This Week’s Games
Wed., Feb. 4 - GRIFFINS at Quad City Flames - 8:05 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Fri., Feb. 6 - Chicago Wolves at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Feb. 7 - Lake Erie Monsters at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Feb. 8 - GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies - 4 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., Jan. 30 - Rochester Americans 3 at GRIFFINS 2 SO - 28-9-6-4, 66 pts. (2nd, North Division)
Sat., Jan. 31 - Rochester Americans 4 at GRIFFINS 8 - 29-9-6-4, 68 pts. (1st)
Flying High: The Griffins (29-9-6-4) reclaimed first place in the North Division with Saturday’s 8-4 win over Rochester, which put them one point ahead of Manitoba with a game still in hand. They completed their five-game homestand with a 4-0-0-1 mark and improved to 16-2-3-1 in their last 22 games overall, giving them the best winning percentage in the Western Conference (0.708) and the second-highest mark in the AHL (Hershey – 0.714).
Good to See You Again: This week, the Griffins will play a Friday-Saturday set at home for the fourth time in the last five weekends. On Friday, Chicago will make its second and final visit of the season for ‘80s Night, complete with music, trivia and in-game promotions. It’s 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). For Saturday’s matchup with Lake Erie, the first 1,500 fans will receive a Jimmy Howard jersey card presented by Emerald Leisure Source, and all are invited to bring their skates and take to the ice for the post-game open skate.
Get Busy: This week’s games will comprise the Griffins’ fifth 3-in-3 and fifth 4-in-5 of the season. Combined, Grand Rapids is 9-2-0-1 (0.792) this season when playing three times in as many nights, and 12-3-0-1 (0.781) when playing four times in five nights. After playing only four 3-in-3s over the first 49 games of the season (through Feb. 5), the Griffins will run the gauntlet seven times over the final 31 games, including a pair of rare 3-in-3s at home.
Hit the Road, Jack: The Griffins have already played 28 home games this season – second only to San Antonio’s 30 – leaving 20 of their final 32 regular season contests to be played on the road. The disparity will grow even greater with this weekend’s home set against Chicago and Lake Erie, after which they’ll play only 10 of their final 29 games at Van Andel Arena. Two bright spots, however, are the Griffins’ 11-6-3-0 record in foreign territory (including 8-2-1-0 in the last 11 road contests), and the fact that Manitoba, their main rival for the North Division crown, has also played 28 home games.
Graduation Days: Last Thursday, Aaron Downey became the 100th former Griffin to play in the NHL by skating in the Detroit Red Wings’ 4-2 loss to Dallas. Justin Abdelkader and Ville Leino then became nos. 101 and 102, respectively, during Detroit’s 4-2 defeat at Washington on Saturday, with Abdelkader making his first NHL appearance of the season and Leino scoring a highlight-reel goal in his NHL debut.
A Clean Slate: With 29 wins and 68 points, the Griffins are just two victories and two points shy of matching the totals attained by their 2007-08 brethren.
Offensive Explosion: The eight goals scored by the Griffins on Saturday versus Rochester were their most since a 9-2 win at Cleveland on Feb. 16, 2006, and their most at Van Andel Arena since a 9-1 mauling of Utah on Feb. 24, 2002...Francis Lemieux on Saturday became the first Griffin to notch two hat tricks in one season (Dec. 19 vs. MIL) since Donald MacLean tallied five during his AHL MVP campaign of 2005-06…Linemates Evan McGrath and Francis Pare chipped in four and three assists, respectively, as McGrath set both Grand Rapids’ season high and his own personal best for points in a game, while Pare became just the 12th rookie in franchise history to reach 30 points (15-15—30)…After playing his first 39 games without a goal, rookie defenseman Sergei Kolosov scored his first in Friday’s shootout loss to the Americans, then tallied two more in the final three minutes of Saturday’s rematch.
Keep On Rollin’: The Griffins’ 68 points are third-most ever through 48 games, behind only their 69-point 2005-06 season (33-12-1-2) and their 72-point 2000-01 IHL squad (34-10-4)…The Griffins are 16-2-3-1 in their last 22 games, their best run since suffering two regulation losses in a span of 23 games (19-2-1-1) from Dec. 18, 2005-Feb. 11, 2006…Grand Rapids has earned points in 27 of its last 31 games (21-4-4-2) and is 22-0-3-2 when leading after two periods.
Home Sweet Home: Grand Rapids’ 18-3-3-4 record at Van Andel Arena gives it the most home wins (tied), most home points (43) and fewest home regulation losses (3) in the AHL. The Griffins have points in 14 of their last 15 (11-1-2-1) and 22 of their last 24 (16-2-3-3) home games.
AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins today nominated left wing Ryan Oulahen for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award. He scored a power play goal in Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Rochester before lighting the lamp twice during Saturday’s 8-4 win over the Amerks, earning Second Star honors. Oulahen ranks among the Griffins’ leaders with 13 goals (5th) and a plus-11 rating (3rd) on the season.
Two-Headed Monster: Jimmy Howard (2.38 GAA) and Daniel Larsson (2.42) currently stand eighth and 10th, respectively, in the AHL’s goaltender rankings, putting them in position to possibly become the fourth goalie tandem in franchise history to both finish among the league’s top 10 netminders at season’s end. The feat has previously been accomplished in 2003-04 (Joey MacDonald 7th at 1.97 and Marc Lamothe 10th at 2.06), 1999-00 (Jani Hurme 3rd at 2.18 and Mike Fountain 7th at 2.50) and 1997-98 (Patrick Lalime T7th at 2.61 and Ian Gordon 10th at 2.68)…In his last 12 games (Dec. 17-Jan. 30), Howard is 8-3-1 with three shutouts, a 1.65 GAA and a 0.942%, allowing two goals or less in each of his eight wins and rising dramatically from 36th to 8th in the AHL’s goaltender rankings...In his last 20 outings (Nov. 11-Jan. 31), Larsson is 14-3-1 with five shutouts, a 2.31 GAA and a 0.926%.
Cold-Blooded Killers: The Griffins have allowed only three opponent power play goals in their last 17 games, part of a 64-for-67 penalty killing stretch (95.5%) that has propelled them into first in the AHL’s rankings at 89.2%. Grand Rapids has allowed league lows of 24 power play goals overall and 10 power play goals at home, while denying an AHL-high 92.5% 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.
Hay Fever: Darren Haydar has registered points in 10 of the last 13 games (3-10—13) and in 17 of the last 23 contests (6-15—21). He has assumed the Griffins’ leads with 16 goals, 39 points, eight power play goals and four game-winning goals.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Justin Abdelkader – 15th rookie points (27); Darren Helm – T7th shorthanded goals (2); Jimmy Howard – 8th GAA (2.38), T5th shutouts (3); Jakub Kindl – 8th defenseman points (27), T2nd defenseman game-winning goals (2); Daniel Larsson – 2nd shutouts (5), 10th GAA (2.42), 8th save percentage (0.922); Ryan Oulahen – T5th shorthanded assists (2); and Francis Pare – T5th rookie goals (15), T12th rookie points (30), 3rd rookie shooting percentage (15-73, 0.205), T4th rookie plus/minus (+16), T8th rookie game-winning goals (2).
Milestones: Ryan Oulahen has appeared in 277 games as a Griffin, just three behind fifth-place Dave Van Drunen on the franchise’s all-time list (280). He has also scored 47 goals for Grand Rapids, putting him three away from becoming the 12th player in franchise history to reach 50 goals…Darren Haydar stands just five points away from 500 in the AHL (186-309—495).
Howard’s High Notes: This season, Jimmy Howard has passed current New York Islander Joey MacDonald to become the Griffins’ all-time leader in games played (168 to 164), minutes played (9604:00 to 9208:13) and saves (now 4,307 to 4,251). Howard is also getting ready to pass his old teammate as the franchise’s leader in wins (88 to 82, six away) and shutouts (16 to 13, three away).
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand fourth in the AHL with an average attendance of 6,759, a year-to-date increase of 6.6% over the first 28 home contests of 2007-08 (6,343). The team’s total attendance of 189,260 is its highest through 28 home games in six years, since the 2002-03 campaign (189,995).
Blanks for the Memories: Daniel Larsson (five) and Jimmy Howard (three) have combined for an AHL-high eight shutouts this season – all within the last 38 games – to move within two of the franchise record of 10 set in 2003-04…The Griffins have shut out six of their last 20 opponents overall and five of their last 13 visitors to Van Andel Arena.
Working Overtime: Friday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Rochester marked the Griffins’ fifth straight game that went past regulation (one OTW, one OTL, two SOW, one SOL), setting a new franchise record. It was also the third consecutive home game to end in a shootout, another franchise mark…Friday’s decision marked the Griffins’ first loss in their last four games decided by the shootout, evening their record in the skills competition this season at 4-4.
Better Late Than Ever: The Griffins’ nine regulation losses remain the fewest in the AHL, but their 10 defeats past regulation time (6 OTL, 4 SOL) are tied with Quad City for the most in the league, and their league-high (tied, Springfield) six overtime losses have tied a franchise record set in 2006-07.
Wed., Feb. 4 at Quad City Flames (17-21-5-5) – I Wireless Center – 8:05 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: 3-3-0-1 Overall, 1-1-0-1 Road. Season Series: 3-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Moline. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Ryan McGill (2nd season). Notes: After going 0-3-0-1 against Quad City last season, the Griffins are 3-0 so far this year, including a pair of shootout wins at Van Andel Arena on Jan. 23-24…Although the Flames lost to the Griffins by a 1-0 shootout count on Jan. 24, Quad City’s Matt Keetley was credited with a shutout after becoming the only opposing netminder this season to hold Grand Rapids without a goal during regulation and overtime…The Flames are just 2-5-1-2 in their last 10.
Fri., Feb. 6 vs. Chicago Wolves (24-22-2-1) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast Cable 100 (Chicago) at 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 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 43-29-2-3-2 Overall, 21-11-2-2-2 Home. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of four meetings overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Atlanta Thrashers. Head Coach: Don Granato (1st season). Notes: The Wolves started the season 10-2-1-1 but are 14-20-1-0 since…If the Calder Cup Playoffs began today, the defending champs would miss out on qualifying by a single point…Chicago ranks near the bottom of the league in both power play (14.3%, T26th) and penalty killing (79.5%, 28th).
Sat., Feb. 7 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (19-22-1-5) – Van Andel 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 Series: 9-3-1-1 Overall, 6-1-0-0 Home. Season Series: 3-0-1-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Fifth of eight meetings overall, third of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Joe Sacco (2nd season). Notes: In their last three visits to Van Andel Arena, the Monsters have been outscored by a 13-2 count…Lake Erie has been outscored 29-13 in seven all-time games at Grand Rapids, giving up five or more goals on four occasions…With a league-high six shutouts to his credit, Monsters netminder Tyler Weiman ranks fourth in the AHL with a 2.19 GAA.
Sun., Feb. 8 at Toronto Marlies (23-18-2-5) – Ricoh Coliseum – 4 p.m.
TV: Rogers (Toronto) at 4 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:35 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: 12-12-1-0 Overall, 5-7-0-0 Road. Season Series: 2-0-1-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Fourth of eight meetings overall, second of four in Toronto. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (3rd season). Notes: The two most recent meetings between the Griffins and Marlies went to overtime, with each team claiming a 3-2 victory…If the season ended today, Grand Rapids and Toronto would begin the playoffs by facing off in the North Division Semifinals…The Marlies allow a mere 26.98 shots per game, third-fewest in the AHL.