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Red Wings forward Joakim Andersson’s playing understatedly superb 2-way hockey

There's no doubt in my mind that the Red Wings' "x-factor" through their playoff run has been the performance of their third line, and while the Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Damien Brunner line didn't factor in the scoring in the Red Wings' 2-0 win over Chicago last night, Nyquist deked and dazzled his way past and through Blackhawks defenders, registering 2 shots and 2 takeaways in only 10:26 of ice time, Brunner took 2 shots, attempted 3 more and probably (frustratingly) passed up half a dozen more, and Andersson had 1 takeaway, had 2:23 of PK time and went 5-and-1 in the faceoff circle...

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Grand Rapids Griffins to battle Oklahoma City Barons in AHL WCF, stand with Oklahoma City tonight

As noted on Thursday, the Grand Rapids Griffins have been a step ahead of the Red Wings in terms of their 2012-2013 schedule, and they're a step ahead of the Red Wings in terms of their playoff push.

The Griffins will face off against the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL's Western Conference Finals tonight, hosting the Edmonton Oilers' affiliate for back-to-back games at Van Andel Arena before heading to OKC for 3 games.

The Griffins have posted an incredibly thorough, if not exhaustive series preview, the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner both spoke to Griffins alums (Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson) and the Griffins' coach, respectively, Wallner also posted the series schedule and a recap of the Griffins' regular season tilts against the Barons, and...

Well, the Barons' practice facility is located half a mile from the path of the tornado that tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, and several of the team's players, their equipment manager and coach told the Edmonton Sun's Terry Jones that they saw the tornado forming over their houses. Former Baron and current Griffins defenseman Triston Grant told Wallner that he had to check in on his friends in OKC, and Waller notes that the Griffins are very specifically holding a charitable drive to benefit the victims of the tornado at tonight's home game:

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The Red Wings’ coaching factory?

My fondest memory of the Red Wings' 2008 Stanley Cup parade has little to do* with begging Todd McLellan to remain with the Red Wings, but I should note that on my way to getting sunburned and dehydrated on a 98-degree day, I at least attempted to start a, "Please Stay Todd!" chant in front of the Fox Theatre during the parade.

McLellan's now coaching the Sharks, and Babcock's other assistant during the 08 Cup run has pushed the Ottawa Senators far past their expectations during both the 2013 season and playoffs, and McLellan duly noted that Detroit's bench may have become something of a coaching factory while speaking with the Calgary Sun's Wes Gilbertson...

"My time with Babs and Mac was a really good opportunity for three guys to share a lot of ideas, for three individuals to challenge each other," McLellan recalled. "We had very good teams there so we could experiment a little bit with things. We were all able to contribute to the success of that team, but also the failures, and we learned a lot in those situations, as well.

"Obviously, Babs, his career is well-documented with his successes and what they're doing now. And Paul has done a heck of a job. You don't get nominated for that award at the end of the year without doing a good job, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him take it home. So it was an excellent staff, a really, really good staff. Fun to be around and a great opportunity for us to share ideas."

But McLellan pointed out that he's no longer coaching a Red Wings-style team...

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Red Wings-Blackhawks Game 4 wrap-up: hard work, puck luck and Jimmy Howard are cracking the Hawks

After dropping a 2-0 decision to the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks, who now trail the teams' second round series 3 games to 1, headed back to Chicago to prepare for Saturday's game, but not before sounding downright Red Wing-like in terms of their post-game comments.

The, "We think we played well" line came out, they made sure to mention that they're hitting goalposts and aren't getting much puck luck, and they insisted that bearing down a little more in the offensive department would yield a certain comeback for a team that posted a fantastic regular-season record. But many of those comments came from someone who took three minor penalties in the game, who made a point of saying, "I'm not going to comment about the officiating," and while Jonathan Toews told the Chicago Daily Herald's Tim Sassone that his team fully believes in its ability to rebound...

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Red Wings-Blackhawks Game 4 multimedia post: Howard, Zetterberg, Kindl, Brunner, Babcock weigh in

Bandwidth can be a cruel mistress, but I promise that the multimedia post subsequent to the Red Wings' 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of their second-round series--which is this thing right here--will include more links and fewer auto-play videos. Learning on the fly here, folks (and both We All Bleed Red on YouTube and I wonder what the hell Duncan Keith said to Al Sobotka before Al twirled the pre-game octopus).

Anyway, here are the game's highlights from the Wings' website, as narrated by the CBC's Bob Cole:

ESPN posted a 3:19 clip in which Barry Melrose and Steve Levy discussed the game, NBC posted a 1:24 highlight clip, the CBC posted a 2:50 highlight clip, Sportsnet posted a 2:21 highlight clip,TSN posted a 27-highlight clip and Comcast Sportsnet Chicago posted a 3:11 highlight clip:

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Gordie Howe to Jimmy Howard: Okay, Imma let you finish, but first let me shake your hand

Remarkable stuff from the Red Wings: this is what happens when Mr. Hockey decides to very quietly pull a Kanye West:

Update: And here's Jimmy Howard talking to John Keating about the game...and Gordie:

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Red Wings-Blackhawks Game 4 quick take: stranglehold

Upated 5x with tons of video at 11:51 PM: Very briefly: Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was nothing less than a superstar and the Detroit Red Wings played, well...Ugly hockey on Thursday night, mucking, grinding and just plain old out-working the Chicago Blackhawks en route to a 2-0 win and taking 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 on Saturday. Howard earned the shutout on 28 saes.

Jakub Kindl scored the only goal the Wings would need (on the power play, no less)...

The Red Wings stood up to Bryan Bickell and all the Hawks tried to throw at them in terms of mucking, grinding and playing a nasty game...

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Red Wings prospect news: Griffins prepare for Western Conference Finals; training camp tix news

While the Red Wings are preparing to battle the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, the Wings' AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, are preparing to host the Oklahoma City Barons in the first two games of the AHL's Western Conference Finals, which willt ake place at Van Andel Arena on Friday and Saturday night.

As the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan notes, the Wings players who spent the first half of their 2012-2013 season in Grand Rapids before joining the parent club for its 2013 campaign aren't surprised by the Griffins' post-season success...

"They have a good team, and the older guys are making a difference," said Andersson, noting veterans such as Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Brennan Evans. "In the American League there are so many young guys and teams, you need good leadership."

The Griffins open the conference finals against Oklahoma City on Friday at Van Andel Arena.

"I still talk to a lot of guys down there, I keep track of them for sure," said Nyquist, who was the team's leading scorer (60 points) while playing 58 games in Grand Rapids. "Guys have taken on bigger roles and the veterans have done a great job."

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Red Wings-Blackhawks Game 4 game-day updates: Wings understand gravity of their situation

Updated 5x at 4:46 PM, and Babs' game-day presser is below: As Paul's already noted, the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks exchanged the usual "all is well" sentiments as they prepared to face off in Game 4 of their second-round series tonight (8 PM EDT, NBCSN/CBC/97.1 FM, with a post-game show to air on FSD), and coach Babcock was in fine form during his game-day presser...

The NHL Network also filed a game-day report which includes comments from Babcock, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Justin Abdelkader...

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Chicago And Detroit Ready For Game 4

from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,

Toews was indeed smiling, and most of the Hawks seemed to be in a rather good mood after an unusually focused morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. If the pressure's mounting, they weren't showing it.

"Our group's been fine. We're definitely disappointed, we haven't been in this position all year. We've quietly gone about our business and [they've] gotten our attention over the last couple of games. The focus has got to be in the right place. We want to play our best game of the year tonight, and we're going to need it."

After a disastrous Game 2, the Hawks felt they played a strong game in Game 3, particularly in the third period. The way they see it, if a break or two had gone their way, they'd be the team up 2-1 in the series. Of course, they're not. And the fact that one of their better efforts wasn't good enough to beat the surging Red Wings might not have damaged the Hawks' confidence, but it certainly boosted Detroit's.

"It shows that we have a lot of confidence and we're playing close to our best hockey right now, and that's what we want to keep doing," said defenseman Brendan Smith. "I think we've still got to work on a few things. I don't think we've played a full 60 minutes and that's something we're going to need to do tonight, because we all know Chicago's going to come out blazing. It's such an important game. Seems like every game gets more important -- it's unbelievable how that works. They're going to up their ante and we're going to have to do the same."

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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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