Welcome back, hockey! The AHL’s All Star break is officially over for the Milwaukee Admirals. Tonight at home, tomorrow on the road, it’ll be a match-up against the Grand Rapids Griffins. Good news. The Griffins are doing a three-in-three and played last night. Bad news. Last night they shutout the Iowa Wild 6-0.
The Griffins will be entering tonight’s game with a record of 22-16-3-1 (48 points) which has them third in the Midwest Division and seventh in the Western Conference standings. They currently trail the Admirals by 5 points and have also played an extra game to this point. Simply said, these two games this weekend are going to be hugely important for the Griffins as they look to claw back in the standings.
Grand Rapids are currently on a three-game winning streak. In those three games alone they have outscored opponents 15-4, gone 6/15 on the power-play, and 8/9 on the penalty kill.
~The Holy Slapper~
Teemu Pulkkinen has been a driving force for the Griffins this season. In 37 games he has produced 47 points (24 goals, 23 assists). He leads the AHL in goal scoring as well as overall scoring. He has had goal scoring streaks of four-games and eight-games. The latter streak set a franchise record. In last night’s blowout win he recorded his first hat trick of the season. All goals that he scored were from the power-play.
Question then would be a simple one. Why is this guy not up in the NHL doing this sort of damage? Well, the Detroit Red Wings are relatively loaded up top and in 9 career games in the NHL Pulkkinen has only managed to score a goal. His development seems to be following that of Gustav Nyquist‘s not to long ago. It took the Nyquist 137 AHL games, and 143 points (53 goals, 90 assists), before securing his role with the Red Wings. Pulkkinen is currently on 110 AHL games and 106 points (55 goals, 51 assists) and trending onwards and upwards.
So what is it about Pulkkinen that makes him so deadly? His shooting ability. More specifically his cannon of a slap shot:
How has he been rifling in so many goals? That shot. He can deliver it all over the ice. Give the Griffins a power-play to work with? Ker-Blammo. The Griffins power-play has scored on 32/168 chances for a 19.0% conversion rate. Pulkkinen has scored 9/32 of those power-play goals and assisted on 8 of those goals.
In his last 12 AHL games Pulkkinen has scored 21 points (13 goals, 8 assists) and averaged 4.83 shots per contest. Andy Miele, Mitch Callahan, and Landon Ferraro are all having solid seasons. No doubt about that. But it’s clear that the real trigger man that makes the Griffins click is the Finn wearing numeral #6.
Pulkkinen has only failed to score in 9/37 games that he has played in for the Griffins this season. Grand Rapids is 2-7-0-0 and have been outscored 27-17 as well as shutout twice – once by the Admirals. Slow down Pulkkinen. Slow down the Griffins.
Expectations for tonight’s game? Can the Admirals winning streak hit ten games? With the Griffins playing last night – will they have an advantage over the Admirals coming out of their All Star break?