AGD: Into the Red Wings Den

Kent Wilson
December 21 2012 04:48PM

 

Time: 5:00pm

Location: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids

Broadcast: teamradio.ca

The Heat face a new villain for the first time in awhile. The Grand Rapids Griffins are the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings and are one of the teams starting to challenge for Abbotsford's spot near the top of the Western Conference.

The Heat's recent struggles are well documented by now. Their offense has gone completely south with their SH% in December, resulting in a 2-6 slide heading into this evening. The Griffins have only been slightly better this month, winning four of their seven games, although they have at least managed 15 goals to the Heat's 9.

Despite a mediocre month, the Griffins sit third in the conference with 30 points (by virtue of leading their division), but they also have two games in hand on Abbotsford (36 points) and 4 games in hand on the now league leading Charlotte Checkers (37 points).

The Line-up

Sven Baertschi was rumored to be returing last week, but it hasn't happened yet. The roster last game was peculiar, with the team going with just five defenders and 13 forwards thanks to injury issues (Brodie, Breen, McKelvie, Callahan and Tuzzolino). We'll assume for now that it will look that way again tonight

  • Kolanos - Reinhart - Walter
  • Horak - Byron - Sylvester
  • Olson - Street - Nemisz
  • Bancks - Laing - Aliu
  • Ruesegger

  • Brodie - Breen
  • McKelvie - Callahan
  • Tuzzolino

  • Taylor

Horak managed 7 shots on net last game, although none of them found the twine. At the other end of the specturm was Krys Kolanos, who had zero and has struggled to stay in the line-up at times. The club's MVP from last season seems to be at least two steps back of where he was previously. The 31-year old averaged over 5 shots on net per game and 1.30 PPG as the team's leading scorer in 2011-12, which is why he was granted a two-way deal by the organization.

He's nowhere near that level of performance this year. His shots per game has fallen to just 2.87 and his points per game is a modest 0.6. The problem with Kolanos is that he brings no other notable skills to the party. If he isn't scoring, he's more or less a liability because he's slow and lost behind his own blueline.

The Opposition

Grand Rapids is led by a number of high-end Red Wings prospects, including Gustav Nyquist (23 points), Tomas Tatar (21 points) and Brendan Smith (13 points).

  • Tatar - Andersson - Nyquist
  • Hoggan - Ferraro - Pare
  • Callahan - Sheahan - Glendening
  • Jurco - Grant - Nestrasil

  • Paetsch - Smith
  • Lashoff - Billins
  • Evans - Alquist

  • Mrazek

Other semi-famous names on this roster are Riley Sheahan (more for being superdrunk than being a hockey player) and Petr Mrazek, the flamboyant goalie for the surprise Czech world junior team last year in Calgary. Landon Ferraro is also the son of former player and now TSN employee Ray Ferraro. He had a tough time finding his legs in the AHL last year (20 points in 56 games) but has managed 17 points in 25 games so far, which is a big step forward.

On the back-end, Lashoff and Paetsch are former NHLers while Smith is a good bet to make the Red Wings full time whenever hockey returns. It's a farily strong line-up overall.

Sum It Up

The Heat will be looking to break out of the doldrums and finally put a few pucks in the net tonight, while the Griffins are fighting to take over one of the top two spots in the conference. Right now there's no easy opponents for Abbotsford and Grand Rapids is better than most, so tonight would be a good time to break out.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 05:26PM
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Anthem's are sung. Brust is back between the pipes.

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#2 Vowswithin
December 21 2012, 05:32PM
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We could use a win tonight

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#3 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 05:45PM
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I'm watching this one, just bought it. Still zip zip.

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#6 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 06:00PM
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And no McCarthy either. Ward made it sound like we won't see either of them before the new year (one more game). Ward also mentioned that his presence was really missing. He liked having an NHL vet on the backend.

They are doing a good job controlling the pace of the game, but a lot of those shots were from far out looking for second chances.

Brust should be the #1. He's the #1 in the league right now. I wonder if Ward doesn't just cut Irving at some point.

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#8 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 06:11PM
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I mean he's not even dressing most games, at this rate that contract will last all season.

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#10 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 06:35PM
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That was NOT as described my the Grand Rapids announcers. Byron with a hard check with his shoulder and they cry bloody murder.

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#11 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 06:39PM
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Grand Rapids scores... Brust not even in the net. They've only had 2 or 3 shots all period.

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#12 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 06:46PM
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Again. Not in the net challenging in the corner and they just blast it through. It was probably goaltender interference on that one, the player made contact when he stripped the puck from Barry. Still. This is such a bummer Heat team to watch. They have zero offense with all those shots.

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#15 thymebalm
December 21 2012, 07:04PM
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He stops them if he's in front of them generally.

If he doesn't fall off a cliff he should get a 2-way from some NHL club, if not the Flames.

Even in the opinion of the GRG play by play guys he's deserving of an NHL shot.

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#19 RexLibris
December 21 2012, 10:26PM
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I was going to give you guys a hard time, but I see that the Heat did manage to score one more goal than the Barons this evening. Oh well, maybe tomorrow?

What happened with Aliu? He seemed to really blow his top there, based on the box score.

As for Brust, it looks like the Flames currently have three contract spots available, and are likely to clear a few more by season's end if Kolanos, Irving and a few others are let go.

There is no reason he couldn't get a 2-way deal, depending on the level of interest from other teams.

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