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Wallner’s first-round Griffins playoff takes

Among the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner's observations from the Grand Rapids Griffins' first-round series against the Milwaukee Admirals:

Tyler Bertuzzi is at it again: The series highlight may have been just watching Tyler Bertuzzi. The left winger, always a bundle of energy, became electrocharged – again - in the first round. He was the team’s leading scorer with four points, including two goals (goal winner and empty netter) in pivotal Game 2. The 22-year-old’s 16 goals in 26 postseason games is second all-time for the Griffins.

Dylan McIlrath's presence: The Griffins were all about playing defenseman Filip Hronek after the touted first-year defenseman joined the team in late March and played well in 10 games. But for the playoffs, the 6-foot, 170-pound 19-year-old sat and veteran Dylan McIirath played to provide a stronger physical presence. The move deprived Hronek – Detroit’s third pick in 2016 – of playoff experience, but the 6-foot-5, 235-pound McIirath initiated enough hits to keep the Admirals aware and off stride.

Penalty kill moment: The Griffins, slightly above average on the PK during the regular season (11th at 82.8 percent), were 90 percent in the opening round (1 of 11). The defining moment was the hard-working, time-eating, game of keep-away between Colin Campbell and Dominic Turgeon in Game 2. They kept the puck in the Admirals’ zone and along the boards for 40 seconds during a crucial stretch in the middle of the third period.

Wallner continues...

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Khan on the ‘trade Nyquist’ vs ‘trade Tatar’ conundrum

Among MLive's Ansar Khan's mailbag questions:

Q: Which of Tomas Tatar or Gustav Nyquist is most likely to be dealt if the Wings are to get that top-pair defenseman? – Jesse

A: Tatar has more trade value, I believe, because he’s a better finisher (team-leading 25 goals this season while dealing with shoulder issues) and the team acquiring him could lock him up to a long-term deal (he’s a restricted free agent). Whereas Nyquist (29 goals the past two seasons combined) has become more of a distributor and will be unrestricted after two seasons.

I think the Red Wings would prefer to retain Tatar. They have struggled for offense the past two seasons and that’s a lot of goals to lose.

But, I’m sure they would take that trade-off if Tatar (and another asset) could land them a young, top-pairing defenseman like Jacob Trouba of Winnipeg.

Khan continues, emphasizing trade and expansion draft talk...

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Former Red Wings physician John Finley has passed away

From the Free Press's Keith Gave:

Dr. John Finley, who nurtured and cared for generations of Detroit Red Wings players from Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe to Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom and the Russian Five, died tonight at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Bloomfield Township. He was 88.

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Finley – “Jack” to his legion of friends – joined the Wings care-giving staff in 1957 and served until his retirement from medical practice in 2003. Then he sat down at his keyboard and began to write. The result was his 2012 book, “Hockeytown Doc,” in which he shared some wildly entertaining stories about his 47 years treating NHL players.

Finley and his wife of 59 years, Genevieve, had a special friendship with Colleen and Gordie Howe, a bond forged through nearly six decades, beginning when “Mr. Hockey” was dominating the league and the Wings were the class of the league.

Gave continues...

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Wings’ Alums to ‘Stick It to Cancer’ on Saturday in Dearborn

The Red Wings Alumni Association is playing games on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, wrapping up their season with games in Dearborn on Saturday and Fraser on Sunday.

CBS Detroit posted the details of Saturday's game:

Come watch UAW-Ford take on the Detroit Red Wings Alumni as they duke it out on April 29 for the upcoming charity event for local kids: Stick It to Children’s Cancer 2017! Head to the Dearborn Ice Skating Center on 14900 Ford Road, Dearborn MI to see who will win the bragging rights!

Stop by  starting at 4:30 for some pre-game action with the 97.1 The Ticket Street Team and Ticket Chicks, plus you could win great prizes! Also this family friendly event will have the Monster Truck Brutus onsite.

Admission is a $10 donation, doors open at 6 PM and the puck drops at 6:30 PM. Plus there will be a live art auction and concession stands, with all proceeds benefiting kids kicking cancer and kids without cancer.

Here's the Alums' lineup for Saturday:

Continue Reading »

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St. James checks in on the Griffins

The Grand Rapids Griffins advanced to the second round of the AHL playoffs with a 3-2 OT victory over the Milwaukee Admirals last night, and ahead of next week's series against the Chicago Wolves, the Free Press's Helene St. James takes stock of the Wings prospects' performances:

The Griffins clinched their first-round series with a victory Wednesday night at Milwaukee. Goaltender Jared Coreau, whose stint with the Wings from December to March included two shutouts, made 41 saves in the 3-2 overtime victory.

Forward Evgeny Svechnikov, the Wings’ first-round pick from 2015, set up both the first goal and the game-winning one as the Griffins rallied in Game 3 to sweep the best-of-5 series. Forward Tomas Nosek, who did well during 11 games with the Wings down the stretch, scored his second goal of the series, from which he emerged with three points.

Forward Tyler Bertuzzi, a second-round pick from 2013, also had an assist to give him four points in the first round. Bertuzzi, nephew of former Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi, has 24 points in 26 career AHL playoff games.

The more the prospects impress now, the better for their auditions come training camp in September. There is likely to be at least one spot held for a forward to take. In Coreau’s case, he is likely to be the backup in Detroit. He is no longer waiver-exempt, and the Wings will try to trade either Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek in the effort to upgrade the defense.

St. James continues...

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Prospect news: Paterson out for Walleye

The Toledo Blade's Mark Monroe reports that the Toledo Walleye will open their series against the Fort Wayne Komets without the services of goaltender Jake Paterson (high ankle sprain):

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A bit about the Wings’ American World Championship participants

We're a little over a week away from the start of the IIHF hockey World Championship in Paris and Cologne, and Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill "talked up" the Wings' Team USA participants in a conversation with the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan--in no small part because Blashill will serve as their coach:

Blashill and the Team USA staff have been able to put together a competitive group, including the three Red Wings, who Blashill feels will benefit greatly from competing in the tournament.

Both [Dylan] Larkin and [Danny] DeKeyser are likely to play big roles on the Team USA roster.

“Both of them were playing some of their best hockey toward the end of the regular season,” Blashill said. “Hopefully they can carry that over into this tournament and continue at that level of play.”

[Jimmy] Howard was one of the NHL’s best goalies, statistically, before spraining his knee in early December, forcing him to miss the next three months.

“This gives Howie an opportunity to get more games under his belt,” said Blashill, who’ll have Howard as his No. 1 goalie, with Commerce Township’s Connor Hellebuyck (Walled Lake Northern) as the backup.

Kulfan continues, and Petr Mrazek (Czech Republic) will be the Wings' other World Championship participant.

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Follow the bouncing ball

The Red Wings only have a 6.7% chance of winning the NHL's Draft Lottery this weekend (7:30 PM EDT Saturday on CBC and NBCSN), and it's entirely possible that the Wings may move back from 7th place, but MLive's Ansar Khan reports that the Wings' front office will attend the event crossing their fingers and toes:

[Kris] Draper, assistant to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, will join representatives of 14 other teams, including expansion Vegas, on stage. Shawn Horcoff, Detroit's director of player development, will be back-stage, where three drawings will take place, determining the top three selections.

The next 12 picks are determined by the 2016-17 standings, with Vegas selecting no lower than sixth. If the Red Wings don't land one of the top three selections, they will pick at No. 7, 8, 9 or 10, depending on which three teams are drawn.

Back-stage representatives are not permitted to communicate with those on stage, so Draper and everyone else won't know the results until revealed, in reverse order, by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly shortly after 8 p.m.

Center Nolan Patrick of Brandon (WHL) is the consensus top pick, through some believe center/winger Nico Hischier of Halifax (QMJHL) could go No. 1 overall.

The Red Wings will have their first top-10 pick since 1991. The front office and scouting staff, led by Tyler Wright, have been traveling around North America and Europe as usual, with more focus on projected top-10 talent.

"It's probably the most (Holland) has scouted since he's been GM," Draper said. "I've done a lot of scouting this year. Being in Michigan, you're in an ideal situation to see a lot of the top kids. It's been a great opportunity to see a lot of high-end names in the draft."

Khan continues, speaking with Draper about the draft combine, which will take place in late May...

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Olympia CEO Tom Wilson talks LCA on FSD

It's a bit of PR as much as it is an "update on Little Caesars Arena," but Fox Sports Detroit's John Keating spoke with Olympia Entertainment CEO Tom Wilson regarding the progress being made on the facility and some of the events that are going to be taking place there:

I also don't know if I'm supposed to tell you this, but WDIV Local 4 News reported last night that people can rent Joe Louis Arena's ice for 3 hours for $3,000, guided tour of the facility included.

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Wallner: ‘Crisco’ delivers for the Griffins

The Grand Rapids Griffins advanced to the second round of the AHL playoffs by defeating the Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 in overtime last night, and the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner spoke with Griffins forward Kyle Criscuolo about his overtime winner:

The 5-foot-9 Criscuolo was perched just to the right of the net and took a pass from Dan Renouf from just inside the blue line. He quickly used his stick to re-direct the shot for his first AHL postseason goal on just his fourth playoff shot.

"At the end there, Renouf just made a great play at the point and I called for it and he made a great pass," Criscuolo said. "I deflected it in and it was obviously a great relief."

Criscuolo, who had 17 goals and 41 points in the regular season, had the highlight-reel goal of the season Dec. 6 when he took an impressive saucer pass from Matthew Ford and swatted the puck in-air past Cleveland goalie Joonas Korpisalo.

But the overtime winner meant more, he said.

"This is certainly the most important goal I've scored thus far," said Criscuolo, an undrafted former two-year captain at Harvard. "I mean, anytime you can win a series in overtime is obviously a thrill."

Wallner continues, and you can watch the Griffins-Admirals highlights here:

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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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