Grand Rapids Griffins have a hard hitting weekend
On Friday the Griffins battled the big hitting Rochester Americans and came away with an important division win. Rochester took control of the game early but the Griffins were able to pull themselves out of a deficit and come away with a well-deserved 4-3 win. On Saturday the Oklahoma Barons came in leading their Division. The Griffins played a positive game and came away with another win in a shootout. Conklin was very strong and blocked all four shots during the shootout. Fabian Brunnstrom shooting in the third round put in a nice upper shelf shot to take the lead and Chris Minard in the fourth round rocketed a shot past their goalie to win the game.
The Griffins 5 game winning streak game to a halt on Sunday win the Hamilton Bulldogs were able to sneak one past Ty Conklin in the 3rd period and win the game 1-0. The loss comes on a great streak from the team which has been skating hard to get into a playoff spot this season.
The front Swedish line of Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, and Fabian Brunnstrom has been playing well together and are producing for the team.
Gustav Nyquist had 2 goals on Saturday and was in the first round of the shootout where he was blocked by the Barons goalie. Playing in 52 games has totaled 19 goals and 35 assists Nyquist is sitting with a +5 rating. He is now only 1 point away from tying the franchise all-time scoring record. Nyquist has been up in the big show this year and played in the #4 line which produced positive outcomes for the Wings. Nyquist is young and full of energy he could be another Pavel Datsyuk.
Fabian Brunnstrom along with his 3rd round goal in the shootout had 1 assist on Saturday. Brunnstrom has played in 47 games for the Griffins totaling 8 goals and 18 assists. His +6 rating shows he is working hard with his teammates. Brunnstrom had a slow start to the season dealing with family life as his first baby was born and had him traveling back and forth from Detroit.
Joakim Andersson had 2 goals in Friday night’s win and had 1 assist in Saturdays win. Andersson with 16 goals and 19 assists has a +4 rating. Andersson has also been up in the big show a few times this season and has fared well.
A couple issues are affecting the outcome of being able to finish a game on the winning side for the Griffins.
The Griffins main issue is with clean passes in the defensive and neutral zone. The team is trying hard to play a finesse game as their brothers from the Red Wings but cannot seem to connect well. Too many times passes are weak and picked up by the opposing team or are not clean and end up slowing down the pace. The youth in the club really shows when compared to the Wings which is expected in the AHL.
The other issue though not a bad one for the Griffins players being called up is the Wings are dealing with many injuries lately which are putting a hamper on the Griffins lines. But as all hockey fans know the AHL is the proving grounds for the NHL and as long as they can produce the players to take to the ice when needed that is all that matters.
With the playoffs in the near future and only 7 home games left the Griffins need every point they can get. Sitting in 4th place in a Division as tight as it is makes every win as important as the next. The Griffins face off with the Texas Stars on Weds and The Houston Aeros on Friday to continue their long road trip.