This Week’s Games
Fri., March 19 - GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose - 8:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., March 21 - GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose - 3 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 12 - GRIFFINS 3 at Hamilton Bulldogs 2 - 27-34-3-2, 59 pts. (7th, North Division)
Sat., March 13 - GRIFFINS 3 at Hamilton Bulldogs 4 SO - 27-34-3-3, 60 pts. (7th)
Sun., March 14 - GRIFFINS 3 at Rochester Americans 2 - 28-34-3-3, 62 pts. (7th)
Where We Stand: Grand Rapids enjoyed a fastastic start to its season-high six-game road trip by claiming five of a possible six points over the weekend (2-0-0-1), earning a win and a shootout loss against division-leading Hamilton before beating second-place Rochester on Sunday in the team’s third game in three days. The Griffins made up three points in the playoff race last week, cutting their deficit to the Manitoba Moose to 10 points in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. Grand Rapids sits seventh in the North with 62 points, putting it five points behind fifth-place Lake Erie (67) and three behind sixth-place Toronto (65) in the battle for that final postseason berth.
Must-Win Games: With only 12 games remaining for both teams, the Griffins will stage their final two clashes against the Moose this Friday and Sunday at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. These games are crucial for the Griffins’ postseason hopes: a sweep of the two games in regulation time would put Grand Rapids only six points behind Manitoba with 10 games left, while a Moose sweep would cut their magic number over the Griffins to a mere seven points.
What a Difference: The Griffins are 3-0-1-1 with newcomers Riley Armstrong, Brad May, Jordan Owens and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen together in the lineup, posting a five-game point streak (March 5-14) that is their longest since they won nine straight games from Oct. 23-Nov. 13. Trade-deadline acquisitions Armstrong and Owens teamed up on Friday in Hamilton for their first points as Griffins, as Owens set up Armstrong at 9:45 of the second period for Grand Rapids’ go-ahead goal in an eventual 3-2 win over the AHL’s second-best team. Tollefsen, meanwhile, scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period on Sunday in a 3-2 win at Rochester, while May chipped in assists both Saturday and Sunday.
Cold-Hearted Killers: The Griffins have killed off all 30 opponent power plays over their last six games, their longest penalty killing streaks of the season in terms of both opportunities and games. Grand Rapids’ penalty kill, which ranked 29th (last) in the league as recently as Feb. 13 (78.8%), has risen to 20th (81.4%) by denying 59 of its foes’ last 65 chances (90.8%).
Short Stories: Once the only AHL team that had not scored a shorthanded goal this season (zero through their first 41 contests), the Griffins have tallied seven times while undermanned in their last 27 games, including goals in each of their last two outings. On the other end, Grand Rapids has allowed only three shorthanded goals all season, tying for the second-fewest in the league.
Who’s Hot?: Justin Abdelkader, who saw his team- and career-high point streak snapped at eight games on Friday in Hamilton, has points in 10 of the last 11 contests (7-7—14)…Reebok/AHL Player of the Week nominee Patrick Rissmiller owns his first three-game goal streak (3-1—4) as a Griffin. With six goals in his last seven games, he’s become the third Griffin this season to reach the 20-goal mark…Doug Janik has assists in six of the last eight games (0-6—6) and nine of the last 13 contests (1-9—10)…Daniel Larsson has limited the opposition to two goals or less in each of his last four starts, going 3-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA and a 0.939 save percentage so far during March. He earned the 42nd victory of his Griffins career on Sunday in Rochester, moving past Ian Gordon (41) into sole possession of fifth place on the franchise’s all-time list…Mattias Ritola has points in 10 of the last 16 games (5-8—13)…Brad May has assists in consecutive games and in three of six contests since joining the Griffins.
Milestones: Patrick Rissmiller appeared in his 600th professional contest on Saturday and is just two goals shy of 100 in the AHL…Ole-Kristian Tollefsen needs four more games for 300 as a pro.
If Only We Played in the North Division. Oh, Wait…: Of their 68 games thus far, the Griffins have played only 27 within the North Division, compiling a solid 14-10-1-2 mark (0.574) against their theoretical rivals. By contrast, they’ve staged 41 interdivisional contests against the West – the only division in which every team has a winning record – with a 14-24-2-1 record (0.378) to show for it.
Playhouse Raffle Ends April 9: The season-long raffle for the Griffins/Van Andel Arena playhouse has less than one month remaining. This spectacular custom-built playhouse, donated by Out on a Limb Playhouses of Grand Haven, includes amenities such as a 22” HD television, a Sony PlayStation 3 game system with EA Sports’ NHL 2010 video game, two stadium-style seats, a custom-made bench modeled after those in the Griffins' locker room, an “ice-rink” floor with dasher boards, a Griffins hanging scoreboard light, a built-in street hockey net and much more! The winner will also receive free delivery and site preparation/landscaping within 50 miles of Grand Rapids. Raffle tickets are available for $5 each or five for $20 and may be purchased at the playhouse display in the Van Andel Arena lobby before any Griffins game, on the concourse during intermission, or at griffinshockey.com/playhouse. The drawing will be held during the second intermission of the Griffins’ regular season home finale on April 9, and all proceeds will benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation.
Fri., March 19 at Manitoba Moose (33-29-5-1) – MTS Centre – 8:30 p.m.
Sun., March 21 at Manitoba Moose – MTS Centre – 3 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 8:05 p.m. (Fri.) and ESPN 96.1 FM at 2:35 p.m. (Sun.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 40-22-1-1-7 Overall, 18-13-0-0-2 Road. Season Series: 1-0-1-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Winnipeg. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Scott Arniel (4th season). Notes: The Griffins dropped a pair of 2-1 decisions to the Moose in Games 1 and 2 of the 2009 North Division Finals, their last visits to the MTS Centre…Grand Rapids earned at least one victory in Winnipeg in nine of the previous 10 seasons…Manitoba currently holds a five-point lead over Lake Erie in the race for the division’s fourth and final playoff spot…The Moose are 18-12-3-1 at home, while the Griffins have points in four of their last five road games (2-1-0-2).