With the Detroit Red Wings still deciding on how to proceed after a disappointing season, it’s the playoff run for AHL affiliate Grand Rapids that stands as a great development tool for future prospects writes the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan. The Griffins lead the AHL in most playoff games played (59) since 2013, and look to build upon this with a slew of young talent destined to fill the NHL roster. Yesterday’s Calder Cup playoff opener saw the Griffins drop Milwaukee 4-3, thanks to the efforts of several young players, namely Tomas Nosek and Evgeny Svechnikov. Nosek potted the overtime game winner while Svechnikov added one of his own. While it’s not the NHL, Kulfan adds that the playoff atmosphere is the perfect way to expose the younger players to the pressures that wait. Both Nosek and Svechnikov had a cup of coffee with the Wings this season, and a longer playoff run will help those two, along with the others, grow in ability as they approach a regular gig in the NHL.
- The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons writes that in the midst of Buffalo’s turmoil, it was Mike Babcock’s wife who ultimately won the battle between Buffalo and Toronto for getting his services. It turns out, according to Simmons, that Mrs. Babcock’s decision was certainly a good one as Babcock has guided a young and talented Toronto roster to the playoffs (currently down 3-2 to Washington) while Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma find themselves on the unemployment line. This of course, is all interesting to look at in light of the recent developments. Simmons adds that Babcock initially preferred the Sabres’ roster to the Leafs–but ultimately chose the Leafs.
- The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis reports that the Rangers plan on pushing back at the Canadiens crease crashing as they try to close out the Atlantic Division champs tonight. The Habs have put intense pressure on Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist in the paint, and the efforts should only intensify as Montreal faces elimination. The Rangers have elevated their physical play, namely defenseman Brendan Smith who fought Andrew Shaw Thursday night. But the Canadiens, for their part, are “excited” at the pressure facing them, and plan on focusing first on game six before looking too far ahead.