With the unfortunate arrival of the Red Wings’ summer, local fans in search of a rooting interest are down to seven options, at least in terms of former Griffins. But act quickly, as that list will be down to five by Sunday evening.
Let’s start in the NHL, where Chris Kelly, Shane Hnidy and the Boston Bruins will clash with Mattias Ritola’s Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. Hnidy and Ritola have seen little ice during the postseason, combining for just 11:50 of playing time over four games, but Kelly is a major reason that the B’s stand four wins from their first Stanley Cup Final since 1990.
Kelly’s four goals (4th) and seven points (T5th) put him among Boston’s leaders, and he ranks among the NHL’s elite with a plus-7 rating (T8th) and a 28.6 shooting percentage (T4th). He is the last best hope to maintain a remarkable streak of good fortune for Griffins alumni, at least one of whom has had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup each of the last three years and in five of the last six seasons.
In the AHL, nobody has performed better in the Calder Cup Playoffs than our old friend Drew MacIntyre, who has started 34 straight games for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Through 13 playoff appearances, he leads the league with a 1.63 GAA and sits second with a 0.939 save percentage. After backstopping Hamilton’s 2-1 triple-overtime win against Manitoba on Monday – the longest Game 7 in AHL history – MacIntyre will appear in a conference final for the first time since helping the Griffins get there five years ago. The Bulldogs begin their series against Houston tonight.
The other surviving Griffins alum in the AHL has played just as significant a role for his team. Ryan Keller, whose Binghamton Senators grabbed a 1-0 lead over the Charlotte Checkers in the Eastern Conference Final last night, is tied for first in the AHL with 11 assists and second with 17 points.
Finally, two former Griffins are still alive in the World Championship as of this writing, although one’s semifinal game is nearing its conclusion and the other’s begins at 2:15 p.m. EDT. Karel Rachunek and the Czech Republic are currently battling Sweden for the right to face the winner of the late contest between Finland and Konstantin Gorovikov’s Russian squad in Sunday’s gold medal game.
UPDATE (12:40 p.m.): Sweden beat the Czech Republic 5-2, eliminating Rachunek.
|Karel Rachunek||Czech Republic/WC||7||1||2||3|
|Mattias Ritola||Tampa Bay/NHL||1||0||0||0|
Today’s Griffins links:
- Voice of Grand Rapids Griffins cheering on former players (Fox 17)
- Mimico native to help Canada defend world box lacrosse title (Inside Toronto)
Alumni news and notes:
- Niklas Kronwall waits in wings (Detroit News)
- Howard disappointed with loss but proud of team (NHL)
- Bulldogs goalie MacIntyre leads by example (Hamilton Spectator)
- Video: Mark this one down (Jimmy Howard) (Red Wings)
- Video: Saying no to Clowe (Jimmy Howard) (Red Wings)