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With all eyes upon them, Mantha, Athanasiou impress in Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Griffins return to action against the Lake Erie Monsters tomorrow night (7 PM on The AHL Live/ESPN 96.1) and the players will play before a full suite's worth of Red Wings executives, just as they did on Tuesday.

Ken Holland, Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer and the vast majority of the pro and amateur scouts have been watching the Griffins play as the team prepares for an organization-wide audit, and the Griffins' players are very well aware of the presence of so many influential sets of eyes in the building these days.

The Free Press's Max Bultman spoke to Anthony Mantha after Tuesday's game regarding his and Andreas Athanasiou's goal-scoring performances with the organization watching:

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Nyquist on Nyquist

USA Today's Laken Litman and Kevin Allen report that Gustav Nyquist the person did indeed know of Nyquist the horse's success at the Kentucky Derby, and Gustav told USA Today that he and Niklas Kronwall have engaged in some playful discussion about J. Paul Reddam's lame duck of a horse named after #55:

Nyquist (the person) was in Moscow, which is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time, during the Derby. He was asleep when Nyquist (the horse) won.

“We had a game the next day and the race was at about 2 o’clock in the morning over here,” Nyquist said by cell phone from Russia. “But my phone started exploding and I woke up. I managed to see the replay.”

A few days later, Nyquist (the player) recorded a hat trick and an assist in Sweden’s 7-3 victory over Kazakhstan. He leads Sweden with five goals in four games at the World Championships, and has scored 72 goals over the past three seasons with the Red Wings. So Nyquist (the horse) comes from a good bloodline.

But aside from the fact that both Nyquists are talented and famous, they don’t have other things in common, the hockey player says.

“He’s way faster than me, that’s for sure,” Nyquist said, laughing. “There are no similarities. None.”

Nyquist has never met the horse, but is hoping he wins the Preakness because he plans to be back in the United States for the Belmont Stakes next month and could therefore witness his namesake clinch the Triple Crown.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the horse and meeting the owner,” Nyquist said.

Litman and Allen continue...

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Griffins’ watch party for Game 5 is on the move

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

PEPPINO'S SOUTH TO HOST GRIFFINS WATCH PARTY FOR GAME 5 ON SATURDAY

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Saturday’s watch party for Game 5 of the Central Division Finals between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Lake Erie Monsters will be held at Peppino’s South, located at 1515 Eastport Drive SE near Kalamazoo Avenue and M-6. The event was moved from Peppino’s Sports Grille in downtown Grand Rapids, site of the watch parties for Games 1 and 2, due to Saturday’s Garth Brooks concerts and the anticipated parking shortage.

With the puck dropping at 7 p.m., join fellow Griffins fans and watch the action live from Quicken Loans Arena alongside the play-by-play of Bob Kaser. For fans who do not purchase an AHLLive subscription, Peppino’s offers the only way to watch the Griffins on the road as they continue their quest for the Calder Cup.

The Griffins return to Cleveland following their dramatic 5-4 win over the Monsters at Van Andel Arena on Tuesday, when they overcame a 4-1 deficit by scoring four times in the final 21 minutes, tying the greatest playoff comeback in franchise history. Grand Rapids is trying to become the fourth team in AHL history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0.

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Red Wings at the World Championship: Larkin scores a goal in U.S. win over Hungary

Team USA battled a significant underdog in Hungary today, and they came out on top, winning 5-1. The third goal came from Dylan Larkin, and it was a classic Larkin marker--shot from below the goal line on the left side, purposely fired off Adam Vay's knee and into the net.

Larkin had a strong game, registering a goal, 5 shots, a +3 and 1 penalty in 16:10 of ice time. I'll post the game highlights as soon as the IIHF's YouTube channel posts them, and that should be within the hour.

Update:

Update #2: Here are the game highlights:

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Morning news: Griffins ‘hype,’ Mrazek’s agent on his contract and a WDFN interview with Doug Houda

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Grand Rapids Griffins posted a "Hype Video" ahead of tomorrow night's Game 5 against the Lake Erie Monsters (7 PM EDT start on the AHL Live and ESPN 96.1 FM), and it's very slick...

2. And you don't usually get an agent discussing contract strategy as an addendum to an interview, but Petr Mrazek's agent, Rober Spalenka, spoke with Sport.cz's Marek Burkert regarding his and his client's take on where contract negotiations are going to go with the Wings (and this fits in very nicely with the pair of Czech interviews Mrazek gave yesterday). What follows is roughly translated, but it's intriguing:

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MLive’s Mitsos examines Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar’s power play struggles

From MLive's Tom Mitsos:

Last season, [Gustav] Nyquist and [Tomas] Tatar continued to show growth and improvement since being brought up to the Red Wings full time. Nyquist had 27 goals and 27 assists in 82 games, and Tomas Tatar had 29 goals and 27 assists in 82 games during the 2014-15 season.

The 2015-16 season was set up to be a breakout season for Nyquist and Tatar, especially considering Blashill helped develop both players in Grand Rapids.

However, both players regressed during Blashill's first season. Nyquist had 17 goals and 26 assists in 82 games, and Tatar had 21 goals and 24 assists in 81 games.

Their roles under Blashill were similar with Babcock, including seeing significant time on the power play. So why did both players regress?

Both players struggled on the power play.

Continued

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‘Roughly Translated’: a pair of Czech interviews with Petr Mrazek

Updated at 10:13 AM: Petr Mrazek returned to the Czech Republic on Thursday, and he promptly gave 2 interviews, one to iDnes and one to iSport. They're extremely similar in terms of content, so while Czech is a particularly problematic language to try to translate, the differences get smoothed out to a large degree by the reader's (your) ability to compare and contrast the takes of Karel Knap and Miroslav Horak, respectively.

What follows are very rough translations of said interviews, starting with his chat with iDnes's Karel Knap:

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The Griffins’ Game 4 comeback narrated ‘through the eyes’ of Andreas Athanasiou

The Grand Rapids Griffins posted a video in which Andreas Athanasiou narrates the Griffins' rally from a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Lake Erie Monsters 5-4 in Game 4 on Tuesday. Athanasiou scored the game-winning goal:

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Red Wings at the World Championship: Datsyuk registers 2 assists, Marchenko scores against Denmark

Pavel Datsyuk had 2 assists and Alexey Marchenko scored the game's first goal as Russia defeated Denmark 10-1 on Thursday, and man, it was a rout.

Datsyuk has all sorts of chemistry going with Sergei Moyzakin, posting 2 primary assists on Mozyakin's goals, and he finally looks like he's got his wheels underneath him again after plodding through the first couple of games...

And in addition to showing more of an offensive flair--which is wonderful to see given that Marchenko can increase his value exponentially if he puts up the occasional goal or assist--Marchenko was out there blocking shots on the Russian PK, even when the Russians were up by 8 or 9 goals.

Datsyuk had 2 assists, a shot and finished at +1 in 15:10 of ice time; Marchenko had a goal, took 1 shot, finished at +1 and played 16:01, and I counted at least 2 blocked shots. His goal was really good, too, a slap shot through some traffic to open the scoring.

Update: Here are the game highlights:

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‘Two Things’: A trade scenario from St. James and our first look at Love Zetterberg

Of Red Wings-related note this afternoon:

1. The Free Press's Helene St. James suggests that the Dallas Stars' goaltending problem could alleviate the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard problem...

They rode Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi to 50 regular-season victories, but neither proved worthy in the playoffs. The Stars started the playoffs with Lehtonen, switched to Niemi for Game 4 against Minnesota, rode him two games, then went back to Lehtonen. Niemi relieved Lehtonen after the first period of Game 2 in the second round, but Lehtonen was back in net by the second period of the next game. Lehtonen was chased in Wednesday's elimination game after allowing three goals on eight shots, finishing the playoffs with a 2.81 goals-against average and .899 save percentage; Niemi was at 3.29 and .865.

This is where the Wings could benefit, because they are looking to move Jimmy Howard now that Petr Mrazek is the No. 1 man in net. Howard makes $5.3 million, entirely too much for a backup (and Mrazek, a restricted free agent, is due a new contract). Dallas general manager Jim Nill formerly was the assistant general manager in Detroit and knows Howard well from having drafted him in 2003 through seeing him work his way up to starting.

Howard, 32, has had a turbulent 18 months, but he had All-Star numbers in January 2015 and bailed out the Wings the last two months of this regular season, after Mrazek faltered. He earned the start for the first two games of the playoffs. (Being replaced by Mrazek for Game 3 was a reflection of needing to shake things up, not how Howard had played.) In 48 career playoff games, Howard has a 2.58 GAA and .918 save percentage.

St. James continues, suggesting that the Red Wings could acquire Niemi and his $4.5 million salary and then flip Niemi to another team...

[Edit: For what it's worth, the Dallas News's Tim Colishaw provides a look at the anti-Lehtonen perspective in Dallas /end edit]

And in perhaps more tangible news, we've got our first look at the heir to the Zetterberg throne, as it were:

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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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