GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Griffins are coming off two big wins to propel them over the .500 mark for the first since beginning the season 1-0. After losing 2-1 to the Texas Stars Friday night, the Griffins offense responded in a big way by scoring five goals and beating the Stars 5-1. They eventually chased the Texas goalie, Mike McKenna. All Griffins fans should be familiar with McKenna. He was the goaltender for the Syracuse Crunch during the Calder Cup Championship. On Wednesday the Griffins battled the San Antonio Rampage for the second time this season. Oddly, both contests have been matinee matchups. The Griffins dominated most of the game and beat the Rampage 6-3.
Killing the Penalties
At the start of the season, many of the troubles the Griffins were experiencing centered around special teams. They were unable to convert on many of their man advantage opportunities and could not kill off very many penalties. They even found themselves on a few two-man disadvantages and were allowing goals on both of the kill chances. But over the previous few games, the special teams play is a big reason why they are now climbing back over the .500 mark. Before the Rampage scored on their power play opportunity, the Griffins has killed off 27 consecutive penalties in six games.
Matt Puempel was acquired in a trade for Ryan Sproul. Since joining the Griffins, he has collected 11 points (4-7-11) and has 14 total points this season (5-9-14) which leads the team. He is averaging just over a point a game since he was acquired from the New York Rangers organization. He has his first multi-goal game for the Griffins during the 5-1 win on Saturday. Tyler Bertuzzi has been effective since returning to the lineup after missing the first 10 games due to injury. Bertuzzi has points in four of the last five games and collected five points over that span (2-3-5).
Dylan Sadowy has not been meeting expectations since joining the team last season. Sadowy was acquired by the Detroit Red Wings organization before the start of the 2016-2017 season because of his speed and his quick hands. So far this season, in eight games, Sadowy has 0 points while serving seven penalty minutes and a rating of -2.
Veteran Defenseman Brian Lashoff was recalled by the Red Wings yesterday evening. The parent team is dealing with injuries and are now going to be without Luke Witkowski for 10 games after he was suspended resulting from a brawl that took place between the Red Wings and the Calgary Flames. Matt Carey, who was signed to a PTO just before the beginning of the regular season, was released from his PTO contract.
Tonight, the Griffins will make their first trip to Des Moines to take on the Iowa Wild. Former Griffin Landon Ferraro is a member of the Wild. Ferraro was a member of the Griffins first Calder Cup Championship team. He played in 270 games over a span of five seasons. In his NHL career, he has made appearances with the Red Wings, Boston Bruins, and the Minnesota Wild. Game time for tonight’s matchup is set for just after 8 PM. Tomorrow night the Griffins will make their third trip to the season to Illinois to face the Rockford IceHogs. So far, the Griffins are 0-1-1 against their division rivals. Grand Rapids fell to Rockford in a shootout in the first matchup, 3-2. During their second game, the Griffins controlled the first two periods and were leading 3-1 after 40 minutes of play. But the Griffins collapsed in the third period and allowed the Hogs to score three goals and fell 4-3. Game time is scheduled for just after 8 PM.