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Grand Rapids Griffins Battle Lake Erie Monsters in Calder Cup Playoffs

The Griffins dropped a wonderful series preview prior to their 2nd round series getting underway. Here's everything you need to know.

Grand Rapids Griffins

Series Schedule:
2016 Calder Cup Playoffs
Central Division Finals - Best of Seven

Game 1

Thu., May 5

GRIFFINS at Monsters

7 p.m.

Game 2

Sat., May 7

GRIFFINS at Monsters

Noon

Game 3

Sun., May 8

Monsters at GRIFFINS

4 p.m.

Game 4

Tue., May 10

Monsters at GRIFFINS

7 p.m.

*Game 5

Sat., May 14

GRIFFINS at Monsters

7 p.m.

*Game 6

Mon., May16

Monsters at GRIFFINS

7 p.m.

*Game 7

Tue., May 17

GRIFFINS at Monsters

7 p.m.

* If necessary
All times Eastern and subject to change
All games on ESPN 96.1 FM and AHLLive.com

How We Got Here: Entering the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs as the fourth seed in the Central Division, Grand Rapids swept division champion Milwaukee in the division semifinals. The Griffins outscored the Admirals 9-3 and completed their first sweep in 13 years. Second-seeded Lake Erie also made quick work of third-seeded Rockford, outscoring the IceHogs 15-6 during a three-game sweep that saw the Monsters celebrate the franchise's first-ever playoff series win.  As the regular season wound down and with Milwaukee clinching the division, it appeared the Griffins and Monsters were on a collision course for a first-round playoff matchup as the teams jockeyed for second and third place in the division. However, a five-game losing streak to close the season by Grand Rapids coupled with a 6-1-1-0 stretch by Lake Erie and a 4-2 mark by Rockford saw Grand Rapids fall into the fourth spot and Lake Erie claim the second. 

Setting the Stage: The Griffins qualified for the postseason for the 14th time in their 20-year history with a 44-30-1-1 record, claiming the fourth seed in the Central Division and finishing 12th overall in the AHL. Grand Rapids will face the second-seeded Lake Erie Monsters (43-22-6-5, 97 pts.) in the Central Division Finals, marking the first time the teams have squared off in the postseason. Grand Rapids won the season series against Lake Erie by way of a 7-4-0-1 record, including a 4-2 tally at Van Andel Arena. Lake Erie returned to the playoffs for the second time in the franchise's nine-year history, with its lone appearance in 2011 resulting in a Game 7 loss to Manitoba in the North Division Semifinals. Grand Rapids is 8-2 in playoff series over the last four years, while Lake Erie is 1-1 in series over its nine years of existence. 

All Remaining Griffins Games to Air on ESPN 96.1: The radio broadcasts for the Griffins' 2016 Calder Cup Playoff games are moving to ESPN 96.1 FM from Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM.

Extra Helpings: The Griffins claimed the season series against the Monsters 7-4-0-1 as the teams matched up 12 times during the regular season. Including the two preseason contests Grand Rapids and Lake Erie staged in early October and with the chance of playing seven more playoff games, by the time the 2015-16 campaign comes to a close, the Griffins and Monsters possibly could have squared off a total of 21 times.  

Playoff Facts and Figures: With their sweep of Milwaukee, the Griffins won a playoff series for the fourth consecutive season, extending a franchise record and marking the third-longest streak in the AHL since the current 16-team format was adopted in 2005. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defeated Providence and advanced to the second round for the sixth straight year (2011-16) after previously posting a five-year run (2005-09). Grand Rapids is 8-2 in its last 10 playoff series and has won 16 of its 28 total playoff series. The Griffins own a combined 77-68 record during those games, going 37-36 on home ice and 40-32 on the road. The Griffins were eliminated short of the Calder Cup Finals in each of the last two seasons, but both teams they lost to went on to either win the Cup (Texas in 2014) or appear in the finals (Utica in 2015). Grand Rapids is 11-9 all-time in best-of-seven series. Captain Jeff Hoggan and Nathan Paetsch have both competed in 53 playoff games for the Griffins and are just six games shy of tying the franchise record set by Travis Richards. 

Regular Season Series Notes: Grand Rapids won the season series against Lake Erie 7-4-0-1 as the Griffins edged out the Monsters 35-34 in goals. Five of the 12 matchups were decided in overtime or a shootout, with the Griffins claiming victories in four. The Monsters posted a 5-3-3-1 record in the season series with their lone win in an extra session coming in a 3-2 shootout during the first meeting of the season on Nov. 13. Including the five extra-time games, a total of seven matches between the rivals came down to a one-goal difference. The largest win for either side occurred on Dec. 26 in Cleveland, as Grand Rapids used a hat trick from Colin Campbell to beat the Monsters 7-3 and extend its winning streak at the time to a franchise-record 15 games. The Monsters were, of course, responsible for halting the third-longest winning streak in the league since 1992, defeating the Griffins 3-2 on Dec. 27. In the Dec. 27 game, the teams combined for 158 penalty minutes, with 128 of those coming at the end of the third period. The largest win for Lake Erie came on March 26 at Van Andel Arena, as the Monsters staked a 4-0 advantage after 23 minutes and won 5-2. Buoyed by his fourth career hat trick on Dec. 5, Eric Tangradi netted a series-high eight goals and contributed a team-best 10 points (8-2—10). Campbell produced five of his 10 goals on the season against Lake Erie, with three coming during his first career hat trick on Dec. 26. T.J. Tynan notched a series-high 11 points (1-10—11) as 10 of his team-high 40 assists were recorded against Grand Rapids. Josh Anderson, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sonny Milano tied for the team lead with four goals. Jared Coreau appeared in eight games, showing a 5-2-1 record, a 2.51 GAA and a 0.923 save percentage. The lone shutout of the series came courtesy of Coreau in Grand Rapids' 1-0 overtime win on Jan. 15. In five appearances, Tom McCollum posted an even 2-2 record, a 2.83 GAA and a 0.916 save percentage. For the Monsters, three goalies saw action against Grand Rapids: Joonas Korpisalo (2-1, 2.36 GAA, 0.909 save percentage), Brad Thiessen (1-0-2, 2.38 GAA, 0.922 save percentage) and Anton Forsberg (2-2-2, 3.09 GAA, 0.895 save percentage). 

GR and Ohio: Dating back to the franchise's inception in 1996, Grand Rapids has a long history of playing teams from the state of Ohio. Between the Cincinnati Cyclones and Cleveland Lumberjacks of the IHL and the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, Cleveland Barons and Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL, Grand Rapids is 123-69-2-3-15 in 212 games against teams from Ohio. The Griffins have faced off against a team from Cleveland 139 times in the regular season during their history with a 76-48-3-12 (0.601) record, including 72 times (38-24-3-7, 0.597) against the Lake Erie Monsters. While Grand Rapids and Lake Erie will be meeting for the first time ever in the postseason, the Griffins have had success against previous foes from Cleveland in their history, earning a pair of series wins while going 8-2 overall with a perfect 5-0 record at Quicken Loans Arena (formerly known as Gund Arena). Grand Rapids swept the Cleveland Lumberjacks 4-0 during the 2001 IHL Eastern Conference Semifinals after defeating them 4-2 in the same round in 2000. 

Playoff Differential: The Griffins' and Monsters' rosters have starkly differing amounts of Calder Cup Playoff experience. Before the 2015-16 playoffs began, Lake Erie's roster had a combined 160 playoff games played with just three players logging 20 or more games, while Grand Rapids' roster combined for 551 games including nine players appearing in 20 or more contests. In fact, two players - Jeff Hoggan (88) and Nathan Paetsch(75) - combine to outnumber Lake Erie in games played (163-160). Hoggan's career playoff numbers are also comparable to the combined numbers of the entire Monsters roster:

GP

G

A

Pts

Jeff Hoggan

88

19

25

44

Monsters Roster

160

19

30

49


Special Teams Breakdown: Lake Erie holds the statistical edge over Grand Rapids when it comes to special teams. The Monsters tied for 15th in the AHL on the power play, generating 47 goals on 282 opportunities (16.7%), while the Griffins placed 22nd, converting 49 of 311 man-advantages (15.8%). Lake Erie produced 22.3% (47-211) of its goals from the power play while the Griffins relied on the power play for 20.6% (49-238) of their goals. Despite Lake Erie's upper-hand in the power play overall, in the 12 meetings this season, the Monsters were just 5-for-40 (12.5%) on the man-advantage while the Griffins were 7-for-50 (14.0%). Lake Erie tied for fifth on the penalty kill (85.7%) and Grand Rapids tied for 13th (83.7%). 

Bench Bosses: Todd Nelson became the 10th head coach in Griffins franchise history on June 19, 2015, after splitting the 2014-15 season in head-coaching roles with the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL) and the Edmonton Oilers (NHL). Following in the footsteps of Danton Cole (2002-05), whom he served under as an assistant coach, Nelson is the second former Griffins player to be employed as Grand Rapids' head coach. The Griffins stumbled out of the gate to begin the 2015-16 season, winning just two of their first 11 games (2-8-0-1). After the difficult start, Nelson guided the Griffins on a franchise record 15-game winning streak from Nov. 18-Dec.26 to kick start the rest of the season. For good measure, Nelson authored a 13-game winning streak from Feb. 20-March 19 and became the first head coach in club history to tally multiple double-digit winning streaks at any point during their tenure, let alone in one season. The Griffins 2016 Calder Cup Playoff berth marks the fifth time in as many full seasons as an AHL head coach that Nelson has led his team to the postseason. The seventh full-time coach in team history to lead the Griffins to the playoffs in his first year at the helm, Nelson is the fifth to win at least one playoff series in his initial season. In his first season, Jared Bednar has guided the Monsters to the franchise's first-ever Calder Cup Playoff series win with a Central Division Semifinals sweep of Rockford in just their second-ever appearance. Making his second career appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs as a coach, Bednar won his first playoff series in his four years as an AHL head coach after losing to Houston in the West Division Semifinals in 2011 while leading the Peoria Rivermen. Lake Erie closed the 2015-16 campaign with a franchise-record 97 points. Bednar joined the Monsters following three years of service to the Springfield Falcons (AHL), including one as the head coach. 

Between the Pipes: The Griffins and the Monsters have both boasted stellar goaltending play throughout the season. Tom McCollum (2.42) tied for eighth in the AHL and Jared Coreau (2.43) ranked 10th in goals against average. Rookie Joonas Korpisalo, who fell about 375 minutes short of qualifying, would have placed fifth in GAA (2.36) while Anton Forsberg tied for sixth with a 2.40 average. Coreau's 29 wins tied for fourth in the league and fifth in the club's single-season list while Forsberg's 23 wins tied a Monsters single-season franchise record. Korpisalo has started all three games in the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs for Lake Erie, showing a 2.00 GAA and 0.924 save percentage, while McCollum has done the same for Grand Rapids, posting a 1.00 GAA and 0.968 save percentage. 

Lake Erie Connections: Griffins head coach Todd Nelson played one season (1992-93) on the shores of Lake Erie for the IHL's Lumberjacks, totaling 42 points (7-35—42) and 115 penalty minutes in 76 games. Assistant coach Ben Simon is a native of Shaker Heights, a Cleveland suburb. Monsters head coach Jared Bednar logged one season (1998-99) for the Griffins as a defenseman, tallying 21 points (3-18—21) and 220 PIM in 74 games. Joel Chouinard played in 98 games over parts of three seasons for the Monsters (2011-13) and totaled 27 points (8-19—27). Robbie Russo and Michael Paliotta competed together from 2009-11 on the U.S. National Development Team. Russo and T.J. Tynan both played college hockey at Notre Dame and were teammates from 2011-14. 

Lake Erie vs. Everybody Else: Compare how the Griffins fared in their 12 games against Lake Erie and how they did in their other 64 games:

GF

GA

PP%

PK%

SF

SA

LE (7-4-0-1)

2.92

2.83

14.29%

87.80%

29.75

33.75

All Other Opp. (37-26-1-0)

3.17

2.52

16.09%

83.01%

33.95

31.23


2015-16 Griffins vs. Monsters:
Griffins Records: 7-4-0-1 Overall, 4-2-0-0 in Grand Rapids, 3-2-0-1 in Cleveland
Monsters Records: 5-3-3-1 Overall, 2-1-2-1 in Grand Rapids, 3-2-1-0 in Cleveland

Game 1 - Nov. 13 - Monsters 3, Griffins 2 (SO) - Quicken Loans Arena
Jared Coreau stopped 32 of 34 shots but the Griffins fell in a shootout to the Monsters 3-2. Nick Jensen andAnthony Mantha scored to help the Griffins overcome a two-goal deficit and send the game into overtime. However, Kerby Rychel scored the lone goal in the shootout, which extended the Griffins' road winless streak at the time to four. Martin FrkAndy Miele, and Tomas Nosek were unable to score in the shootout. For the Monsters, Sonny Milano and T.J. Tynan failed to score in the skills competition, but Rychel moved from backhand to forehand to slip one past Coreau's right pad. 

Game 2 - Nov. 14 - Monsters 5, Griffins 1 - Quicken Loans Arena
Josh Anderson scored two goals while Joonas Korpisalo stopped 37 of 38 shots he faced as the Griffins fell 5-1 to the Monsters. The Griffins outshot Lake Erie 38-30, including a lopsided 31-15 over the final 40 minutes. Sonny Milano opened the scoring for Lake Erie 5:05 into the opening period as the Monsters rang up a three-goal first frame. Colin Campbell potted the lone goal for Grand Rapids 3:08 into the third period. 

Game 3 - Nov. 28 - Griffins 3, Monsters 2 (OT) - Van Andel Arena
Mitch Callahan's goal 2:02 into overtime lifted the Griffins to a 3-2 victory over the Monsters, as the Griffins earned their sixth win in a row with their third victory in the last eight days against a team that sat atop the Central Division. In the extra session, Nathan Paetsch intercepted a long pass at center ice and burst down the right side into the Lake Erie zone. He centered a pass for Callahan, who quickly whipped a shot between Anton Forsberg and the right post that pushed the Griffins' home winning streak to five. 

Game 4 - Dec. 5 - Griffins 4, Monsters 1 - Van Andel Arena
Thanks to a virtuoso performance by Tom McCollum, the Griffins overcame a monstrous 42-17 disadvantage in shots to post their eighth consecutive victory. McCollum made 41 saves to record his fourth win in a row and backstop the Griffins to their seventh straight triumph on home ice. Meanwhile, Eric Tangradi provided the bulk of the offensive support with a hat trick, including the insurance tally with just over five minutes remaining in what had been a one-goal contest. 

Game 5 - Dec. 16 - Griffins 3, Monsters 2 - Quicken Loans Arena
Anthony Mantha scored a pair of second-period goals while Jared Coreau stopped 47 shots as the Griffins set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive win, holding off the Monsters 3-2. After Xavier Ouellet fedMartin Frk for a one-timer from the top of the left circle that produced a toe save from Anton Forsberg, Robbie Russo sent the rebound from the right circle past Forsberg's glove to open the scoring. Anthony Manthaadded to the Griffins' lead 1:27 into the middle frame and then delivered the game-winner with 4:18 left in the period.  

Game 6 - Dec. 26 - Griffins 7, Monsters 3 - Quicken Loans Arena
A hat trick by Colin Campbell helped the Griffins extend their winning streak to 15 consecutive games and defeat the Monsters 7-3. Andy Miele opened the scoring for the Griffins on a 2-on-1 just 21 seconds into the game. Campbell netted two of his three goals in the opening frame as Grand Rapids took control with a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. Jeff Hoggan tallied the game-winner 33 seconds into second period and Campbell completed his first career three-goal game with 9:05 remaining in the contest. Ten Griffins recorded at least one point in the match.

Game 7 - Dec. 27 - Monsters 3, Griffins 2 - Quicken Loans Arena
The Griffins had their franchise-record 15-game winning streak snapped by a 3-2 defeat to the Monsters. Lake Erie jumped out to a two-goal advantage after the first period, courtesy of goals by Daniel Zaar and Jamie Sifers. Grand Rapids cut the deficit in half at the 9:42 mark of the second mark as Martin Frk put the Griffins on the board. After the Monsters restored their two-goal edge, Colin Campbell's marker with 2:24 left in regulation trimmed the debt to just one but Grand Rapids was not able to tie the game. A line brawl ensued at the conclusion of the contest as the teams combined for 158 penalty minutes.

Game 8 - Jan. 9 - Griffins 4, Monsters 3 (SO) - Van Andel Arena
Andy Miele's goal in the second round of the shootout gave the Griffins their 13th consecutive home win, a 4-3 decision over Lake Erie. After having scored a late second-period goal that forced the eventual overtime, Miele skated in slowly on Lake Erie goalie Brad Thiessen, stick-handling all the way, before finally lifting a fluttering forehand shot that proved to be the only goal scored during the shootout. The Griffins won for their 19th time in the last 22 tries.  

Game 9 - Jan. 15 - Griffins 1, Monsters 0 (OT) - Van Andel Arena
Goals were so hard to come by at Van Andel Arena that few knew for sure that the only one had been scored until six and a half minutes of real time had passed. Regardless of how it happened, though, the Griffins extended their team-record winning streak at Van Andel Arena to 14 games with an incredible 1-0 overtime victory against the Monsters. With 2:52 left in a frantic 3-on-3 overtime, Nick Jensen sped into the Monsters' zone and teed up a blistering slap shot from the top of the right circle that many thought glanced harmlessly off the iron, although the Griffins' bench immediately erupted. As play continued, Jensen gestured to one of the referees that he thought it was a good goal, but since there wasn't a stoppage until the five-minute extra frame expired nearly three minutes later, the referees had no opportunity to review the overhead replay. So as 8,067 fans were awaiting the start of a shootout, the referees were - unbeknownst to many - reviewing the replay at the scorer's table. After several minutes, they emerged and signaled a goal, and the goal horn sounded for a delighted but understandably confused crowd. 

Game 10 - Jan. 20 - Griffins 3, Monsters 2 (OT) - Quicken Loans Arena
Ryan Sproul's slapshot from the right circle with 1:28 remaining in overtime gave the Griffins a 3-2 victory over the Monsters. After Lake Erie claimed a 2-1 lead, Mitch Callahan tied the game just 46 seconds into the third period. Sproul delivered the game-winner at the 3:32 into overtime after stealing the puck from Oliver Bjorkstrand at the point and blasting a slapshot from the right circle past Anton Forsberg's glove-side shoulder. 

Game 11 - March 26 - Monsters 5, Griffins 2 - Van Andel Arena
The Monsters built a 4-0 lead over the game's first 23 minutes en route to a 5-2 victory over the Griffins at Van Andel Arena. The loss against Lake Erie marked the only home contest for Grand Rapids in a 26-day span. The Monsters struck first during a power play 12:03 into the opening period, as Daniel Zaar blasted a one-timer pastJared Coreau from the top of the left circle. Lake Erie doubled its advantage just 1:01 later, when Sonny Milano deflected T.J. Tynan's wrist shot over Coreau's right pad. Two more Monsters goals in the first 2:05 of the second period staked the visitors to a 4-0 cushion and marked the end of the night for Coreau, who was pulled in favor of Tom McCollum. Grand Rapids closed to within 4-2 with 3:46 remaining in the game, as Ryan Sproul connected on a slap shot during a 6-on-3 advantage brought about by two Lake Erie penalties and McCollum being pulled for an extra attacker. A Jaime Sifers empty-netter at 18:53 put a dagger in the Griffins' seven-game winning streak on home ice. 

Game 12 - April 13 - Monsters 5, Griffins 3 - Van Andel Arena
A pair of goals by Lukas Sedlak paced the Monsters to a 5-3 victory over the Griffins at a sold-out Van Andel Arena. Eric Tangradi put the home team ahead early by scoring his 28th goal of the season 5:37 into the opening period. The Monsters answered almost eight minutes later. The scoring sequence repeated itself in the second period, with the Griffins tallying first only to see the Monsters respond with two of their own. For insurance, Lake Erie notched its third straight goal on a Sedlak redirection off a faceoff win in the Griffins' zone at 6:59 of the third period. Mark Zengerle provided the final margin by scoring through a screen from the top of the left circle with seven seconds remaining in the contest. 

Tale of the Tape: Here's how the two rivals stacked up in key categories during the regular season:

Grand Rapids

Lake Erie

Overall Record

44-30-1-1, 90 pts. (4th Central, 12th AHL)

43-22-6-5, 97 pts. (2nd Central, 6th AHL)

Home Record

25-12-1-0, 51 pts. (8th)

25-8-1-4, 55 pts. (T3rd)

Road Record

19-18-0-1, 39 pts. (19th)

18-14-5-1, 42 pts. (T12th)

Power Play

49-for-311, 15.8% (22nd)

47-for-282, 16.7% (T15th)

Penalty Killing

251-for-300, 83.7% (T13th)

270-for-315, 85.7% (T5th)

Penalty Minutes

14.42 avg. (14th)

15.29 avg. (12th)

Goals For

3.13 avg. (T4th)

2.78 avg. (21st)

Goals Against

2.57 avg. (6th)

2.47 avg. (3rd)

Shots For

33.29 avg. (2nd)

31.95 avg. (6th)

Shots Against

31.63 avg. (22nd)

27.96 avg. (5th)

Team Leaders

Games Played

Andy Miele (75)

T.J. Tynan (76)

Goals

Eric Tangradi (28)

Daniel Zaar (21)

Assists

Andy Miele (44)

Tynan (40)

Points

Miele (62)

Tynan (46)

Plus/Minus

Robbie Russo (+40)

Jaime Sifers (+18)

Penalty Minutes

Tyler Bertuzzi (133)

Oleg Yevenko (152)

Power Play Goals

Martin Frk (11)

Sonny Milano (6)

Shorthanded Goals

Miele, Tomas Nosek, Colin Campbell (2)

Trent Vogelhuber, Manny Malhotra (3)

Game-Winning Goals

Tangradi (5)

Michael Chaput (7)

Wins

Jared Coreau (29)

Anton Forsberg (23)

Shutouts

Coreau (6)

Brad Thiessen (3)

Goals Against Avg.

Tom McCollum (2.42)

Thiessen (1.95)

Save Percentage

McCollum (0.923)

Thiessen (0.929)

Central Division Semifinals Notes: Grand Rapids' 3-0 sweep of the division champion Milwaukee Admirals marked the first time the Griffins knocked off a No. 1 seed in the postseason, following six series losses...The Griffins claimed their first sweep of a playoff series in 13 years (4-0 over Chicago in 2003 Western Conference Semifinals) and just their third all time (4-0 over Cleveland in 2001 IHL Eastern Conference Semifinals)...Both playoff meetings between Grand Rapids and Milwaukee have been sweeps, as the Griffins' avenged a 0-4 loss to the Admirals in the 2006 Western Conference Finals...Grand Rapids advanced to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for the fourth straight season...Behind a 0.968 save percentage from Tom McCollum, Grand Rapids allowed just three goals all series to Milwaukee - and only one at even strength - to set a franchise record for fewest surrendered during a playoff series...McCollum's 12 career playoff wins tie Jimmy Howard for second on the Griffins' all-time list, trailing only Petr Mrazek (20)...Anthony Mantha (3-1—4) andTyler Bertuzzi (3-0—3) paced the team in goals, while Martin Frk also had four points (1-3—4)...The crowd of 7,915 for Game 3 at Van Andel Arena was the Griffins' largest for a playoff opener since 1998.  

Bertuzzi in the Playoffs: Rookie Tyler Bertuzzi has continued his hot play in the playoffs, accounting for three goals in three games against Milwaukee. With 10 career playoff goals in just 16 games, Bertuzzi already ranks second among active Griffins on the franchise's all-time list, trailing only Jeff Hoggan (11 goals in 53 games). His five game-winning goals have also tied a franchise playoff record. Bertuzzi burst onto the scene last season in his playoff debut. Joining the Griffins for the last two regular season games of the 2014-15 season after his OHL season in Guelph came to end, Bertuzzi accumulated 12 points (7-5—12) and led the AHL with four game-winning goals in 14 games. 

Four the Captain: Jeff Hoggan is the first AHL player since at least 2005 to captain his team to at least one Calder Cup Playoff series win in four consecutive years. Originally signed to a professional tryout prior to the start of the 2012 season, Hoggan captained the Griffins to the franchise's first Calder Cup the following spring. 

Tom's Takeover: After making his playoff debut during the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs, goaltender Tom McCollum has started 18 of the last 19 postseason games for the Griffins. In 19 career games, he owns a 12-6 record that ties Jimmy Howard for second on the all-time wins list while also compiling a 2.33 GAA. McCollum stopped 91-of-94 shots (0.968) in the Central Division Semifinals against Milwaukee as Grand Rapids set a club record for fewest goals allowed in a playoff series (1.00 goals per game). 

Long Runs: The Griffins' 50 playoff games from 2013-15 were the most ever by an AHL team over a three-year span, with captain Jeff Hoggan and defenseman Nathan Paetsch playing in each of those contests. Grand Rapids went 7-2 in playoff series under then-head coach and current Detroit bench boss Jeff Blashill, winning the Calder Cup in 2013, advancing to the second round in 2014 and falling in the conference finals last year.

Back for More: Seven members of the Griffins' 2013 Calder Cup championship team are still members of the active roster: forwards Louis-Marc AubryTriston GrantJeff HogganMitch Callahan; defensemen Brian Lashoff and Nathan Paetsch; and goaltender Tom McCollum. Grand Rapids returns 19 players from last year's team that advanced to the Western Conference Finals. 

Reversal of Fortunes: Grand Rapids entered Game 1 of the Central Division Semifinals at Milwaukee on a five-game losing streak to close the regular season. The Griffins wasted little time in putting an end to that streak though, winning both games in Milwaukee before finishing off the sweep with a 4-1 win in Game 3 at Van Andel Arena. 

Playoff Roster: The following 32 players are eligible to suit up for the Griffins in the postseason: goaltendersJared CoreauTom McCollumJake Paterson; defensemen Joel ChouinardJoe HickettsNick Jensen,Brian LashoffXavier OuelletNathan PaetschDan RenoufRobbie RussoVili SaarijarviRyan Sproul; and forwards Andreas AthanasiouLouis-Marc AubryTyler BertuzziMitch CallahanColin Campbell,Daniel ClearyMartin FrkTriston GrantAlden Hirschfeld (INJ), Jeff HogganA.J. JenksAnthony ManthaAndy MieleZach NastasiukTomas NosekJoel RechliczEvgeny SvechnikovEric Tangradiand Mark Zengerle

Experience Counts: Twenty-three players on the Griffins' roster had AHL postseason experience entering the playoffs — Andreas Athanasiou (5-5—10 in 22 GP), Louis-Marc Aubry (3-1—4 in 30 GP), Tyler Bertuzzi (7-5—12 in 14 GP), Mitch Callahan (7-9—16 in 32 GP), Colin Campbell (0-1—1 in 10 GP), Daniel Cleary (2-3—5 in 8 GP), Joel Chouinard (0-0—0 in 2 GP), goaltender Jared Coreau (0-1 record, 3.10 GAA in 1 GP), Martin Frk (0-2—2 in 6 GP), Triston Grant (3-7—10 in 63 GP), Alden Hirschfeld (1-0—1 in 6 GP), Jeff Hoggan (19-25—44 in 88 GP, two Calder Cups), Nick Jensen (0-4—4 in 26 GP), Brian Lashoff (1-8—9 in 42 GP),Anthony Mantha (2-2—4 in 16 GP), goaltender Tom McCollum (9-6 record, 2.59 GAA in 16 GP), Andy Miele(4-13—17 in 19 GP), Zach Nastasiuk (0-1—1 in 11 GP), Tomas Nosek (2-5—7 in 12 GP), Nathan Paetsch (2-22—24 in 75 GP), Ryan Sproul (2-3—5 in 15 GP), Eric Tangradi (5-6—11 in 14 GP), Mark Zengerle (2-9—11 in 16 GP). Six skaters also have experience at the NHL level: Athanasiou (1-0—1 in 5 GP), Cleary (24-28—52 in 121 GP, Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008), Lashoff (0-0—0 in 8 GP), Ouellet (0-0—0 in 1 GP), Paetsch (0-0—0 in 1 GP), and Tangradi (0-1—1 in 3 GP). 

AA Returns: The Detroit Red Wings assigned center Andreas Athanasiou to the Griffins on April 29. Athanasiou skated in 37 games for the Red Wings this season and totaled 14 points (9-5—14) while averaging 9:01 of ice time. Making his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, Athanasiou appeared in all five games and potted one goal (1-0—1) but the Red Wings were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round 4-1. Detroit's fourth choice (110th overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Athanasiou recorded eight goals, eight assists (8-8—16) and nine penalty minutes in 26 games with the Griffins this season.