02/08/2010 12:38 PM
Last Week’s Results
Within Striking Distance: Despite posting a 5-18-0-1 mark over the last eight weeks, the Griffins remarkably sit only seven points behind Lake Erie and the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. To claim that position, they’ll also need to climb over fifth-place Abbotsford, whom they trail by six points. The Griffins are currently tied with Toronto for sixth place at 45 points.
No Such Thing as a Sure Thing: The Griffins on Saturday suffered their first regulation loss this season when leading after two periods (12-1-0-0), as Houston scored twice in the third period to take a 3-2 win at Van Andel Arena. The only other game in Curt Fraser’s two-year tenure as head coach in which the Griffins did not earn a point when taking a lead into the third period came on April 10, 2009, when Hamilton scored twice to rally for a 3-2 victory in Grand Rapids. Over the last two seasons, the Griffins are 44-2-3-3 when leading after two periods.
See You in Vancouver: Defenseman Sergei Kolosov, who will play for Belarus at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, departed Grand Rapids on Sunday to join his Belarusian teammates at a training camp in Winnipeg. Under the guidance of current Griffins head coach Curt Fraser, Kolosov helped Belarus qualify for the Olympics thanks to a ninth-place finish at the 2008 World Championship in Canada. The team, which still includes 19 players who were coached by Fraser in that tournament, will make its first Olympic appearance since the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, when it earned a surprising fourth-place finish. Belarus will play a pair of exhibition games against Switzerland at the MTS Centre on Tuesday and Thursday before traveling to Vancouver. The team will compete in Group C at the Olympics, with preliminary round games scheduled against Finland (Wednesday, Feb. 17), Sweden (Friday, Feb. 19) and Germany (Saturday, Feb. 20). The qualification round (Feb. 23-24), semifinals (Feb. 26), Bronze Medal Game (Feb. 27) and Gold Medal Game (Feb. 28) will continue through the end of the month, meaning Kolosov could miss as many as 11 Griffins games during his absence. Kolosov will become just the third player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics as an active Griffin, joining Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). In the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, Kronwall became the first Griffins alumnus to earn an Olympic medal, winning gold thanks to Sweden’s victory over Finland in the championship game. Three of the other 11 men’s hockey teams will be counting on former Griffins in their medal quests. Kronwall (2003-06) and Stefan Liv (2006-07), who also won gold with Sweden in 2006, will look to repeat, while Slovakia’s Pavol Demitra (1996-97) and Tomas Kopecky (2002-06) and Finland’s Valtteri Filppula (2005-07) will try to dethrone the defending champs.
Welcome to the Club: The Red Wings today assigned defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to the Griffins. Tollefsen, 25, was acquired by the Red Wings from Philadelphia on Saturday along with the Flyers’ fifth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, in a trade for former Griffins forward Ville Leino. Various injuries this season have limited him to just 18 games with the Flyers, during which time he contributed two assists, 23 penalty minutes and a plus-one rating. The Oslo, Norway, native signed with Philadelphia last summer after spending three full seasons with Columbus, which selected him with its third choice (65th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Including a five-game NHL debut in 2005-06, Tollefsen appeared in 145 games with the Blue Jackets, posting 10 points (4-6—10) and 273 PIM. He missed all but 19 games last season due to knee surgery. Tollefsen is expected to make his Griffins debut on Friday when they visit the Houston Aeros at 8:35 p.m. EST.
On One Condition: Last Wednesday, Andreas Lilja became the fifth Red Wings regular to make his Griffins debut during a conditioning stint, joining Curtis Joseph (2003-04), Chris Osgood (2005-06), Manny Legace (2005-06) and Chris Chelios (2008-09). Lilja, who is scoreless with a minus-two rating in three games with the Griffins, is expected to play Tuesday at Texas and Friday in Houston before being re-evaluated.
If Only We Played in the North Division. Oh, Wait…: Of their 51 games thus far, the Griffins have played only 18 within the North Division, compiling a respectable 11-7-0-0 mark against their theoretical rivals. By contrast, they’ve staged 33 interdivisional contests against the West – the only division in which every team sports a winning percentage of 0.510 or better – with an 11-21-0-1 record to show for it.
Unfamiliar Territory: During Curt Fraser’s seven previous seasons as a head coach in either the AHL or the original IHL, never did his teams miss the playoffs, finish fewer than 12 games above 0.500, or finish lower than third place in their division. The Griffins’ 28 regulation losses are already more than his teams sustained in five of his prior full seasons as a bench boss at this level.
Home Sweet Home?: Despite starting the season with eight straight wins at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids is now one game under 0.500 at home (14-15-0-0) after dropping 12 of its last 14 within friendly confines. Beginning Tuesday at Texas, they’ll play 18 of their final 29 contests on the road, where they own an 8-12-0-1 mark.
It’s Been Such a Long Time: When John Vigilante scored 2:34 into Friday’s 6-3 win over Toronto, it gave the Griffins their first home lead in a span of 236:36 and their first lead in any game in 416:36, with both streaks stretching back to the first period of their Jan. 17 contest versus Rockford.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s statistical leaders, including Paul Crosty (127 penalty minutes, 18th), Jan Mursak (18 goals, T20th), Kris Newbury (125 PIM, 20th), Francis Pare (plus-17, T15th) and Jeremy Williams (seven power play goals, T17th).
Winter Potholes: Friday’s 6-3 win over Toronto snapped the Griffins’ losing streak at a season-high seven games, which matched an 11-year-old franchise record for consecutive regulation losses (11/12/98-11/24/98)…Grand Rapids has won two of its last 12 games, three of its last 15 contests and four of its last 21 outings…Only twice in their last 24 games have the Griffins limited their opposition to fewer than three goals (3-1 W vs. HAM on Jan. 16, 4-2 W at TEX on Dec. 19)…After giving up 75 goals in their first 27 games this season (2.78 GAA), the Griffins have surrendered 100 in their last 24 contests (4.17 GAA).
One Extreme to the Other: The Griffins this season have had a nine-game winning streak (Oct. 23-Nov. 13) and an eight-game home winning streak (Oct. 23-Nov. 13), along with a seven-game losing streak (Jan. 17-Feb. 3) and a seven-game home losing streak (Dec. 12-Jan. 15)…Through 51 games played this season, Grand Rapids has 28 regulation losses and 45 points. Last season through 51 games, the Griffins had just 10 regulation losses and 72 points.
Who’s Hot?: Jeremy Williams, the Griffins’ nominee for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, owns a three-game point streak (2-3—5), while Patrick Rissmiller is on a four-game run (2-3—5)…Kris Newbury has three assists in the last two games…Jan Mursak’s three-game point streak (1-2—3) was snapped on Saturday…Francis Pare has goals in two of the last three games.
Special Teams: Grand Rapids has killed off 33 of 37 (89.2%) opponent power play chances over its last 10 contests, after allowing 16 power play goals on 51 chances (68.6% PK) during the 10 games prior…The three power play goals scored by the Griffins on Friday against the Marlies (3 for 5) were their most in one game since going 3 for 5 in an identical 6-3 win at Toronto on Nov. 21.
Climbing the Charts: Daniel Larsson earned his 14th win of the season and 36th of his Griffins career on Friday, moving past Pokey Reddick into sole possession of sixth place on Grand Rapids’ all-time list.
Milestones: Doug Janik, who appeared in his 600th professional game on Jan. 15, is five assists away from 100 in the AHL…Patrick Rissmiller appeared in his 400th AHL contest on Saturday…Jeremy Williams tallied two assists on Friday while playing in his 300th AHL game.
Tue., Feb. 9 at Texas Stars (29-15-3-4) – Cedar Park Center – 8:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 12 at Houston Aeros (26-20-6-1) – Toyota Center – 8:35 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 15 at Rockford IceHogs (30-20-2-3) – Rockford MetroCentre – 3:05 p.m.
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