One of Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s most often referenced rules of thumb is that you can tell what kind of hockey team you have by Thanksgiving. At that point, you’ve reached the quarter pole of your season, your know your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what your chances are – or what you need to change – to make the playoffs and compete for the cup.
That same timetable is used to measure the Griffins, and while we still have 10 days to go until Turkey Day, one thing is for sure: the Griffins are shaping up to have their best defensive season in years.
Through 15 games, Grand Rapids has allowed just 2.60 goals and 26.2 shots per contest, placing it sixth and fourth in the AHL in those respective categories. One season after letting in 265 goals, the Griffins are on an early pace to surrender just 208, which would mark their lowest total since the 2004-05 campaign (200).
What’s been the difference?
First, credit their 1-2 goaltending punch and the rise of Thomas McCollum. Presumed no.1 netminder Joey MacDonald posted a 1.72 GAA and a 0.929 save percentage before being recalled to Detroit on Oct. 28, but the Griffins haven’t missed a beat behind McCollum, who allowed only three goals in three games last week and has dropped his GAA to 2.57, good for 16th in the league.
Next, take a defense led by veterans Greg Amadio, Doug Janik, Derek Meech, sprinkle in the continued maturity of Travis Ehrhardt, Logan Pyett and Sergei Kolosov, then add highly touted rookies Brian Lashoff and Brendan Smith, and you’ve got a great mix of youth and experience on the blue line.
Finally, include a forward group that currently shows only four players with a minus rating, and you have a squad that is perhaps more committed to its own end than that of the opposition.
Factor in a staunch penalty killing unit that has allowed only two power play goals in 51 times shorthanded while on the road, and the stability of a Griffins roster that has seen just two callups since the season began, and it’s no wonder that last year’s defensive lapses are proving more and more to be just that: a thing of the past.
Today’s Griffins links:
- Griffins tame Bulldogs in rematch (Griffins)
- Bulldogs take a bite out of Griffins (Griffins)
- Thomas McCollum shines as Griffins beat Hamilton (MLive)
- Logan Pyett scores Griffins’ only goal in road loss to Hamilton (MLive)
- Video: ‘Getting to know the Griffins,’ Episode 2: Goalie Thomas McCollum (MLive)
- Bulldogs lose ugly, split with Griffins (Hamilton Spectator)
- Dogs hang on to 2-1 win over Grand Rapids (Hamilton Spectator)
- Video: Tim Doty goes to work for the Griffins (Fox 17)
- Video: Behind the scenes at the Griffins (Fox 17)
- Capuano promoted to lead Isles (AHL)
- Milwaukee Admirals use same formula to again beat Lake Erie Monsters (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
- Aeros finally play in Peoria (Houston Chronicle)
Alumni news and notes:
- Jiri Hudler’s first goal of the season is the winner as Red Wings beat Colorado (MLive)
- Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader remembers late uncle on Veterans Day (MLive)
Video: NHL alumni goals