The Malik Report
The Grand Rapids Griffins' 3-2 loss to the Syracuse Crunch in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Final is not the end of the world. It sets up a Game 5 on Saturday night (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WXSP in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio), and to some extent, it was predictable given that the Griffins are such a young team that had never been on the cusp of a championship.
They took the Crunch too lightly, blowing power plays and getting caught up in the rough-and-tumble stuff involved when a team that's accumulated 1 playoff loss in three previous series' worth of play is essentially attempting to defend a title that the majority of its roster captured as members of the Norfolk Admirals a year ago.
But it was incredibly hard to watch.
Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk was in New York, NY to take part in a photo shoot for Reebok and the 2014 Winter Classic, and he spoke to NHL.com's Tal Pinchevsky about playing in the first of six outdoor games scheduled for 13-14...
"I like it for the Red Wings and Toronto. Original Six, will be a good game between a Canadian team and American team," Datsyuk told NHL.com Friday. "Also for Michigan, the people need it now. The economy is low. Kids will see, and parents can explain how they played outside. I think it's unbelievable."
The big game at the Big House will be a special event for everyone involved, but particularly for young Red Wings Damien Brunner, Gustav Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser, who experienced a trial-by-fire this season. Datsyuk, having participated in the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago, will play a large role mentoring those players into the fabric of the team.
"We have a younger team now. But we're still a good team. When I came 11 years ago, there were a lot of veteran guys. Now the team is younger, younger, younger. But I'm older, older, older," Datsyuk said.
Thankfully, Datsyuk told Pinchevsky that a certain player who played into his 40's was an inspiration early on--in one Igor Larionov:
I had a bad feeling about tonight's Grand Rapids Griffins-Syracuse Crunch game as all the veteran leadership in the world can't prevent a very young team from getting a little over-eager when up 3-0 in a championship series...
And I was right. The Grand Rapids Griffins' power play and a six-minute stretch in which the Griffins dropped a 2-1 lead and ended up losing 3-2 to the Syracuse Crunch, including a spear-that-was-a-not-a-spear yielding Gustav Nyquist tossed (5-minute major and a game) because Richard Panik got a stick on a hand and dove...
Well, to put it politely, the Griffins got ahead of themselves, and they forgot that the fourth win is the hardest against a team that had lost one playoff game prior to its series against Grand Rapids in the hard-charging, big, physical and downright mean Crunch.
But when mean is effective--Panik had a goal and an assist--the game-tying goal was a softy from an otherwise superhuman Mrazek (who channeled his innner Hasek at times, drawing an even-up on the major and getting called for diving once), and the power play stinks, you're not going to sweep your opponent (late-third-period flourish included as Cedric Desjardins hugged the post), and as such, the Griffins need to win tomorrow night's Game 5 (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WXSP/WOOD Radio) lest they face another bus ride to Syracuse for a potential Game 6 or 7.
The Grand Rapids Griffins will attempt to sweep the Syracuse Crunch and capture their first Calder Cup tonight at Van Andel Arena (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio; Adam Almquist won't play tonight), and the Red Wings' website posted a game-day preview video:
Several TMR readers have attempted to "live blog" the game in other threads, so this is an "open post" for live-blogging purposes, save two articles (and the Drew Miller post has been updated, too)::
1. First, a story from Fox Sports' Art Regner regarding Chris Chelios and Chris Osgood's respective roles as player mentors for the Griffins' players:
Updated at 6:04 PM with two stories from the Wings and news about where Datsyuk finished in Selke and Lady Byng voting:
From the NHL:
CHICAGO (June 14, 2013) -- Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg is the recipient of the 2012-13 NHL Foundation Player Award. The award recognizes the NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community. The NHL Foundation will present $25,000 to the Zetterberg Foundation to help fund the creation of three water stations in Kemba, Ethiopia, and provide 1,900 people with clean water for a lifetime. This donation will enable more children in the village to attend school as opposed to spending their days walking hours to get water for their families.
Zetterberg and his wife, Emma, give back to the Metro Detroit community through numerous initiatives as well as international causes in Ethiopia, Guatemala and Nepal. Zetterberg hosts children’s charities, including Metro Detroit area children’s hospitals and mentoring nonprofits, at each Red Wings home game during the regular season in the Zetterberg Foundation Suite. Zetterberg also funds a high school hockey scholarship each year and underwrites the Hockey Weekly High School All-Star Banquet.
The Red Wings have re-signed Drew Miller and want to re-sign at least one of Daniel Cleary and/or Damien Brunner. As such, tthe Wings may very well go into training camp and the exhibition season with more than 14 forwards and 23 players (with Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Joakim Andersson will all lead what the Wings hope will eventually be a slate of graduates from the Griffins' roster as full-time Wings).
The Free Press's Helene St. James duly notes that the Wings have their reasons for not just possibly but also probably heading into training camp with a glut of forwards (regardless of whether the team decides to buy out Mikael Samuelsson)...
Updated 2x at 2 PM: With the probabilty of Pavel Datsyuk snagging another Selke Trophy nod when the NHL announces its first slate of award winners this afternoon (and, as Sportsnet's Mark Spector suggests, Henrik Zetterberg being snubbed by Mark Messier in the "leadership award" department--though you can make a difference as Pavel Datsyuk faces off against Jake Allen in the TSN Play of the Year semifinals), the spotlight sits squarely upon the Grand Rapids Griffins, who can sweep the Syracuse Crunch and capture their first Calder Cup this evening at a sold-out Van Andel Arena (7 PM EDT, AHLLive.com/WOOD TV8 in Grand Rapids/WOOD Radio).
Updated 13x at 6:15 PM: This hasn't been confirmed yet, but, per Pro Hockey Talk's Jason Brough, Josh Rimer's reporting that the Red Wings have signed Drew Miller to a 3-year contract extension:
That would be a fair deal given Miller's versatility as a penalty-killer, occasional top-six forward and someone who posts 15-20 points a season despite playing only 8-12 minutes per game at times, though he can play much more as necessary.
Update: MLive's Ansar Khan's confirming:
According to the New York Times' Jeff Z. Klein (via RedWingsFeed), the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation has released the roster of its summer camp for the 2014 Olympics, which will meet from August 12-14 (of this summer) in Stockholm. The roster will meet to discuss Olympic strategies and get on the same game-planning page instead of taking to the ice, and here's the roster includes five Red Wings in Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall:
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
What can they expect? What adjustments are needed? Coach Mike Babcock said after the season that he won't know until he's experienced it. But, he has spoken to Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean, the former Red Wings assistant.
“He says it's more physically demanding from the get-go as far as fighting and physicality,'' Babcock said. “But, he told me he just did what he always did, so that's what we're going to do. We understand (more physicality) might be part of it, but we're going to get prepared.
“We've broken up that (conference) into groups, so that each (assistant) coach covers it and gets a good handle on all the players. We got to know all the players before we get to camp.''
The Red Wings' new division includes Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Toronto. The other division in the East will consistent of Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, the Islanders, the Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington.
The Red Wings will play four or five games against each team in their division, three games vs. each club in the other Eastern division and home and away against each of the 14 Western teams.
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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.