This Week’s Games
Fri., Dec. 5 - Toronto Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Dec. 6 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Nov. 26 - Manchester Monarchs 3 at GRIFFINS 2 SO - 9-5-2-3, 23 pts. (4th, North Division)
Fri., Nov. 28 - Chicago Wolves 2 at GRIFFINS 3 - 10-5-2-3, 25 pts. (4th)
Sat., Nov. 29 - Rochester Americans 1 at GRIFFINS 3 - 11-5-2-3, 27 pts. (4th)
Sun., Nov. 30 - GRIFFINS 1 at Chicago Wolves 0 - 12-5-2-3, 29 pts. (T2nd)
Within Striking Distance: The Griffins have earned points in five straight games (4-0-0-1) and in six of their last seven outings (4-1-0-2), propelling them into a three-way tie for second place in the North Division with Hamilton and Syracuse at 29 points apiece. That trio sits just one point behind first-place Manitoba.
You Deserve a Break Today: Grand Rapids went 3-0-0-1 last week while playing four games in five nights, finishing the stretch by winning three games in three nights for the first time since Dec. 21-23, 2005. Included in that gauntlet was a pair of victories over the West Division-leading Chicago Wolves, earning the Griffins a rare reward of back-to-back days off from practice yesterday and today. After playing 12 games in a span of just 20 days from Nov. 11-30, the Griffins will play twice this week (hosting Toronto on Friday and Hamilton on Saturday) and only four times in a span of 16 days (Dec. 1-16).
Friday Fun: This Friday’s game against Toronto features a Niklas Kronwall Jersey Card giveaway to the first 1,500 fans, as well as another Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs night. For all 15 Friday games this season, fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Friday is College Night presented by McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon, as college students can purchase a lower bowl ticket for just $10 with a valid student ID. Finally, Library Night returns for all Friday games as well, enabling fans who present a public library card from the Grand Rapids Public Library or Kent District Library to purchase a lower bowl ticket for $10 (limit four per card).
Meet Emily Osment: Hannah Montana’s Emily Osment will meet fans and sign autographs from 7-8 p.m. this Saturday prior to the game against Hamilton, courtesy of Lighthouse Insurance Group. Griffins players will sign autographs after the game, and fans can bring their skates and take to the ice for the post-game open skate.
There’s No Place Like Home: With Saturday’s 3-1 win over Rochester, the Griffins extended their home-ice point streak to seven games (5-0-0-2) and improved to 7-1-0-3 overall at Van Andel Arena. Their seven-game point streak in friendly territory is their longest since a 7-0 run from Jan. 13-Feb. 24, 2007
On Pace for 100: The Griffins have 29 points through their first 22 games of the season, putting them on pace for 105 points and their fifth 100-point campaign in 13 seasons (115 in 2005-06; 106 in 2002-03; 113 in 2000-01; 111 in 1999-00).
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand fifth in the AHL with an average attendance of 6,067, a year-to-date increase of 13.5% over the first 11 home games of 2007-08 (5,345). The team’s total attendance of 66,739 is its highest through 11 home games since 2003-04 (68,712).
Daniel’s Den: Daniel Larsson made 29 saves in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Chicago, improving to 5-0-1 with two shutouts, a 1.59 GAA and a 0.938 save percentage (150-160) in his last seven games. He earned the Griffins’ nominations for Reebok/AHL Player of the Week (2-0-0, 1 SO, 1.00 GAA, 0.962%) and Reebok X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for November (5-1-1, 2 SO, 2.18 GAA, 0.914%).
Larsson Leftovers: Daniel Larsson has become the sixth goalie in Griffins history to notch a pair of 1-0 wins in a single season (including Nov. 11 vs. Houston), joining Jimmy Howard (2006-07), Joey MacDonald (2004-05), Simon Lajeunesse (2001-02), Mike Fountain (1999-00) and Pokey Reddick (1996-97).
A Long Time Coming: In Saturday’s win over Rochester, Aaron Downey netted his first goal since Dec. 27, 2006 – while playing for the Montreal Canadiens – and added his first assist in his 20th game as a Griffin. He also earned a helper in Sunday’s victory at Chicago…After contributing three assists in his first 11 games, Cory Emmerton has logged nine assists in his last nine outings…Evan McGrath has notched seven points (3-4—7) in his last six games after starting the season with four points (1-3—4) in his first nine appearances…After going scoreless in his first seven games this season, Aaron Gagnon lit the lamp last Wednesday versus Manchester and Friday against Chicago, accounting for his first two AHL goals…Jamie Tardif has as many points in the last three games (1-1—2) as he did in his first 12 contests (2-0—2)…After enduring a stretch of 10 games in which he managed just one goal, Justin Abdelkader has points in four of his last five games (1-3—4).
No Freebies Allowed: During Saturday’s 3-1 win over Rochester, Jimmy Howard denied Kenndal McArdle’s penalty shot just 3:07 into the game. Howard has stopped all four penalty shots he’s faced in his Griffins career, including two by the Americans.
Lone Star Landon: Since being recalled from the Griffins by Dallas on Nov. 21, left wing Landon Wilson has tallied two points (1-1—2) and six PIM in five games, averaging 9:49 of ice time. Despite his absence from Grand Rapids’ last seven games, he still places among the club’s leaders with eight goals (3rd), 15 points (4th), 37 PIM (1st) and seven power play goals (1st).
Ninety-Eight Down, Two to Go: Last Friday, former Grand Rapids defenseman Bryan Helmer skated in Washington’s 3-0 win over Montreal, becoming the 98th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Helmer, 36, was an ironman for the Griffins for two straight seasons (2004-05, 2005-06), appearing in all 80 games both years. Over the course of his 160 career games in Grand Rapids, he tallied 81 points (19-62—81), a plus-36 rating and 202 PIM. He also notched nine points (1-8—9) and 24 PIM through 16 playoff contests.
Mac Daddy: Former Griffins netminder Joey MacDonald (2002-07), the franchise’s career leader in goalie games played (164), wins (88) and shutouts (16), is making a name for himself in the NHL. Thrust into the New York Islanders’ starting role earlier this year due to Rick Dipietro’s injury, MacDonald has gone 10-9-2 with a 2.89 GAA and a 0.907 save percentage in 21 appearances. On Monday, he was named by the NHL as its “Third Star” for November. MacDonald made 14 consecutive starts from Nov. 3-29, posting an 8-5-1 record with a 2.64 GAA and a 0.916 save percentage, and led all goaltenders in games (14), minutes (842), shots faced (439) and victories (8, tied) for the month.
Getting Back on Track: The Griffins’ penalty killers denied all 17 opponent power play chances during the four games last week, following a stretch in which they had surrendered a power play goal in five straight contests. As a result, their penalty killing unit has climbed to second in the AHL at 88.4%.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Justin Abdelkader – T3rd rookie goals (9), T11th rookie points (14); Cory Emmerton – T3rd rookie assists (12), T18th rookie points (12); Jakub Kindl – T17th defenseman points (11); Daniel Larsson – T3rd shutouts (2), T13th GAA (2.52); Garrett Stafford – T11th defenseman points (12); Landon Wilson – T3rd power play goals (7).
Fri., Dec. 5 vs. Toronto Marlies (9-9-0-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 11-12-0-0 Overall, 6-5-0-0 Home. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of eight meetings overall, first of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (3rd season). Notes: Toronto’s Jeremy Williams leads the AHL with nine power play goals…The Griffins (88.4%) and Marlies (88.1%) rank second and fourth in the AHL, respectively, in penalty killing…Toronto has already allowed five shorthanded goals this season…The Marlies average just 2.65 goals per game (T24th in AHL)…In Justin Pogge’s first six career games against Grand Rapids (through Dec. 27, 2007), he went 5-0 with two shutouts, a 1.50 GAA and a 0.957% (180-188). His fortunes have changed during the 2008 calendar year, though, showing one win (his third shutout vs. the Griffins) against three losses. In those three defeats, he posted a combined 6.33 GAA and a 0.774% (41-53), getting pulled in two of the games.
Sat., Dec. 6 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (14-7-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 19-19-1-0-2 Overall, 11-7-1-0-2 Home. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Second of six meetings overall, second of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (4th season). Notes: The Bulldogs, Griffins and Syracuse Crunch enter the week in a three-way tie for third in the North Division…Hamilton is a solid 7-3-1-0 on the road, but one of those defeats came in 6-4 fashion during the Griffins’ Oct. 25 home opener…Bulldogs Matt D’Agostini (14-11—25) and Yanick Lehoux (6-19—25) rank fourth and sixth, respectively, in AHL scoring, while long-time NHLer Marc Denis paces the circuit with 12 wins and ranks 11th with a 2.49 GAA…Hamilton’s second-ranked offense (3.68 goals per game) boasts three of the AHL’s top 14 rookie scorers in Ben Maxwell (8-8—16, 8th), Max Pacioretty (3-11—14, T11th) and Ryan White (6-7—13, T14th)…The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 35-20 in the third period.