GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Griffins offense is starting to find their groove after struggling to find the back of the net in during the previous few games. Before scoring five goals against the Wolves on Friday night, the Griffins combined for only five goals during the last four games.
The Return of Bertuzzi
On Monday, the Detroit Red Wings officially assigned forward Tyler Bertuzzi to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He has been sidelined since Training Camp with a wrist injury. Bertuzzi was the Calder Cup MVP for the Griffins last season during their championship run. During the 19 playoff games he appeared in, he was able to collect 19 points (9-10-19). Bertuzzi is expected to make his season debut this week.
Another Tough Week
The Griffins went 1-2 last week, beating the Chicago Wolves but falling to the Tucson Roadrunners and the Rockford IceHogs again. Grand Rapids seemed to outplay the Roadrunners for most of the game, but could not muster up any offense and fell 3-1. They seemed to finally snap out of their offensive struggles when they beat the Chicago Wolves 5-3. On Saturday, the Griffins suffered a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Rockford IceHogs. Grand Rapids had a 3-1 lead and were seemingly outplaying their opponent but a third period collapse led to a three-goal third period for Rockford as they beat the Griffins 4-3.
Matt Lorito made his return to the lineup Friday night against Chicago and made his presence known less than a minute into the game. Lorito quickly found the back of the net to give Grand Rapids an early 1-0 lead. He ended the night with a hat-trick. Dominic Turgeon scored an empty-net goal for the Griffins in their win against the Wolves as the Turgeon-Campbell-Elson line continues to be the most productive line so far this season for the Griffins.
Last season the Griffins had one of the best special teams units in the entire AHL. They were at the top in power play scoring percentage and did exceptionally well on the penalty kill. The story has not been the same this season. Through nine games so far this season, the Griffins have allowed a league-leading 12 power play goals while scoring seven goals on the man advantage. They have also come up empty on a couple of two-man advantage opportunities. The penalty kill and lack of discipline may have been the main reason the Griffins fell to the IceHogs on Saturday night. All the goals that were scored by the IceHogs came the way of the power play. The Griffins will look to clean it up as the season progresses.
Grand Rapids will have a three-game slate this week. On Wednesday, the will make the trip to Milwaukee to play the Admirals for the first time since the sweeping their division rival in the first round of the playoffs last season. On Friday night, the Griffins will host the Chicago Wolves once again. Grand Rapids defeated the Wolves last Friday night, 5-3. Then Milwaukee will make their way to Grand Rapids for a Sunday afternoon showdown beginning at 4 PM.