04/07/2009 12:41 PM
Last Week’s Results
Dogfight for Second Place: The Griffins and Hamilton Bulldogs’ battle for home-ice advantage in their upcoming 2009 Calder Cup Playoff series will go down to the final weekend of the AHL’s regular season. The second-place Griffins currently lead the third-place Bulldogs by two points in the standings, with Hamilton possessing both a game in hand and the first tiebreaker (wins). With the teams set to meet this Friday, April 10 in the Griffins’ regular season home finale at Van Andel Arena, both teams currently control their own destinies. Grand Rapids’ magic number for clinching second place and securing the higher seed in the best-of-seven North Division Semifinals is five points with two games remaining, while Hamilton’s magic number over the Griffins is six points with three contests left.
One Hot Ticket: Friday’s home finale will mark the Griffins’ fourth consecutive sellout (10,834). A limited number of access tickets (general admission) are still available for $10 each at The Zone, by calling (616) 222-4000 / (800) 585-3737 or visiting griffinshockey.com.
Welcome Back, Stanley!: Local fans will get up close with the most famous trophy in sports this Friday, when the Griffins host a visit by the Stanley Cup. Season ticket holders will be granted early admission into the viewing from 5:45-6 p.m., while all other ticketed fans will have a chance to view the Cup from 6 p.m. until the end of the second intermission (approximately 8:50 p.m.), excluding a short window around 7 p.m. when the Cup will be taken to the ice surface for pre-game festivities. Among the more than 2,000 names adorning the Cup are those of 10 current or former Griffins who were members of the 2007-08 Red Wings. Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, Brett Lebda, Darren Helm, Tomas Kopecky, Darren McCarty, Derek Meech and Chris Osgood all played for Grand Rapids before their names were engraved on the chalice last season, as did previous Cup champions Kevyn Adams (2006 Carolina) and Dmitry Afanasenkov and Darren Rumble (both 2004 Tampa Bay). In addition, Griffins right wing Aaron Downey (2008 Detroit) and assistant coach Jim Paek (1991-92 Pittsburgh) are among several Grand Rapids players or coaches who won the Stanley Cup prior to joining the organization. The Griffins have welcomed the Cup to West Michigan three times before, on March 20-21, 2005, Nov. 16, 2002, and June 4, 2002.
Glad to be Home: The Griffins concluded their franchise-record eight-game road trip with a 3-0 victory at Rochester on Sunday, giving them a 3-5 record for their odyssey. This Friday’s game will mark their first Van Andel Arena appearance in 20 days.
By the Numbers: Sunday’s win snapped the Griffins’ only four-game regulation losing streak this season and squelched their winless streak one game shy of their season high (0-4-0-1 from Feb. 7-14). It also concluded their 11th 3-in-3 of the season, as they finished with a 19-12-0-2 (0.606) record this season when playing three times in as many nights, including an impressive 7-4 (0.636) mark in the third game.
Hail to Howard!: Jimmy Howard made 21 saves in Rochester on Sunday to earn his fourth shutout of the season, climbing into a tie for seventh among AHL goaltenders in that category. With 14 career shutouts as a Griffin, he now stands just two shy of Joey MacDonald’s franchise record (16). Howard has already passed MacDonald to assume supremacy in four other categories this season: wins (90 to 88), goalie games played (185 to 164), minutes played (10600:28 to 9208:13) and saves (4809 to 4251).
Youth Not Wasted on Young: Last Friday in Hamilton, AHL All-Rookie Team member Justin Abdelkader scored his 23rd goal of the season, setting a new franchise record for rookies by passing Kevyn Adams’ previous mark from the Griffins’ inaugural season (22, 1996-97). On Sunday, Francis Pare matched that mark by also netting his 23rd of the season. By adding an assist on Sunday, Abdelkader (23-28—51) stands just four points shy of Glen Metropolit’s rookie scoring record (20-35—55 in 1997-98)…Abdelkader, Pare (23-24—47) and Cory Emmerton (10-25—35) have become the most prolific trio of Griffins rookies ever, as they currently rank second, third (tied) and 10th in single-season scoring among all first-year players in franchise history.
Earning a Paycheck: Recent newcomers Brent Raedeke (0-0—0 in 1 GP) and Dan Charleston (0-0—0 in 2 GP) made their professional debuts with the Griffins over the weekend, while Zack Torquato (0-0—0 in 1 GP) saw his first action of the season on Sunday after playing 11 games for Grand Rapids late last season.
Making Hay: AHL Second All-Star Team selection Darren Haydar scored the 200th goal of his AHL career last Friday in Hamilton, becoming just the 11th player in Griffins history to record 30 goals in one season. Now at 31, his next goal would tie him for eighth on the franchise’s single-season goal-scoring list. Haydar already ranks among the Griffins’ all-time best season-single performers with 79 points (9th), 47 assists (T10th), 16 power play goals (2nd) and nine first goals (T2nd).
Climbing the Charts: Darren Helm places among the Griffins’ all-time single-season leaders with three shorthanded goals (T5th) and four unassisted goals (T4th)…Should he maintain it, Francis Pare’s 0.172 shooting percentage would finish as the seventh-highest single-season mark in team history…Daniel Larsson’s 22 wins tie for eighth place on the Griffins’ single-season list, while his five shutouts tie for sixth…Jimmy Howard’s season ranks among the team’s best in terms of goalie games played (44, 10th), minutes (2586, 9th), wins (21, T10th), shutouts (four, T8th) and saves (1,175, 9th).
Missing in Action: Several Griffins regulars have missed time recently due to either injury or recall. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has missed Grand Rapids’ last 16 games while with the Red Wings, and fellow blueliner Garrett Stafford missed three games while with Dallas before returning to the Griffins on Sunday. Aaron Downey (seven games), Mattias Ritola (six games) and Ville Leino (five games) missed significant time due to injuries before returning over the weekend, while Jamie Tardif (14 games), Ryan Oulahen (five games) and Evan McGrath (two games) are all still on the mend.
Fifth Century?: Grand Rapids needs to earn two points in its final two games to reach 100 points for the fifth time in franchise history (115 in 2005-06, 113 in 2000-01, 111 in 1999-00 and 106 in 2002-03).
Quick Strike: Hamilton’s Brock Trotter lit the lamp just nine seconds into the Bulldogs’ 6-3 win over Grand Rapids last Friday, setting a record for the fastest goal ever scored against the Griffins at the start of a period.
Who’s Hot?: Darren Haydar has points in 18 of the last 22 games (11-17—28), 25 of the last 30 contests (15-24—39), 30 of the last 37 outings (17-28—45) and 35 of the last 43 games (18-34—52)…Ville Leino has points in seven of 11 games (4-5—9) with the Griffins since returning from a 13-game stint in Detroit…Francis Lemieux has earned points in five of the last eight games (1-5—6).
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Darren Haydar – T4th points (78), T7th goals (31), T10th assists (47), T2nd power play points (40), T5th power play goals (16), T8th power play assists (24); Justin Abdelkader – T7th rookie points (51), T3rd rookie goals (23), T13th rookies assists (28), 5th rookie shots (193); Cory Emmerton – T2nd among rookies in shootout-winning goals (2); Francis Pare – T11th rookie points (47), T3rd rookie goals (23), T19th overall and 5th among rookies in shooting percentage (0.172), T14th overall and T3rd rookie plus/minus (+22); Garrett Stafford – 9th defenseman points (43), T7th defenseman goals (11); Jimmy Howard – 19th in GAA (2.53), T17th wins (21), T16th save percentage (0.915), T7th shutouts (4); and Daniel Larsson – T14th wins (22), T3rd shutouts (5).
NHL Alumni Report: Since his recall to Detroit on March 2, Jonathan Ericsson has tallied four points (1-3—4), 13 penalty minutes and an even rating through 16 games with the Red Wings, while showing an average ice time of 17:30. Garrett Stafford, who returned to Grand Rapids on Sunday, averaged 18 minutes over three games with the Dallas Stars, contributing two assists on March 30 against Phoenix and getting the chance to play in his hometown of Los Angeles last Tuesday.
Banner Year for Attendance: With the Griffins having sold out each of their last three home games (five total this season), the sellout for this Friday’s 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 enjoyed three straight seasons of increased attendance for the first time in franchise history and 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). The Griffins currently stand third in the AHL in attendance, their highest ranking in eight seasons of league membership.
Give Peace a Chance: The Griffins are the only team in the AHL with fewer than 1,000 penalty minutes (915), as well as the only team whose opponents have accumulated fewer than 1,000 PIM (984). Barring a conflagration of historic proportions in its last two games, Grand Rapids will finish with the fewest penalty minutes in franchise history (1,287, 2002-03), while either Aaron Downey (105 PIM) or Justin Abdelkader (100 PIM) will post the lowest figure ever for a Griffins penalty minute leader (149 by Kyle Quincey, 2007-08).
Low on Iron(men): Ryan Oulahen had been the only Griffin to appear in each game this season prior to suffering a dislocated hip on March 27 in Norfolk. As a result, this will be the team’s first season since 2000-01 and its first AHL campaign to not have any Griffin play in every regular season game.
Fri., April 10 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (46-27-4-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
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