This Week’s Games
Tue., Dec. 15 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Dec. 18 - GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Dec. 19 - GRIFFINS at Texas Stars - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Dec. 20 - GRIFFINS at Houston Aeros - 5:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Dec. 9 -San Antonio Rampage 2 at GRIFFINS 4 - 15-9-0-0, 30 pts. (5th, North Division)
Fri., Dec. 11 - Lake Erie Monsters 3 at GRIFFINS 4 SO - 16-9-0-0, 32 pts. (5th)
Sat., Dec. 12 - Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 1 - 16-10-0-0, 32 pts. (5th)
Sun., Dec. 13 - GRIFFINS 7 at Toronto Marlies 2 - 17-10-0-0, 34 pts. (T4th)
Punchin’ the Clock: The Griffins made it through their first four-in-five of the season with flying colors last week, going 3-1 and capping off the grueling stretch with a dominant 7-2 win on Sunday in Toronto, against a Marlies team that had played only once (Fri.) in the previous seven days. There is no rest for Grand Rapids’ weary, however, as the team will finish an eight-in-12 run with four games this week. The trip begins Tuesday in Peoria and concludes with a Friday-Saturday-Sunday swing through San Antonio, Austin (Texas Stars) and Houston.
Upward Mobility: Grand Rapids’ 0.630 winning percentage ranks third in the North Division, fourth in the Western Conference and sixth in the AHL. They’ve climbed into a tie for fourth place with Abbotsford (on whom they have five games in hand) at 34 points and are within five points of first-place Rochester, while sitting two points behind third-place Manitoba and three behind second-place Hamilton.
You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello: The Griffins on Tuesday will bid a temporary farewell to rookie sensation Tomas Tatar, who will join the Slovakian National Junior Team in preparation for the 2010 World Junior Championship, which will take place in Saskatchewan from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. Tatar, the AHL’s youngest player at just 19, ranks among the league’s top rookies with eight goals (T5th), 16 points (15th), a plus-11 rating (5th), three game-winning goals (T2nd) and a 0.200 shooting percentage (4th). He led Slovakia to a fourth-place finish at last year’s WJC, leading his team and tying for fourth overall in the tournament with 11 points (7-4—11) and placing second overall with seven goals…Veteran center Michael Nylander is expected to return to the Griffins’ lineup on Tuesday in Peoria, after being assigned by the Washington Capitals on Sunday. Nylander, 37, made a significant impact with the Griffins during a two-week conditioning stint (Oct. 21-Nov. 4) earlier this season, contributing one goal, five power-play assists and a plus-one rating in five appearances. The Griffins converted 30.3% of their power play opportunities (10-of-33) and posted a 5-0 record with Nylander in their lineup, compared to a 17.3% success rate (14-for-81) and an 11-10 mark in their other 21 games. The native of Stockholm, Sweden, has played in 920 NHL games for Washington, the New York Rangers, Boston, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Calgary and Hartford during his 19-year career, totaling 679 points (209-470—679) and 468 penalty minutes. Nylander has yet to play in the NHL this season after totaling 33 points (9-24—33) and 32 PIM in 72 games with the Capitals last year.
Newbury Recalled by Detroit: The Detroit Red Wings today recalled center Kris Newbury from the Griffins. After tying his season high with three points (1-2—3) on Sunday against his former Toronto Marlies teammates, the 27-year-old Newbury ranks among the Griffins’ leaders with seven goals (T4th), 12 assists (T1st), 19 points (T1st) and 95 penalty minutes (1st) through 27 games. His seven-game assist streak from Oct. 25-Nov. 13 continues to stand as the AHL’s longest this season. A native of Brampton, Ontario, Newbury makes his return to the NHL after registering six points (3-3—6) and 60 PIM in 44 contests with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2006-09. Newbury is expected to become the 108th former Griffin to play in the NHL and make his Red Wings debut tonight when Detroit hosts the Phoenix Coyotes at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit.
AHL Player of the Week: Right wing Francis Pare was named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week today, after registering three goals, six points and a plus-eight rating in four games last week. He broke a 21-game goal drought by scoring on a penalty shot to spark Wednesday’s 4-2 win over San Antonio, adding an assist and grabbing first star honors. Pare earned the same accolades on Friday after netting another goal in a 4-3 shootout win over Lake Erie, then was named third star on Sunday after tying a career high with three points (1-2—3) and finishing plus-four in a 7-2 triumph at Toronto. Pare joins current Detroit Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard as the only Griffins players to receive two AHL player of the week awards, following his selection nearly one year ago (Dec. 21, 2008).
Crime Doesn’t Pay: Francis Pare’s successful penalty shot on Wednesday was the first for a Griffin since Ryan Oulahen beat Peoria’s Marek Schwartz on Nov. 8, 2008 at Van Andel Arena. It was the second attempt for Grand Rapids this season, as Mattias Ritola failed to score on Oct. 18 in San Antonio.
Doin’ Time: On Saturday, Kris Newbury’s 29 penalty minutes during the second period matched a Griffins all-time high for PIM in a single frame, set by Kyle Quincey (3/26/08 vs. Lake Erie, 2nd) and Darryl Bootland (4/9/06 at Rochester, 1st; 1/23/04 vs. San Antonio, 3rd). Quincey also set the individual team record for PIM in a game during his outing against Lake Erie, with 34.
Out of Balance: Grand Rapids has played only 11 of its 27 games within the North Division, compared to 16 games against West Division foes. Its 8-3-0-0 record (0.727) against its North Division rivals is second only to Rochester’s 9-3-1-0 mark (0.731).
What Sophomore Slump?: Jan Mursak’s three-game goal streak was snapped on Saturday, but he lit the lamp again as part of a career-high three-point night on Sunday in Toronto, giving him goals in four of the last five games and five of the last seven contests. With points in nine of the last 12 games (6-6—12) and 17 points (10-7—17) for the season, Mursak has already crushed his rookie output from 2008-09 (2-7—9) and ranks among the Griffins’ leaders in goals (2nd) and points (4th).
Who Else is Hot?: Fresh off a career-high three-game point streak (Dec. 4-9), Logan Pyett enjoyed the first two-goal game of his career on Sunday in Toronto…Kris Newbury tied his season high with three points (1-2—3) on Sunday against his former Marlies teammates…Patrick Rissmiller, who has points in four of the last five games (2-4—6), has gone scoreless in consecutive games only once since joining Grand Rapids on Oct. 23 and now ranks third on the club in scoring (6-12—18)…Jeremy Williams is riding a season-high four-game point streak (2-3—5), one shy of his career high…Andy Delmore has assists in four of the last five games (0-4—4)…Tomas Tatar has lit the lamp in consecutive games (2-1—3).
Save the Best for Last: The Griffins have been a dynamic third-period team this season, outscoring their opposition by a 32-22 margin, posting a perfect 10-0 mark when leading after 40 minutes (2nd-best in AHL), and rallying for four victories when trailing after two periods (T1st in AHL).
We Go to Extremes: The Griffins rank among the AHL’s best in goals scored per game (3rd at 3.33) and power play (T4th at 20.0%), but they troll the depths in penalty killing (T24th at 80.3%). The penalty killing unit has turned things around of late, however, stifling the opposition in consecutive road games for the first time this season and allowing only two power play goals over their last seven contests overall (25-for-27, 92.6%).
Milestones: Jeremy Williams reached numerous milestones last week, including his 200th AHL point (Sun.), 100th AHL assist (Sun.), 100th pro assist (Sat.) and 100th AHL goal (Wed.). Patrick Rissmiller, meanwhile, recorded his 200th pro assist (Sun.) and 300th pro point (Wed.).
Tue., Dec. 15 at Peoria Rivermen (15-10-1-2) – Carver Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 14-11-1-1 Overall, 8-6-0-0 Road. Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Road. Fourth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Davis Payne (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins allowed Peoria just a single goal in each of their first three meetings this season, all Grand Rapids wins…In their other 25 games, the Rivermen have averaged 3.32 goals…Peoria’s three-game winning streak has moved it into a tie for second place in the West Division…Rivermen defenseman Jonas Junland ranks third among AHL blueliners with 22 points (6-16—22).
Fri., Dec. 18 at San Antonio Rampage (9-14-2-1) – AT&T Center – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 29-12-1-1-0 Overall, 14-7-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Road. Fourth of six meetings overall, third and final in San Antonio. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Ray Edwards (1st season). Notes: Since scoring seven goals in consecutive home wins against the Griffins (Oct. 17-18) to improve to 6-1-1-0, San Antonio has gone 3-13-1-1 in its last 18 games…The Rampage have lost four in a row, including a 4-2 defeat last Wednesday that marked their seventh straight setback at Van Andel Arena…The Griffins rank third in the AHL in scoring (3.33 per game) while San Antonio stands 26th in goals allowed (3.27).
Sat., Dec. 19 at Texas Stars (19-7-2-2) – Cedar Park Center – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series/Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Third of six meetings overall, second of three in Cedar Park. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Glen Gulutzan (1st season). Notes: The Griffins dropped their first-ever meeting against Texas by a 2-0 count in Austin on Oct. 15, the only time they’ve been shut out this season…Aaron Gagnon, who tallied 19 points (8-11—19) in 61 games with Grand Rapids last season, is tied for the Stars’ scoring lead with 18 points (5-13—18) through just 29 games…Texas netminder Brent Krahn leads the AHL with a 1.41 GAA and a 0.958 save percentage.
Sun., Dec. 20 at Houston Aeros (13-12-2-1) – Toyota Center – 5:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 4:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 32-24-6-2-6 Overall, 13-14-4-1-3 Road. Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Third of six meetings overall, first of three in Houston. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Kevin Constantine (3rd season). Notes: Of the four current AHL head coaches with NHL head coaching experience, Houston’s Kevin Constantine (378 NHL games) and the Griffins’ Curt Fraser (279) are the most tenured…Grand Rapids limited the Aeros to just one goal during their two-game set at Van Andel Arena on Oct. 29-30, with Daniel Larsson earning a 34-save shutout for a 2-0 win in that first meeting…Houston owns the AHL’s most anemic offense, averaging only 2.32 goals per game, but the Aeros’ average of 2.18 goals allowed ranks fourth on the circuit.