The Grand Rapids Griffins enter today’s game with a record of 42-20-2-4 (90 points). They are leading the Midwest Division and are second in the Western Conference. On Friday night the reigning Calder Cup Champs were able to clinch their spot in the playoffs.
Today will mark the tenth meeting of the season between the Griffins and Admirals. The season series so far has gone as follows:
Oct. 18 @ Grand Rapids: W, 3-2
Nov. 13 vs. Grand Rapids: W, 2-1
Nov. 20 @ Grand Rapids: L, 5-0
Dec. 13 @ Grand Rapids: L, 4-2
Dec. 14 @ Grand Rapids: L, 5-0
Dec. 26 vs. Grand Rapids: W, 4-1
Feb. 1 vs. Grand Rapids: L, 3-2 (SO)
Feb. 23 @ Grand Rapids: L, 1-0 (SO)
Feb. 26 vs. Grand Rapids: L, 5-1
Admirals, 3-4-0-2 (8 points), goal differential from open play -11 (14 GF, 25 GA), and 155 penalty minutes. Griffins, 6-3-0-0 (12 points), goal differential from open play +11 (25 GF, 14 GA), and 137 penalty minutes.
I feel as if the Admirals in this match up tend to do one of two things. (1) play above the level of the Griffins compete levels and earn one of their best results of the season or (2) get completely outskated by the hyper-skilled team that are the Griffins.
The top scorer in this match up, for either team, is Teemu Pulkkinen. He has played in each of the previous nine games this season and has averaged a point per contest: 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists). The 22-year old Finn has a wicked slap shot and leads all AHL rookies in goal scoring this season with 28 goals. The lone player to edge him in the rookie scoring race? Curtis McKenzie of the Texas Stars (59 points) who has 6 more points than the Griffins right winger (53 points).
Adding to all the glam from the skaters are two great goaltenders: Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum. Mrazek has played five games against the Admirals this season, won four games, 1.17 GAA, 0.949 SV%, and two shutouts. McCollum has played four games against the Admirals this season, won two games, 2.18 GAA, 0.924 SV%, and has a shutout to his name as well.
Mrazek played last night for the Griffins in their 4-1 win against the Rockford IceHogs. McCollum was in net Friday for the Griffins 5-4 loss in Rockford. It’s always fun to see just how coaches work goalies in a three-in-three scenario. The rested man will be McCollum but the go-to-guy would be Mrazek for this meeting… expect he played last night in Grand Rapids… late travel night… back-to-back starts. It will be an interesting decision.
The Milwaukee Admirals are now 32-21-6-7 (77 points). They remain in third place of the Midwest Division and sixth place in the Western Conference -yet- this recent string of games has really strengthened that position.
Yesterday’s hot news from the Twitter-verse was that Mark Van Guilder will be recalled. The news first came from an agent and was then retweeted by the Nashville Predators Director of Player Development, Scott Nichol. At the time I’m writing this, 1:15 am CST … I am the night, there has still yet to be an official confirmation from the team. It would appear that myself, and media buddy Dave Boehler of the Journel Sentinel, were the lone people to dive in on the social media buzz. By the time I wake up – perhaps we’ll have an official confirmation from the Predators. Look for Kevin Wilson on Twitter if that ends up being the case.
In the less “is this legit or not” news, I can give full confirmation that the Ads are in incredible form this month. 8-2-0-1 (17 points) from eleven games. It’s almost sad to think that today’s contest will be the final contest in March.
Yet, I feel they have finally found their identity at the right time of the season. Today’s game included: there are ten games remaining in the Admirals season. When the Predators season ends – expect to see reinforcements arrive on Monday April 14th – just in time for two more regular season games – and then we’re into Calder Cup Playoff season.
With that sort of mindset. Today’s game should be taken exactly as it is for the Admirals: like a playoff game. The Ads are currently on a four-game point streak, 3-0-0-1 (7 points). The Griffins, who claim to be pesky these days, are 6-3-0-1 (13 points) from their previous ten-games. I am expecting a tightly contested game tonight.
How do you feel the Admirals will play against the Griffins? What are your expectations?