Chris Note: When a reader, Jeremy B., offered to contribute as our Griffins "correspondent" as the NOHS authors live across the country, we jumped. It's a chance for some hockey updates, as, if you can't tell, it's been overly quiet here lately. Anyways, here's his first post, previewing the GR game tomorrow. Hope you enjoy!
Tomorrow night, the Griffins (8-4-1, 18 pts) will face off against the Chicago Wolves (8-5-2, 18 pts) in a Midwest Division showdown in Grand Rapids. The Griffins enter this game riding a 6-game winning streak. Even though it's early in the season, the stakes are still somewhat high; the winner of this game will take over sole possession of the division's top spot.
What the Griffins need to do to win:
1. Stop Brett Sterling. This should obviously be the top priority. The veteran winger and former 50-goal scorer (back in 2006-07 with these Wolves) lit up Milwaukee for two goals and an assist in a Wolves victory last night and currently leads the team in goals with 6 and scoring with 12 points. You take him out of the equation, you force some mixing and matching, and you put yourself in a good position.
2. Shoot early, shoot often. The Wolves are only 1-2-1 this season when trailing after the first, and are 0-2-2 when trailing after two. Chicago's goaltending isn't anything special (Eddie Lack is 7-3 with a 2.93 GAA and a .902 save percentage, and backup Matt Climie is 1-4), so the Griffins should bombard the net early and try to gain the upper hand.
3. Don't rely too much on Petr Mrazek. Mrazek is on some kind of a tear right now; he's won 5 in a row while posting a 2.34 GAA and a sparkling .921 save percentage. He's facing nearly 30 shots per game over his nice little run, but I wouldn't want the Wolves to pepper him in this one. Take control of the game early and lower Petr's stress level a bit.
4. Keep up the balanced scoring. The Griffins currently have 6 players in double-digits in points: they are (in order for highest-scoring to lowest-scoring) Nyquist, Billins, Tatar, Pare, Ferraro, and Andersson. This balanced effort has been crucial to the team's success thus far, and it'd be a good idea to keep it up tomorrow.
Check back with me following the game for the recap and some analysis. Happy Thanksgiving and Go Griffins!