This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 27 - GRIFFINS at Syracuse Crunch - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 28 - GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., March 1 - GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies - 4 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Feb. 18 - GRIFFINS 2 at Rochester Americans 1 SO - 32-13-6-5, 75 pts. (2nd, North Division)
Fri., Feb. 20 - Manitoba Moose 1 at GRIFFINS 5 - 33-13-6-5, 77 pts. (2nd)
Sat., Feb. 21 - Lake Erie Monsters 4 at GRIFFINS 2 - 33-14-6-5, 77 pts. (2nd)
Sun., Feb. 22 - San Antonio Rampage 4 at GRIFFINS 5 - 34-14-6-5, 79 pts. (2nd)
Flying High: The Griffins claimed three wins in five nights last week to pull within two points of first-place Manitoba in the ever-tightening race for both North Division and overall AHL supremacy. The Moose have a league-high 81 points, while Grand Rapids has 79 with one game currently in hand.
Hitting the Road: Grand Rapids will be on the road for 14 of its final 21 regular season contests, beginning with a three-in-three this Friday at Syracuse, Saturday at Lake Erie and Sunday at Toronto. The stretch run will include a franchise-record eight-game road trip (March 22-April 5).
Griffins Prevent Moose History: Last Friday, Darren Haydar’s four assists, Garrett Stafford’s three points and Cory Emmerton’s first two-goal game as a pro powered the Griffins to a 5-1 triumph over division-leading Manitoba, in the teams’ final regular season meeting. The victory, earned before a raucous capacity crowd of 10,834, broke the Moose’s eight-game point streak and ended their 14-game road point streak one game shy of the AHL record. Grand Rapids scored four goals during the second period, three of them coming in a span of just 1:55, resulting in an early shower for Cory Schneider, the AHL’s top-ranked netminder. Schneider has now allowed four or more goals in just two of his 27 games this season, both against the Griffins (Jan. 16). He owns a 4.81 GAA and a 0.860 save percentage in two games against Grand Rapids, and a 1.54 GAA and a 0.940 save percentage in 25 games against the rest of the league.
Missing in Action: Ville Leino and Darren Helm have missed the Griffins’ last 13 games and 11 games, respectively, while on recall to Detroit, while Jonathan Ericsson has sat out the last 11 games and 14 of the last 16 contests due to injury. Mattias Ritola returned to the lineup Sunday after missing three straight games and six of 10 contests, while Jakub Kindl and Francis Lemieux were sidelined due to various ailments.
Howard Returns: Jimmy Howard was assigned by Detroit on Sunday after receiving his first call up of the season last Friday. He backed up Ty Conklin during the Wings’ 5-2 home win over Anaheim that evening, and on Saturday made his first start for the Red Wings this season, stopping 24 of 28 shots during Detroit’s 5-2 loss at Minnesota. It marked Howard’s first NHL action in nearly a year (2/23/08 at VAN, 1-4 L). In nine career appearances with Detroit, he is 1-5-0 with a 2.76 goals against average and a 0.908 save percentage.
Mac’s Back: The Red Wings today assigned right wing Darren McCarty to the Griffins, following his activation from injured reserve and recovery from sports hernia surgery in January. McCarty, 36, has netted one goal and has 25 PIM through 13 appearances with the Wings this season. The four-time Stanley Cup champion has also played one game with the Griffins, scoring a shootout goal in Grand Rapids’ 3-2 loss to Manchester on Nov. 26. During the 2007-08 campaign, the Burnaby, British Columbia, native logged 13 games with the Griffins, registering 10 points (5-5—10) and 21 PIM. He scored a hat trick and tallied the only four-point night of his pro career during his home debut with Grand Rapids on Feb. 15, 2008. McCarty practiced with the Griffins today and is expected to be in the lineup this Friday when they visit Syracuse.
Leino Livin’ It Up in Detroit: Last Saturday, Ville Leino enjoyed his first two-point night (1-1—2) in the NHL during Detroit’s 5-2 loss at Minnesota. Since his recall to the Red Wings on Jan. 29, Leino has tallied points in six of the 10 games he has played with the parent club, totaling seven points (4-3—7) with a plus-five rating…Darren Helm was recalled on Feb. 3 and also remains with the Wings. He has one assist in 13 games with Detroit this season.
AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins on Monday nominated defenseman Garrett Stafford for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he contributed two goals, three assists and a plus-two rating in four games last week. After scoring the only shootout goal in Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Rochester, he scored a power play goal and assisted on the game-winning goal as part of a three-point, second-star effort in the big 5-1 win over Manitoba.
Youth Shall Serve: Justin Abdelkader ranks second on the Griffins with 19 goals and 41 points, totals that each tie for third among AHL rookies. He needs one goal to become the fifth Grand Rapids rookie to score 20 (Kevyn Adams - 22 in 1996-97; Chris Bala and Josh Langfeld - 21 in 2001-02; Glen Metropolit - 20 in 1997-98), while on Sunday, he became the fourth first-year Griffin to reach 40 points (Metropolit - 55 in 1997-98; Adams - 47 in 1996-97; Eric Himelfarb - 43 in 2004-05)…Francis Pare’s 35 points place ninth all-time among Griffins rookies and his 17 goals tie for seventh.
Get Busy: Sunday concluded the Griffins’ sixth 4-in-5 of the season and their sixth 3-in-3. Combined, Grand Rapids is 17-6-0-1 (0.729) this season when playing four times in five nights and 12-5-0-1 (0.694) when playing three times in as many nights. Grand Rapids will run the 3-in-3 gauntlet five times over its final 21 games.
Home Sweet Home: Grand Rapids’ 21-5-3-4 record at Van Andel Arena gives it the most home wins (tied), most home points (49) and fewest home regulation losses (tied) in the AHL. The Griffins have points in 17 of their last 20 (14-3-2-1) and 25 of their last 29 (19-4-3-3) home games.
Honor Roll: In his last three games with the Griffins, Jimmy Howard is 2-0-1 with a 1.90 GAA and a 0.947 save percentage…Logan Pyett has points in two straight contests (1-1—2) and in four of the last six games (2-2—4)…Garrett Stafford has points in four of the last five outings (3-3—6) and in eight of the last 11 contests (5-6—11)…Jan Mursak has points in three of the last five games (1-2—3)…Justin Abdelkader has five multi-point outings in his last 10 games (5-8—13) as well as points in eight of 11 appearances (5-9—14) since returning from a two-game stint with Detroit…Darren Haydar has points in three straight games (1-5—6), 20 of the last 24 contests (8-22—30) and 27 of the last 34 outings (11-27—38)…Francis Pare enjoyed his ninth multi-point outing on Saturday by earning a goal and an assist.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Justin Abdelkader – T3rd rookie goals (19), T3rd rookie points (41); Darren Haydar – T7th points (56), T13th goals (21), T14th assists (35), T8th power play goals (11), T12th power play assists (19); Darren Helm – T12th shorthanded goals (2); Jimmy Howard – T14th GAA (2.51), T12th save percentage (0.915), T16th wins (16), T7th shutouts (3); Jakub Kindl – 15th defenseman points (30), T5th defenseman game-winning goals (2); Daniel Larsson – T11th wins (18), T2nd shutouts (5); Francis Pare – T7th rookie goals (17), T12th rookie points (35), 9th rookie shooting percentage (0.181), 5th rookie plus/minus (+13); and Garrett Stafford – T7th defenseman points (32), T5th defenseman goals (10).
Howard’s High Notes: On Sunday against San Antonio, Jimmy Howard became the first netminder in Griffins history to log 10,000 minutes between the pipes. This season, he has passed current New York Islander Joey MacDonald to become the Griffins’ all-time leader in games played (175 to 164), minutes played (10023:13 to 9208:13) and saves (4,541 to 4,251), and he is getting ready to pass his old teammate as the franchise’s leader in wins (85 to 88) and shutouts (13 to 16).
Milestones: On Sunday, Ryan Oulahen appeared in his 288th game as a Griffin, just five shy of third-place Darryl Bootland (293) on the team’s all-time games played list. In addition, Oulahen has scored 48 career goals for Grand Rapids, putting him two away from becoming the 12th player in franchise history to reach 50 goals…Evan McGrath notched his 100th point as a pro with a goal on Friday (43-57—100), and Mike Walsh (40-58—98) and Jamie Tardif (45-52—97) are two and three points, respectively, away from that milestone.
Come One, Come All: The Griffins welcomed 26,381 fans to Van Andel Arena for their three games over the weekend (8,794 avg.), pushing them into third place in league attendance. Now with an average of 6,953 – a year-to-date increase of 4.9% over the first 33 home contests of 2007-08 (6,627) – the team’s total attendance of 229,455 is its highest through 33 home games in six years, since the 2002-03 campaign (232,560).
Fri., Feb. 27 at Syracuse Crunch (27-25-3-2) – Onondaga County War Memorial – 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:05 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 14-5-0-2 Overall, 6-3-0-1 Road. Season Series: 1-0-0-2 Overall, 0-0-0-1 Road. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Syracuse. NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets. Head Coach: Ross Yates (3rd season). Notes: The Griffins have allowed only one regulation-time goal in each of their three meetings with Syracuse this season…The fifth-place Crunch stand six points behind Toronto in the race for the North Division’s final playoff spot…Syracuse has a pair of 2-1 shootout victories over Grand Rapids this season, including their Feb. 13 meeting in New York…The Crunch rank second in the AHL in penalty minutes (24.63) while the Griffins stand last in the league at less than half that figure (12.08).
Sat., Feb. 28 at Lake Erie Monsters (24-29-1-5) – Quicken Loans Arena – 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Ohio at 7:30 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:05 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 9-5-1-1 Overall, 3-2-1-1 Road. Season Series: 3-2-1-0 Overall, 1-0-1-0 Road. Seventh of eight meetings overall, third of four in Cleveland. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Joe Sacco (2nd season). Notes: With their 4-2 win over the Griffins on Saturday, the Monsters became the first team this season to earn two regulation victories at Van Andel Arena…Despite Lake Erie’s sixth-place standing in the North Division – 11 points out of a playoff berth – Grand Rapids has led at the end of regulation in only two of their six meetings this season…With a league-high six shutouts to his credit, Monsters netminder Tyler Weiman ranks 10th in the AHL with a 2.44 GAA…Lake Erie’s power play stands last in the league at 11.3%.
Sun., March 1 at Toronto Marlies (29-21-2-5) – Ricoh Coliseum – 4 p.m.
TV: Rogers (Toronto) at 4 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 12-14-1-0 Overall, 5-9-0-0 Road. Season Series: 2-2-1-0 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Road. Sixth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Toronto. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (3rd season). Notes: Tim Stapleton has six goals in five games against Grand Rapids and 10 goals in 46 contests against the rest of the league…The Marlies have scored 15 goals in their last two meetings with the Griffins, the most ever allowed by Grand Rapids in consecutive games against an opponent…The Griffins swept three games at Ricoh Coliseum during the 2006 North Division Semifinals but are just 4-7 in their 11 regular season visits since, including 2-5 over the last two seasons…Toronto currently holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division.