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Calder Cup Round One Preview: Moose vs Griffins

A rivalry that has existed for 22 years going back to the IHL days will be reignited in 2018, as the Manitoba Moose take on the Grand Rapids Griffins in round one of the Calder Cup playoffs.

For the second straight season, the Griffins are the number two seed in the Central Division, and they rode that seed last year all the way to the Calder Cup. The Moose are in the playoffs for the first time since the team returned to Winnipeg in 2015-16.

The Season Series

Manitoba record vs Grand Rapids: 2-5-1

October 6 @ Grand Rapids: Moose 2 – 5 Griffins

October 7 @ Grand Rapids: Moose 7 – 2 Griffins

November 24 @ Grand Rapids: Moose 3 – 1 Griffins

January 8 @ Manitoba: Moose 2 – 3 Griffins (OT)

January 10 @ Manitoba: Moose 1 – 5 Griffins

February 7 @ Grand Rapids: Moose 2 – 4 Griffins

February 15 @ Manitoba: Moose 0 – 1 Griffins

February 17 @ Manitoba: Moose 0 – 5 Griffins

Top Scorers:

Manitoba: F Buddy Robinson – 8 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 5 PTS

Grand Rapids: F Evgeny Svechnikov – 6 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS

Goalies:

Manitoba:
Eric Comrie: 3 GP, 0-3-0, 13 GA, .857 SV%
Michael Hutchinson: 3 GP, 2-0-1, 6 GA, .945 SV%
Jamie Phillips: 2 GP, 0-2-0, 6 GA, .925 SV%

Grand Rapids:
Tom McCollum: 2 GP, 1-1-0, 8 GA, .864 SV%
Jared Coreau: 7 GP, 5-1-0, 2 SO, 9 GA, .955 SV%

Team Stats

Manitoba Stat Grand Rapids
4/32 = 12.5% Powerplay 5/34 = 14.7%
29/34 = 85.3% Penalty Kill 28/32 = 87.5%
17/8 = 2.13 Scoring 26/8 = 3.25
258/8 = 32.3 Shots/Game 281/8 = 35.1

Keys to the Series

  1. Traffic to the Net

The Moose averaged 32.3 shots per game in the season series, but if you take out a seven goal outburst on October 7, the Moose averaged just 1.42 goals/game through the rest of the season series.  Jared Coreau was 15th in the AHL in goals against average at 2.52, but posted a 5-1-0 record, including posting his only 2 shutouts of the season in the last two head to head meetings. Getting more traffic to the net and disrupting Coreau’s rhythm will be important if the Moose want to win this series.

  1. Home Cooking?

Due to the quirky playoff format, the Moose will have the opportunity to start the series with two games at home, however, both the Moose and Griffins have had more success on the road then at home. The Moose had the second most road points in the league, while the Griffins had the fourth most road points in the AHL. The Moose have the worst home record of any playoff team this season and will need to turn that around if the Moose want to get off to a good start.

  1. Quick Starts

Both teams have been quick starters in games this season.  When scoring the first goal of the game, the Moose and Griffins both had a .705 PT% (the Moose went 29-11-4, and the Griffins went 26-10-3).  With how good the starting goalies have been on the season, the first goal of the game could be vital in this series.

Series Prediction

The Moose had their best regular season since returning to Manitoba, while the Griffins are the defending Calder Cup champions.  While the Moose are starting to get healthy, the Griffins have been one of the best teams in the AHL over the last two months, and their momentum will be the difference in the series.  Griffins in 4 games.