Posts tagged “AHL”

Griffins Ponderings

Training camp is only weeks away, and as it gets closer, I’m starting to think about the Griffins roster. We pretty much know what the Wings are gonna look like, even what the lines will be, but I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about GR. All of these guys will be at Red Wings training camp, including those on AHL contracts, as the Wings generally invite all Griffins to camp.

Goal

Thomas McCollum

He is very important to Detroit, and highly regarded. This means nothing. He will have to earn his spot as a starter if he wants it. He started last season at full force and was very impressive, but struggled through the grind of an AHL season. He was even sent to Toledo for a confidence booster (proven to work with other players in the past, but less effective for Thomas). He never fully regained his early season form, but he did improve toward the end. He will need to have an impressive camp to assure the number one spot and to get his career back on track.

Jordan Pearce

I love Pearce. I really do. He’s got a great attitude. Last fall at training camp, when we asked for his autograph, he was genuinely surprised and flattered. Of course, in a purely hockey sense, that doesn’t mean squat. Odds are he will not make GR. With Thomas and JoeyMac also at camp, it would take a disaster or an injury. But if either get called up, Jordon will get a chance to play for GR, as they like to have a goalie balance due to the many back to backs.

Joey MacDonald

I can tell you this with full confidence: when Joey makes his first start, the cheers will be deafening in the Van. He was a fan favorite when he played here and set every goaltending record in GR, and we’ve longed for him ever since. No goalie is JoeyMac. Even with Jimmy Howard, we longed for Joey. He’ll likely split starting duties with Thomas McCollum. I would guess he’d be the #1 call-up if Ozzie or Jimmah gets injured, depending on McCollum’s play.

Defense

Brendan Smith

There is talk of him jumping straight to the NHL, but I don’t see it. Probably partially because I don’t want to. We are so excited to finally be able to see him in GR. We’ve been waiting for a defenseman to be what Ericsson was. All that I know about him everybody else knows, so I don’t have much more to say. We’re just so excited to see him.

Logan Pyett

Although he’s on an NHL contract, Pyett is a career AHLer at best. He’s a great guy, and a pretty decent d-man. He has a tendency to give up the puck right in front of our net when pressured, and this seems to get worse as the season goes on. However, he is still a backbone of the GR defense. He has a good first pass (when he doesn’t cough it up) and makes appearances on the pp. He’ll likely be a fixture.

Travis Ehrhardt

Hopefully he’s worked hard this offseason, because he needed it. He was another newbie who struggled with the grind. He spent a lot of time in Toledo, and when he was in GR he was usually scratched. I think he could be a good d-man if he can catch up to the game. I do think he should change his name, because it’s a pain in the butt to type. He’ll likely be on the edge of GR’s lineup again.

Sebastien Piche

He had a great camp last year (I thought) but did not follow that up with a good season. In fact, I don’t remember seeing him much. I don’t see him AHL ready, but who knows.

Sergei Kolosov

One of the best d-men last season, Kolosov will be back and probably on the top pairing. He’s a solid defensive d-man, which an intimidating size when he chooses to use it (which is less often then I’d prefer). He could make the NHL in the semi-near future, but not as a Wing.

Brian Lashoff

Another up and coming d-man I’m fond of. I’ve seen very little of him, a whopping 6 games, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen. He should spend this season in GR.

Doug Janik

Pretty much unliked by Red Wings fans everywhere, he actually makes a pretty good AHL d-man. He does this really annoying thing where he comes out from behind our net with the puck, centimeters from the corner of the net, giving the crowd and his goaltender a heartattack almost every shift. But he will still likely anchor the top pairing.

Center

Chris Minard

I honestly have no idea who this guy is. He’s played 40 NHL games, 35 of which were with Pittsburgh. This makes me sad. But hey, Darryl Bootland was drafted by Colorado, so I won’t write him off. He had 38 points in 40 games with Springfield last year, so he should be good for offense.

Jamie Johnson

He played with Rochester last year and had 71 points in 80 games. He also had 6 points in 7 playoff games. Hopefully he will also inject some offense into GR. Again, I can only give numbers on him.

Cory Emmerton

Cory struggled a little last season, with only 12 goals in 76 games. He was supposed to be a major player last year, so that number was disappointing. Hopefully he can have a better season and not become the next Evan McGrath.

Brent Raedeke

He’s only played 2 games in GR, so again, I can’t say much about him. He’ll likely play at least some of the season in GR.

Joakim Andersson

He did a wonderful Axelsson impression last year, fleeing to Sweden before even playing a game for GR. I have about as much interest in him playing with the Griffins as he does. Not much at all.

Wingers

In GR, the wing positions are pretty much interchangeable, so I’ll do them all together.

Ilari Filppula

It’ll be fun to see the name Filppula on a Griffins jersey again, but part of me thinks it will just be a disappointment. He’s the Steffan to Niklas, the Fedor to Sergei. I hope he’s at least as good an imitation as Steffan. Either way, we can just call him Val and pretend.

Jordan Owens

He finished last season with GR, so he’s not new. However, by the last 17 games, I had sorta stopped paying attention. It was too painful, and I was busy punching out the drunk guy who sits behind me on Fridays and spills his beer on us (okay, I never did that, but I thought about it a lot). Anywho, Jordon only had 5 points in those 17 games, but is that really his fault? The team had disintegrated by then.

Willie Coetzee

Another guy I liked in camp last year, if only because it’s a lot of fun to yell his name. Any name with three e’s and a z is pretty much a win. He didn’t play in GR last year, though he did make a brief appearance at the end of the season. I like what I saw then too. I hope he makes the team. He’s a quick player with good hands.

Jan Mursak

Possibly one of the most underrated Griffins last year. He played solidly throughout the season, and was often the best player on the ice for GR. He scored 24 goals and had 48 points. He will be in GR, and probably on the top line.

Francis Pare

Frankie struggled without his other half, Francis Lemieux. He had a great season on an AHL contract in 08-09, which got the attention of the big club. That year, he scored 24 goals and had 48 points. His production fell to 16 goals and 39 points last season in 14 more games. He is still fast and a good puck-handler, but he will need to find another line that works for him.

Tomas Tatar

Tatar, aka Tots, is currently the story of GR. He doesn’t get as much ice time as we feel he should, but he still managed to get 16 goals and 32 points. He’s speedy and surprisingly gritty for his size. He also seemed to get better as the season progressed. If the Wings make it far in the playoffs this year (I should say when) and if the Griffins don’t, he will be a black ace. I could also see him getting some NHL time this year depending on injuries. The best thing about Tots is that he wants to be in GR, and he plays like it every night.

Greg Amadio

He played with GR a few seasons ago, going back and forth between GR and Muskegon. He’s a tough guy, not expected to get a lot of points or ice time. I liked him when he was here because he beat up on the Wolves. Hopefully he’ll do the same this season to the Admirals (Milwaukee) and Bulldogs.

(Let me just take this brief moment to express how idiotic I find it that there are two teams in the AHL with the same name – Norfolk and Milwaukee.)

Others

All of the above are currently on the roster as listed on griffinshockey.com. There are a few other prospects who could be in GR after training camp, or even later in the season.

As we all know, it is possible that Ritola will be back there. I have issues with Ritola. He causes me great amounts of pain. I don’t want to talk about it.

Landon Ferarro could find himself in GR, if he has a good camp and if Detroit allows it. Right now I’m just hoping he can make it through at least one day of camp without getting injured.

Jamie Tardif is not listed as on their roster, but I don’t believe this. He was their captain last season and he is a great leader and character guy. He is signed to a Detroit contract as well, so he will be in GR.

Aaron Downey will be at camp, but I’d be surprised if Detroit gives him a spot in GR at the expense of a prospect that deserves it.

Other guys to consider and watch through camp: Mitchell Callahan and Andrej Nestrasil. Both had a decent prospect tournament last year, and have the potential to crack the lineup, especially if other guys falter.

Bonus

Matt would like me to talk about Kindl a little bit here. I honestly don’t know what he’ll do this season. I dislike him in the same way I dislike Ritola, and have similar feelings as I did with Jimmah. However, I was dead wrong about Jimmah (very glad I was). Kindl has been in GR for what seems like forever. If I think about last season honestly, I can say he had a much better season than the previous two. He was pretty dependable on a horrible team. I’d say he might be NHL ready, but not ready for no supervision. When he plays, he will need to be watched. This is why they brought in Salei.

I would be surprised if Babs ever willingly plays Kindl and Ericsson together. Kindl is not as ripe as he should be after three full seasons in GR, and not nearly as good as Big E when he graduated to the NHL. I’m guessing he’ll have to fight to get into the rotation regularly. When he is in, I’ll still cringe every time he touches the puck, but probably more from habit than from a legitimate concern. I expect him to step up and at least not be a liability, though I’m prepared for the opposite. I’ve seen him do both.

Griffins Advance to Second Round

Apparently, the Griffins prefer to save their best games for the road. They won games 1 and 2 on the road in Hamilton, by scores of 4-3 and 3-1. They came home to Van Andel Arena with an unexpected two games to nothing lead, and we hoped they would finish it off at home. In their first game of these playoffs at home, the Griffins let in 5 goals, losing 5-4. They followed that up on Wednesday with a disappointing 4-3 loss in OT, having lost a 3-0 lead in the last ten minutes of the game. This was apparent inspiration for the Griffs, who came back big on Friday night. They won 4-1 after dominating almost the entire game and allowing only three shots in the third period. For the first time this season at home, they played a full sixty minutes.

Game five gave fans a lot of confidence as the Griffins headed to Hamilton to hopefully finish off the Bulldogs. I did not get to see the first two periods because of Internet problems, but did catch the third. The Bulldogs got on the board first, very early. Stewart, who had just returned to Hamilton on Friday from Montreal, scored just nine seconds into the game. That’s all they managed for the whole game. Griffins captain Darren Haydar scored at 5:25 on the powerplay. Justin Abdelkader scored the only goal of the second period, and Cory Emmerton put the game away 13:45 into the third. Ville Leino chipped in an empty netter with 38 seconds remaining. The Griffins won by a score of 4-1 again (the magical score for both the Wings and Griffins these playoffs).   The Griffins only had two shots in the third, scoring on both. The Bulldogs only managed three shots that period, and the final shot numbers were 23-18 in favor of Hamilton. The Griffins went 1-4 on the powerplay, while the Bulldogs went 0-2.

Justin Abdelkader was easily the MVP of the series for GR. He scored 6 goals, 8 points and was +4. He was also a huge energy player, replacing the hits that left with Darren Helm. He could have spent a little less time in the penalty box (15 minutes), but a lot of that time was from post-whislte fights. Leino was targeted by the Bulldogs all series, and finished with 12 points, including 3 goals. Jimmy Howard was apparently good in games 1 and 2, but looked shaky in games 3 and 4. He returned to form in game 5, though he wasn’t challenged much. I didn’t see a lot of him in game 6, so I can’t speak for where he’s at right now. Darren McCarty finished the series with 2 goals and 1 assist, while Aaron Downey had 1 assist and 13 penalty minutes.

The Griffins will now face the Manitoba Moose, who finished off the Toronto Marlies in six games. The series will start in Winnipeg, with games one and two on Friday and Saturday. The Griffins will again have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule at home. Then the series shifts back to Manitoba on the following Sunday and Tuesday. Full schedules can be found here.

Griffins Disappoint in Game Three

The Grand Rapids Griffins surprised pretty much everybody by winning the first two games of the first round in Hamilton. Reports said that Jimmy Howard played really well in goal.

After attending last night’s game three in Grand Rapids, I don’t know what team played in Hamilton. Or what goaltender, for that matter. The Griffins did not look at all like they knew they were playing in the playoffs. They looked no different than they have for most of the regular season. Howard started the game wandering from the net, and things didn’t get much better. He let in five goals by the end of the game. It’s hard to tell in real time how many of those he should have had. He misplayed the puck behind the net at one point, giving up a prime scoring chance to Hamilton. At the start of the game, the defense was doing a really good job of clearing pucks away and getting to rebounds that Jimmy gave up. So I started wondering if he actually looked good in Hamilton, or if the defense made him look good. They lost the game, 5-4 in regulation.

There was also the officiating that didn’t help anything. They had an official that has plagued the Griffins all season long. He is so predictable that we knew exactly how the calls were going to be made. He calls everything (and I do mean everything) in the first period, resulting in numerous 5-on-3’s. Surprisingly, Hamilton got only one 5-on-3 and GR didn’t get any. After the first, this particular official generally swallows his whistle, no matter what. He made a few calls in the second and third period, but not enough. You could tell at points in the game that he had absolutely no control over the game, particularly over the Bulldogs. They were making what would be extremely dirty and dangerous hits during play after the whistle. And they never got called. They were particularly targeting Ville Leino.

In my opinion, and just from watching the game, the Griffins did not play that terribly. Once they were down, it did sorta look like they gave up. But then they would get an opportunity and score, and then they’d be right back in it. It wasn’t enough, though. Who knows what the outcome of the game would have been if the officiating had even been marginal. I have a feeling, based on the play of Jimmy Howard, that they still would have lost. But have almost an entire period without any five on five play really changes a game.

And For Grand Rapids…Hamilton

The Grand Rapids Griffins will face the Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round of the AHL playoffs. And they will not have home ice advantage. After spending much of the second half of the season fighting with Manitoba for first in the North Division, they went 3-7 in their last ten games. This included three straight losses to Hamilton, and four games in which they gave up five or more goals.

The AHL playoffs differ from the NHL playoffs. The top four teams in each division make the playoffs, unless the fifth place team in the West Division has more points than the fourth place team in the North Division…but that didn’t happen this year so I won’t go into that. The first place team in the division plays the fourth place, and second plays third. Then the winners of each of those series’ play each other. After that, they play the winner of the other division in the conference (in our case, against the West Division). The winner of that plays the winner of the other conference. Also, the first two games are played in the city with home ice advantage, the next three are played in the other city, and the final two are played in the first city.

While I don’t want to be an overly pessimistic fan, I have to say that I have little faith in the Griffins ability to make it out of the first round…or even win a game. They are missing many key people because of injury and call up. Our defense without Jonny Ericsson is…well, let’s just say lacking. The goaltending we’ve been getting from Jimmy Howard had been getting better…until Friday night’s game, where he bobbled almost every shot he faced. Our offense is also having trouble scoring. When the do score a lot, they forget to play defense.

One thing I can say for this series is that it is going to be exciting. There is a lot of bad blood between Grand Rapids and Hamilton. It came out in Friday nights game. There was activity after almost every whistle. Games against Hamilton have always been intense, but it’s reached a new level. That should continue into the playoffs, making the series fun while it lasts.

On Darren McCarty’s home debut

Update (11:19 PM): You can read the Grand Rapids Press recap of the game here. - Matt

Darren McCarty’s first game in front of a packed-out Van Andel was a big one. The former Red Wings bruiser scored a  hat trick and added a late assist on his way to being named the arena’s first star. He was a huge hit with the crowd, which took every opportunity to cheer him

His first goal was an easy redirect slam dunk of a the rebound of a Darren Helm pass shot on the Griffins’ second shot.  His second came on the power play in the second period was he stuffed it between the feet of the Lake Erie goalie from the side of the net. He finished the trick with a blast from the right circle that beat the goalie blocker side, just inside the left post. In addition to the goals, Mac dealt out a few big hits and provided just the spark the Griffins needed to overcome two Lake Erie leads.

I was definitely impressed with him. He’s obviously still not in tip-top shape, but he looked good. I was only disappointed he didn’t get a natural hat trick. It’s too much to expect him to contribute three goals every night, but I think his presence in the lineup had the Griffins playing closer to their potential. They certainly looked better than they had in any of the other games I’ve been to and heard about this season. That’s the value he brings to the Griffins and if he can draw crowds like he did tonight, the franchise will do better as a whole.

Because the Monsters are the primary affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, it was interesting to see how chippy the game got as it went on. There were two all-out fights involving Jamie Tardiff and plenty of post-play scrums that got pretty nasty.

I went into the game with the aim of focusing on Jonathan Ericsson as well as McCarty. I was impressed with the big young Swede was well. He’s got great size and has a booming shot to go with a good defensive sense. His goal was a perfectly-placed snapper, just below the crossbar. He looked steady out there and definitely earned the second star. I look forward to seeing him in the Winged Wheel.

Jakub Kindl, on the other hand, was a disappointment. He definitely needs more experience before he’ll be NHL-ready.

I do not regret passing up the Wings’ embarrassing loss to Columbus in favor of Darren McCarty’s home debut and three-goal night. It was a great game and I’m glad I got to see it.

It’s official: McCarty signed to PTO

Via Red Wings Corner: the NHL has given Darren McCarty clearance to play in the AHL and the former Red Wing forward has been signed to a professional tryout with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Ryan Foherty reports that Mac will practice with the Griffins today and will play his first game Friday against the Lake Erie Monsters in Cleveland.

McCarty will make his home debut on February 15th at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. It will be the Griffins’ first homegame in two weeks. If all goes well in getting tickets, Sarah, Megan, and I will be at that game.

Liv in; Hasek-Not so Much

Update (3:40 PM, Matt): Helene St. James has another update: apparently, Hasek may not play in the final game of the season on Saturday, though Mike Babcock wouldn’t give a reason. I think it’s more likely it’d be for rest purposes than because of an injury, but I don’t really know, obviously.

Also, Nick Lidstrom skated today, but he isn’t going to play tonight because the team decided his back is too stiff. Babcock is still saying it’s not a big deal, but it is a little worrisome that Nick’s missing these games, if this isn’t just the usual late-season smoke-and-mirrors aimed at getting stars rest. I guess Mikael Samuelsson will get some more time on the blueline while on the power play. - Matt

Update (12:30 PM, Matt): Helene St. James has a little more. Basically, the Wings still don’t like the idea of Hasek entering a game cold and without his day-long warmup regimine. Keeping Dom healthy has become more important than ever now that the playoffs are a week away and available injury recovery time is nil. - Matt

According to the Griffins newsletter and Griffinscentral, the Red Wings have called up Stefan Liv to back up Chris Osgood tonight. They must be giving Hasek a full rest tonight. That seems to be something they’re doing with quite a few players lately…