In Chatterbox, I made mention of ignoring the silly delay that pushed yesterday’s start-time all the way back to 7:35 PM. Let’s not ignore that for a moment and have a little bit of fun at the Chicago Wolves expense.
The Wolves, knowing the Winter Storm was in play for all of yesterday, opted to leave a full thirty-minutes early from Chicago. They arrived in Milwaukee well past 6 PM and the delays were then taken into account. Pre-Game Skate: half hour delay. Opening Puck Drop: thirty-five minute delay.
Now, here is the funny part. The entire time the Wolves were slowly creeping down I-94 in the snow storm the Grand Rapids Griffins were already here in Milwaukee. Today’s opponent was here on time for last night’s game before yesterday’s opponent was. Perhaps it’s that sort of forward thinking and game-planning that is why the Griffins went on a franchise record fifteen game winning streak.
~The Surging Rapids, The Grand Griffins~
The Admirals and Griffins are about to clash twice in a three-day span. Tonight in Milwaukee. Thursday night in Grand Rapids. The Griffins will enter with a record of 17-9-0-1 (35 points). Their 0.648 points percentage has them in third place of the Central Division and fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
Going back into the Griffins fifteen-game winning streak. It was a franchise record for the Griffins. Not only that but it was the third longest winning streak in the AHL since 1992: 2011-12, Norfolk Admirals (28 games)… 2004-05, Philadelphia Phantoms (17 games)… 2015-16, Grand Rapids Griffins (15 games)… 2007-08, Syracuse Crunch (15 games)… 1995-96, Albany River Rats (15 games).
It’s amazing to see how the Griffins record looks at the moment. Because, before that winning streak of their’s started, they were 2-8-0-1 on the season with a 0.136 points percentage. Now, sixteen games later, they’ve upped their points percentage by 0.512. In short, they more than righted their ship after a rough start.
Would you have preferred to play the Grand Rapids Griffins on a sixteen-game winning streak or coming off of a loss as the Admirals are about to?
It’s an interesting question because, with the Griffins finally losing, you wonder how that next game goes after such a long run gets stopped. Will the Griffins rebound right back or is that loss the start of a trend back down to the level of play they started their season off with? Good or bad news for us all. The Admirals are the AHL’s guinea pig tonight and Thursday to find that answer out. Aren’t we lucky? …no? …yeah, I hear you.
Despite how often the Admirals have seen divisional foes such as Rockford, Chicago, or even Manitoba this season Grand Rapids is a different story. These upcoming games will be the third and fourth tilts of the season between the Admirals and Griffins. So far, it has been all Griffins by a clear margin.
Game 1. Remember when the Admirals had a franchise record winning streak of ten-games? That was awesome! Then some Griffins team showed up in Milwaukee for the first meeting between the two sides this season and clobbered the Admirals 6-0. … It was bad.
Game 2. This was also another game in which the Admirals legitimately could do nothing offensively. If not for an out of body experience for Jared Coreau, thinking he was a defenseman who was going to play a puck away from Félix Girard while his Griffins teammates were on the power-play, it would have been yet another shutout. Instead, the Griffins took claim to a 4-1 win on their home ice. … Again, no bueno mi amigos.
~Who What Now?~
The Griffins leading scorer is Andy Miele who has scored 24 points (6 goals, 18 assists) in 27 games. Against the Admirals this season, Miele is the leading point getter with 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in 2 games.
It’s perhaps the smallest of silver linings that the Griffins will be without their top goal scorer Eric Tangradi who was recalled by the Detroit Red Wings yesterday. He had produced 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists) in 24 games for the Griffins prior to being called up.
I say that is a small silver lining because it isn’t as if the Griffins are short for scorers. Their team boasts ten other players outside of Tangradi with double-digit points of offense this season. Taking injuries into account, the Admirals counter that by only having seven players with double-digit points entering these games against the Griffins. Grand Rapids has outscored opponents 87-68 on the season.
In net it is probably a safe bet that Mr. “Out Of Body Experience” himself, Coreau, will get the start. As mentioned, he really should have picked up two shutouts from two games against the Admirals. If you take away his blunder that allowed for Girard’s shorthanded goal Coreau has stopped 45/45 shots against the Admirals this season. That’s not too shabby. Coreau’s overall record in net this season is 13-3-1-1 with a 2.30 goals against average and 0.928 save percentage.
Should the Griffins feel the need to throw a curveball at the Admirals they could play Tom McCollum in net. His numbers aren’t exactly bad, 2.53 goals against average and 0.924 save percentage from 10 games, but his record of 4-6-0-0 is eyebrow raising. Perhaps it is just one of those cases of a team playing more confidently in front of one goalie and not the other.
Expectations for tonight’s game? Can the Admirals finally get through the Griffins? What will be the key for the Admirals tonight to keep their own winning streak going?