0Filip Zadina, Wade Megan, Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL
Photo Credit: Jenae Anderson

Calder Cup Playoffs: Struggling Grand Rapids Griffins face division-winning Chicago Wolves in first round

After losing their final nine games of the regular season, the Grand Rapids Griffins fell to fourth in the Central Division, which means they will face the division-leading Chicago Wolves in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Griffins were somewhat successful against the Wolves this season, winning three of the eight matchups. However, a short best-of-five series doesn’t give the team a lot of time to turn things around.

A slew of call-ups near the end of the season meant Grand Rapids played six of its final nine games without its full roster. Christoffer Ehn, Martin Frk, Matt Puempel, Dominic Turgeon, Jake Chelios, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek and Dylan McIlrath all returned for the team’s final three games.

However, the Griffins failed to get production from some of their top scorers during the end-of-season stretch. Chris Terry had just two goals and one assist in his final nine games. Same with Carter Camper and Turner Elson. Filip Zadina had just two assists in his final nine games, and one goal and three assists since being assigned back to Grand Rapids after playing nine games for the Detroit Red Wings.

Wade Megan faired a bit better, scoring three goals and adding two assists in his final nine games.

It’s a long season, and there’s no doubt some regulars out of the lineup contributed to the late-season woes. But the team had a few games to re-acclimate, and scored four times in those three games, instilling little confidence for fans hoping for a long playoff run.

Adding a possible storyline to the Griffins’ playoff run is the fact the team signed goalie Filip Larsson to an amateur tryout. The 20-year-old from Sweden recently signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Red Wings after finishing his freshman season at the University of Denver, where he had a .932 save percentage and a 1.95 GAA in 22 games, leading the Pioneers to a Frozen Four berth.

There is no guarantee, of course, that Larsson receives a start. Patrik Rybar and Harri Sateri have been great for the Griffins all season, save for the last stretch, and coach Ben Simon might be hesitant to start a 20-year-old rookie in a best-of-five series against a division champ. But he is available should the Griffins need him on an emergency basis.

Larsson was selected in the sixth round, 167th overall, by Detroit in the 2016 NHL entry draft.

Here is the schedule for the first round, which begins Friday in Chicago.

Chicago Wolves vs. Grand Rapids Griffins

Game 1 – Fri., April 19 – Grand Rapids at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Game 2 – Sat., April 20 – Grand Rapids at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Game 3 – Tue., April 23 – Chicago at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
*Game 4 – Wed., April 24 – Chicago at Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
*Game 5 – Sun., April 28 – Grand Rapids at Chicago, 4 p.m.
*if necessary… All times Eastern

Should the Griffins win the series, they would face the winner of the Iowa Wild/Milwaukee Admirals series.