This Week’s Games
Tue., Dec. 30 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Wed., Dec. 31 - Iowa Chops at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Jan. 2 - GRIFFINS at Hartford Wolf Pack - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Jan. 3 - GRIFFINS at Manchester Monarchs - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Dec. 26 - Peoria Rivermen 4 at GRIFFINS 3 OT - 17-7-4-3, 41 pts. (2nd, North Division)
Sat., Dec. 27 - Lake Erie Monsters 0 at GRIFFINS 2 - 18-7-4-3, 43 pts. (T1st)
A View From the Top: The Griffins’ 2-0 win over Lake Erie on Saturday lifted them into a tie with the Manitoba Moose atop the North Division at 43 points, marking the first time since Oct. 18, 2007 that Grand Rapids owned at least a share of first place. Grand Rapids’ current six-game point streak (5-0-1-0) is one game shy of its season high, set from Oct. 11-31 (4-0-2-1).
Party Like It’s 2009: A Grand Rapids tradition will continue this Wednesday when the Griffins host their 12th annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza and the first-ever visit by the Iowa Chops. Game time is set for 7 p.m. Griffins players will wear special black jerseys during the game that will be signed by the respective players and auctioned off throughout the remainder of the season. The first of four auctions with six sweaters will take place following the game, featuring the jerseys of Darren Haydar, Jakub Kindl, Francis Lemieux, Ryan Oulahen, Francis Pare and Landon Wilson. In addition, the first 1,500 fans will receive black Griffins t-shirts, and all fans are encouraged to wear black. Fans can stay after the game to enjoy West Michigan’s largest indoor fireworks show, presented by Comcast, and take part in the post-game open skate.
Bring It On!: For the third time in a six-week span, the Griffins will run a gauntlet of four games in five nights this week. They have thrived on such hectic schedules, though, as they are an incredible 7-0-0-1 (0.938) when playing four games in five nights this season.
Positive Indicators: The Griffins stand at 18-7-4-3, putting them 11 games over 0.500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 2005-06 season. The team owns the third-best mark in franchise history through 32 games in terms of points (43), trailing only the 2002-03 squad that started 19-7-4-2 (44 pts.) and the 2000-01 IHL unit that set the standard at 23-6-3 (49 pts.).
Grand Larssony: Daniel Larsson tied a franchise record with his second consecutive shutout on Saturday, making 23 saves in the Griffins’ 2-0 win over the Monsters. Larsson, who stopped 38 shots in a 6-0 win at Rochester on Dec. 21, became the sixth Griffins goalie to log back-to-back shutouts and the first since teammate Jimmy Howard did it during the 2006-07 campaign. His 2.41 GAA ranks seventh in the AHL, while his four shutouts tie for the league lead and put him within two of the team’s single-season standard set by five other netminders. Larsson’s shutout streak now stands at 120:19, less than two periods shy of the team record (153:58) set by Marc Lamothe from Nov. 7-16, 2002. Over his last 12 outings (Nov. 11-Dec. 27), he is 9-1-1 with four shutouts, a 1.85 GAA and a 0.935 save percentage.
Home Sweet Home: The Griffins boast an impressive 11-2-2-3 record at Van Andel Arena this season, tying Milwaukee for the fewest regulation home losses in the league, and they have points in 13 of their last 14 games in friendly territory (9-1-2-2).
Howard’s High Notes: Jimmy Howard is nearing or getting ready to supplant New York Islander Joey MacDonald as the leader in numerous Griffins career goaltending categories. Howard currently ranks second all time to MacDonald in goalie games played (164 to 159, five away), minutes (9208:13 to 9061:22, 146:51 away), saves (4,251 to 4,054, 197 away), wins (88 to 76, 12 away) and shutouts (16 to 11, five away).
No Soup for You!: The Griffins have shut out three of their last four opponents and four of their last 11 foes, lowering their team GAA to 2.75 (tied for sixth in AHL) in the process.
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand fifth in the AHL with an average attendance of 6,301, a year-to-date increase of 16.8% over the first 18 home contests of 2007-08 (5,394). The team’s total attendance of 113,416 is its highest through 18 home games in five years, since the 2003-04 campaign (118,939).
Tremendous Trio: The line of Francis Pare (2-5—7), Francis Lemieux (4-2—6) and Evan McGrath (3-2—5) has combined for 17 points (8-9—17) over the last five games.
Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins today nominated right wing Darren Haydar for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he tallied three points (1-2—3) and an even rating in two games last week. After contributing an assist in Friday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Peoria, the captain scored and assisted on power play goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Lake Erie, earning Second Star honors. Haydar leads the Griffins with 12 goals and seven power play goals (tied), and he has climbed into a tie for second on the team in scoring (12-13—25) by registering points in six of the last seven games (2-5—7).
Honor Roll: Jakub Kindl’s career-high four-game point streak (1-5—6) was snapped on Friday, but he still has points in eight of the last 10 contests (1-9—10), moving him to fifth among AHL defensemen in scoring (5-16—21)…Evan McGrath’s career-high six-game point streak (3-4—7) ended on Saturday…After going 20 games without a goal, Ville Leino has four goals in the last six games (4-2—6)…Darren Helm has points in six of his last nine games (5-2—7)…Francis Pare’s career-best five-game scoring streak (3-5—8) was snapped on Saturday…Francis Lemieux has points in four of the last five games (4-2—6).
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Justin Abdelkader – T9th rookie points (20); Darren Helm – T3rd shorthanded goals (2); Jakub Kindl – 5th defenseman points (21); Daniel Larsson – T1st shutouts (4), 7th GAA (2.41); Ryan Oulahen – T3rd shorthanded assists (2); and Garrett Stafford – T18th defenseman points (16).
Better Late Than Ever: The Griffins’ seven regulation losses are the fewest in the AHL but their seven defeats past regulation time (4 OTL, 3 SOL) are the most in the league.
Milestones: Garrett Stafford needs six more games for 400 as a pro and eight more for 400 career AHL contests…Ryan Oulahen currently stands in seventh on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with 261, just three behind sixth-place Derek King (264)…Aaron Downey is one appearance shy of 700 pro contests…Tom Galvin needs one more point for 100 as a pro…One more assist will give Darren Haydar 300 in the AHL.
Tue., Dec. 30 at Peoria Rivermen (19-13-1-1) – Peoria Civic Center-Carver Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:59 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: 9-9-1-1 Overall, 5-5-0-0 Road. Season Series: 0-1-1-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Third of six meetings overall, second of three in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Davis Payne (1st season). Notes: Peoria is the only team that the Griffins have played at least twice this season without earning a victory, and the Rivermen are one of only five teams (out of 16 played) who’ve managed to defeat Grand Rapids in regulation…Peoria is an impressive 11-4-1-1 on home ice but is trying to rebound from a disastrous 4-3 shootout loss to Houston on Sunday in which it led 3-0 with less than three minutes to play.
Wed., Dec. 31 vs. Iowa Chops (17-11-1-2) – 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/Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of two meetings overall, first and only in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Anaheim Ducks. Head Coach: Gord Dineen (1st season). Notes: The Chops will make their first-ever visit to Van Andel Arena, after dropping a 5-4 overtime decision in their inaugural meeting with the Griffins in Des Moines on Nov. 23…Grand Rapids posted a 4-0-1-1 mark at home against the Chops’ predecessors, the Iowa Stars…Iowa’s second-leading scorer, Drew Miller (14-11—25), is a cousin of former Griffins Kelly, Kevin and Kip Miller.
Fri., Jan. 2 at Hartford Wolf Pack (16-14-1-3) – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum – 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/Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of two meetings overall, first and only in Hartford. NHL Affiliation: New York Rangers. Head Coach: Ken Gernander (2nd season). Notes: Hartford sits in third place in the Atlantic Division…This game will mark the Griffins’ first-ever visit to Connecticut…Grand Rapids took a 3-2 home win in its first-ever clash with the Wolf Pack on Nov. 14…Artem Anisimov (14-19—33) and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (14-18—32) are tied for 10th and 13th, respectfully, in the AHL scoring race.
Sat., Jan. 3 at Manchester Monarchs (15-14-0-4) – Verizon Wireless Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:35 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/Season Series: 0-0-0-1 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of two meetings overall, first and only in Manchester. NHL Affiliation: Los Angeles Kings. Head Coach: Mark Morris (3rd season). Notes: Manchester claimed a 3-2 shootout win in the first-ever meeting with Grand Rapids on Nov. 26 at Van Andel Arena…This game will mark the Griffins’ first-ever visit to New Hampshire…The Monarchs have won three straight to climb into fourth place in the Atlantic Division…Manchester is just 7-5-0-3 at home.