Ask any Grand Rapids Griffins fan and what they would want to see is a top spot for their team in the Western Conference playoff seeding, and if things go right during the final push of the 2013 season, Griffins fans might just be watching their team sit in that top stop in the West come playoff time.
The Griffins are just four points away from eclipsing the 2011-2012 season total of 77 points, and still with over 18 games to play this season, a top spot in the West is certainly not out of reach. A playoff birth this season would mean that the Griffins would qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.
The toughest part for the Griffins will be final part of the season where they will spend 12 out of the final 18 games on the road, but the Griffins first year head coach Jeff Blashill says he won’t be looking too far ahead.
“We don’t look too far ahead, we got a game at home Wednesday against Chicago. It will be a big game, certainly for our division, they are only a few points behind us, but we are going to take the same approach we have taken all year and that is going out and paying attention to detail, come out with great effort. We have great leadership in our locker room, and I know they will come ready to play on Wednesday,” Blashill said.
This season the Griffins have been able to win at home and on the road, currently they have won four in a row and six out of their last seven games, and their very good power ranks 6th in the AHL with a 20.6% conversion rate.
“We had lots of opportunities on the power play, and when that happens over time if you shoot the puck and if you have a net presence you will score some goals and we scored early but we kept shooting it and that is a key, if you can keep shooting the puck you are going to have a chance to score every time,” Blashill said of his team’s power play that was 3 for 8 on their most recent win against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday March 10th.
The Griffins are coming off three straight 3 in 3 weekends and going down the stretch they will have two more 3 in 3 weekends near the end of the season. Blashill was happy of his teams most recent 3 in 3 where they had won all three:
“We have had lots of three in three’s, and it is our third weekend in a row for three in three’s so, we take the same approach, we want to make sure our effort levels are high, that we’re skating right from the start but we also want to make sure we manage our game, not give any easy chances up, the other team is always going to earn some chances be we got to make sure that we don’t give them anything easy.”
This season, the success on the ice has also seen success in attendance. The Griffins are fourth in the league in attendance and have sold out Van Andel Arena six times this season.
“It’s certainly great the way the team is playing, and that does inject enthusiasm with the fan base and create renewed energy within the front office, too,” Tim Gortsema, the Griffins senior vice president said of the teams most recent success.
Going into Wednesday nights game against Chicago, the Griffins are 19-10-2-1 on home ice.
As for top spot in the Western Conference. Coach Blashill is not concerned:
“I glance at the standings but I don’t know how far ahead we are of certain teams or anything like that, for me, it’s more a focus at getting a certain amount of points each five-game segment, and if we do that, I know we’ll have success at the end of the season.”