The AHL playoffs have begun and the Grand Rapids Griffins play their first game tonight in their quest for back-to-back Calder Cups. The Griffins finished the season 4th in the Eastern Conference, thanks to the loser point. They had the division under their belt most of the season, but as they lost more and more key players to injury and Detroit callups, the Griffins white hot season cooled off a little bit. In the final regular season game, the Griffins couldn't pull off a win in the shootout against the Lake Erie Monsters, while the Chicago Wolves steamrolled the Milwaukee Admirals 6-0. Thanks to their loser points, the Wolves won the division, pushing the Griffins down to 4th place overall in the East and determining that the Griffins would face Flames farm team in the 1st round.
You can check out the Griffins playoff preview here.
The first round of the AHL playoffs is a best of 5 games.. or a race to 3 wins, as Coach Blashill would say. The first two games will be on the road for the Griffins despite having home ice advantage, because there are graduation festivities going on at Van Andel this weekend and it's unavailable for hockey.
|Game 1||Friday April 25th||@ Abbostford||10:00 PM|
|Game 2||Saturday April 26th||@ Abbostford||10:00 PM|
|Game 3||Wednesday April 30th||@ Grand Rapids||7:00 PM|
|Game 4 (if necessary)||Friday May 2nd||@ Grand Rapids||7:00 PM|
|Game 5 (if necessary)||Saturday May 3rd||@ Grand Rapids||7:00 PM|
AHL live has game packages you can purchase to watch the games, but it's pretty pricey if you ask me.
Alternately, you can listen to the games called by the Griffins own Bob Kaser on Wood radio (106.9 FM.. heh).
|46-23-2-5 (99pt, 4th in East, T5th in AHL)||Record||43-25-5-3 (94pts, 5th in East, 9th in AHL)|
|23-13-0-2 (14th)||Home||20-11-4-3 (T15th)|
|23-10-2-3 (T1st)||Road||23-14-1-0 (3rd)|
|20.2% (T7th)||PP||21.9% (4th)|
|85.6% (T4th)||PK||79.4% (27th)|
|3.13 (8th)||Goals For||3.12 (9th)|
|2.46 (2nd)||Goals Against||2.83 (14th)ist|
|12.43 (2nd fewest)||PIM per Game||12.71 (3rd fewest)|
|32.16 (5th)||Shots For||29.89 (14th)|
|29.27 (10th)||Shots Against||31.93 (25th)
You can find the full team stats for the season here.
|Teemu Pulkkinen (71)||Games Played||Brett Olson (75)|
|Teemu Pulkkinen (31)||Goals||Ben Street (28)|
|Adam Almquist (49)||Assists||Max Reinhart (42)|
|Teemu Pulkkinen (59)||Points||Max Reinhart (63)|
|Mitch Callahan (+23)||Plus Minus||Tyler Wotherspoon (+13)|
|Brennan Evans (111)||PIM||Josh Jooris (67)|
|Teemu Pulkkinen (9)||PP Goals||Ben Street (10)|
|Cory Emmerton (3)||SH Goals||Markus Granlund (2)|
|Mitch Callahan (5)||GW Goals||Corban Knight & Ben Street (6)|
|Tom McCollum (24)||Wins||Joni Ortio (27)|
|Petr Mrazek (3)||Shutouts||Joni Ortio (2)|
|Petr Mrazek (2.10)||GAA||Doug Carr (1.92)|
|Petr Mrazek (0.924)||SV%||Joni Ortio (0.926)|
The Expected Lineup
|Cory Emmerton||Mattias Janmark||Teemu Pulkkinen|
|Landon Ferraro||Andrej Nestrasil||Andreas Athanasiou|
|Jeff Hoggan||David McIntyre||Jordin Tootoo|
|Trevor Parkes||Colin Campbell||Zach Nastasiuk|
|Nathan Paetsch||Adam Almquist|
|Xavier Ouellet||Nick Jensen|
|Ryan Sproul||Brennan Evans|
|Petr Mrazek (starting)|
Scratches: Jake Paterson, Jared Coreau, Mattias Backman (though he may rotate in for Sproul or Evans/Paetsch if one of those two has to sit because of the vet rule), Max Nicastro Gleason Fournier, Richard Nedomlel, Martin Frk, Willie Coetzee, Louis-Marc Aubry.
Injuries: Alexey Marchenko (ankle), Mitch Callahan (jaw)
The Griffins have felt the affects of losing Gustav Nyquist, Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and a rotating list of cal-ups to the Wings this season, along with the loss of Calle Jarnkork in the Legwand trade. The Griffins have gotten some reinforcements recently however, with the additions of Zach Nastasiuk, Andreas Athanasiou, and Mattias Janmark up front, and Mattias Backman on defense. You can check out the full Griffins roster here, and the full Heat roster here.
Despite the significant players the Griffins are without, they continue to be resilient and find ways to win. Andrej Nestrasil, only called up to Grand Rapids because of the call-ups to Detroit, has been fantastic and seems to have rejuvenated his career. The new additions of Nastasiuk, Athanasiou, Janmark, and Backman have already made a positive impact on the team, Teemu Pulkkinen continues to lead the way offensively, and captain Jeff Hoggan, and alternates Nathan Paetsch, Brennan Evans, and Triston Grant have the experience and leadership to guide the team. Add to that the fact that they're coached by the best coach in the AHL, and the Griffins have a great chance to repeat their championship this season.
Let's Go Griffins!!!