The AHL posts a “Morning Skate’s” worth of notes and stats regarding each and every one of its playoff teams’ respective series, and I usually don’t share these.
Given that the Grand Rapids Griffins are on the ropes heading into tonight’s game (down 2-1 in a Best-of-Five series; tonight’s game starts at 7 PM EDT on ESPN 96.1 and the AHL Live), there are some stats that stick out:
The defending Calder Cup champions are on the ropes after Manitoba grabbed a 2-1 series lead with a 6-3 win in Grand Rapids last night… The Griffins host Game 4 this evening, looking to extend their title defense for another day… Chase De Leo (1-5-6) had a goal and three assists to lead the Moose offense in Game 3, while Mike Sgarbossa (1-1-2), Sami Niku (1-1-2) and Nic Petan (1-2-3) all chipped in with a goal and an assist… Making his professional debut coming off a 47-goal season with Portland (WHL), Skyler McKenzie scored what stood up as the game-winning goal for Manitoba in Game 3… Eric Comrie (2-1, 3.75, .907) made 45 saves in Game 3 as Grand Rapids finished with a 48-25 advantage in shots…
You would think that, with numbers like that, Comrie would be exploitable, but he’s been a rock against the Griffins when it counts. He’s not been perfect, but he’s stopped enough Griffins shots to earn two “W’s.”
Ben Street (3-3-6) and Eric Tangradi (2-2-4) each picked up a goal and an assist last night for the Griffins, who lost a home playoff game for the first time since 2016 after their 10-0 run last spring… Street’s six points in the series give him 11-16-27 in 22 playoff games in a Griffins uniform…
This is where you’d get the lecture from me that, “The AHL’s regular season is about balancing player development and winning, but the playoffs are about winning, not player development.” The line of Ben Street, Eric Tangradi and Matt Puempel is the Griffins’ best line, and they’re leaned upon heavily.
Regrettably, last night was a story of just-missed nets, pucks that wouldn’t settle down on sticks in front of the net and some miraculous saves…
The Griffins’ goalies have simply not been very good…
Grand Rapids is 3-for-14 on the power play in the series; Manitoba is 2-for-9… The Griffins are 11-9 when facing elimination from the AHL playoffs, including 8-4 at Van Andel Arena.
And while the Griffins have home-ice advantage, their power play has had awful, awful timing. Grand Rapids struggled to get over the Moose blueline with their later-in-the-game power plays, and when they did get shots off, they went into the logo on Comrie’s chest. Improvement is in order, and Todd Nelson and Ben Street made a point of suggesting that the Griffins need to shoot for rebounds off leg pads instead.
Central Division Semifinals – Series “F” (best-of-5)
C2-Grand Rapids Griffins vs. C3-Manitoba Moose
Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 21 – MANITOBA 3, Grand Rapids 2 | Recap
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 22 – Grand Rapids 5, MANITOBA 1 | Recap
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 25 – Manitoba 6, GRAND RAPIDS 3 | Recap
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 26 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Mon., Apr. 30 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern