MONTREAL – A balanced attack was one of the Bulldogs’ strengths throughout the regular season, boasting nine double-digit goal-scorers. With scoring a much tougher go come playoff time, that depth has helped the Habs’ AHL club get back into their first round series against the Grand Rapids Griffins.
After scoring just four goals in the first two games to head into Grand Rapids trailing 2-0, interim head coach Ron Wilson tweaked his lineup for Monday’s Game 3. But it wasn’t his primary offensive forces that needed some adjustment; rather, the change came on his shutdown line, which saw Ryan White
replace J.T. Wyman on the right side of Kyle Chipchura and Ryan Russell. The trio proved his decision was the right one, accounting for three of the Bulldogs’ five markers, to lead the team to a 5-4 win.
Chipchura is no stranger to elevating his play when it counts. The Hamilton captain, who was a plus-four in Monday’s outing, had 13 points in 22 games as an AHL postseason rookie in 2006-07, a run that culminated in a Calder Cup Championship. But his experience began earlier than two seasons ago. As captain of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, Chipchura notched 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 20 contests in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
Like his captain, Russell also enjoyed a title run in his freshman campaign, recording seven points in 15 games en route to a Kelly Cup triumph last season with the Cincinnati Cyclones. While it was his first championship, the second-year pro had a taste of the postseason in each of his four years of juniors, amassing 30 points in 29 games in his final three playoff appearances.
The apparent spark on the Bulldogs’ revamped defensive unit up front, White leads the team in scoring so far, with three points in as many games, along with a plus-3 differential. His experience in hockey’s second season has seen the Canadiens’ third round pick in 2006 increase his totals from year to year; White went from three points in 12 games in 2004-05 to 17 in 16 games just 12 months ago.
The trio, along with the rest of their teammates, aim to even up their series tonight in Game 4 in Grand Rapids.