04/29/2009 6:14 AM
#1 MANITOBA MOOSE vs.
#3 GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS
2009 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs * North Division Finals * Best of Seven
* If necessary. All times Eastern and subject to change. All games on Newsradio WOOD 1300.
Déjà Vu All Over Again: Grand Rapids and Manitoba will square off in the playoffs for the third time in the last four years. Both prior meetings required all seven games for the higher-seeded team to advance, with the Moose winning the 2007 North Division Semifinals and the Griffins prevailing in the 2006 North Division Finals.
Get Your Tickets: Tickets for Games 3 and 4 at Van Andel Arena, the first of which are included in Griffins full season ticket packages (Game D), may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations (including Meijer stores), by phone at (800) 585-3737, or through griffinshockey.com/playoffs. Fans can also purchase a “Playoff 4-Pack” that includes four lower-bowl tickets to any home game during the Manitoba series, plus a limited-edition Darren McCarty figurine, for either $52 (Nets and Corners) or $72 (center ice Club section). To purchase, call the Griffins at (800) 2-HOCKEY or visit griffinshockey.com/playoffs.
For the Record: Over their 13-year-old rivalry with the Moose, the Griffins show a playoff record of 7-7 (4-3 home, 3-4 road) and a regular season record of 39-22-1-0-7 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) (21-9-1-0-5 home, 18-13-0-0-2 road). Grand Rapids earned a 2-2-0-0 record in four meetings with Manitoba this season, finishing the series with 1-1-0-0 marks at both Van Andel Arena and the MTS Centre.
Playing the Underdog: After enjoying home-ice advantage as the higher seed in 10 consecutive playoff series from 2001-2006, the Griffins are playing their third straight series as the underdog. Their triumph over Hamilton marked their first series win in five tries all time as the lower-seeded team.
Playoff Facts and Figures: The Griffins are in the playoffs for the 10th time in 13 seasons and the first time since 2007. They’ve advanced to the division finals for the first time since 2006…Grand Rapids has won seven of 13 best-of-seven playoff series in its history and eight of 17 total playoff series…The Griffins own an all-time mark of 45-43 during the postseason (20-24 at home, 25-19 on the road)…Ville Leino is already 13th all time on the club in playoff scoring with 13 points in just six games. With Darren Haydar (T19th with 10 points in six games), they are the only players in the top 20 who have played fewer than 15 postseason games for the club…The Griffins and Moose have played 14 postseason games over the last four years. Grand Rapids is 7-0 when scoring two or more goals and 0-7 when scoring fewer than two goals…Grand Rapids’ season will extend into May for the sixth time in the team’s 13-year history…In the 2007 North Division Semifinals, fourth-seeded Grand Rapids built a 3-2 lead over division champion Manitoba heading back to Games 6 and 7 at Winnipeg’s MTS Centre, but the Moose claimed a pair of home-ice wins to advance.
In Good Company: The Griffins were one of four lower seeds (Houston, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Worcester) to win their first-round series, the most in a Calder Cup Playoff since there were five upsets in the first round of the 2005 postseason. Also, with a 3-0 record at Hamilton, Grand Rapids joined four other teams who went undefeated on the road during the first round: 3-0 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and 2-0 Hershey, Milwaukee and Providence.
Off on the Right Foot: A strong start has been crucial to the Griffins in their best-of-seven playoff history. They went on to win all four series in which they’ve won Game 1 but are just 3-6 all time in series when falling in the opener.
Three Amigos: Linemates Ville Leino (3-10—13), Darren Haydar (4-6—10) and Justin Abdelkader (6-2—8) rank first, second and fourth (tied), respectively, in AHL playoff scoring. Abdelkader’s six goals and Leino’s 10 assists each rank first in the Calder Cup Playoffs, while Haydar also places among the best with four goals (T4th) and six assists (T3rd). In addition, Leino and Haydar are tied for the AHL lead at plus-five. The trio has combined for 13 goals, 18 assists, 31 points and a plus-14 rating, while Grand Rapids’ 16 other skaters have combined for nine goals, 21 assists, 30 points and a plus-six rating.
Impressive Resume: Two-time Calder Cup champion Darren Haydar has now been on the winning side in 14 of the last 17 AHL playoff series he’s participated in. His team reached at least the conference finals in each of the previous three years and was eliminated before the conference finals only once in the last five years. Haydar, who captained Chicago to the Calder Cup last season and won his first AHL championship with Milwaukee in 2004, is the AHL’s all-time playoff leader with 59 goals, 75 assists and 134 points, while his 101 career Calder Cup Playoff games rank 12th.
A League of Their Own: Justin Abdelkader’s six goals against Hamilton set a franchise record for a single playoff round, breaking the mark of five accomplished by several players, most recently David Oliver in the 2001 IHL Eastern Conference Finals versus Orlando. In addition, his four-game goal streak (April 17-22) fell one game shy of the franchise playoff record held by Stacy Roest…Ville Leino’s 10 assists tied the Griffins’ single-series mark set by Jiri Hudler in the 2006 North Division Finals against Manitoba, while his 13 points fell one short of the standard of 14 set by Hudler against the Moose. He has assists in all six playoff games thus far, setting a franchise playoff record for longest assist streak (five by Jiri Hudler and Travis Richards), and he’s within one game of tying the postseason record for longest point streak (seven by Hudler and Roest).
Stepping Up: During the final two games of the North Division Semifinals against Hamilton, Jimmy Howard went 2-0 with a 1.00 GAA and a 0.947 save percentage. Sunday’s Game 6 marked the first time in his career that Howard was the winning goalie in a decisive playoff game. Howard, the Griffins’ career leader among goaltenders with 26 playoff appearances and 12 wins, was spectacular in Grand Rapids’ 4-3 loss to Manitoba in the 2007 North Division Semifinals, posting a 1.93 GAA and a 0.927 save percentage. In 14 career playoff games against the Moose, he is 6-7 with a 2.71 GAA and a 0.908 save percentage.
Young Blood: Although he has only a dozen pro games on his resume, 18-year-old defenseman Brian Lashoff has been a valuable addition to the Griffins’ blue line. His four points (1-3—4) during the playoffs tie for sixth among league rookies and third among defensemen, while his four power-play points lead all AHL blueliners.
Stats R Us: The Griffins converted 22.6% (7-for-31) of their power play chances in the first round, improving upon a regular-season percentage of 20.0 that placed sixth in the AHL…Grand Rapids killed all nine Bulldogs power plays on the road, a key factor as the Griffins swept three road games in a playoff series for the first time since 2006 (North Division Semifinals vs. Toronto) and just the third time ever…The Griffins outscored Hamilton 11-8 in the first and second periods combined and 11-6 in the third period alone…Grand Rapids has averaged 3.67 goals per game, tops in the Calder Cup Playoffs…The Griffins lead the league with an average of only 22.83 shots allowed per playoff game.
First-Round Notables: Ville Leino’s four-point performance (1-3—4) in Game 6 fell one shy of the franchise record for most points in a playoff game, held by four players…Grand Rapids set a franchise playoff record by allowing just 15 shots on Jimmy Howard in Game 5…In Game 4, the Griffins lost a game in which they held a three-goal lead for the first time in their playoff history, as they watched a 3-0 cushion with under 12 minutes remaining turn into a 4-3 overtime defeat…By assisting on Darren McCarty’s first-period goal in Game 3, Darren Haydar broke Willie Marshall’s Calder Cup Playoff record with the 72nd assist of his storied postseason career…The Griffins scored three third-period goals to rally for a 3-1 win at Hamilton in Game 2.
For What It’s Worth: The Griffins’ three-game attendance of 12,568 (4,189 avg.) during the first round marked an increase of 32 percent over their North Division Semifinal series against Manitoba in 2007.
Who’s Next?: The winner of this series will advance to the Western Conference Finals to face either West Division champion Milwaukee (49-22-3-6), which swept Rockford in round one, or Houston (38-31-2-9), which beat Peoria in seven games. During the regular season, Grand Rapids went 2-5-1-0 against the Admirals and 1-1-0-0 versus the Aeros, while Manitoba compiled marks of 2-2-0-0 against Milwaukee and 4-0-0-0 versus Houston.
The Coaches: In his first season behind the team’s bench, Curt Fraser led the Griffins to their first playoff series win since 2006, after posting his seventh 40-win campaign in as many seasons as a head coach at the Triple-A level (IHL Milwaukee 1992-94 and IHL Orlando 1995-99). Fraser led the Solar Bears to the Turner Cup Finals in both 1996 – as an expansion team – and 1999, and he orchestrated a first-round playoff triumph over Grand Rapids in 1997, ending the Griffins’ inaugural season. His Orlando teams won eight of 12 playoff series and posted a 17-4 record in elimination games, while his 1998-99 club became the first team in IHL history to overcome a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series, defeating Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Fraser’s last playoff experience came as an assistant coach with the 2003-04 New York Islanders, who lost 4-1 to eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals…Manitoba’s Scott Arniel, who played 222 games with the franchise as a player (1996-99), won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach for 2008-09. He’s guided the Moose to playoff berths in each of his three seasons behind the bench, including a regular season championship this season and a North Division title in 2006-07.
The Stories: The clash between Grand Rapids and Manitoba presents numerous storylines:
Regular Season Series Notes: At the conclusion of play on Feb. 7, the Griffins and Moose were tied atop the North Division with 72 points apiece. Manitoba went 16-9-1-2 (35 pts.) down the stretch to finish in first place, while Grand Rapids went 12-15-0-2 (26 pts.) to finish in third…The Moose’s top-ranked defense allowed 17 goals to the Griffins in their four meetings (4.25 avg.) but limited their other opponents to 171 goals in 76 games (2.25 avg.)…Manitoba’s Jason Krog led all players with five goals and seven points during the four-game regular season series with Grand Rapids. His three-goal performance on Jan. 16 was one of a record-tying six hat tricks yielded by the Griffins this season…Cory Emmerton’s three goals paced the Griffins in the series, while he and Darren Haydar (0-5—5) tied for the lead with five points apiece…Cory Schneider finished the season with a 4.81 GAA and a 0.860 save percentage in two games against Grand Rapids, and a 1.92 GAA and a 0.931 save percentage in 38 games against the rest of the AHL…On Jan. 16 at Van Andel Arena, the Moose rode four unanswered first-period goals to a 6-4 victory that broke a tie with the Griffins for first place in the North Division and snapped Grand Rapids’ nine-game point streak on home ice (7-0-2-0). In the loss, Grand Rapids set a franchise record by holding the opponent’s power play scoreless for a 10th consecutive game…The Griffins’ 5-1 home win on Feb. 20 broke the Moose’s eight-game point streak and ended their 14-game road point streak one game shy of the AHL record…The Griffins went 6-for-20 (30%) on the power play against Manitoba this season, scoring at least one goal with the advantage in all four games, while the Moose went 2-for-20 (10%), going 0-for-14 over the final three meetings.
2008-09 Griffins vs. Moose
Griffins Records: 2-2-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 in Grand Rapids, 1-1-0-0 in Winnipeg
Dec. 12 – Griffins 6, Moose 5 – MTS Centre
Dec. 13 – Moose 4, Griffins 2 – MTS Centre
Jan. 16 – Moose 6, Griffins 4 – Van Andel Arena
Feb. 20 – Griffins 5, Moose 1 – Van Andel Arena
Tale of the Tape: Here’s how the two rivals stacked up in key categories during the regular season:
Tell Me What It Takes: Twelve players and coaches for the Griffins have won major championships in North America at the pro, college or major junior level. Aaron Downey (Calder Cup – 1999 Providence), Darren Helm and Darren McCarty (first three Stanley Cups in 2002, 1998 and 1997 with Detroit) had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup as members of the 2008 Detroit Red Wings, while Justin Abdelkader (NCAA Championship – 2007 Michigan State, USHL Clark Cup – 2005 Cedar Rapids), Jonathan Ericsson, Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl and Mattias Ritola served as “black aces” for the team during its championship run. Meanwhile, Darren Haydar led the Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup last spring, giving him his second AHL title (2004 Milwaukee). Other cup winners include assistant coach Jim Paek (Stanley Cup – 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh, IHL Turner Cup – 1989 Muskegon and 1999 Houston), Francis Lemieux (Calder Cup – 2007 Hamilton) and Evan McGrath (CHL Memorial Cup – 2003 Kitchener).
Playoff Roster: Thirty players make up the Griffins’ roster for the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs: goaltenders Jimmy Howard, Daniel Larsson and Jordan Pearce; defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (currently with Detroit), Tom Galvin, Jason Jozsa, Jakub Kindl, Sergei Kolosov, Brian Lashoff, Brett Peterson, Logan Pyett and Garrett Stafford; and forwards Justin Abdelkader, Joakim Andersson, Dan Charleston, Aaron Downey, Cory Emmerton, Aaron Gagnon, Darren Haydar, Darren Helm (currently with Detroit), Ville Leino, Francis Lemieux, Darren McCarty, Evan McGrath, Jan Mursak, Ryan Oulahen (season-ending injury), Francis Pare, Mattias Ritola, Jamie Tardif and Mike Walsh.
Last Men Standing: Only eight players from the Griffins’ playoff roster participated in the team’s 4-3 loss to Manitoba in the 2007 North Division Semifinals: goaltender Jimmy Howard (3-4, 1.93 GAA, 0.927% in 7 GP); defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (0-0—0 in 7 GP) and Jakub Kindl (0-2—2 in 7 GP); and forwards Cory Emmerton (0-0—0 in 2 GP), Evan McGrath (0-0—0 in 7 GP), Jan Mursak (0-2—2 in 7 GP), Ryan Oulahen (0-2—2 in 7 GP) and Jamie Tardif (0-0—0 in 2 GP).
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