The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Griffins will play the Milwaukee Admirals in the first round of the AHL playoffs, squaring off in a best-of-five series that starts on Friday, April 19th, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner took note of the particulars of the series:
The teams open the best-of-five series in Grand Rapids on Friday. Game 2 will be Sunday at Van Andel Arena before heading to Milwaukee. If needed, a Game 5 would be back in Grand Rapids on May 1.
The higher seed has the option of playing the first two games or the last three games at home.
The Griffins (47-23-1-5, 100 points) won seven of the 12 regular season meetings against the Admirals (43-26-4-3, 93 points), who finished third in the Central.
The Griffins won won four of the season's first five meetings against the Admirals. They were 3-3 at home and 4-2 on the road.
I don't usually interject with this kind of stuff, but if we're going to talk about a long, painful and total rebuild as on the table, the New York Post's Larry Brooks' Sunday column suddenly becomes Red Wings-related in its message:
It is, of course, fashionable to suggest that teams should bottom out rather than seek to retool or rebuild while continuing to contend. But a second look reveals just how long it takes to go belly up. For despite the self-congratulatory claims from Sixth Avenue regarding parity, the NHL still has a semi-permanent underclass. Upward mobility is no easy task.
Carolina has been out of the playoffs eight straight seasons, Buffalo six, New Jersey and Arizona five, with Florida out 10 of the last 12 years and without a playoff round victory since 1996. The Coyotes have won two playoff series in their history, both in 2012. Colorado has been out for six of the last seven years and Winnipeg has missed 10 of 12.
And though Pittsburgh, Edmonton and Toronto invariably will be cited as franchises that did it the right way, all three franchises received Masters in Pingpong-ology, winning lotteries to select generational players Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. The Oilers had been out 10 straight times until this year and the Maple Leafs missed 10 of the previous 11 years until both rode the backs of their wonder kids to make it this time.
So bottom out if you will, but good look on getting to the bottom’s up portion of it.
Brooks continues with the usual New York hockey-related commentary...
I won't deny that the Red Wings don't have hidden gems in Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader or Danny DeKeyser, and the Wings will have scant cap space for this summer and summers to come, but shit, are you really ready for half-a-decade or more of paying more money for even worse hockey at Little Caesars Arena, until sometime in the mid 2020's?
That's the reality of a total rebuilding effort, unless you land the perfect picks in the draft and make all the right free agent moves and trades, and not everyone is Stan Bowman inheriting Dale Tallon's Blackhawks team that stank for a decade.
The Red Wings could be very mediocre for a decade, too, and there is something to be said for mediocrity while rebuilding. All of a sudden, Ken Holland looks borderline competent having made some serious "cap era" contractual mistakes, and maybe the Wings' kids are good enough to deliver semi-regular playoff appearances while the team retools and waits to buy out the back end of some bad contracts.
That's the other side of the argument, at least. I'm sort of stuck in the middle, torn between the, "Tear it down" argument and the, "Mediocrity is underrated--look at Winnipeg-and-or-Atlanta" argument, but that's me.
The Free Press's George Sipple is usually the Freep's sportswriter-du-jour, a, "Have sport, will travel to cover it" guy. This morning, Sipple trades in the traveling sportswriter's hat for that of an opinion columnist, and he spares no feelings in suggesting that the Red Wings must truly and "painfully" rebuild the team for fans to keep the faith after the luster of a new arena fades:
Owner Chris Ilitch gave a vote of confidence to general manager Ken Holland on Tuesday, saying “we are all disappointed in this season” but yet “we have 100% confidence in Ken Holland.”
That Ilitch felt the need to give Holland a vote of confidence is surprising. Holland’s contract runs through 2017-18. So ownership will ultimately either show him that confidence by offering a contract extension or show him the door.
One of the strangest scenes last Sunday was the brief glimpse Fox Sports Detroit showed of Holland watching the postgame farewell from his usual perch high above the ice. He should have been down on the ice with the who’s who of former Wings that helped win their last four Stanley Cups.
A large faction of fans sent their own message, chanting “Come home, Stevie!” to Yzerman, who is currently the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Holland didn’t help his own cause by saying he doesn’t believe in a long-term rebuild despite a number of issues with this team. The Wings don’t have a No.1 defenseman. They really don’t have a No.2 defenseman. And getting one in the near future is going to be a near-impossible task. Call it whatever you want, but it’s going to be a rebuild.
Sipple continues, and he doesn't spare the rod. I would like to believe that Wings fans will be a little more forgiving, but I also know that the Wings' "sellout streak" in the old barn was something of a Phantom of the Joe.
Of prospect-related note:
In playoff hockey, in the OHL, Jordan Sambrook had a goal and an assist, finishing at +1 with 3 shots in the Erie Otters' 6-3 win over the London Knights. Erie leads its second-round series over London 3 games to 2;
In the ECHL, Tyson Spink had a goal and 2 assists, Kyle Bonis had a goal and an assist and Jake Paterson stopped 20 shots as the Toledo Walleye defeated the Kalmazoo K-Wings 4-1. Toledo leads the best-of-seven series 2 games to 0.
The Walleye's website posted a recap and a highlight clip:
From the Grand Rapids Griffins:
GRIFFINS TO SET SAIL IN PLAYOFFS AGAINST ADMIRALS
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins will begin the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs by facing the Milwaukee Admirals in the best-of-five Central Division Semifinals, reprising their first-round series from last spring.
The second-seeded Griffins and third-place Admirals will stage Games 1 and 2 at Van Andel Arena on Friday, April 21 and Sunday, April 23 before the series turns to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for Game 3 on Wednesday, April 26 and, if necessary, Game 4 on Friday, April 28. The complete schedule is as follows:
2017 Calder Cup Playoffs - Central Division Semifinals - Best-of-Five
Game 1 Fri., April 21 Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
Game 2 Sun., April 23 Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS 4 p.m.
Game 3 Wed., April 26 GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals 8 p.m.
*Game 4 Fri., April 28 GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals 8 p.m.
*Game 5 Mon., May 1 Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS 7 p.m.
I've been watching playoff hockey since the get-go, but you may still be in mourning as the Red Wings' season ended only a week ago, and the NHL playoffs may not interest you at all if the Red Wings are not participating in them.
The WIndsor Star's Bob Duff surveyed the Wings' locker room regarding their playoff viewership, and he found a mixed bag of answers as to whether the players will watch the NHL's postseason:
“It’s weird,” Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg admitted. “Playoffs start and we’re not in it, so it’s not going to be any hockey watching in my house for the next couple months probably. It’s going to be hard to see other players be there and we are not in it. But in the same way, it’s a little reality check. We have to be better. This is the fun time of the year and we’re not part of it.”
Forward Dylan Larkin took the opposite viewpoint toward televised postseason play.
"Yeah, I will watch,” Larkin said. “I’ll probably watch my buddy Zach Werenski in Columbus and Toronto, with Auston Matthews. The first round of the playoffs is pretty entertaining to watch.”
Goalie Jimmy Howard was on Larkin’s wavelength as well.
“I’ll watch,” Howard said. “Even though we do this for a living, I’m still a fan. I still enjoy watching games and watching other goalies and trying to pick up and learn from them.”
Duff continues, and he adds a note about Henrik Zetterberg's decision not to play for Sweden at the World Championship to make room for younger players...
The Free Press's Helene St. James weaved some news into what is probably her final Locker Room Clean-Out Day article: a summation of captain Henrik Zetterberg's comments regarding the Red Wings' future:
"We have to be more consistent, we have to be better,” Zetterberg said. “We saw this season we can be a good team when we play well, but we were also very bad for stretches.”
Zetterberg added “we want to be a playoff team next year” and that making that happen “is up to us. Some will leave, and we will get some new ones, but most will be the same.”
General manager Ken Holland has told forward Drew Miller he will not be offered another contract by the Wings, but otherwise, everyone else is either under contract or restricted. The Wings could use some upgrades – most notably on the back end – but as Zetterberg pointed out, ditto around the NHL.
“All the teams want a top-one defenseman, and first-line center,” Zetterberg said. "Pretty sure Ken will do everything he can to make this team stronger, but most of it has to come from the guys in here. We have to be better.”
St. James continues, and I hate to say it, but Miller's time with the Wings is probably up for good reason. He's a great teammate and superb penalty-killer, but his plodding speed did him in as players like Tomas Nosek push from Grand Rapids.
Of prospect-related note:
In playoff action, in the SHL, Christoffer Ehn's Frolunda Indians will not defend their SHL title. Frolunda lost 3-1 to Brynas IF in the 7th game of the SHL semifinal, and Ehn played only 2:22 as an "extra forward."
Ehn registered 4 goals and 9 assists for 13 points with Frolunda over the course of 52 regular-season games, mostly playing as a checking line or 4th line center, and he scored a goal and added an assist while playing very limited minutes over the course of 14 playoff games.
The Wings like the 2014 draft pick, and they'll probably sign him and allow the skinny forward to continue to develop with the Indians.
At the other end of the playoff spectrum, in the ECHL, the Toledo Walleye opened their playoff quest on Friday, defeating the Kalamazoo K-Wings 4-3 thanks to a goal and 2 assists from Shane Berschbach, a goal and an assist from Kyle Bonis and 27 saves from Jake Paterson.
The Walleye's website posted a recap...
DetroitRedWings.com's Art Regner penned an article regarding Anthony Mantha's Locker Room Clean-Out Day remarks, and Mantha told Regner that his goal for this offseason and next season involves adding consistency to his play:
"I just know the way I play, I know my best games, I know what they are, I know my bad games," said Mantha. "For me it's just something I need to focus on and always have good or great games. This year, I watched Zetterberg practice and play and he's always at the same level. He's always competing, even in practices. So I'll try to get that mentality in for next year."
The Wings had a team meeting on Tuesday after they took their last ever team photograph at Joe Louis Arena. It was meeting where players and staff shared what they need to do during the offseason as individuals and next season as a team to again qualify as a playoff team.
From Mantha's standpoint he wants to become stronger and find a consistency to his game.
"Just little details," Mantha answered when asked what he must improve upon to raise his level of play. "Like I mentioned earlier in the season, not to have a 5-6 game slump for myself and try to reduce that to maybe one game or two in a row is my goal for next year; helping the team win every single night and not just being present a game out of four. I'll go back in the gym and try to put on a little bit more weight, probably take a few power skating lessons this summer, just try to be quicker out there, more mobile."
Regner continues, and the more that Mantha learns how to move his feet on an every-night basis going forward, the better he will be.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Justin Abdelkader is hoping to avoid arthroscopic surgery on his knee, which might allow him to compete for USA Hockey in next month's world championship.
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told the Free Press today that Abdelkader is seeking a second opinion as he evaluates how to deal with lingering pain in his right knee. “There's something there -- he feels it’s not quite normal,” Holland said. “He played with it, but it's on his mind.”
Abdelkader hurt the knee Dec. 1 against Florida. He returned, wearing a brace, on Jan. 10 and played every game the rest of the season. Speaking this week, after the Wings' season-ending team photo, Abdelkader said the pain “is in the back of my knee. Any time I flex it up to my back, it is sore. I am not sure what it is. I will meet with doctors and try to get a game plan.
“I don’t know if I need rest or we need to go in and scope.”
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.