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Grand Rapids Griffins Hotter Than Ever

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By Cody Hallett
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With 41 games played into the season, we can now say that the Detroit Red Wings AHL affiliate team Grand Rapids Griffins are for real. This article will focus on team stats along with individual player stats and with the struggle of the Griffins constantly being called up and sent down courtesy of the NHL team the Red Wings.

Having a record of 27-11-1-2 does not come easy in the AHL. The team deals with hectic travel schedules and the coaching staff has to put together lines of who they do have because of the NHL call ups. A key fact that should be pointed out about the Griffins and Red Wings are that twelve different players have been called up by the Red Wings and also been sent down to the Griffins so far this season. Most players have been called up more than once due to injuries the Red Wings are constantly battling. But when players do indeed get the call to play for the Red Wings, it is a good thing for both the team and players because the player knows they are able to play in the NHL and the coaching staff has done their part in developing that player in order to go to the next level.

There have been many players this season coming right out of their respective junior hockey leagues that have walked right into the organization and made an instant impact. Defenseman who have immediately made an impact on the back end are rookie Ryan Sproul, who has seven Goals, 15 Assists for 22 points in 41 games. Xavier Quellet was called upon to join the Red Wings earlier on in the season and has four Goals, eight Assists for to 12 points in 39 games. Third year defenseman veteran Adam Almquist, who has also been called up by the Red Wings this season has played 38 games for the Griffins has 0 Goals, 22 Assists. This season is the best group of defenseman that the Griffins have had in some time as each defenseman contributes to the team success night in and night out.

The forwards have played a huge role in the team's success because the scoring or defensive play doesn't just come from one line or a few players. The team plays as a whole and the offense comes as a whole and from all members on the team. For example, there are nine Griffins forwards who all have more than fifteen points on the year; seven out of those nine have more than twenty which is incredible for a team to be so offensively balanced throughout the lineup. Another fact is that for the past ten plus games the Griffins have been playing without Tomas Jurco, Gustav Nyquist, Cory Emmerton, Luke Glendening and Riley Sheahan as they have all been called up to play with the Red Wings due to injuries. All are key members to the Griffins success. In the Griffins last ten games, the team has gone 5-4 which is good considering they are losing players due to call ups.
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The goaltenders the Griffins have in their lineup are Tomas McCollum and rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek. Both goalies have been stellar when they have needed to be and have arguably won games by standing on their heads. Mrazek was having a great year as he was 10-2-1 before he left to join the Red Wings. McCollum is also having a great year since Mrazek has left McCollum has been left with quite the load to carry as he plays most games for the Griffins. His record is impressive as he is sitting third in AHL goalie standings with a 17-8-1 record.

It is no wonder the Griffins have been so good this season as they have had great goaltending which gives the team more confidence to play with. Having a very versatile defensive group that can play defensive hockey as well as offensive hockey is also important. Lastly having all the Griffins forwards contributing to the offensive game makes it easier for the defensemen and goalies knowing that they can provide the offense night in and night out.

The future looks bright for the Red Wings, and the immediate future looks even brighter for the defending Calder Cup Champions who will look to begin their Championship defense when the playoffs begin.


Follow Cody on Twitter: @Hallett_One9

Follow his blog: Select Hockey

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