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LONG TIME, NO SEE


This Week’s Games
Wed., March 28 - Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Fri., March 30 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD/B2

Sat., March 31 - Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD/B2

Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 23 - GRIFFINS 2 at Manitoba Moose 3 SO - 33-25-6-4, 76 pts. (4th, North Division)

Sat., March 24 - GRIFFINS 2 at Manitoba Moose 3 SO - 33-25-6-5, 77 pts. (4th)

Sun., March 25 - GRIFFINS 3 at Toronto Marlies 5 - 33-26-6-5, 77 pts. (4th)

Staying Alive: Although winless in their last six games (0-2-1-3), the Griffins maintain a firm grasp on fourth place in the North Division and still hold a two-point lead over crossover candidate Peoria in the race for the Western Conference’s last playoff spot (but the Rivermen possess both a game in hand and the first tie-breaker). Despite their victory drought, the Griffins have still earned points in 18 of their last 24 contests (13-6-2-3).

Homecoming: After playing four straight games on the road, the Griffins return to Van Andel Arena this week to host rivals Milwaukee on Wednesday and Chicago on Saturday. It’s a Winning Wednesday against the Admirals, as all fans who attended the Griffins’ 4-1 win over Iowa on March 14 can redeem those ticket stubs for a free ticket to this game. In addition, if the Griffins beat Milwaukee, everyone in attendance will win a free ticket to the April 6 game vs. Toronto. Fans can visit griffinshockey.com to print a coupon redeemable for up to four lower bowl tickets for only $5 each…On Saturday, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer will sign autographs prior to the game, thanks to Jeep Chrysler. Over 25 Star Wars characters will be on the concourse, taking pictures with fans for a $5 donation to the Griffins Youth Foundation, and fans can visit griffinshockey.com to print a coupon redeemable for $10 lower bowl tickets.

Friendly Confines: Grand Rapids, which owned a 7-9-2-2 record on home ice in late December, has won nine of 12 (9-2-0-1) and 12 of the last 16 games (12-3-0-1) at Van Andel Arena. Fans have noticed, as six of the last 12 home games have been witnessed by crowds in excess of 10,000, including four sellouts. If crowd projections for the Griffins’ final four home games are realized, the franchise will see its first increase in attendance since the 2002-03 season.

On the Tube: The Griffins’ March to the Playoffs continues this week on Comcast Local, which will televise both Friday’s game at Hamilton and Saturday’s clash with Chicago to subscribers throughout Michigan and Northern Indiana.

A First Time for Everything: From March 16-24, the Griffins suffered five consecutive one-goal losses (0-1-1-3) for the first time in franchise history. The first four of those defeats were by a 3-2 score, marking the first time in team history they had the same outcome on the scoreboard in more than two consecutive games.

Fight the Power: Toronto was awarded 15 power plays in its 5-3 win over Grand Rapids on Sunday, setting a single-game record for a Griffins opponent. The old mark of 13 was reached four times, most recently by Manitoba on Nov. 4, 2006.

Short Stories: Matt Ellis’ shorthanded goal on Friday in Manitoba was his fifth of the season, setting a single-season Griffins record, tying for the AHL lead and extending his all-time franchise record to 12. Ben Simon notched his third shortie in just 12 games as a Griffin on Sunday in Toronto, establishing a new single-season franchise record with the team’s league-leading 22nd shorthanded goal of the season. (The old mark of 21 was set in 1998-99.) The Griffins have scored 13 shorthanded goals in the last 22 games alone, a number that matches or surpasses the season-long haul of 18 other teams. Strangely, over the last 20 games, the Griffins have scored more shorthanded goals (12) than power play goals (9).

Power Outage: The Griffins’ league-worst power play (12.5%) has gone 0-for-28 with the advantage during its six-game losing streak, extending its current drought to 0-for-31. Not helping matters, Grand Rapids’ opponents have converted nine of their 50 chances (18.0%) over the last six games and have enjoyed more opportunities than the Griffins in each of the last eight games. Over that span, foes are 11-for-67 (16.4%) while Grand Rapids has scored twice in a mere 37 attempts (5.4%).

Working Overtime: The Griffins have lost their last five games decided after regulation time (0-0-2-3), just the third time in franchise history they’ve lost five straight overtime or shootout decisions. The last time was Dec. 11-23, 1998, when they suffered five shootout losses in a span of just six games…Grand Rapids had won five straight shootout decisions before falling to the Moose three times in a nine-day span (March 16-24), dropping to 6-5 this season and 55-56 all time in the skills display…Last Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss at Milwaukee dropped Grand Rapids’ record in the extra session this season to 0-6. In 2005-06, the Griffins could do almost no wrong in O.T., winning their last five regular season decisions to finish 6-1, before going 3-0 in overtime during the playoffs…Jimmy Howard’s three straight losses have all come past regulation time (one OTL, two SOLs).

Oh Captain, My Captain: Matt Ellis scored a pair of goals on Friday in Manitoba to extend his scoring streak to a career-high seven games (8-3—11). While that run was snapped on Saturday, the captain has still recorded points in 10 of his last 13 AHL contests (9-6—15).

Good to Have You Back: After welcoming back forwards Darryl Bootland (Wed.) and Matt Ellis (Thu.) on assignment from the Detroit Red Wings earlier last week, the Griffins added defenseman Danny Syvret to their roster on Saturday night after he was assigned by Edmonton. Syvret became the 86th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL on Feb. 27, a night made even more memorable by the Oilers’ retirement of Mark Messier’s jersey. He played 12 games with Edmonton, averaging a whopping 20:47 in ice time and leading the Oilers in time on ice twice, including a season-high 27:49 versus St. Louis on March 17.

Good Riddance: Grand Rapids closed out its season series with the Moose on Saturday with a seventh straight one-goal decision in the series, four of which were via shootouts. Unfortunately, the Griffins came out on the short end in each of the last six games, including all four clashes at the MTS Centre. Grand Rapids’ power play failed to score in each of the six straight losses to Manitoba (0-for-27) and ended the series on a 0-for-33 skid, finishing 2-for-50 (4.0%) overall. The Moose, meanwhile, converted 8-of-39 chances (20.5%) in their six straight wins and went 12-of-59 (20.3%) in the season series, as their power play accounted for 12 of their 18 goals scored in regulation time.

Record Within Reach: If the Griffins win seven of their final 10 games they’ll record their eighth-consecutive 40-win season overall and their sixth straight as members of the AHL, tying the league record set by the Cleveland Barons from 1947-53.

Scouting Report

Wed., March 28 vs. Milwaukee Admirals (36-23-4-8) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Cast: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-3-3-0 Overall, 0-2-1-0 Home. Eighth and final meeting overall, fourth and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 42-25-7-4-3 Overall, 24-11-2-1-0 Home. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Claude Noel (4th season). Notes: The Griffins have won just one of their last 12 meetings (1-8-3-0) with Milwaukee, including playoffs, with their lone 2-1 win coming in shootout fashion at the Bradley Center on Dec. 13…Six of Grand Rapids’ 11 losses over that span have been by a single goal, including three overtime defeats…Including two games during the 2006 Western Conference Finals, the Admirals have won each of their last six visits to Van Andel Arena (April 15-Dec. 15, 2006), out-scoring the Griffins by a cumulative 28-10 count. Only two other opponents in Grand Rapids history have enjoyed such a run of success on the Griffins’ ice: Chicago tallied a record seven straight wins (including two during the postseason) from April 2-Dec. 11, 2004, while the IHL’s Detroit Vipers took six consecutive regular season visits from Dec. 31, 1997-March 19, 1999.

Fri., March 30 at Hamilton Bulldogs (38-24-3-5) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
TV: Comcast Local at 7:30 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:30 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-3-0-1 Overall, 0-2-0-0 Road. Seventh of 10 meetings overall, third of five in Hamilton. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 14-11-1-0-2 Overall, 6-7-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins and Bulldogs will meet four times in the final 10 games for each club, including three games in Hamilton…Grand Rapids has scored only eight regulation-time goals in six games against the Dogs this season…Former Griffin Eric Manlow has just two goals in 50 games with Hamilton this season, after posting consecutive 20-goal campaigns with Grand Rapids.

Sat., March 31 vs. Chicago Wolves (41-23-2-6) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast Local at 7 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Third of four meetings overall, second and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 39-25-2-2-2 Overall, 19-10-2-1-2 Home. NHL Affiliation: Atlanta Thrashers. Head Coach: John Anderson (10th season). Notes: Chicago, just 16-15-1-3 at home this season, is an AHL-best 25-8-1-3 on the road…The Wolves’ top-ranked offense (303 goals) boasts the AHL’s top two scorers in Darren Haydar (37-71—108) and rookie Brett Sterling (51-39—90)…These rivals have not met in four months and seven days (since Nov. 24), their longest stretch without a tilt since going four months and 17 days during the 1998-99 season (Oct. 10-Feb. 27).



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