GRAND RAPIDS,MI- Just when we thought the Griffins were finding consistency on the offensive end, the defending Calder Cup Champions found themselves struggling to find the back of the net. After the Griffins dominated the San Antonio Rampage 6-3, they followed up by losing to the Iowa Wild 4-2 and dropping another one to the Rockford IceHogs 3-2 in the shootout. Tom McCollum appeared in both games due to a nagging injury that kept Jared Coreau from playing. Grand Rapids has three points in their last four (2-1-1). Right now, they are sixth in the Central Division with a record of 8-8-2. The Griffins concluded their five-game road trip going 2-2-1.
Special Teams Shining
The Griffins currently rank among the top 10 in both the penalty kill and the power play. The power play has converted on 18 of 81 chances for a 22.2% rate, which is currently third in the AHL. At one point during the season, the penalty kill was ranked dead last among all teams. Now, they stand tied for sixth in the league at an 85.1% rate. Grand Rapids has killed off 37 of their previous 38 penalties. The Griffins did not allow a power play goal against the Wild or the Hogs. During their five-game trip, the Griffins converted on 3 of 16 power play chances.
The Original Griffin
Todd Nelson, head coach of the Griffins, has had ties to the organization before becoming the head coach before the 2015-2016 season. Nelson was the first ever player to sign with the organization making him affectionately known as “The Original Griffin”. His coaching record now stands at 99-61-10 needing one win to become the fifth Griffins coach to reach 100 wins. Nelson recently became the fifth active Head coach to coach in 500 AHL games.
Captain Matt Ford has been leading the offensive charge as of late. In his last five games, Ford has collected six points (2-4-6) with three of those points coming in the previous two games. He missed the final two games of the road trip against Iowa and Rockford due to an injury. Forward Eric Tangradi is starting to gain steam in the offensive zone. Tangradi has had multi-point games in his last two appearances. In his last five games, he has amassed six points (3-3-6).
Dominik Shine has been cold to begin the season. Through nine games this season, Shine has one point (1-0-1). He also has a -2 rating. Shine appeared in the game against the IceHogs on Saturday, which was the first game he had played in nearly two weeks. Evgeny Svhechnikov has struggled out of the gate as well. The second-year pro missed sometime earlier this season with a neck injury. In 13 games, Svechnikov has four points (2-2-4) with a -4 rating.
The Griffins assigned three players to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. Dylan Sadowy, Luke Esposito, and Vili Saarijarvi were sent down to get some much needed playing time. All have appeared in action for the Griffins this season. Brian Lashoff was sent back to the Griffins after playing for the Detroit Red Wings in their 3-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Griffins will be in action for just one game this week. They will be back home to host the Manitoba Moose on Friday night. Grand Rapids and Manitoba met in the season-opening series with the Griffins winning the first game 5-2 before the Moose dominated the next night and won 7-2. The Moose currently sit atop of the Central Division standings with a record of 12-5-2.
Shine and Svechnikov stats
Special Team stats
Todd Nelson stats