With a playoff berth already in hand, the Griffins are now setting their sights on the Central Division crown.
Tonights game features the Griffins (43-19-1-4) and the Charoltte Checkers (34-28-5-0). Charlotte is battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. Starting with tonights matchup, these two teams will meet three times inside the Van Andel Arena over the final two weeks of the regular season.
The Griffins fell to the Admirals on Wednesday 3-2, despite outshooting them 35-19.This season after a regulation loss, most nights, the Griffins would claim victory in the following game with a 14-3-0-1 record after a loss.
Grand Rapids was without Robbie Russo, Ben Street, Tomas Nosek, Eric Tangradi, and Matt Lortito during Wednesday’s set back. Russo, Street, and Nosek are still with the Red Wings while Tangradi and Lorito sat out due to minor injuries. Tangradi and Lorito will be out of the lineup once again tonight. Also out tonight with a minor injury is forward Tyler Bertuzzi.
Jared Coreau will get the start in goal tonight for the Griffins.
For most of the season, the Checkers were not among the teams in the playoff discussion. Part of the recent resurgance is the addition of former Griffins goaltender, Tom McCollum. Since joining Charlotte on loan from the Stockton Heat, the Checkers have a record of 8-1-1 in their previous 10 games.
The Griffins have struggled against Charlotte this season. In five games, the Griffins are 2-3.
With all of the injuries the Griffins are suffering and all of the player recalls due to the Detroit injuries, they are now forced to rely on their younger core of talent. This means players like Dominic Shine and Filip Hronek will continue to play. This also means that, tonight, Givani Smith will make his AHL debut. Smith was a 2016 second round pick of the Red Wings. He spent his OHL season with the Guelph Storm.
Catch the game on ahllive.com or you can tune in on WOOD Radio. Puck drop is set for just after 7 p.m. tonight.