03/15/2011 8:49 AM
This Week’s Games
Last Week’s Results
Moving On Up: Thanks to a 3-0-1-0 record during last week’s road trip, the Griffins slashed their deficit in the North Division playoff race in half, from six points to just three. Having climbed into fifth place for the first time since Jan. 18, the Griffins sit just six points behind first-place Manitoba, four behind second-place Toronto, three behind third-place Hamilton (and the final guaranteed playoff spot) and two behind fourth-place Lake Erie, whom they’ll host on Friday for the final time this season.
Rollin’ on the River: Grand Rapids is 6-0-1-0 in its last seven games – its longest point streak since a nine-game winning streak from Oct. 23-Nov. 13, 2009 – a league-best 8-1-1-0 in its last 10, 9-1-1-2 in its last 13, and 10-2-1-3 in its last 16…The Griffins’ record (32-25-2-8) is seven games over 0.500 for the first time since Dec. 19, 2009.
There’s No Place Like Home: With a season-high four-game winning streak and six-game point streak (5-0-0-1) at home, the Griffins will return to Van Andel Arena on Wednesday to battle Oklahoma City and start their first-ever 4-in-5 on home ice. Friday’s titanic tilt versus Lake Erie will commence just the seventh time ever that the Griffins will play three home games in as many nights, as they’ll also host Rochester on Saturday and Rockford on Sunday. Following the conclusion of the homestand on March 23 against Toronto – their fifth home game in eight nights – the Griffins will play seven of their final eight regular season games on the road.
Fun at the Van: Wed. vs. OKC – The Griffins will try to stretch their remarkable winning streak in Wednesday home games to six. It’s a Winning Wednesday, so all fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 5-3 win over Hamilton on Feb. 16 can redeem their ticket stubs for free tickets to this game. Furthermore, if the Griffins beat the Barons, each fan in attendance can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the March 23 game against Toronto. Other promotions include Hockey Night, Library Night, Griff’s Reading Goals and the post-game party at Peppino’s downtown. Fri. vs. LE – Promotions include Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs from 6-8 p.m. (while supplies last), College Night and the D-Zone. Sat. vs. RCH – Thanks to Centennial Securities, various local mascots will roam the arena for “Mascot Mania,” and 5,000 fans will receive a Griffins team poster. The Griffins will wear special jerseys modeled after the Red Wings’ home red uniforms, with a white Griffins crest on the front. Each jersey will be signed by the respective player and auctioned off after the game in the Fifth Third Vault, with proceeds benefiting PennyBen and American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. Fans can also stick around for a post-game skate. Sun. vs. RFD – Sunday is Fun Day, as fans can enjoy $1 Cole’s breadsticks and $1 Pepsi products from 3-5 p.m. For Fan Appreciation Day presented by Michigan Office Solutions, the first 4,000 kids will receive a Griffins crest CrazyBand, while the first 5,000 fans will receive a Griffins’ no. 1 fan sign courtesy of Fox Honda. The Griffins’ annual season ticket holder party will feature exclusive pre- and post-game activities, while all fans can enjoy a performance by Quick Change, stars of America’s Got Talent, during the first intermission. Other promotions include Library Night and Reading Goals.
Unprecedented Offense: The Griffins have scored five goals in six of their last seven games, the first time that has happened in the franchise’s 15 seasons. They tallied five goals in three consecutive games from Feb. 27-March 5 – the first such occurrence since Oct. 19-26, 2008, Curt Fraser’s first month as head coach – before repeating the feat last weekend (March 11-13). Grand Rapids, whose 3.03 scoring average now ranks first in the North Division and ties for 10th in the AHL, has an opportunity to tie a franchise record of four straight games with five or more goals (March 5-14, 2006 and Dec. 1-8, 2001) on Wednesday against the Barons.
Dwindling Opportunities: Grand Rapids, whose 16-8-0-4 record (0.642) within the North Division is second to only Lake Erie’s 20-9-0-2 mark (0.677), will play just six of its final 13 games against divisional opponents, putting greater importance on its remaining games against second-place Toronto (March 23), fourth-place Lake Erie (Friday), sixth-place Abbotsford (April 1, 2 and 8) and seventh-place Rochester (March 19). The Griffins, who will finish the season with a low of just 34 games within the North Division, will watch each other team in the North play more than half of its remaining schedule within the division (Abbotsford 13 of 13, Hamilton 11 of 14, Toronto 7 of 10, and Lake Erie, Manitoba and Rochester all 9 of 13).
Hard Work Still Ahead: If the other six teams in the North Division maintain their current winning percentages through the end of the regular season, the Griffins would need to finish with 92 points to clinch a playoff spot, which translates into a 9-4 record over their final 13 games…Grand Rapids’ remaining opponents own a combined winning percentage of 0.556, marking the fourth-toughest slate in the North Division (Abbotsford 0.575, Manitoba 0.575, Rochester 0.562, Grand Rapids 0.556, Hamilton 0.554, Lake Erie 0.539, Toronto 0.516).
Rally Caps: Down 4-2 nearly midway into the third period on Sunday in San Antonio, the Griffins received goals from defensemen Derek Meech at 9:32 and Brendan Smith at 15:38 to force overtime, eventually winning 5-4 in a shootout with Jamie Johnson scoring the lone goal in round six. Grand Rapids, which outshot the Rampage 20-3 in the third period and 48-25 for the game, earned just its second win this season when trailing after two periods (2-20-1-1).
Decisions, Decisions: The Griffins on Monday welcomed back goalie Joey MacDonald, who had been with the parent club in Detroit since Jan. 24. He shows a 3-4-1 record for the Red Wings and leads their netminders in goal against average (2.48) and save percentage (0.912) through 10 appearances. Meanwhile, in 20 games with Grand Rapids, he has a 10-9-1 record with one shutout, a team-leading 2.78 GAA and a 0.894 save percentage. MacDonald needs just two more wins to become the first goalie to reach 100 for his Griffins career (98-66-8)…Rookie goalie Jordan Pearce has started 13 straight games for Grand Rapids and has just one regulation loss during his last 14 games, going 9-1-1-3 with a 2.59 GAA and a 0.914 save percentage. Pearce, who recorded his first AHL shutout with 36 stops in a 3-0 win at Peoria on March 8, is 13-3-1-4 with a 2.64 GAA and a 0.915 save percentage in his last 21 decisions (since Jan. 16).
Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins on Monday nominated right wing Francis Pare for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award for the second straight week, after he tallied three goals and two assists in four games. His 21 goals rank second on Grand Rapids, while his 61 goals for his Griffins career tie Slava Butsayev for 10th on the franchise’s all-time list.
Oh Captain, My Captain: Jamie Tardif has a team-leading 26 goals this season and 77 for his Griffins career. His second goal last Friday in Oklahoma City was his 76th as a Griffin, moving him past Kip Miller (75) into second place on the franchise’s all-time list. Only Michel Picard (158) has scored more goals for Grand Rapids. Then on Sunday in San Antonio, Tardif logged his 303rd game in a Griffins uniform, moving past Ryan Oulahen (302) into third place all time. Only Picard (364) and Travis Richards (655) have appeared in more games.
Finntastic: Ilari Filppula has points in 11 of the last 12 games (2-15—17) and 14 of the last 17 contests (4-17—21). During that time, he notched an eight-game point streak (1-11—12) that matched Jan Mursak for the team’s longest this season. Filppula is currently ninth in AHL scoring with 57 points (20-37—57).
Who Else is Hot?: Travis Ehrhardt has three assists in his last two appearances…Brendan Smith has points in five of the last six games (3-3—6)…Francis Pare owns a three-game point streak (3-2—5), has six goals in the last five games, and has points in five of the last six games (6-3—9) and seven of the last nine (8-4—12)…Jamie Johnson has three multi-point outings in his last six games (1-6—7)…Jan Mursak has points in four of his last five outings (1-5—6)…Chris Minard has goals in seven of the last 11 games and points in nine of the last 12 contests (7-3—10)…Joakim Andersson has assists in five of the last seven games (0-6—6)…Jamie Tardif tallied his third two-goal game in less than a month on Friday. He now has points in eight of the last 11 games (7-6—13) and 11 of the last 16 (11-7—18)…Derek Meech has points in six of the last nine games (2-4—6) and eight of the last 12 (2-7—9)…Tomas Tatar shows points in three straight games (0-4—4), six of the last seven games (2-6—8) and 11 of the last 13 (6-9—15)…Doug Janik owns a three-game point streak (1-3—4) and has points in six of his last eight contests (1-6—7).
Milestones: Derek Meech stands sixth all time on the Griffins with 292 games played, just one behind fifth-place Darryl Bootland (293)…Logan Pyett appeared in his 200th Griffins/AHL contest on Friday…Chris Minard, who notched his 100th AHL assist on March 8, is approaching 600 pro games (597).
Wed., March 16 vs. Oklahoma City Barons (34-25-2-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Fri., March 18 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (34-25-3-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., March 19 vs. Rochester Americans (30-31-3-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sun., March 20 vs. Rockford IceHogs (27-30-4-5) – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
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