Jimmy Howard (left) and Daniel Larsson
This Week’s Games
Fri., Jan. 30 - Rochester Americans at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 31 - Rochester Americans at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 21 - Toronto Marlies 2 at GRIFFINS 3 OT - 26-9-6-3, 61 pts. (2nd, North Division)
Fri., Jan. 23 - Quad City Flames 1 at GRIFFINS 2 SO - 27-9-6-3, 63 pts. (2nd)
Sat., Jan. 24 - Quad City Flames 0 at GRIFFINS 1 SO - 28-9-6-3, 65 pts. (2nd)
2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications – DCU Center – Worcester, Mass.
Sun., Jan. 25 - AHL All-Star Skills Competition – PlanetUSA 18, Canada 12
Mon., Jan. 26 - AHL All-Star Game - 7 p.m. - Fox Sports Detroit PLUS
Keep Pushin’ On: Sitting at 28-9-6-3 during the AHL All-Star break, the Griffins own the best winning percentage in the Western Conference (0.707) and the second-highest mark in the AHL (Hershey – 0.713). They sit just one point behind first-place Manitoba in the North Division race with one game in hand…The Griffins’ 65 points are tied with their 2005-06 brethren (31-12-1-2) for the team’s second-most ever through 46 games, behind only the 72-point 2000-01 IHL squad (34-8-4)…The Griffins are 15-2-3-0 in their last 20 games, their best run since suffering two regulation losses in a span of 23 games (19-2-1-1) from Dec. 18, 2005-Feb. 11, 2006…Grand Rapids has earned points in 25 of its last 29 games (20-4-4-1).
An American Revolution: The Griffins will look to make it a perfect sweep of their five-game homestand this weekend when they host a Friday-Saturday set against the Rochester Americans. On Friday, the first 1,500 fans will receive a Jakub Kindl jersey card presented by One Communications. It’s another Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs night, with $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts available from 6-8 p.m. while supplies last, as well as College Night and Library Night ($10 lower-bowl ticket with student I.D. or library card). On Saturday night, following an afternoon in which over 330 youth hockey players from 11 different associations will participate in the Griffins’ second annual Cross-Ice Hockey Jamboree, the Griffins will welcome special appearances by the ZOOperstars during each intermission. Fans can also bring their skates and take to the ice for the post-game open skate.
One Down, One to Go: Griffins defenseman Jakub Kindl and goaltender Daniel Larsson helped the PlanetUSA AHL All-Stars grab an 18-12 victory over the Canadian AHL All-Stars in Sunday’s skills competition portion of the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications. Kindl will start in tonight’s AHL All-Star Game at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., while Larsson will serve as a reserve. Fox Sports Detroit PLUS will televise the game live at 7 p.m. throughout Michigan. West Michigan providers include Comcast (ch. 901), Charter (ch. 88), AT&T U-verse (ch. 738), DIRECTV (ch. 664) and Dish Network (ch. 448).
Home Sweet Home: Grand Rapids’ 17-3-3-3 record at Van Andel Arena gives it the most home wins (tied), most home points (40) and fewest home regulation losses (3) in the AHL. The Griffins have points in 12 of their last 13 (10-1-2-0) and 20 of their last 22 (15-2-3-2) home games…This weekend’s games against Rochester will be the Griffins’ 27th and 28th games at Van Andel Arena already this season, leaving them with just 12 home games over their final 32 regular season contests.
Two-Headed Monster: Daniel Larsson (2.35 GAA) and Jimmy Howard (2.40) currently stand fifth and seventh, respectively, in the AHL’s goaltender rankings, putting them in position to possibly become the fourth goalie tandem in franchise history to both finish among the league’s top 10 netminders at season’s end. The feat has previously been accomplished in 2003-04 (Joey MacDonald 7th at 1.97 and Marc Lamothe 10th at 2.06), 1999-00 (Jani Hurme 3rd at 2.18 and Mike Fountain 7th at 2.50) and 1997-98 (Patrick Lalime T7th at 2.61 and Ian Gordon 10th at 2.68)…The pair has allowed only seven goals in the Griffins’ last five games (4-0-1-0), combining for a 1.34 GAA and a 0.957 save percentage with one shutout…In his last 11 games (Dec. 17-Jan. 24), Howard is 8-3-0 with three shutouts, a 1.63 GAA and a 0.942%, allowing two goals or less in each of his eight wins and rising dramatically from 36th to 7th in the AHL’s goaltender rankings...In his last 19 outings (Nov. 11-Jan. 23), Larsson is 13-3-1 with five shutouts, a 1.98 GAA and a 0.935%.
Working Overtime: Each of the Griffins’ last four games has gone to overtime (two SOW, one OTW, one OTL), equaling a franchise record that last occurred Jan. 14-21, 2004 (two OTW, two ties). In addition, the last three games at Van Andel Arena have been tied at the end of regulation (two SOW, one OTW), the first time that has happened since Dec. 31, 2005-Jan. 14, 2006 (OTW, SOW, OTL)…Fifteen Griffins games have been decided past regulation time already this season, just five shy of the record of 20 set in 2006-07.
You Don’t See That Every Day: Saturday’s 1-0 shootout win versus Quad City marked the Griffins’ first 0-0 score at the end of regulation since Feb. 24, 2007 (1-0 SOW vs. HAM) and just their seventh all time in 1,016 regular season games.
Cold-Blooded Killers: The Griffins have allowed only two opponent power play goals in their last 15 games, part of a 56-for-58 penalty killing stretch that has propelled them into first in the AHL’s rankings at 89.2%. Grand Rapids has allowed league lows of 23 power play goals overall and nine power play goals at home, while denying an AHL-high 92.8% of its visitors’ chances. In their previous 12 seasons, the Griffins have never finished higher than fourth (2000-01 IHL) or above 87.0% (2003-04) in penalty killing.
Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins today nominated goalie Jimmy Howard for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award for the second straight week, after he went 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 0.94 GAA and a 0.971 save percentage in two games. After making 24 saves in Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime win against Toronto, he stopped a career-high 43 shots, plus all five shootout attempts, to log his 13th career shutout and bag First Star honors in Saturday’s 1-0 triumph over Quad City.
Howard’s High Notes: During Saturday’s 1-0 shootout win over the Flames, Jimmy Howard passed current New York Islander Joey MacDonald to become the Griffins’ all-time leader in saves (now 4,275 to 4,251), marking the third statistical category in which Howard has claimed the top spot over MacDonald this season (167 to 164 in games played, and 9540:09 to 9208:13 in minutes played). Howard is also getting ready to pass his old teammate as the franchise’s leader in wins (88 to 82, six away) and shutouts (16 to 13, three away).
Rising Stars: Francis Pare and Justin Abdelkader have climbed into the Griffins’ top-10 single-season goals list for rookies and are on the verge of breaking into the top 10 for rookie points. Pare’s 15 goals and Abdelkader’s 14 tallies place them ninth and 10th, respectively, among the team’s first-year performers, and with 27 points apiece, they are each just four points shy of entering what’s currently a three-way tie for ninth in rookie points at 31.
Hay Fever: Darren Haydar has registered points in nine of the last 11 games (3-9—12) and in 16 of the last 21 contests (6-14—20). He has assumed the Griffins’ leads with 16 goals, 38 points, eight power play goals and four game-winning goals.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Justin Abdelkader – T12th rookie points (27); Darren Helm – T6th shorthanded goals (2); Jimmy Howard – 7th GAA (2.40), T5th shutouts (3); Jakub Kindl – 6th defenseman points (27), T2nd defenseman game-winning goals (2); Daniel Larsson – T1st shutouts (5), 5th GAA (2.35), 6th save percentage (0.924); Ryan Oulahen – T5th shorthanded assists (2); and Francis Pare – 5th rookie goals (15), T12th rookie points (27), 2nd rookie shooting percentage (15-69, 0.217), T5th rookie plus/minus (+13), T8th rookie game-winning goals (2).
Milestones: Ryan Oulahen has appeared in 275 games as a Griffin, just five behind fifth-place Dave Van Drunen on the franchise’s all-time list (280)…Darren Haydar tallied both his 500th and 501st professional points (187-314—501) during the Griffins’ 3-2 overtime win against Toronto on Wednesday. He also earned an assist during Friday’s 2-1 shootout win against Quad City and now stands just six points away from 500 in the AHL (186-308—494)…Francis Lemieux appeared in his 200th professional and AHL contest last Wednesday…Aaron Downey logged his 2,600th pro penalty minute on Saturday against the Flames.
Turning the Tide: After going 1-3 in their first three shootout decisions this season, the Griffins have since gone 3-0 to improve their record to 4-3 in games decided by the skills competition. Daniel Larsson (three saves) and Jimmy Howard (five saves) combined to stop all eight Quad City shooters in Grand Rapids’ weekend sweep of the Flames.
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand fifth in the AHL with an average attendance of 6,662, a year-to-date increase of 5.9% over the first 26 home contests of 2007-08 (6,289). The team’s total attendance of 173,209 is its highest through 26 home games in six years, since the 2002-03 campaign (176,984).
Blanks for the Memories: Daniel Larsson (five) and Jimmy Howard (three) have combined for an AHL-high eight shutouts this season – all within the last 36 games – to move within two of the franchise record of 10 set in 2003-04…The Griffins have shut out six of their last 18 opponents overall and five of their last 11 visitors to Van Andel Arena…Although the Flames lost Saturday’s game by a 1-0 shootout count, Quad City’s Matt Keetley was credited with a shutout after becoming the first opposing netminder this season to hold Grand Rapids without a goal during regulation and overtime.
Better Late Than Ever: The Griffins’ nine regulation losses remain the fewest in the AHL, but their nine defeats past regulation time (6 OTL, 3 SOL) are the second-most in the league, and their league-high six overtime losses have tied a franchise record set in 2006-07.
Fri., Jan. 30 vs. Rochester Americans (15-26-0-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 31 vs. Rochester Americans – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. (Fri.) and 6:35 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 19-15-1-1-0 Overall, 12-5-1-0-0 Home. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Third and fourth of six meetings overall, second and third of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers. Head Coach: Benoit Groulx (1st season). Notes: Grand Rapids outscored Rochester 9-1 in their first two meetings this season…Despite owning the AHL’s worst record in terms of either wins (15), points (34) or percentage (0.378), the Amerks boast the league’s second-ranked netminder in Mike Brodeur (2.16 GAA, 0.930%), whom the Griffins touched up for four goals in their 6-0 win at Rochester on Dec. 21…Former Griffin Randall Gelech has three points (1-2—3) in 22 games for the Americans…Rochester ranks last in penalty killing (79.1%) and goals per game (2.09), and next-to-last on the power play (11.7%) and in goals allowed (3.36).