GRAND RAPIDS, Mich --
Having already clinched the playoffs, the Grand Rapids Griffins still have a lot to play for with three games left; A division championship and home ice advantage in the playoffs.
"You want to finish strong, you want to go into the playoffs on a high note," says Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan. "We're still battling for the highest position we can get and to get home ice."
"We want to win them all, because we want to win home ice advantage," says forward Andy Miele. "We know it's not completely in our hands to do that, but we're going to do anything we can to set ourselves up as best as possible."
The Griffins are in 1st place in the Midwest Division, one point ahead of Rockford and just two points behind Utica for 1st place in the Western Conference. Last year at this point, the Griffins were in a similar position and failed to capitalize.
"We haven't spoken about it yet, but I'll remind the guys that we were in this position to earn a division title and didn't get it in the last weekend of the year," said Griffins coach Jeff Blashill. "Our focus is really this year, but there are lessons to be learned from the past and that certainly is one of them. It wasn't that our guys came in not ready, but you want to really make sure you sieze the moment and finish as high as you can."
While keeping the focus on their own playoff push, the Griffins are also keeping a close eye on how the Red Wings will be doing in the playoffs, especially now that many former Griffins players are with the Red Wings, including Petr Mrazek, who earned the start in net for game one.
"That's awesome, you know, Mrazek is a great goalie," said Miele. "He's so confident in net, I think it's going to be huge for him in the playoffs."
"I'm proud of all those guys that have gone on," says Blashill. "I really enjoy watching guys improve and get an opportunity to succeed at the next level. You know, to see Landon (Ferraro) score his first goal and Petr (Mrazek) has done a good job and earned the start in game one. I think it's good for him and I'm certainly hopeful that they can put their best foot forward. I think they will and I'm real proud of all of them."