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Detroit Red Wings

Griffins Look To Get Somewhere They Haven’t Been in Five Years



Albert Johansson, Grand Rapids Griffins
Albert Johansson getting the job done for the Griffins this season

The Grand Rapids Griffins, a Detroit Red Wings’ affiliate, can clinch their first American Hockey League playoff appearance since 2019 if they beat the Cleveland Monsters Wednesday at Van Andel Arena.

The Griffins, winners of four of their last five, are 3-3 this season against the Monsters who are the Columbus Blue Jackets’ affiliate.

Coach Dan Watson’s Grand Rapids squad received major help Monday when the Red Wings reassigned Jonatan Berggren to the Griffins.  Berggren leads the Griffins with 48 points in 43 games.

Grand Rapids didn’t qualify for the playoffs in 2021-22 and 2022-23, and the AHL postseason was cancelled in 2019-20 and 2020-21 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

With 12 games remaining, the Griffins (31-18-7-4) are trying to qualify for the postseason for the 18th time in 28 seasons. They are 22 points above the playoff cutline. Grand Rapids has outscored opponents 74-39 in the third period this season and they have come from behind in the third period to win six times. Only two other AHL teams have done it more times this season.

Matt Luff has been hot of late with 10 points in his past 10 games. Marco Kasper, the Red Wings’ 2022 first round pick, has eight points in his past 12 games.

Strong defensive play has carried the Griffins this season. Since Dec. 27, Grand Rapids has only given up 2.47 goals per game. Overall this season, the Griffins rank ninth in GAA (2.83). Detroit prospects Wyatt Newpower (+9), Antti Tuomisto (+8) and Albert Johansson (+8) have  been leading the way in plus-minus.