10/26/2010 6:40 AM
This Week’s Games
Last Week’s Results
Fun at the Van Down by the River: Fri. vs. Oklahoma City – It’s another Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs night from 6-8 p.m. while supplies last. The College Night and D-Zone promotions return, and fans can take advantage of ticket discounts through Facebook and Twitter. Sat. vs. Manitoba – The first 5,000 fans will receive a Griffins Rally Towel, presented by Play N Trade Alpine, while another 5,000 will receive a Griffins 2010-11 Clingz schedule as they exit the arena. Fans are invited to wear their Halloween best for a costume party and contest, take part in a Huntington post-game autograph session with Sergei Kolosov, Chris Minard and Jordan Owens, and bring their blades for a post-game open skate.
Welcome Back, Part 1: When the Oklahoma City Barons visit Van Andel Arena this Friday for their first-ever meeting with the Griffins, they’ll have a very familiar face behind their bench in head coach Todd Nelson. Nelson, the first player signed by the Griffins back in 1996, played 236 games for Grand Rapids over four seasons (1996-98; 99-00; 01-02), totaling 67 points (11-56—67) and 123 PIM, before serving as an assistant coach during the 2002-03 campaign when the Griffins claimed the AHL’s Central Division and Western Conference regular season titles. Nelson still ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in games played (12th) and plus-minus (plus-53, 6th).
Welcome Back, Part 2: Former Griffin and current Barons forward Alexandre Giroux was perhaps the AHL’s most decorated player over the past two seasons. Giroux, who logged one season in Grand Rapids (2001-02: 70 GP, 11-16—27) as a member of the Ottawa Senators’ organization, is coming off back-to-back Calder Cups with the Hershey Bears. The AHL’s 2008-09 regular season MVP, he led the circuit in goals in both 2009-10 (50) and 2008-09 (60), while finishing second (103 pts.) and first (97 pts.) in the league’s scoring race during those respective seasons. Giroux currently shows eight points (4-4—8) in nine games with Oklahoma City.
Nice While it Lasted: Grand Rapids (4-2-0-1) owned a share of first place in the North Division prior to Abbotsford’s 4-3 overtime win versus Rochester on Monday, which gave the Heat (5-3-0-1) 11 points to the Griffins’ nine.
Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins on Monday nominated right wing Jan Mursak for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he contributed four points (3-1—4) in three games over the weekend. He tallied a shorthanded goal and was named Second Star in Friday’s 3-2 loss to Milwaukee, then assisted on the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 4-1 triumph at Rochester. After capping off the three-in-three set with a power play goal and another shorthanded marker in Sunday’s 6-3 win at Toronto, Mursak leads the Griffins with four goals and seven points (tied). He is tied for the AHL lead with two shorthanded goals and owns a four-game point streak (3-2—5) that is one shy of his career high.
Very Special Teams: The Griffins lead the AHL in power play (29.0%) and shorthanded goals (3, tied) while ranking third in penalty killing (92.7%). Grand Rapids killed off its first 23 shorthanded situations on the road this season before Toronto’s Justin Hodgman scored a power play goal at 14:34 of the opening period on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Griffins have scored a power play marker in four straight games (6-for-20, 30%) and in six of seven games this season, after going 2-for-5 in each of the weekend’s road games.
Three’s Company: Ilari Filppula, Brent Raedeke and Jan Mursak each scored a pair of goals on Sunday in Toronto, marking the first time since Jan. 31, 2009 that three different Griffins scored multiple goals in the same contest (8-4 W vs. RCH: Francis Lemieux hat trick, Sergei Kolosov and Ryan Oulahen two goals each), and the first time in almost 10 years – March 18, 2001 – that the feat occurred in a road game (7-3 W at HOU: Slava Butsayev, Dave Roberts and Chris Szysky two goals each). Raedeke’s goals marked the first two points of his pro career.
Tom Terrific: Thomas McCollum backstopped both road wins over the weekend, giving him consecutive road victories for the first time since Nov. 8-Dec. 13, 2009. Since that 7-2 win at Toronto last Dec. 13, he had gone winless in a franchise-record 11 straight road decisions (0-9-2 from Dec. 18, 2009-Oct. 10, 2010). Dating to last season, McCollum is now 4-2-0 in his last six games, following an 8-15-2 start to his AHL career.
Familiarity Breeds Success: Grand Rapids is 4-0-0-1 within the North Division and 0-2-0-0 against the West Division.
Off to a Good Start: Brendan Smith has points in four of his first seven pro games (2-4—6), including a pair of two-assist outings…Cory Emmerton owns a three-game point streak (2-2—4), one shy of his career high…Francis Pare also has points in three straight games (1-3—4)…Ilari Filppula’s three-point effort (2-1—3) on Sunday gave him points in five of seven games thus far and co-ownership of the Griffins’ scoring lead (3-4—7)…Derek Meech has points in three of the last four games (1-4—5), including consecutive two-point outings (1-3—4).
Milestones: With 90 career wins as a Griffin, Joey MacDonald needs just one more to break a tie with Jimmy Howard for franchise supremacy…On Sunday, Derek Meech played his 237th regular season game as a Griffin, passing Todd Nelson for 11th on the all-time list. He needs six more games to tie Tomas Kopecky for 10th place…Francis Pare needs seven points to become the 21st player to reach 100 as a Griffin and eight goals to become the 14th player to score 50…Jamie Johnson’s next game will be his 500th as a pro…Ilari Filppula needs six points for 200 as a pro (63-131—194).
Batten Down the Hatches: For the season, Grand Rapids has surrendered just 26.86 shots per game, the fourth-fewest in the AHL. The Griffins have also allowed the sixth-fewest goals per game (tied) at 2.43.
Called Up: Doug Janik was recalled by the Red Wings on Oct. 11 and has since gone scoreless with five penalty minutes, six shots and an average ice time of 12:50 through five contests with the parent club.
The 4-1-1 on No. 111: Former Griffin Jeremy Williams made his New York Rangers debut on Sunday (on recall from Hartford), becoming the 111th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. He saw just 3:43 of ice time in the Rangers’ 3-1 win over New Jersey before returning to the Wolf Pack on Monday.
Fri., Oct. 29 vs. Oklahoma City Barons (4-4-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 30 vs. Manitoba Moose (4-2-0-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
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