In a fortuitous schedule non-overlap, there's no Stanley Cup Final game between Pittsburgh and Nashville going tonight. Since the big series became much more interesting after the Predators held serve at home it's as close to must-watch hockey as you can get outside of the Wings being involved, but if you haven't been paying attention to the AHL's Calder Cup Final to this point, you've been missing one with every bit the entertainment value.
Tonight, you'll have the opportunity to watch what should fulfill the promise of the first two games in the series and be a very entertaining game between the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Syracuse Crunch.
What: Grand Rapids Griffins at Syracuse Crunch Game 3
When: 7pm ET
Series: Best of 7 (2-3-2 Format)
Current Standings: Grand Rapids leads 2-0
How to Watch: for FREE on AHL Live
Game 1 Recap: Nosek's Late Goal Crushes Crunch in 3-2 Game 1 Win
Game 2 Recap: Griffins Take 2-0 Series Lead With 6-5 Double Overtime Win
As you can see just from the recap titles, the first two games were exceedingly close. Game 1 saw the Griffins go down before clawing back to tied and then scoring the game-winner on a power play with only seconds remaining. Game 2 was even tighter with a total of five one-goal leads erased before the ultimate double-OT winner by Ben Street.
Now the series heads back to Syracuse where the Crunch have been just as dominant as the Griffins have been in their home arena. Grand Rapids has been the more-opportunistic team, taking advantage of Syracuse penalties and picking up more on counter-attacks. The Crunch have shown a very well-structured system in attacking the Griffins' defenders and backchecking to short-circuit breakouts from the dangerous Grand Rapids forwards.
Both teams have gone through stretches of absolute dominance over the other and this one is looking very much like an ongoing chess match. The Griffins continue to get good balance led by Tomas Nosek as the 1C and Eric Tangradi, while also benefiting from the snarl of Dylan McIlrath and elusiveness of Joe Hicketts on the back end. Jared Coreau has had to come up huge throughout the first two games.
Meanwhile, the Crunch are led by forwards like Cory Conacher and Yanni Gourde, who move the puck up ice quickly to back off defenders and have excellent vision for finding lanes through the defenders. On the back end, Jake Dotchin has been moving the puck well and punishing Griffins' players who enter the zone.
The only real downside here is that the AHL Live product isn’t the best and it would still be nice to be able to watch these games on HD Television with a bit more production value, but considering it’s free and fun, I’m not complaining too hard. I can’t tell you who will win tonight, but it promises to be a lot of fun watching.