OT and won 4-3 in overtime, evening the QMJHL's championship series at 1 game apiece.
Mantha now has 18 goals, 9 assists and 27 points in 19 playoff games played , but he's second in scoring on his own team and is still a full 14 points behind eliminated Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin for the QMJHL post-season scoring lead.
The President's Cup series will resume on May 6th in Val-d'Or...
Anthony Mantha's Val-d'Or Foreurs are attempting to level the QMJHL's championship series against Baie-Comeau today, but he's the only Red Wings prospect skating today.
The Grand Rapids Griffins saw to that thanks to their 5-3 series-winning victory over the Abbotsford Heat on Friday, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner reports that the Griffins worked hard to earn their game's worth of rest (they'll probably face the Toronto Marlies in the 2nd round)--after spending last spring winning the hard way:
After posting that gem of a tidbit about Mikael Samuelsson's locker room clean-out day comments, the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness reiterated Ken Holland's comments about not buying out Johan Franzen...Which is kind of an obvious connection, so I'm going to suggest that you read 97.1 the Ticket's Jeff Riger's take on Franzen's status as something of a clubouse winner over Phil Coke when it comes to Detroit athletes who are "detrimental to their team":
Mule has been a non-factor for quite some time. Now Wings officials will cite that his almost $4 million cap hit is well worth a guy that can consistently score 25 goals. They’ll say he’s worth fixing. They’ll say that if bought out, Franzen would be picked up immediately by somebody else.
They might be right.
But Detroit sure doesn’t agree. Franzen has been a ghost. He constantly pulls a vanishing act and when you’re lucky enough to spot him, he’s usually just floating on the ice, not really doing much. I had a chance to focus on #93 for the last part of the regular season and the two playoff games at the Joe. He very rarely moves with the puck and when he has it, it’s usually passed to him while he’s standing still. Franzen doesn’t create his own scoring chances like he used to. Instead he simply dumps the puck in and goes about his shift.
Where is the passion? Where is the drive? Where is that guy that used to be a scoring threat each and every shift?
Franzen is capable of so much more.
I saw this pop up on the Macomb Daily's Chuck Pleiness's Twitter feed and made a long, audible groan. Mikael Samuelsson apparently opened his mouth during the Red Wings' locker room clean-out day, and this happened:
“I’m just disappointed the way this year started out,” said Samuelsson, who just wrapped up his two-year deal worth $6 million. “I was hoping and believe I have something more to give, but at the same time when the young guys came in they definitely deserved a chance to play. They played so good then it became a tough spot for the management. I guess I was the odd man out. From my standpoint I didn’t like what was going on.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke with Fox 17's Steve Amorose prior to Friday night's first-round-clinching Grand Rapids Griffins win, and it turns out that Griffins coach Jeff Blashill was kind enough to speak with Fox Sports Detroit's Art Regner before the game as well. This video posted in the middle of the night, but it's definitely worth your time.
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spoke with Fox 17's Steve Amorose prior to tonight's Grand Rapids Griffins game (Babcock, Ken Holland and one Sergei Fedorov were in attendance), and he touched upon some very familiar topics. This is an auto-play clip (and you have to pause it afterward or it cycles on to the next video), so it's behind the jump:
Updated with recaps, highlights etc. at 12:36 AM: Because more than a few of you are up watching NHL playoff games this evening, I'm going to post a bit of Red Wings prospect news and update it with recap-py stuff later:
In the OHL, Tyler Bertuzzi was held off the scoresheet as his Guelph Storm dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the North Bay Battalion. The OHL's championship series is now tied at 1 game apiece;
In the QMJHL, Anthony Mantha was also held scoreless as his Val-d'Or Foreurs were shut out 3-0 by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, who took the first game of the QMJHL championship series;
And in the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins eliminated the Abbotsford Heat and advanced to the second round via a 5-3 win on Friday evening, taking the best-of-5 first-round series in 4 games. Jeff Hoggan had 2 goals and an assist; Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro had a goal and an assist apiece, and Mattias Backman had 2 assists.
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.