03/23/2009 12:40 PM
Last Week’s Results
Crunch Time: Entering the final three weeks of the regular season, the second-place Griffins stand just four points behind Manitoba in the North Division race and have rebuilt their lead over third-place Hamilton to five points. Grand Rapids has won three straight games and is 7-3-0-0 in its last 10 outings.
Punch the Ticket: The Griffins could clinch their 10th playoff berth in 13 seasons as soon as Wednesday, when they visit Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. With Grand Rapids already immune from the threat of any crossover candidate from the West Division, its magic numbers for securing a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs stand at either three points over Syracuse (next game: Tuesday at Manitoba) or four points over Toronto (Wednesday at Hershey).
Banner Year for Attendance: With the Griffins having sold out each of their last three home games (five total this season), the anticipated sellout for their April 10 home finale will give them four consecutive sellouts for the first time in more than 10 years (Dec. 31, 1998-Jan. 29, 1999) and a season-ending attendance of 297,905 (7,448 avg.), their highest since drawing 328,919 during the 2000-01 season. Grand Rapids has already achieved a third straight season of increased attendance for the first time in franchise history, and it will finish with its largest percentage increase ever from one season to the next (8.0%, or exactly 22,000 more fans than last season).
On the Road Again: Sunday’s 3-2 win at Lake Erie began a franchise-record eight-game road trip for the Griffins, who will play just one of their final nine regular season games – April 10 vs. Hamilton – at Van Andel Arena. The team’s two previous seven-game trips also occurred at this point in the season and bore fruitful results, as Grand Rapids went 4-3-0-0 from March 7-18, 2003 and 6-1-0 from March 25-April 7, 2000.
Best Behavior: Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Toronto marked the first penalty-free game in Griffins history and the AHL’s first in one year and a day. The last time a Griffins player did not incur a penalty was on Jan. 4, 2008, while never before had a Grand Rapids’ opponent either gone penalty free or not provided the Griffins with a power play. Jeff Smith, meanwhile, became the first AHL referee to give his whistle the night off since Bob Langdon officiated a well-behaved Lake Erie/Toronto matchup on March 20, 2008.
Take Pride: Friday’s shootout win over the Marlies gave the Griffins 90 points for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign and marked the eighth time in 13 seasons they’ve reached that milestone. They need six more points to reach 100 points for the fifth time…On Saturday, Grand Rapids hit the 40-win mark for the first time since 2005-06 and the ninth time overall. The victory was the Griffins’ 300th regular season win at Van Andel Arena (300-164-15-10-35 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL), 0.630).
AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins today nominated left wing Ville Leino for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he contributed four points (2-2—4) and a plus-three rating in three games last week. He scored a goal and added an assist in both Saturday’s win over Toronto and Sunday’s triumph at Lake Erie, earning First Star honors each night. Leino has points in six of nine games (4-4—8) since returning from the Red Wings.
Climbing the Charts: Jimmy Howard earned his 88th career win as a Griffin on Sunday at Lake Erie, tying Joey MacDonald’s franchise record…Darren Haydar already ranks among the Griffins’ all-time best season-single performers with 72 points (T10th), 13 power play goals (T4th) and nine first goals (T2nd)…Should he maintain it, Francis Pare’s 0.195 shooting percentage would finish as the fourth-highest single-season mark in team history…Pare and Justin Abdelkader each have 22 goals, equaling the franchise’s rookie record set by Kevyn Adams in 1996-97…Daniel Larsson earned his 22nd victory of the season on Saturday, climbing into a tie for eighth place on the Griffins’ single-season wins list. He already is tied for sixth with five shutouts.
Decorated Veterans: Darren Haydar has points in 13 of the last 15 games (8-14—22), 20 of the last 23 contests (12-21—33), 25 of the last 30 outings (14-25—39) and 30 of the last 36 games (15-31—46)…Darren McCarty has points in eight of 11 games (3-6—9) since rejoining the Griffins.
Milestones: Darren Haydar is one goal shy of 200 as a pro and two tallies away from 200 in the AHL…Ryan Oulahen logged his 300th regular season game as a Griffin on Sunday. Only Travis Richards (655) and Michel Picard (364) have played more games in a Griffins uniform…Jason Jozsa is two games away from 400 as a pro…Evan McGrath notched his 200th contest as a Griffin on Sunday in Cleveland.
Ericsson Excelling in Detroit: Since his recall on March 2, Jonathan Ericsson has tallied two assists and four PIM through nine games with the Red Wings, while showing a plus-2 rating with an average ice time of 16:35.
Get Busy: After sweeping the three-game set over the weekend, Grand Rapids is now 17-8-0-2 (0.667) this season when playing three times in as many nights, including a 6-3 mark in the third game. The Griffins will run that same 3-in-3 gauntlet twice more this season, including each of the next two weekends (Fri.-Sun.).
Here’s the Situation: The Griffins have not lost in regulation when entering the third period with the lead (30-0-3-3). Only Lowell (20-0-0-2) and Milwaukee (25-0-1-1) can say the same…Grand Rapids is 30-8-3-4 when scoring first and has managed a plus-0.500 record (11-10-3-2) when allowing the first goal.
Give Peace a Chance: The Griffins are the only team in the AHL with fewer than 1,000 penalty minutes (849), as well as the only team whose opponents have accumulated fewer than 1,000 PIM (918).
M*A*S*H Report: Several Griffins have been sidelined recently due to injuries, including Jamie Tardif (seven games), Aaron Downey (three), Mattias Ritola (two) and Sergei Kolosov (two).
Wed., March 25 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (43-24-2-2) – Wachovia Arena – 7:05 p.m.
Fri., March 27 at Norfolk Admirals (29-35-3-5) – Norfolk Scope – 7:15 p.m.
Sat., March 28 at Philadelphia Phantoms (35-28-2-4) – Wachovia Spectrum – 7:05 p.m.
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