Monday, May 8 | 6:00 p.m. | Van Andel Arena | Central Division Finals 2-1 Grand Rapids
Playing with Fire
The Grand Rapids Griffins continue to fan the flames on their power play and are clicking along at a 28.6 percent success rate against the Chicago Wolves during the Central Division Finals. The Griffs’ overall postseason power play is at 20 percent, which is good enough for fifth in the league, one spot behind the Wolves (21.4 percent). That said, Grand Rapids has scored on four of 14 man advantages against Chicago through three games and have scored at least one power play goal in four consecutive games. The last time the Griffins’ power-play unit was held scoreless was April 23 against the Milwaukee Admirals during the Central Division Semifinals. During their last four games, the Griffins boast a 26.3 percent success on the power play as they have netted five goals in 19 opportunities. Grand Rapids finished the regular season with the best power play in the American Hockey League with 80 goals on 328 attempts for a 24.4 percent success rate. In head-to-head competition with the Wolves during the regular season, the Griffins collected a dozen man-advantage markers and were successful on the power play 30.8 percent of the time.
It’s not always how you start, but the Chicago Wolves produce better results when they get on the scoresheet in the opening period. During the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, Chicago is 3-0 when scoring first, as well as when leading after one period of play. The club is also 2-0 when it’s leading after two periods. However, the Wolves have been outscored by their postseason competitors — the Charlotte Checkers and Grand Rapids Griffins — 9-8 in the opening period and 6-4 in the second session. When Chicago trails after the first period, it is 0-4. When trailing after the second period, Chicago is 0-3. The Wolves have been at their best during the third period. Three times this postseason Chicago has netted its game-winning goal in the third frame, in addition to outscoring opponents 12-8.
JB SNOW SIGHTING
Saturday night marked the first Calder Cup Playoffs appearance for goaltender Jordan Binnington — also known as JB Snow — since May 2, 2015, against the Utica Comets. Through five seasons in the American Hockey League, Binnington has been to the postseason twice. Overall, the 23—year-old has appeared in six playoff games and posted a 2-3 record — Ville Husso earned the loss in Saturday’s 4-2 setback — along with a 2.04 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. On Saturday, Binnington replaced Husso after the rookie, who has started all eight postseason contests for Chicago, gave up three goals on nine shots, including two markers just 30 seconds apart. Binnington was in net for 48:13 and gave up one goal on 31 shots
By the Numbers
- +1: Linemates Alex Friesen, Mackenzie MacEachern and Scooter Vaughan finished Saturday’s 4-2 setback against the Grand Rapids Griffins with a +1 plus/minus rating. That rating was the game-high for the Chicago Wolves as the other 16 skaters finished with a zero or negative rating. Two skaters — Jordan Caron and Ty Loney — finished the contest with a -2 plus/minus rating, the team low. Conversely, Grand Rapids defensemen Joe Hicketts and Dylan McIlrath finished the tilt with +3 plus/minus ratings that were the best of any skater for both teams. The tandem also accounted for three (G, 2A) of the Griffs’ 12 points in the game.
- 2: The Chicago Wolves continue to get point production from their rookie class. On Saturday, first-year skaters collected three of Chicago’s six points in the 4-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Novice skaters also accounted for 10 of the Wolves’ 29 shots on goal in the contest. Mackenzie MacEachern and Jake Walman each logged three shots on net, two fewer than Morgan Ellis — a fifth-year pro appearing in his first Calder Cup Playoffs — who led the entire club in shots on goal.
- 8: With eight points — three goals and five assists — Kenny Agostino is the Chicago Wolves’ leading scorer during the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs and is tied with Grand Rapids left wing Tyler Bertuzzi and Providence center Danton Heinen for second among American Hockey League postseason scorers. Only San Jose’s Ryan Carpenter is better with 10 points (6G, 4A) through seven games. Though the 25-year-old Agostino is averaging a point per game during the playoffs, he was held off the scoresheet in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Griffins to end his postseason point streak at five games.
- 24: Through eight games of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs, the Chicago Wolves have netted 24 and allowed 24 goals on their way to a 4-4 record. Their 3.00 goals average shares fourth-best in the American Hockey League for goals scored and ranks 13th for goals against. During the regular season, Chicago averaged 3.30 goals per game — tying Grand Rapids for fourth-best in the league — with 251 goals in 76 games. They allowed 200 goals for a 2.63 per game average and ranked eighth among the 30 American Hockey League teams. So far in the postseason, Chicago has managed to score four more goals just twice — a 5-1 victory against Charlotte (April 25) and a 7-3 score against Grand Rapids (May 5) — after scoring at least four goals in 37 games during the regular season.
- 28: Saturday’s game featured 28 minutes in penalties for the Chicago Wolves, which moved the benchmark for the team’s 2017 postseason game-high in penalty minutes. Rookie Samuel Blais accounted for 12 of the minutes after being assessed an elbowing minor and a 10-minute misconduct with just 1:29 to go in the game. The Grand Rapids Griffins incurred 16 minutes of penalties — all minor infractions — in Saturday’s game. The Wolves received four power-play chances and failed to cash in on any of them.
- 118: The Chicago Wolves lead the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs in penalty minutes with 118 and are one of three teams already over the 100-minute mark. Chicago checks in at No. 5 in terms of average penalty minutes per game with 14.75 while their current opponent, the Grand Rapids Griffins, checks in at No. 7 with a 14.00 average. Through eight postseason contests, the Wolves have incurred 34 minor infractions (as well as two five-minute majors and four 10-minute misconducts), which is the most of any team.
Calder Cup Weekend:
- The Griffins gained a 2-1 Central Division Finals lead over the Wolves. Matthew Ford, Ben Street and Tyler Bertuzzi all scored in the first period to give Grand Rapids a 3-0 lead in the opening 11 minutes.
- Captain Chris Butler and rookie Mackenzie MacEachern both scored early in the third period to get Chicago within a goal.
- Goaltender Ville Husso gave up three goals on nine shots to earn the loss and was replaced by Jordan Binnington, who stopped 30 of 31 shots.
- Chicago took a 3-0 lead and added four third-period goals to rout Grand Rapids and even the Central Division Finals at one game apiece.
- Rookies accounted for eight points — and three goals — in the contest.
- Forwards Kenny Agostino (2A), Ty Loney (2A), Mackenzie MacEachern (G, A) and Tage Thompson (G, A), as well as defenseman Vince Dunn (G, A), all turned in two-point performances.
- Forward Andrew Agozzino netted a short-handed marker while Brett Sterling collected his first AHL postseason tally since 2011 and defenseman Petteri Lindbohm also scored.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso turned aside 28 shots in the victory while Chicago handed Griffins goalie Jared Coreau his first loss of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.