More Myth Than Menace: Griffins Review October & November

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Griffins second banner in five years pictured with the Calder Cup (Griffinshockey.com)

The Griffins came into the start of the 2017-2018 making a few roster changes from their cup winning team. Letting Mitch Callahan (EDM), Kyle Criscuolo (BUF), Nathan Paetsch (Rochester), and Eddie Pasquale (EDM) all go to other teams. They also brought back AHL goal-tending veteran and Detroit 1st round pick Tom McCollum. The roster as a whole was pretty much set in early September aside from what might happen with Martin Frk, Evgeny Svechnikov, and Tyler Bertuzzi. As we know Frk would make the Wings opening night roster, and due to injuries Svechnikov and Bertuzzi would make their Griffins debuts later in the season.

Grand Rapids opened the season on October 6th, welcoming the Manitoba Moose to their banner raising ceremony. They would go on to win in a very decisive 5-2 manner. Although this was mostly the same roster that put together a great playoff run, October ended up being very unfriendly to the Griffins. They would end the month with a 3-5-0-1 record, with one shutout against, one shoot-out loss, and never managing to string together back to back wins. The Griffins also had a dismal stretch of four consecutive losses in a row, although they did earn a single point in that stretch in their only shoot-out. Scoring goals didn’t seem to be the issue, having scored more than one goal in all games but two, it was the defensive effort that was lacking. Jared Coreau would post a 3-2-1 record with a 2.95 GAA and a .909 SV% allowing 19 goals on 208 shots against and carrying the brunt of the work load playing almost 386 total minutes. McCollum was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, playing a total of 151:56, he would go 0-3-0 and had a 5.13 GAA, .843 SV%, allowing 13 goals on just 83 shots against. Not to put the full blame on just two players in a team sport, but when the team needed big saves they didn’t seem to be there, and this wouldn’t be a good omen if these trends continued.

With the start of November the Griffins looked to put the scary results of October behind them. They did just that by winning 5 of their first 7 games of the month, including two sets of back to back wins. This was a positive the team needed to right the ship. Unfortunately the ship wouldn’t stay upright for very long. The Griffins would take a four game losing streak through thanksgiving and end the month on that very sour note. Again as the month closes the Griffs would only be shut out once, and lose the only shootout of November. As far as the goaltenders go Coreau would post 2-3-0 record and end the month with sliding numbers of 3.02 GAA and .900 SV%. McCollum on the other hand picked up his play in this the second month of the season and would end November 3-0-1, 3.14 GAA and .901 SV%.

While the stats, the standings, and the results don’t look good, things aren’t all gloom and doom. Grand Rapids enters December with the 4th best power play in their division (11th in the league), 6th best penalty kill (tied for 11th in the league). They also sit 5th in their division but are only 6 points out of 2nd place. These are all middling numbers, but they are one of those teams that once things start to click they can flip their season quickly. With 10 games (at the time of this writing) left before the Christmas break and the proverbial half-way point, the Griffins really need to start winning consistently if they want a chance at the post season to defend their title.

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