SERIES PREVIEW: GRIFFINS VS. BARONS
By Cassie Gage,
Oklahoma City – The Oklahoma City Barons will take on the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Western Conference Finals, beginning Friday in Grand Rapids.
Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-7 Western Conference Finals are scheduled in Grand Rapids on Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25 at 6 p.m. (CT). The series shifts to Oklahoma City for games on Wednesday, May 29, Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1. Should Games 6 and 7 be necessary, they would be played in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, June 4 and Wednesday, June 5. A complete schedule is listed below:
Game 1 May 24 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.
Game 2 May 25 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.
Game 3 May 29 Grand Rapids@ Oklahoma City 7 p.m.
Game 4 May 31 Grand Rapids @ Oklahoma City 7 p.m.
*Game 5 June 1 Grand Rapids @ Oklahoma City 7 p.m.
*Game 6 June 4 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.
*Game 7 June 5 Oklahoma City @ Grand Rapids 6 p.m.
* if necessary all times listed as CDT
During the Regular Season
Oklahoma City and Grand Rapids met four times during the regular season, with the home team winning each game. Oklahoma City owned a 2-1-0-1 advantage in the series. This marks the first postseason meeting between the two teams.
Oklahoma City was led by Jonathan Cheechoo (4-1-5) and Mark Arcobello (1-4-5), who each had five points in the four meetings. The Griffins were led in scoring against Oklahoma City by Riley Sheahan’s seven points (2-5-7).
How They Got Here
Fifth-seeded Oklahoma City downed top-seeded Texas4-1 in the western conference semifinal, while the Griffins ousted the Toronto Marlies, 4-2. The Barons opened the Calder Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 series win over Charlotte, while Grand Rapids beat Houston 3-2.
Players to Watch
Mark Arcobello leads the AHL in playoff scoring with 15 points (9-6-15) and goals (9). Toni Rajala is sixth (3-10-13) in scoring and second in assists (10). Teemu Hartikainen also ranks in the top 10 in playoff scoring with 11 points, while Josh Green is the fourth Baron in the top 20 with 10 points in 11th place. Tomas Tatar is Grand Rapids’ leading scorer with 11 points (8-3-11). Jan Mursak, Landon Ferraro and Riley Sheahan are also in the top 20 in points. Tatar’s eight goals rank just behind Arcobello.
Toni Rajala (Oklahoma City) and Riley Sheahan (Grand Rapids) rank in the top 20 in points in the league. Rajala is sixth in points (3-10-13) and second in assists (10), while Sheahan is 20th in points (1-8-9). The Griffins have also relied on a rookie goaltender in Petr Mrazek who has a .906 save percentage in 11 games played. Barons rookie C.J. Stretch is fourth in rookie points (4-4-8) and second with four goals. Rookie defenseman Martin Marincin is fourth among playoff defensemen in points (1-5-6).
Oklahoma City goaltender Yann Danis leads goaltenders with 317 saves in the playoffs. Danis is seventh with a 2.19 goals against average, and he has the fourth-best saverage percentage in the playoffs at .935. Griffins rookie Petr Mrazek is also allowing 2.19 goals against with a .906 save percentage. Mrazek has played the most minutes of the playoff goaltenders with 657:16.
Oklahoma City has the seventh-best power play record of all playoff teams (18.6), while Grand Rapids is 11th with a 15.1 percent conversion. Oklahoma City was about even on the road and at home with the man advantage, scoring four power play goals at home and three on the road. The Griffins posted a 14.8 power play percentage at home and 15.4 on the road.
The Barons and Griffins are about even in overall penalty kill. Grand Rapids just edged Oklahoma City with a 81.8 penalty kill percentage to the Barons’ 81.4 percent. Oklahoma City posted a 78.9 percentage at home and 83.3 on the road. The Griffins have a home penalty kill percentage of 78.3 and an 85.7 on the road.
The top three playoff plus-minus numbers belong to Oklahoma City players. Randy Jones leads the league with a plus-14, while Mark Arcobello and Jonathan Cheechoo are a plus-11.
Tickets for Games 3 & 4 of the Western Conference Finals start at $11 and are on sale at 232-GOAL (4625).
Season Seat Holders that have already received their ticket books for the playoffs will use the ticket marked Round 3 Game A for the game on Wednesday, May 29, Round 3 Game B for the game on Friday, May 31 and Round 3 Game C for the game on Saturday, June 1.
All Barons playoff games can be heard on the Barons flagship station, 96.1 KXY and are also available on a pay-per-view basis via AHL Live.
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