The Afternoon Shift – Oct. 24

Forrest rests on the bench between shifts.

Seven games into the 2011-12 season, the Griffins are much like Forrest Gump’s famed box of chocolates. We don’t know what we’re gonna get.

This is partly to be expected, due to the season’s youth. But it is also a byproduct of two of the campaign’s early themes: suspense and suspensions.

Never before has a Griffins team gone so deep into a season — relatively speaking — with so few games at Van Andel Arena. The game this Friday, Oct. 28 against Abbotsford will mark the latest date ever for the Griffins’ second home appearance, and this is also the only season ever in which they played six of their first seven games in hostile territory.

The Griffins’ season will be 21 days old this Friday when they skate out for game No. 2 before the Grand Rapids faithful, having already returned from a season-high five-game road trip. Unless you’re a fanatic supporter who traveled to Rockford, Rochester, Hamilton, Oklahoma City or Houston, or you’ve watched any of the road games on AHLLive.com, you’ve seen less of your team at this point of the season than any Griffins fans ever. 

The wai-ai-tin’ is indeed the hardest part, but your patience has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated, and it will be rewarded as the Griffins play four of their next five, nine of their next 12, and 11 of their next 15 within friendly confines.

At 3-4-0-0, the Griffins have yet to post either a winning streak or a losing skid this season, as they’ve lost every odd-numbered game on their schedule but won every even-numbered contest…good news, no doubt, for anyone attending this Friday’s game. Of course, we can’t guarantee a victory, and neither can we promise that you’ll see the Griffins’ roster in its full glory, as they have yet to see all expected regulars in the lineup at the same time this season.

The AHL’s long arm of the law piggybacked Brendan Smith’s five-game NHL suspension with three games of its own, keeping the 2010-11 AHL All-Rookie Team defenseman in the stands for Grand Rapids’ first three games. Meanwhile, a Mitch Callahan hit in Hamilton last Tuesday earned the rookie four games in the clink, the last of which he’ll serve this Friday.

That 3-0 win against the Bulldogs was the only game so far this season during which a Griffins player was not serving a suspension, but they still skated at less than full strength due to injuries sustained by Travis Ehrhardt and Landon Ferraro on Oct. 16 at Rochester. That game will be remembered not just for two Amerks players who drew suspensions for their actions (Marcus Foligno and Jonathan Parker) but also for one who didn’t. Ferraro remains sidelined after being injured by Corey Tropp, who leveled Ferraro with a blindside hit in the slot but escaped suspension when the AHL ruled that the contact was accidental.

Today’s Griffins links:

Alumni news and notes:

NHL alumni goals:

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