01/20/2009 2:29 PM
2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications – DCU Center – Worcester, Mass.
Last Week’s Results
Welcome Home: Grand Rapids, which maintains second place in the North Division with a 25-9-6-3 record and 59 points, will commence a season-high five-game homestand on Wednesday against the Toronto Marlies, followed by a Friday-Saturday set versus the Quad City Flames. The Griffins, who have earned points in 20 of their 23 home games thus far (14-3-3-3), sit just one point behind first-place Manitoba (60) with one game in hand, and five points ahead of third-place Hamilton (54).
Nice to Meet You, Mr. McCarty: Prior to this Saturday’s game against Quad City, four-time Stanley Cup champion and current Detroit Red Wings forward Darren McCarty will sign autographs for fans from 6-7 p.m., thanks to Aquinas College. The Red Wings’ own Karen Newman will also perform the national anthem prior to the game. In addition, the first 2,000 fans will receive Griffins rally towels, courtesy of Aquinas College, and fans can bring their skates and take to the ice for the post-game open skate.
Friday Fun: This Friday’s game against Quad City will mark another Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs night, with $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts available from 6-8 p.m. while supplies last, as well as College Night and Library Night ($10 lower-bowl ticket with student I.D. or library card). In addition, the first 1,500 kids will receive a Griffins player card strip, which features Justin Abdelkader, Mattias Ritola, Francis Pare, Jason Jozsa and Jan Mursak.
Winning Wednesday: All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 6-5 shootout win over Rockford on Jan. 7 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to this Wednesday’s game against Toronto. Redemption can be done in advance at The Zone, or on game night at the Van Andel Arena box office. In addition, if Grand Rapids defeats the Marlies, all fans in attendance can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the game on Wednesday, March 4 vs. Toronto. Also, Douglas J will present “Hockey in Heels,” with free armchair massages on the concourse and giveaways of spa treatments and products throughout the game.
Home Sweet Home: The Griffins’ recent nine-game home point streak (7-0-2-0 from Dec. 17-Jan. 10), which was snapped by Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Moose, was their longest since a 10-game run (9-0-0-1) from Feb. 18-April 14, 2006…Grand Rapids has lost only three of its 23 home games during regulation (14-3-3-3 at Van Andel Arena).
Keep On Rollin’: Grand Rapids’ 0.686 winning percentage is tops in the North Division, second in the Western Conference (Milwaukee – 0.690) and third in the AHL (Hershey – 0.705)…The Griffins have points in 22 of their last 26 outings overall (17-4-4-1) overall…Grand Rapids is only six wins and 11 points shy of the totals earned by its 2007-08 brethren…The Griffins’ 59 points are tied for their third-most ever through 43 games (68 in 2000-01, 61 in 2005-06, and 59 in 1999-00).
Cold-Blooded Killers: The Griffins recently held 11 consecutive opponents without a power play goal (Dec. 27-Jan. 17), smashing the previous franchise record of nine straight games set from Nov. 19-Dec. 6, 2003. A power play goal by Rockford’s Petri Kontiola during the second period on Wednesday snapped that streak, as well as the Griffins’ run of 43 consecutive opponent power plays killed that fell two shy of the team record (45, Nov. 15-Dec. 10, 2003). That recent success propelled the Griffins into first in the AHL’s penalty killing rankings at 88.9%. Grand Rapids has allowed league lows of 22 power play goals overall and eight power play goals at home, while denying an AHL-high 92.8% of its visitors’ chances. In their previous 12 seasons, the Griffins have never finished higher than fourth (2000-01 IHL) or above 87.0% (2003-04) in penalty killing.
Better Late Than Ever: The Griffins’ nine regulation losses remain the fewest in the AHL, but their nine defeats past regulation time (6 OTL, 3 SOL) are the most in the league and their league-high six overtime losses have tied a franchise record set in 2006-07.
GR’s Stars Set to Shine: Griffins defenseman Jakub Kindl and goaltender Daniel Larsson have been selected to play for the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star Team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications, which will be held this Sunday, Jan. 25 and Monday, Jan. 26 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass. Kindl was chosen as a starter via on-line fan balloting at theahl.com, while Larsson was selected as a reserve by a committee of AHL coaches. Kindl is the sixth Grand Rapids defenseman in eight years to be selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic, joining Jonathan Ericsson (2008), Derek Meech (2007), Niklas Kronwall (2004-05), Travis Richards (2004) and John Gruden (2002). Larsson becomes the ninth Grand Rapids goaltender in 13 years to be chosen to play in an all-star game, following in the footsteps of Jimmy Howard (2008), Joey MacDonald (2005), Marc Lamothe (2003) and Martin Prusek (2002) in the AHL, and Mike Fountain (2001), Jani Hurme (2000), Ian Gordon (1998) and Pokey Reddick (1997) in the International Hockey League. Kindl and Larsson will be joined at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic by three former Griffins, including forward Alexandre Giroux (Hershey) and defensemen Bryan Helmer (Hershey) and Danny Syvret (Philadelphia) of the Canadian AHL All-Star Team.
Watch it Live: Fox Sports Detroit PLUS will televise both the AHL All-Star Skills Competition (Sunday, Jan. 25 at 4 p.m.) and the AHL All-Star Game (Monday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.) live throughout Michigan. West Michigan providers include Comcast (ch. 901), Charter (ch. 88), AT&T U-verse (ch. 738), DIRECTV (ch. 664) and Dish Network (ch. 499 for All-Star Skills Competition, ch. 448 for All-Star Game).
Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins on Monday nominated goalie Jimmy Howard for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he went 2-1-0 with a 2.14 GAA and a 0.925 save percentage in three games. Howard has allowed two or fewer goals in six of his last nine outings.
Howard’s High Notes: On Saturday in Rockford, Jimmy Howard surpassed current New York Islander Joey MacDonald as the Griffins’ all-time leader in goalie games played (now 165 to MacDonald’s 164) and joined MacDonald as the only goalies in franchise history to reach 80 wins. Howard also recently took over the number one spot as Grand Rapids’ all-time leader in goaltender minutes played (now 9,412:09 to MacDonald’s 9,208:13), and is getting ready to pass his old teammate as the leader in numerous other categories. He currently ranks second all-time to MacDonald in saves (4,251 to 4,208, 43 away), wins (88 to 80, eight away) and shutouts (16 to 12, four away).
Grand Larssony: Daniel Larsson’s five shutouts are tied for first in the league and are within one of the Griffins’ single-season record. Larsson’s five shutouts were earned from Nov. 11 to Jan. 10, as he joined Joey MacDonald as the only Grand Rapids netminders to log five shutouts in a two-month span. Larsson, who also ranks among the AHL’s leaders with 14 wins (14-5-1, T11th), a 2.42 GAA (T7th) and a 0.921 save percentage (7th), is 12-3-1 with a 2.05 GAA, a 0.933% and those five shutouts over his last 18 outings.
Honor Roll: Evan McGrath has notched a point in 13 of his last 18 games (5-9—14)…Francis Pare, who enjoyed his second three-point night (2-1—3) of the season last Friday, has points in 12 of his last 17 games (10-9—19) and seven goals over the last 11 contests…Mattias Ritola’s six-game point streak (4-4—8) was snapped on Saturday, but he has lit the lamp in five of the last 10 games (5-4—9)…Darren Haydar has registered points in 15 of the last 20 games (7-11—18)…Ville Leino has eight points (2-6—8) over the last seven games.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Justin Abdelkader – T14th rookie points (25); Darren Helm – T6th shorthanded goals (2); Jimmy Howard – 15th GAA (2.53), T9th shutouts (2); Jakub Kindl – 5th defenseman points (26), T1st defenseman game-winning goals (2); Daniel Larsson – T1st shutouts (5), T11th wins (14), T7th GAA (2.42), 7th save percentage (0.921); Ryan Oulahen – T4th shorthanded assists (2); and Francis Pare – T12th rookie points (26), T6th in rookie plus/minus (+12), T7th rookie game-winning goals (2).
Milestones: Ryan Oulahen has appeared in 272 games as a Griffin, just eight behind fifth-place Dave Van Drunen on the franchise’s all-time list (280)…Garrett Stafford appeared in his 400th pro game on Jan. 9 and his 400th AHL contest last Wednesday in Hamilton…Darren Haydar is just one point shy of 500 as a pro (187-312—499) and nine points away from 500 in the AHL (186-305—491)…Francis Lemieux’s next game will mark his 200th professional and AHL contest…Aaron Downey was assessed his 1,400th penalty minute in the AHL last Friday against Manitoba.
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand fifth in the AHL with an average attendance of 6,533, a year-to-date increase of 13.1% over the first 23 home contests of 2007-08 (5,775). The team’s total attendance of 150,261 is its highest through 23 home games in six years, since the 2002-03 campaign (155,145).
Blanks for the Memories: Grand Rapids has shut out five of its last 15 opponents overall, including four of the last eight at home, and now shows seven shutouts on the season, just three shy of the franchise standard set in 2003-04. The Griffins’ recent domination has moved them into third in the AHL in goals allowed (2.63 per game).
Wed., Jan. 21 vs. Toronto Marlies (21-16-1-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 23 vs. Quad City Flames (16-18-5-3) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
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