Griffins Watch: March 31st

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The Grand Rapids Griffins appear to be a team of polarizing performance; after a winning streak that seemed like it would never end, the team is starting to look like they’ll never win again. Over the past week, the team has picked up a pair of losses that have extended their streak to four.

The Games

Saturday, Mach 26th vs. Lake Erie (5-2 Loss)

Release from GriffinsHockey.com

The Lake Erie Monsters built a 4-0 lead over the game’s first 23 minutes en route to a 5-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday at Van Andel Arena.
The fourth-place Monsters claimed their third win in as many nights against Central Division powers, having already earned consecutive home wins over third-place Rockford, while the second-place Griffins lost their third straight game on the heels of a 13-game winning streak.
After playing what will be their only home contest in a span of 26 days, the Griffins will head back on the road for four games next week, beginning with Tuesday’s last-ever regular season visit to Milwaukee’s BMO Harris Bradley Center, the opposing rink that has hosted the Griffins more times than any other. Faceoff against the Admirals is set for 8 p.m. EDT.
The Monsters (37-21-5-5) struck first during a power play 12:03 into the opening period, as Daniel Zaar blasted a one-timer past Jared Coreau from the top of the left circle. Lake Erie doubled its advantage just 1:01 later, when Sonny Milano deflected T.J. Tynan’s wrist shot over Coreau’s right pad.
Two more Monsters goals in the first 2:05 of the second period staked the visitors to a 4-0 cushion and marked the end of the night for Coreau, who was pulled in favor of Tom McCollum for just the second time this season. Lukas Selak pounded home a rebound from the doorstep 48 ticks into the frame before Milano tallied his second during a power play, whipping a shot from the left circle past a totally screened Coreau for the Monsters’ fourth goal on only 12 shots.
The Griffins, who to that point had been outscored 8-1 over their previous seven-plus periods of play, finally got on the board with their own power play goal at the 15:31 mark. Eric Tangradi slid across the goal mouth and deflected Ryan Sproul’s shot from the left side into the near corner of Brad Thiessen’s cage. 
Grand Rapids (41-23-1-1) closed to within 4-2 with 3:46 remaining in the game, as Sproul connected on a slap shot during a 6-on-3 advantage brought about by two Lake Erie penalties and McCollum being pulled for an extra attacker. But Jaime Sifers scored into an empty net at 18:53 to put a dagger in the Griffins’ seven-game winning streak on home ice.
McCollum stopped all 15 shots he faced in the no-decision, while Thiessen denied 36 of 38 shots for the win.

Tuesday March 29th vs. Milwaukee (4-1 Loss)

Release from GriffinsHockey.com

MILWAUKEE – The Grand Rapids Griffins dropped their fourth straight game, falling to the Central Division-leading Milwaukee Admirals 4-1 on Tuesday at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
 
After posting 55 goals during their 13-game winning streak, the Griffins have found the net just four times in as many contests. The result also extended the Admirals’ point streak to seven consecutive games.
 
Vladislav Kamenev started the scoring on the power play for Milwaukee (42-21-3-2) with 4:14 remaining in the opening period. Taylor Aronson’s pass from the point found Kamenev at the top of the right circle for a snapshot that deflected off the stick of Xavier Ouellet and between the pads of Jared Coreau.
 
Matt White added to the Admirals’ lead 5:58 into the middle frame. As Aronson skated out of the right corner, he sent a pass to White alone in front for a quick shot past the blocker side.
 
Andy Miele got the Griffins (41-24-1-1) on the scoresheet with 11:40 left in the second. Mark Zengerle’s feed from the top of the right circle reached Miele at the left circle, beating Juuse Saros with a wrist shot high to the glove side for his 15th of the campaign.
 
Stefan Elliott restored Milwaukee’s two-goal advantage 27 seconds into the third. Elliott worked his way down from the left point, moving around Eric Tangradi to get to the bottom of the left circle before placing a shot inside the far post.
 
Max Reinhart made it a three-goal cushion 1:12 later. Pontus Aberg lifted Martin Frk’s stick at the right point, with the puck ending up on Reinhart’s stick at center ice for a breakaway. Reinhart moved from forehand to backhand, lifting the puck over Coreau’s glove and in. 
 
The Admirals finished 1-for-7 on the power play, while Grand Rapids was unable to convert on five opportunities. Saros stopped 28 of 29 shots for his 24th win of the season, while Coreau turned aside 24 of 28 shots in defeat.

The Stats

No Name GP G A P +/- Sh PIM
30 T. McCollum 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 J. Coreau 2 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 N. Paetsch 2 0 0 0 -3 4 4
5 R. Russo 2 0 0 0 -1 4 0
7 R. Sproul 2 1 1 2 -4 7 0
9 M. Zengerle 2 0 1 1 -1 3 2
10 J. Hoggan 2 0 0 0 0 2 0
13 J. Andersson 2 0 0 0 -1 0 0
14 N. Jensen 2 0 0 0 0 1 2
15 M. Callahan 2 0 1 1 -3 3 4
16 X. Ouellet 2 0 1 1 -1 5 0
18 B. Lashoff 2 0 1 1 0 4 0
19 T. Nosek 2 0 0 0 -2 6 4
21 A. Miele 2 1 0 1 -2 3 0
22 L. Aubry 2 0 0 0 0 3 0
26 E. Tangradi 2 1 0 1 -2 6 0
27 M. Frk 2 0 0 0 -3 5 8
37 Z. Nastasiuk 2 0 0 0 0 1 0
39 T. Bertuzzi 2 0 0 0 -2 6 0
45 C. Campbell 2 0 0 0 0 4 0

With nine games remaining in the season, Grand Rapids’ 51.01% estimated Fenwick Close ranks them 14th in the AHL.Even with the Losses, the team has maintained a +48 goal differential, which puts them in second in the league (41 behind leaders Toronto), An outpouring of pucks to the net has brought them to 33.61 shots for per game, which also ranks second, while their shots against remain eight spots from the bottom at 31.99.

In goal, Jared Coreau had an extremely unspectacular week, stopping 32 of 40 shots while appearing in both games. Tom McCollum showed up in Coreau’s relief in the Saturday game and stopped all 15 shots he faced.

Player of The Week

Being honest with ourselves, it’s hard to pat anyone on the back. Ryan Sproul was the only person to pick up multiple points, but the team was significantly outscored with him on the ice. Brian Lashoff was the only non-minus player with a point, but his point was a secondary assist. The goalies were both less than stellar.

Maybe we just need to move on from this week. Yeah, that’s probably wise.

Looking Ahead

The important thing to consider? The month started with a great streak, and while it ended with a poor one, the team can now move on and head into April. They have three games ahead of them this weekend: two against the Rochester Americans on Friday and Sunday, and one against the first-seed Toronto Marlies on Saturday. Toronto will, as always, be a measuring stick for the team’s competitiveness while the Rochester games could end up working out to be confidence boosters if the Griffins have their heads screwed in properly. Will it work out the way they’d like it to? Only one way to find out!