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GRIFFINS VS. BARONS

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#3 GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS vs. #5 OKLAHOMA CITY BARONS
2013 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs  *  Western Conference Finals  *  Best of Seven

    Game 1 - Fri., May 24 - Barons at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (season ticket Game G)
    Game 2 - Sat., May 25 - Barons at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game H)

    Game 3 - Wed., May 29 - GRIFFINS at Barons - 8 p.m.
    Game 4 - Fri., May 31 - GRIFFINS at Barons - 8 p.m.
    *Game 5 - Sat., June 1 - GRIFFINS at Barons - 8 p.m.
    *Game 6 - Tue., June 4 - Barons at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game I)
    *Game 7 - Wed., June 5 - Barons at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game J)

   
     * If necessary. All times Eastern and subject to change. All games on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM & 1300 AM.

The Lowdown: The Griffins advanced to the Western Conference Finals after a thrilling come-from-behind victory in Game 6 of the semifinal round against the Toronto Marlies. After failing to close out the series at home in Game 5, the Griffins found themselves in a 3-1 hole with less than 10 minutes to play in the third period. Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar tied the game with goals just 28 seconds apart, and Luke Glendening tallied the series-clinching marker with 4:03 remaining. Oklahoma City begins the third round after knocking off the Western Conference-champion Texas Stars in five games, winning each of the series’ last three games by four goals (4-0, 7-3 and 5-1). The Barons also defeated their first round opponent, the Charlotte Checkers, in a similar fashion, winning back-to-back games by 8-1 and 6-2 margins after falling behind 2-1 in the series. This series marks the second consecutive conference final appearance for Oklahoma City in just its third season in the AHL. The Barons were defeated in five games by the Marlies last spring.

Final Four: Grand Rapids has advanced to the conference finals for the third time in its AHL history and the fifth time in its 17-year history, including five seasons in the IHL (1996-01). The team’s last conference finals appearance came in 2006, when it was swept by the Milwaukee Admirals after defeating the Toronto Marlies and Manitoba Moose. The Griffins also advanced to the final four in 2003, losing to the eventual-champion Houston Aeros in seven games; in 2001, losing to the eventual IHL Turner Cup-champion Orlando Solar Bears in six games and in 2000, defeating the Cincinnati Cyclones in five games before losing to the Chicago Wolves in the Turner Cup Finals.

Get Your Tickets: Tickets for the Griffins’ next two playoff home games – Game G (series Game 1) and Game H (Game 2) – are now on sale for $33, $27, $23, $19, $17 and $15 (additional $2 per ticket on day of game), reflecting a league-wide increase of $1 over regular season prices. Playoff tickets may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations or through griffinshockey.com.

Playoff Promotions: In celebration of the team’s return to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Griffins are offering $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all home playoff games, including Fridays, from the time doors open until one hour after the start of the game, as well as “Free Ride to the Playoffs,” allowing fans to ride The Rapid busses to and from any postseason game with complimentary fare by showing their ticket to the game. Fans can also purchase a Playoff 4-Pack to receive four or more tickets to a playoff game of their choice to save $3 off of day-of-game pricing per ticket at griffinshockey.com/tickets/specials.

Lucky Sevens: With back-to-back 7-0 victories over Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals and over Toronto in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Griffins became the first team in AHL history to record back-to-back playoff shutouts while scoring at least seven goals in both.

Check the History Books: The Griffins and Barons have met 12 times during Oklahoma City’s three seasons in the AHL, with the Griffins showing an 8-6-1-1 record. Grand Rapids owns a 5-2-0-1 record against the Barons at Van Andel Arena and 3-4-1-0 inside the Cox Convention Center. The teams met four times this season, with each winning twice on home ice.

A Tale of Two Teams: The NHL lockout had an impact on every AHL roster, perhaps none more so than the Barons. Oklahoma City received a pair of former first overall picks in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, in addition to NHL All-Star Jordan Eberle and highly-touted rookie Justin Schultz, who won the AHL’s Eddie Shore as the league’s best defenseman despite playing 34 games, among others. Thirteen players suited up for both the Barons and parent Edmonton Oilers this season, contributing to the Barons having only eight skaters – fewest in the AHL – that suited up in more than 50 games with the club: Mark Arcobello, Dane Byers, Taylor Fedun, Curtis Hamilton, Tanner House, Martin Marincin, Colten Teubert and Chris VandeVelde. However, the team was more effective after the lockout ended, posting an 18-16-2-3 mark before the start of the NHL season (Jan. 19) and going 22-9-0-6 after that date.

Opening Statement: Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals turned out to be the Griffins’ most dominant performance in a road playoff game in nearly 13 years, as Grand Rapids skated to its second consecutive 7-0 victory in the series opener against Toronto. Prior to the two victories, the Griffins had enjoyed only one road playoff win in their history by a margin of more than three goals, a 10-1 win at Cincinnati in Game 3 of the IHL’s Eastern Conference Finals (March 19, 2000). In addition, Petr Mrazek stopped 25 shots for a second straight shutout, becoming the first Griffins netminder to record two playoff shutouts and backstopping the team to its first-ever shutout win in Game 1 of a series. The Griffins lost Game 2, but Mrazek extended his shutout streak to 178:58, dating back to May 3.

History Will Be Made: The Griffins matched a 44-year old record during their 7-0 victory over Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The win equaled the AHL’s largest margin of victory ever in a winner-take-all game, matching an 8-1 win by the Quebec Aces over the Providence Reds in the 1969 semifinals. Additionally, the seven-goal margin set Griffins records for largest in a playoff shutout and a home playoff game. The Griffins closed out Houston’s AHL tenure with its first series win since 2009. Petr Mrazek, who made 24 saves in the victory, became the first Griffins goalie in 10 years to record a playoff shutout (Marc Lamothe, May 2, 2003 at Chicago) and was the first rookie goaltender in franchise history to blank an opponent in the playoffs.

Working 9-5: The Griffins are the lone remaining playoff team to have not played an overtime game, as each of the five games in the first round against Houston and six games in the second round against Toronto were decided in regulation. The Griffins are 10-8 in playoff overtimes overall, with a 5-7 mark at Van Andel Arena and a 5-1 mark away from home. They are 6-7 in single overtime, 3-0 in double overtime and 1-1 in triple overtime, with their lone win in that category coming April 21, 2006 in Game 1 of the North Division Semifinals against Toronto.

Turn the Calendar: With a Western Conference Final series that could end as late as June 5, the Griffins are enjoying one of the longest seasons in franchise history. Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against Toronto marked seven years to the day (May 15, 2006) that they took on the Manitoba Moose in Game 6 of the North Division Finals, a series that the Griffins would go on to win in seven games. Grand Rapids’ latest playoff home game that season was May 20, in Game 2 of what became a four-game sweep of the club by the Milwaukee Admirals. The Griffins’ latest-ever playoff home game came June 5, 2000, in Game 6 of the IHL Turner Cup Finals against the Chicago Wolves.

Who’s the Favorite?: The Griffins’ series win over the Marlies in the Western Conference Quarterfinals marked only the second time ever that Grand Rapids won a playoff series as the lower seed, the first time coming against Hamilton in the 2009 North Division Semifinals. The third-seeded Griffins are now the higher seed against the fifth-seeded Oklahoma City Barons, but the teams were separated by just two wins and one point in the regular season.

Paying Dividends: When the Griffins signed defenseman Nick Jensen to an amateur tryout on May 13, they added the seventh and final member of the Red Wings’ 2009 draft class. The addition of Detroit’s fifth-round pick (150th overall) marks the first time that every member of a Detroit draft class has come through Grand Rapids. All seven are currently on the Griffins’ roster, including Landon Ferraro (32nd overall), Tomas Tatar (60th), Andrej Nestrasil (75th), Gleason Fournier (90th), Mitch Callahan (180th) and Adam Almquist (210th) – a group that has combined for 14 of the team’s 38 playoff goals. Previously, the closest the teams came to having every member of a draft class join the Griffins was 2006, when Cory Emmerton (41st), Dick Axelsson (62nd), Daniel Larsson (92nd), Jan Mursak (182nd), Nick Oslund (191st) and Logan Pyett (212nd) all skated with the team at various times, but Shawn Matthias (47th) was traded to Florida by Detroit for Todd Bertuzzi prior to turning pro in 2008-09.

Playoff Facts and Figures: After advancing in their first two playoff series, the Griffins are now 2-3 all time in best-of-five and 8-7 in best-of-seven series. The 7-0 win over Houston in the decisive Game 5 on May 4 improved the Griffins to 2-4 in a “winner-take-all” scenario and 7-10 when facing elimination (4-5 on home ice). It also marked the first time since Game 7 of the 2006 North Division Finals against Manitoba that Grand Rapids closed out a series on home ice. After defeating the Marlies, the Griffins have now won 10 of their 20 total playoff series with a combined 52-51 record. They have never lost a best-of-seven series after winning Game 1 (5-0) or after taking a 3-1 series lead (4-0). The Griffins missed out on a chance to eliminate Toronto at home in Game 5 but did so on the road in Game 6, giving them a 10-12 record all time when they can eliminate an opponent – 3-8 at Van Andel Arena and 7-4 away from home. They are 8-3 against Toronto after eliminating the Marlies for the second time ever, including a 5-1 mark at Ricoh Coliseum.

All-Time Leaders: Grand Rapids’ active leading playoff scorer is Francis Pare, who is tied for 13th all time with 13 points (4-9—13) in 19 games. Other active players in the top 30 include Jan Mursak (T15th), Tomas Tatar (T18th), Luke Glendening (T23rd), Landon Ferraro (T25th), Riley Sheahan (T25th) and Tomas Jurco (T29th). After becoming the first goaltender in franchise history to record two shutouts, let alone back-to-back, Petr Mrazek ranks sixth in franchise history with a 2.19 goals against average, fourth with seven wins and sixth with a 0.906 save percentage. With a plus-nine rating in 11 playoff games, Mursak owns a share of the franchise record for the best plus-minus in a single playoff year (tying Philippe Plante and Petr Schastlivy, 2000) and the best career rating at plus-14 (tying Ivan Ciernik).

Shot in the Dark: A common theme in the Griffins’ postseason run so far has been a surplus of shots, as they are the only club to advance past the first round that outshot its opponent in every game. The Griffins lead the AHL with an average of 35.82 shots per game, posting a postseason-low 31 shots during their Game 6 series-clinching win over Toronto. Additionally, after holding the Marlies to 20 or fewer shots in three games, the team enters the Western Conference Finals averaging 23.36 shots against per game, lowest of any team remaining. The third round will bring a challenge in that department, as the Barons are fifth with a 33.4 shot-per-game average and boast the second-best offense in the playoffs at 4.2 goals per game.

Short Order: The Griffins’ lone goal in their 4-1 loss to Houston in Game 4 came off the stick of Luke Glendening, who became the eighth player in franchise history to record a shorthanded goal in the postseason. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native joins a group that includes Jakub Kindl (2009), Matt Ellis (2007), Hugo Boisvert (2003), Stacy Roest (2003), Sean Gagnon (2001), Derek King (2001) and Yves Sarault (2000) as the only rookie to do so. Grand Rapids scored 11 shorthanded goals in the regular season, tying for fourth in the AHL. Landon Ferraro, who led the AHL with seven regular season shorthanded points, also added his name to that group in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinal series against Toronto, scoring in a 4-2 loss to the Marlies.

Who’s Next?: The winner of this series will go on to face either the Syracuse Crunch or Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Griffins were one-time division rivals with Syracuse, owning a 14-6-0-0-2 all-time record against the Crunch in 22 games from 2002-09. Syracuse swept Portland in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and did the same to Springfield in the semifinals. As the new affiliate to the Tampa Bay Lightning, many Crunch players were part of the 2012 Norfolk Admirals team that won its final 10 playoff games en route to capturing the Calder Cup. The Crunch and Admirals’ combined run includes 17 consecutive playoff wins overall and four straight series sweeps. The Griffins have met the Penguins four different times, in the 2001-02, 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons, as well as the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals, a 3-1 series win for Grand Rapids. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton swept Binghamton in the first round and then became the third team in AHL history to win a series after being down 3-0 when it defeated Providence.

End of an Era: The Griffins had a long history with the Aeros, one of just three active teams to have played against Grand Rapids in the IHL prior to joining the AHL in 2001-02. In 17 seasons, the Griffins showed a regular season record of 40-32-6-3-7 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) against the Aeros, including a 21-16-2-1-4 mark at Van Andel Arena and 19-18-4-2-3 at the Toyota Center and Compaq Center. The Griffins’ 7-0 win in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals marked the final meeting between the clubs, as Houston will move to Des Moines next season to become the Iowa Wild.

Playoff Roster: The following 30 players are eligible to suit up for the Griffins in the postseason: goaltenders Tom McCollum and Petr Mrazek; defensemen Adam Almquist, Chad Billins, Brennan Evans, Gleason Fournier, Nick Jensen, Brian Lashoff, Max Nicastro, Xavier Ouellet, Nathan Paetsch, Brett Skinner and Ryan Sproul; and forwards Andreas Athanasiou, Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitch Callahan, Willie Coetzee, Landon Ferraro, Luke Glendening, Triston Grant, Jeff Hoggan, Tomas Jurco, Jan Mursak, Andrej Nestrasil, Francis Pare, Trevor Parkes, Teemu Pulkkinen, Brent Raedeke, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. Additionally, if assigned by the Red Wings, goaltender Jordan Pearce, defenseman Danny DeKeyser and forwards Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist will be eligible for Calder Cup Playoff action.

Playoff Leaders: The meeting of Oklahoma City and Grand Rapids brings some of the playoff’s highest scorers to one series. Tomas Tatar entered the series tied for seventh in the league with 11 points (8-3—11) in 11 games, sitting second in the league in goals. Luke Glendening was second among rookies and tied for 11th in the AHL with 10 points (5-5—10). Jan Mursak (5-4—9), Landon Ferraro (2-7—9), Francis Pare (2-7—9) and Riley Sheahan (1-8—9) tied for 13th in the league. Adam Almquist is tied for the AHL lead among defensemen with three goals and seven points. The Barons boast Mark Arcobello, who tied for first with 15 points (9-6—15), Toni Rajala, who led all rookies and tied for fifth with 13 points (3-10—13), Teemu Hartikainen, who was tied for seventh with 11 points (4-7—11), and Josh Green, who tied for 11th with 10 points (3-7—10). Petr Mrazek was tied for sixth entering the third round with a 2.19 goals against average and first with seven wins and two shutouts, while sitting 10th with a 0.906 save percentage. Yann Danis was also tied for sixth with a 2.19 goals against average and for first with seven wins and sat fourth with a 0.935 save percentage after posting a 1.40 goals against average and 0.956 save percentage in the team’s series against the Texas Stars.

Light the Lamp: With his third two-goal game of the postseason in Game 6 at Toronto, Tomas Tatar moved into a tie for third place for the most goals by a Griffin in a single playoff year with eight. Tatar has accomplished the feat in 11 games – six fewer than Michel Picard and Petr Schastlivy, who each tallied eight times in 2000. Only Kevin Miller (11 goals in 17 games, 2000) and Stacy Roest (10 goals in 15 games, 2003) scored more times in a single postseason.

Between the Pipes: With his start in Game 1 at Houston, Petr Mrazek became the second rookie goalie to start the Griffins’ first game of a playoff season, joining Jimmy Howard in 2006. He also became the third rookie netminder to start any playoff game for Grand Rapids, along with Howard and Mathieu Chouinard (2001). After blanking Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals and Toronto in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, he is the first goalie in franchise history to record two playoff shutouts.

Bench Bosses: Jeff Blashill led the Griffins back to the playoffs during his first season behind the team’s bench, helping the team to a 42-win season. He also became the sixth consecutive bench boss to win his first playoff series with the Griffins, a run that dates back to Guy Charron in the 2000 IHL Playoffs. Blashill previously led the USHL’s Indiana Ice to a Clark Cup championship in his first-ever season as a head coach at any level in 2009. He also led the CCHA’s Western Michigan Broncos to the CCHA championship game for the first time since 1986 in his lone season as the Broncos’ bench boss in 2011. He helped Detroit extend their postseason streak to 21 seasons as an assistant coach in 2011-12, but the Red Wings fell in five games to Nashville…Todd Nelson was the first player ever signed by the Griffins in 1996, skating for the team in parts of four seasons and serving as an assistant coach in 2002-03, the second stop in his coaching career. Nelson started his coaching career as a player/assistant coach for the UHL’s Muskegon Fury, where he took over as head coach in 2003 en route to winning back-to-back Colonial Cups (2004 and 2005). He became an assistant coach for the Chicago Wolves and was part of their 2008 Calder Cup championship, before spending two years as an assistant for the Atlanta Thrashers. Nelson became the Barons’ first-ever coach in 2010-11, where he has a 125-76-8-23 record with back-to-back appearances in the Western Conference Finals.

Welcome Return: This season marked several returns for the Griffins, including their first appearance in the postseason since 2008-09. Additionally, the team captured their first division title since 2005-06, when it finished first in the league. For capturing the Midwest Division crown, the Griffins earned the N.R. (Bud) Poile Trophy, an honor they earned as Western Conference champions in 2005-06 and, before that, as West Division champions in 2001-02. The 92 points accumulated by the Griffins were their seventh-highest total in their 17 seasons.

The Stories: The clash between Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City presents numerous storylines:
•    The Griffins finished just one point ahead of the Barons during the regular season. Grand Rapids won the Midwest Division by virtue of its 42-26-4-4 record (92 points), while Oklahoma City finished third in an extremely competitive South Division with a 40-25-2-9 mark (91 points);
•    Barons head coach Todd Nelson became the first player ever signed by the expansion Griffins franchise on July 24, 1996. The former defenseman appeared in 236 games over four seasons (1996-98;99-00;01-02) with Grand Rapids, recording 67 points (11-56—67), 123 penalty minutes and a plus-53 rating that still places sixth all time on the club. Nelson led the IHL with a plus-36 rating in 1999-00, a season in which he was named an honorable mention IHL all-star and led the Griffins to the Turner Cup Finals, where they lost in six games to Chicago. Upon retirement, he spent 2002-03 as an assistant coach with Grand Rapids, helping the team to a 48-22-8-2 record (106 points), a Central Division championship, the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs and, eventually, a berth in the conference finals;
•    Oklahoma City defenseman Garrett Stafford played two seasons in Grand Rapids (2007-09), racking up 89 points (22-67—89) in 139 games. He was the Griffins' highest-scoring blueliner each season, finishing third in overall scoring in 2007-08 (11-33—44 in 69 games) and sixth in 2008-09 (11-34—45 in 70 games), when Grand Rapids reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs;
•    Griffins left wing Triston Grant was a member of the Barons last season, when he led the team with 163 penalty minutes, finished seventh with 11 goals and totaled 15 points in 53 games and helped the team to an appearance in the Western Conference Finals;
•    Barons left wing Darcy Hordichuk, who has logged 542 NHL games over his 13 pro seasons, has spoiled the Griffins' hopes of playing in a league final once before. He was a rookie on the 2000-01 Orlando Solar Bears squad that defeated Grand Rapids in six games in the IHL Eastern Conference Finals and went on to win the final Turner Cup awarded by the original IHL.

2012-13 Griffins vs. Barons

Griffins Records: 2-2-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 in Grand Rapids, 0-2-0-0 in Oklahoma City
Barons Records: 2-1-0-1 Overall, 0-1-0-1 in Grand Rapids, 2-0-0-0 in Oklahoma City

Jan. 4 – Griffins 5, Barons 2 – Van Andel Arena
A record-tying five-goal second period and a strong defensive performance helped the Griffins to a victory in the first game of the season series. Down a goal after the first 20 minutes, the Griffins put the game out of reach by exploding for five goals in the middle frame, tying a franchise record for the most goals scored in one period at home. Jeff Hoggan, Nathan Paetsch and Landon Ferraro all scored once in the second, while Riley Sheahan scored twice in a season-best three-point night. The trio of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz, in their penultimate AHL contest, was a combined -10 on the night.

Jan. 23 – Griffins 5, Barons 4 SO – Van Andel Arena
NHL veteran Mike Knuble’s Griffins debut was a victorious one as the Griffin staved off multiple Oklahoma City rallies and prevailed 5-4 in a shootout. A product of East Kentwood High School, Knuble joined Luke Glendening as the only Greater Grand Rapids natives to play for the Griffins, and he earned his first AHL point in almost 16 years when he assisted on a goal by Tomas Tatar in the second period. The Griffins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Tomas Jurco and Mitch Callahan, but the Barons tied it in the first 2:29 of the second frame. The Griffins then pulled ahead twice with goals in the second period, but the visitors answered each time. In the shootout, Chad Billins and Gustav Nyquist scored, while Petr Mrazek denied all four of Oklahoma City’s attempts – in addition to his season-high 33 regulation saves. It would be the only AHL game of the season for Knuble, who had practiced with the team during the lockout, as the Philadelphia Flyers would sign him just two days later.

Feb. 8 – Barons 4, Griffins 3 – Cox Convention Center
On the heels of back-to-back shutouts against Abbotsford (Feb. 2) and Houston (Feb. 6), the Griffins took an early lead on a goal by Luke Glendening. Ryan Martindale answered later in the first period – the first goal against Grand Rapids in 170:56, ending the shutout streak just 13:11 shy of tying the franchise record. Glendening scored again and Jeff Hoggan added one of his own to give the Griffins a 3-1 lead 5:41 into the second period. Jonathan Cheechoo scored twice in 2:53 to tie the game before the end of the frame, and Philippe Cornet completed the comeback in the third period to help the Barons take the first of a two-game set at the Cox Convention Center.

Feb. 9 – Barons 7, Griffins 5 – Cox Convention Center
Similar to the previous night, the Griffins jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period after goals by Francis Pare, Gustav Nyquist and a bizarre shorthanded goal from Brett Skinner on a clearing attempt from his own zone. However, the Barons scored a staggering six goals in the third period, including three in a 48-second span. Josh Green, Jonathan Cheechoo, Toni Rajala, Philippe Cornet and Dane Byers were the goal scorers that eventually helped Oklahoma City to a 6-4 lead, but Brent Raedeke restored the Griffins’ hopes with a breakaway goal at the 13:24 mark to bring the team within one. That’s as close as they’d get to tying it, though, as Cheechoo’s second of the night ended sealed the 7-5 final.

Tale of the Tape: Here’s how the two rivals stacked up in key categories during the regular season:

  Grand Rapids Oklahoma City
Overall Record 42-26-4-4, 92 pts. (1st Midwest/7th AHL) 40-25-2-9, 91 pts. (3rd South/9th AHL)
Home Record 21-12-3-2, 47 pts. (T9th) 22-11-2-3, 49 pts. (T6th)
Road Record 21-14-1-2, 45 pts. (T6th) 18-14-0-6, 42 pts. (T10th)
Power Play 60-for-325, 18.5% (T8th) 67-for-310, 21.6% (1st)
Penalty Killing 244-for-304, 80.3% (29th) 238-for-300, 79.3% (30th)
Penalty Minutes 16.04 avg. (16th) 14.36 avg. (21st)
Goals For 3.08 avg. (T7th) 3.16 avg. (3rd)
Goals Against 2.70 avg. (13th) 3.00 avg. (T24th)
Shots For 30.67 avg. (9th) 31.13 avg. (8th)
Shots Against 27.86 avg. (T5th) 29.16 avg. (8th)
Team Leaders    
Games Played Billins/Evans/Hoggan (76) Mark Arcobello (74)
Goals Landon Ferraro (24) Jordan Eberle (25)
Assists Gustav Nyquist (37) Arcobello (46)
Points Nyquist (60) Arcobello (68)
Plus/Minus Jan Mursak (+15) Martin Marincin (+20)
Penalty Minutes Triston Grant (196) Dane Byers (144)
Power Play Goals Nyquist (9) Taylor Hall (9)
Shorthanded Goals Ferraro (3) Justin Schultz/Chris VandeVelde (2)
Game-Winning Goals Tomas Tatar/Joakim Andersson (5) Cheechoo/Eberle/Rajala (4)
Wins Petr Mrazek (23) Yann Danis (26)
Shutouts Tom McCollum (2) Danis (2)
Goals Against Avg. Mrazek (2.33) Danis (2.59)
Save Percentage Mrazek (0.916) Danis (0.911)


Oh Captain, My Captain: One of the hottest Griffins over the second half of the season was captain and former Calder Cup-winner Jeff Hoggan. After recording 14 points (5-9—14) in the team’s first 38 games – leading up to the NHL season starting on Jan. 19 – Hoggan rattled off 31 points (15-16—31) in the final 38 games, including 14 (7-7—14) over the team’s final 14 contests (March 22-April 21). It marked the fourth time in his 11 years as a pro that he reached the 20-goal plateau, as he finished fourth on the team with 45 points (20-25—45) in 76 games. Hoggan also boasts the most AHL playoff experience on the team at 49 games.

Regular Season Series Notes
: Riley Sheahan was the Griffins’ highest scorer against Oklahoma City this season, tallying seven points (2-5—7) in four contests. Jonathan Cheechoo (4-1—5) and Mark Arcobello (1-4—5) each registered five points against the Griffins, leading the Barons…Only six Barons played in all four games against the Griffins: Mark Arcobello, Dane Byers, Taylor Fedun, Josh Green, Tanner House and Colten Teubert…The five goals scored by Grand Rapids in the second period of the Jan. 4 contest were the most the Griffins scored in a single period this season; the six goals scored by Oklahoma City in the third period of the Feb. 9 contest were the most scored by any AHL team in a single period this season…The Griffins managed a season-low 19 shots during the Feb. 8 game…The 7-5 game on Feb. 9 marked the most goals allowed by the Griffins all season and tied the most they scored in a loss…The Griffins and Barons combined for just five first-period shots in the Jan. 4 contest despite both finishing top 10 in the league in shots during the regular season…Last season’s winner of the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender, Yann Danis, struggled against the Griffins with a 6.00 goals against average and a 0.783 save percentage in two games…This season’s winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for perseverance and dedication to hockey, Brandon Davidson returned to Oklahoma City’s lineup on Feb. 8 against Grand Rapids after undergoing successful treatment for testicular cancer. He recorded an assist in the Barons’ 7-5 win the following the night.

Tell Me What It Takes: The Griffins’ quest to advance in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs is headlined by a handful of players who have won championships in their careers, starting with captain Jeff Hoggan, who captured a Calder Cup with Houston in 2003. Two of the team’s rookies enjoyed championships seasons last year: Chad Billins, who helped Ferris State capture the CCHA regular season championship en route to an appearance in the NCAA national title game, and Tomas Jurco, who won his second straight QMJHL President’s Cup with Saint John last spring after winning the CHL Memorial Cup in 2011. Brennan Evans joins Jurco as the team’s other Memorial Cup winner, winning the WHL’s Ed Chynoweth Cup and Memorial Cup in 2002 with the Kootenay Ice. Brett Skinner won back-to-back NCAA championships with Denver as a sophomore and junior in 2004 and 2005. Other cup winners include Mitch Callahan (WHL Chynoweth Cup – 2009 Kelowna) and Adam Almquist (SEL Championship – 2010 HV 71), as well as both of the team’s coaches: Jim Paek (Stanley Cup – 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh, IHL Turner Cup – 1989 Muskegon and 1999 Houston) and Jeff Blashill (USHL Clark Cup – 2009 in his debut season as a head coach).

It’s Been Awhile: Four players on the playoff roster were on the team when the Griffins last made the playoffs in 2009. One of those players were with the parent Red Wings as of the start of the third round in Joakim Andersson, who skated for Grand Rapids on an amateur tryout during that postseason before joining the team full-time in 2010-11. Brian Lashoff rejoined the Griffins for Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, giving the team three players remaining from the playoff run in 2009, along with Jan Mursak and Francis Pare.

Experience Counts: Only nine players on the Griffins roster had AHL postseason experience prior to the team’s first round playoff series against Houston. In addition to the four players who skated during the 2009 Calder Cup Playoff run (Joakim Andersson, Brian Lashoff, Jan Mursak and Francis Pare), Brennan Evans (0-1—1 in 14 GP), Triston Grant (1-5—6 in 35 GP), Jeff Hoggan (8-10—18 in 38 GP), Nathan Paetsch (2-2—4 in 25 GP) and Brett Skinner (0-8—8 in 28 GP) had previous playoff experience at this level. Nine players have professional postseason experience at other levels: Adam Almquist (1-11—12 in 21 GP, Sweden), Andersson (2-3—5 in 22 GP, Sweden), Evans (2 GP, NHL), Hoggan (2 GP, Germany), Gustav Nyquist (4 GP, NHL), Paetsch (1 GP, NHL; 2 GP, Germany), Teemu Pulkkinen (2-5—7 in 13 GP, Finland), Skinner (6 GP, Sweden) and Tomas Tatar (5-3—8 in 13 GP, Slovakia). The Griffins also have five players who recently saw ECHL playoff action with the Toledo Walleye: Willie Coetzee, Andrej Nestrasil, Max Nicastro, Trevor Parkes and Jordan Pearce.

In the Show: Eighteen former Griffins have appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. Notably, Gustav Nyquist, a member of the 2013 AHL First All-Star Team, made history in Detroit’s first-round playoff series against Anaheim as the first rookie in NHL history to record his first two playoff points in overtime. He is also the first rookie in Red Wings history to register two overtime points in one playoff year. Nyquist scored the overtime winner in Game 2 against Anaheim on May 2 and assisted on Damien Brunner’s winner (along with Joakim Andersson) to knot the series at two on May 6. (Stats through NHL playoff games of May 22).  

Player NHL Club GP G A PTS +/- PIM
Valtteri Filppula Detroit 10 2 3 5 -2 4
Brendan Smith Detroit 10 2 2 4 -2 10
Gustav Nyquist Detroit 10 2 2 4 2 2
Chris Neil Ottawa 9 0 4 4 1 35
Joakim Andersson Detroit 10 0 4 4 1 8
Justin Abdelkader Detroit 8 2 1 3 5 21
Jakub Kindl Detroit 10 0 3 3 3 4
Jonathan Ericsson Detroit 10 0 3 3 3 0
Mark Eaton Pittsburgh 5 0 2 2 -2 0
Kyle Quincey Detroit 10 0 2 2 -1 10
Niklas Kronwall Detroit 10 0 2 2 -2 2
Cory Emmerton
Detroit 9 0 1 1 -3 2
Chris Kelly Boston 10 0 0 0 -5 9
Carlo Colaiacovo Detroit 5 0 0 0 2 0
Brian Lashoff Detroit 3 0 0 0 0 0
Jason Spezza Ottawa 2 0 0 0 -2 0
Kris Newbury NY Rangers 1 0 0 0 0 0

 

Goalie NHL Club GP W L SO GAA SPCT
Jimmy Howard Detroit 10 6 4 0 2.43 0.923

 


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