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On losing as building a foundation for playoff success

ESPN's Craig Custance penned an intriguing Insider-only entry discussing how teams learn from playoff losses, speaking with Ken Hitchcock about the way that the Wings bounced back from the famous Langenbrunner-on-Osgood-from-center-ice goal in 1998 and Ryan Getzlaf about the Ducks' learning curve...

Detroit, a team that looked tired in the overtime loss, shut out the Stars 2-0 in Game 6. Osgood, after letting in that memorable goal, was perfect. Dallas’ season was over. The Red Wings went on to win another championship.

“I’d never seen a team play with that type of ferociousness in their competition, in their game – shift-by-shift, man-by-man,” Hitchcock said when we chatted on Monday. “That game in 1998 set us up for three years. We thought we were at a level, there was a whole other level out there that no one had experienced other than a few guys who had played for Montreal. We had never seen it before.”

And the article includes quite the quote from Kirk Maltby:

[It] can’t just be some of the players -- it has to be all of the players competing with that sense of detail in every moment.

“How many times have you seen in the playoffs where guys that try to get out of the way of the puck in a regular season game are blocking a puck in the playoffs?” said former Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby, winner of four Stanley Cups. “They’re taking a hit, making a hit. It’s just like making an Olympic team -- you might be a 50-goal scorer on your team but you take a different role on a national team. It’s about adjustments and learning and buying in to achieve.”

This sounds campy, but the Red Wings' "next generation" players have received over the last two years have learned a ton about the kinds of efforts they need to bring to the table through the Wings' losses to Boston and Tampa Bay, and as much as it's stank watching Nyquist, Tatar, Sheahan, DeKeyser and now Mrazek come up short against their opponents, this past year's first round in particular was chock full of learning about the levels at which everyone has to play, produce and "buy in" to stepping up to win four games out of seven each round.

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‘Three things’: about a film screening, chips for charity and Gustavsson

Of brief Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

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Prospect playoff news: Larkin’s goal-scoring, McCollum’s goaltending deliver in Griffins win

Sometimes box scores paint wildly inaccurate pictures of hockey games, but in the case of the Grand Rapids Griffins' 4-2, Western Conference Final-tying win over Utica, the box score actually does a fine job of telling the game's story.

The Griffins got two late-1st-period goals from Dylan Larkin, they earned a pair of power-play markers in a 2nd period where they were playing rope-a-dope hockey, and in the 3rd period, they held on for dear life. Grand Rapids was out-shot 26-8 over the last 40 minutes of play, and they surrendered a pair of 3rd-period goals as a result, but Grand Rapids held on for the 4-2 victory.

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Quick note: Griffins defeat Utica 4-2, Larkin scores first 2 pro goals

The Grand Rapids Griffins defeated the Utica Comets 4-2 on Monday, building a 4-0 lead and hanging on for the 3rd period as they were out-shot 32-18 overall and had 8 shots after the 1st, but Tom McCollum was very strong in the net, and despite giving up 2 late PPGs, Grand Rapids has tied the series at 1-1 going into 3 home games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday).

Dylan Larkin also happened to score his first two pro goals in the game:

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Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets Game 2 open post

The Grand Rapids Griffins hope to rally from a 1-game deficit in the Western Conference Final against the Utica Comets this evening (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/WOOD Radio).

Here's an open thread to suit your needs and hopefully include some "alternate means" of watching the game.

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A bit about Petr

The Free Press's George Sipple has penned another "emptying the notebook" article, this time discussing Petr Mrazek's outlook going into an offseason in which his summer preparation better prepare him to battle for the starter's job in an open competition with Jimmy Howard for said spot:

"Only one goalie can play," Mrazek said recently. "I'm going to do my best to play as much as I want to and do the best job."

Mrazek was 16-9-2 with a 2.38 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 29 games for the Red Wings during the regular season. He also had two shutouts in the playoffs with a 2.11 GAA and a .925 save percentage in the seven-game, first-round loss to the Lightning.

Mrazek, 23, will compete next season with Jimmy Howard.

Howard, 31, was 23-13-11 with a 2.44 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 53 games.

Mrazek said he wouldn't prepare differently this summer than he did previously despite knowing that he would make the team next season. He said he learned a lot from the opportunities he received this season.

Sipple continues....

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‘How did Larkin do?’ Part 2

The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Dylan Larkin regarding his pro debut with the Grand Rapids Griffins last night, and this afternoon, Michigan Hockey's Michael Caples checks in with Larkin to discuss both is pro debut and Larkin's reasoning behind his decision to leave the University of Michigan and turn pro after his freshman year:

“Yeah, it was pretty cool,” Larkin said of the moment he officially signed his name on his new contract. “I kind of felt relieved to finally make a decision, and go along with it. Obviously it was one of the days that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

The decision to leave school wasn’t any easy one for the 18-year-old.

“Yeah, it was probably one of the more difficult decisions of my life,” Larkin said. “It was tough. I’m going to miss it. I think it will all work out, and I’ll always be a Wolverine. Hopefully one day I can go back and finish school.”

Larkin said that his experience at Worlds – his opportunity to compare himself with NHL-caliber talent – wasn’t a solidifying factor in his decision, saying it was decision made over the few days leading up to the contract signing between him and his family.

“Probably a day or two before, you know, I didn’t really know, I was still thinking about it and weighing the options and talked to my teammates at Michigan and I just kind of made the decision.”

Caples continues...

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Grand Rapids Griffins-Utica Comets game 2 game-day preview and notes

The Grand Rapids Griffins take on the Utica Comets in Game 2 of the AHL's Western Conference Final this evening (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/WOOD Radio), hoping to rally from last night's 2-1 loss, and the Griffins posited a game-day preview video in which Bob Kaser reports that Colin Campbell will replace Marek Tvrdon...

And the AHL posted a set of series notes as part of its "Morning Skate":

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Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Drafts Petr Mrazek

from Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,

The Detroit Red Wings drafted netminder Petr Mrazek in the fifth round, 141st overall, of the 2010 draft. Less than five years later and Mrazek’s draft stock has risen significantly – at least in the KHL.

In Sunday’s first round of the 2015 KHL draft, Mrazek, who met the criteria for the draft by virtue of being under the age of 24 and not having his rights owned by any club in the league, was selected seventh overall by Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. However, after a season in which he may have possibly pushed fellow goaltender Jimmy Howard out of the Detroit net for the number one job, it’s probably safe to put his chances of heading to Russia next season at about zero percent....

The Red Wings have Mrazek locked up for the 2015-16 campaign on a one-year, $737,500 pact, but he’ll be a restricted free agent following the upcoming season. If he were to move on, that would likely be the time for him. With Howard’s play raising questions about how much longer he’ll be battling for the starting role in Detroit, it seems as though Mrazek will likely get another deal with the Red Wings, even if only another short-term contract.

read on

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Don’t expect the Wings and Leafs to rework the Phaneuf trade

MLive's Ansar Khan asks a question whose answer is relatively obvious this morning: "How is Red Wings' potential pursuit of Dion Phaneuf affected by Mike Babcock's move to Toronto?"

Put simply, given Babcock's comments, which Khan highlights, there's not much of a chance that the Red Wings and Leafs will do more than cursorily review their trade parameters from the deadline and move on. The Wings can't afford to take on all of Phaneuf's $7 million cap hit, and they certainly don't want to pay the price the Leafs are likely to demand for Babcock's reclamation project:

The Red Wings tried to get Toronto to retain about $2 million per season, but the Leafs declined. They also weren't interested in taking back Toronto native Stephen Weiss, who has three years remaining at a cap hit of $4.9 million ($16 million in actual salary). They wanted top forward prospect Anthony Mantha, who the Red Wings aren't likely to move despite his struggles during his first pro season with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Toronto correspondents have stated that the Leafs actually asked for Weiss, Brendan Smith and either Mantha or Teemu Pulkkinen, to eat $2 million of Phaneuf's salary, while the Wings were offering Weiss, Jakub Kindl and either Pulkkinen or a less-heralded prospect (and possibly a 1st round draft pick to top it all off).

Babcock pushed hard for the Weiss signing in 2013 but surely isn't interested in him now, after making him a healthy scratch the final five games of the playoff series against Tampa Bay.

I'm not so sure about that--Weiss could prove more useful in Toronto--but when you read Babcock explain that he's a "fan of Dion" and that he wants to work with Phaneuf (and Phil Kessel), it certainly sounds like the Leafs plan on hanging on to Phaneuf.

I could see the Leafs trading Phaneuf if and only if they'd receive their asking price of Weiss, Smith and Mantha or Pulkkinen, and that's not happening.

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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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