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Detroit Red Wings

Wallinder Rare Bright Spot in Griffins Playoff Loss

Swedish defender adapting well in first AHL playoff



William Wallinder, Griffins
Defenseman William Wallinder was a bright spot in a dready performance Wednesday by the Grand Rapids Griffins.

There wasn’t much good to be mined from the Grand Rapids Griffins first home game of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs. The stink was spraying all over the vast majority of Griffins players.

One Griffins player who successfully avoided getting skunked was defenseman William Wallinder. His positional play in the defensive zone and overall game was solid, even on a night when the good ship Griffin was leaking oil all over the place.

“I thought Wally the last couple of games he’s been pretty good,” Griffins coach Dan Watson said. “Game 1 I liked his game. Even (Wednesday) you didn’t notice him a whole lot in terms of negative mistakes or bad things.”

For many of the young Griffins who are the future of the Detroit Red Wings – players like goalie Sebastian Cossa, defensemen Simon Edvinsson, Albert Johansson and Wallinder and forwards like Carter Mazur and Jonatan Berggren – this is their initial taste of playoff hockey in the North American pro ranks.

Wallinder appears to be non-plussed by all the hype that is surrounding the postseason.

“I would say it’s kind of similar,” Wallinder said, comparing this experience to playoffs series in his native Sweden in which he was a participant. “Maybe it’s more physical here. You gotta be more aware and ready to stick up for each other.

“Otherwise, it’s kind of similar to what it is back home.”

Watson isn’t at all surprised to hear Wallinder speaking so matter of factly about playoff hockey.

“For him, he’s gone through playoffs in Europe, so he knows sort of what to expect.” Watson said.

Still A Learning Curve For Griffins Wallinder

That doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for Wallinder to learn about the North American brand of playoffs.

“That intensity’s gotta ramp up,” Watson said. “The compete level in the corners, killing plays as a D man and just keeping it simple.

“Those are gonna be his next steps.”

As a rookie in the AHL, Wallinder’s been all about taking those steps and making adjustments this season. He admits it hasn’t been a linear path to success, but he thinks he’s moving toward where he needs to be.

“It took some time but I’m getting into it and feel comfortable now I would say,” Wallinder said. “It’s a good league, a lot of good players, a lot of skilled players.”

Slowly, but steadily and most assuredly, Wallinder is developing into one of them.