This Week’s Games
Tue., March 8 - GRIFFINS at Peoria Rivermen - 8:05 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Fri., March 11 - GRIFFINS at Oklahoma City Barons - 7:05 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., March 12 - GRIFFINS at Oklahoma City Barons - 8:05 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sun., March 13 - GRIFFINS at San Antonio Rampage - 5:30 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 4 - Rochester Americans 4 at GRIFFINS 5 - 28-25-1-8, 65 pts. (6th, North Division)
Sat., March 5 - Rochester Americans 2 at GRIFFINS 5 - 29-25-1-8, 67 pts. (6th)
The Heat is On: Winners of three straight, five of their last six and six of their last nine (6-1-0-2), the Griffins (29-25-1-8, 67 points) are playing their best hockey of the season. Now in sixth place in an ever-tightening North Division race, they sit six points behind third-place Toronto (73) and a guaranteed playoff berth, and just seven points behind division co-leaders Hamilton and Manitoba (74). Grand Rapids will look to close the gap further this week when they play four road games in six nights, beginning Tuesday in Peoria.
Home Cooking: The Griffins’ six-game home point streak (5-0-0-1) marks a season high, and their four-game winning streak at Van Andel Arena is their longest since they began the 2009-10 season with eight straight victories.
Dwindling Opportunities: Grand Rapids will play just six of its final 17 games against North Division opponents, putting greater importance on its remaining games against third-place Toronto (March 23), fourth-place Lake Erie (March 18), fifth-place Abbotsford (April 1, 2 and 8) and seventh-place Rochester (March 19). The Griffins’ 11 other games are against West Division foes with a combined 0.580 winning percentage.
Trivia Buffs, Take Note: When the Griffins make their first trip to the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City this Friday, it will mark the 50th arena, 42nd city and 20th state in which they’ve played since their 1996 inception (including Grand Rapids and Van Andel Arena).
It’s Been Such a Long Time: The Griffins have won five of their last six and are riding their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 5-11, 2009 – a span of 118 games…Grand Rapids’ record ties a season high at four games over 0.500, most recently achieved on Nov. 14 (8-4-0-3).
Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins today nominated right wing Francis Pare for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he tallied three goals and one assist in two games. He recorded his first career hat trick in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Rochester, giving him 18 goals for the season (T3rd on the Griffins) and 58 for his Grand Rapids career, moving him past Travis Richards (56) into 11th on the franchise’s all-time list. Pare now stands just three goals behind No. 10 Slava Butsayev (61).
Everyone Contributes: Thirteen Griffins registered points in Friday’s 5-4 win over Rochester, including 11 forwards – all except Adam Keefe…Nine players earned at least one point in both games against the Amerks.
Close Quarters: The North Division is by far the AHL’s most competitive from top to bottom, with only 10 points separating seventh-place Rochester (64) from first-place Hamilton and Manitoba (74). All other divisions have a large double-digit gap between the first and last place teams (41 – East; 34 – Atlantic; 23 – West).
Jordan Rules: In his 17 decisions since Jan. 16, rookie goalie Jordan Pearce is 10-3-0-4 with a 2.58 GAA and a 0.917 save percentage. His season-long numbers of 2.77 and 0.911 are nearly identical to those posted by current Red Wing Jimmy Howard during his second pro season with Grand Rapids in 2006-07 (2.70, 0.911).
Finntastic: Ilari Filppula owns an eight-game point streak (1-11—12), matching Jan Mursak (Oct. 16-Nov. 6) for the team’s longest this season. If he can extend the streak with a point on Tuesday in Peoria, it would mark just the 18th point streak of nine or more games in Griffins history and become the team’s longest since Darren Haydar notched points in 10 straight games from Feb. 20-March 13, 2009. On Friday, Filppula’s six-game assist streak was snapped one game shy of the Griffins’ single-season record and two games shy of the overall franchise mark, both of which were set by his younger brother, Valtteri (March 26-Oct. 13, 2006). Ilari also has points in 11 of the last 13 contests (3-13—16), a run that has placed him 13th in AHL scoring with 52 points (19-33—52) on the season.
Roster Report: The Griffins are missing three regulars from their lineup. Left wing Jordan Owens is out indefinitely after suffering a broken right arm during Friday’s contest against Rochester, while Sergei Kolosov has missed the last 13 games due to a knee injury. Meanwhile, goaltender Joey MacDonald has missed the last 17 games while subbing for the injured Chris Osgood in Detroit. MacDonald is now 3-4-1 with a team-best 2.48 GAA and 0.912 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Red Wings.
Who’s Hot?: Brendan Smith has points in consecutive games (1-2—3) and in four of the last six contests (2-3—5)…Cory Emmerton owns a four-game assist streak (0-4—4) and has points in six of seven games (1-7—8)…Following his hat trick on Saturday, Francis Pare has points in four of the last five games (5-2—7)…Jamie Johnson has three assists in the last two games…Jan Mursak has assists in consecutive games…Chris Minard has goals in three straight games (3-0—3) and six of the last seven contests (6-1—7), as well as points in seven of eight games (6-2—8)…Joakim Andersson owns his second three-game point streak (0-4—4) of the season and has assists in four of the last five games (0-5—5)…Jamie Tardif owns a three-game point streak (1-4—5) and has points in six of the last seven games (4-6—10)…Tomas Tatar has a three-game point streak (2-2—4) and points in eight of the last nine outings (6-5—11).
Milestones: Jamie Tardif netted his team-leading 23rd goal of the season on Friday, giving him sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time goals list with 74, one more than Derek King and one behind Kip Miller. In addition, his 299 games as a Griffin put him just three behind third-place Ryan Oulahen (302)…Derek Meech has played in 288 games as a Griffin and stands sixth place on the team’s all-time list. He is now chasing fifth-place Darryl Bootland (293)…Cory Emmerton logged his 200th game as a Griffin on Friday…Adam Keefe skated in his 200th AHL contest on Friday as well…Jamie Johnson tallied his 300th and 301st pro assists with a two-point outing on Friday…Chris Minard currently stands as 99 AHL assists…Greg Amadio surpassed 1,000 penalty minutes for his AHL career (1,006) on Friday.
Tue., March 8 at Peoria Rivermen (35-23-2-4) – Carver Arena – 8:05 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 16-20-1-2 Overall, 9-9-0-1 Road. Season Series: 2-5-0-0 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Road. Eighth and final meeting overall, fourth and final in Peoria. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Jared Bednar (1st season). Notes: After losing nine straight meetings with the Rivermen in regulation and going winless in 10 consecutive clashes (0-9-0-1) overall, the Griffins have won their last two games against Peoria, most recently a 4-2 triumph at Van Andel Arena on Feb. 20…The Rivermen, 2-0-0-1 in their last three, sit in fourth place in the West Division…Rookie All-Star goalie Jake Allen, who was 13-3-0 and led the AHL with a 1.60 GAA, a 0.950 save percentage and five shutouts following his 2-0 shutout of the Griffins on New Year’s Day, is now tied for 17th in the league with a 2.50 GAA. In the 20 games since, he is 7-10-3 with a 3.20 GAA, a 0.896 save percentage and no shutouts…Nathan Oystrick’s 13 goals tie for the lead among AHL blueliners…Peoria is tied for second in the AHL in penalty killing (85.5%) and ranks seventh on the power play (20.1%).
Fri., March 11 at Oklahoma City Barons (33-22-2-5) – Cox Convention Center – 7:05 p.m.
Sat., March 12 at Oklahoma City Barons – Cox Convention Center – 8:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:45 p.m. (Fri.) and ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:45 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time/Season Series: 0-0-0-1 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second and third of four meetings overall, first and second of two in Oklahoma City. NHL Affiliation: Edmonton Oilers. Head Coach: Todd Nelson (1st season). Notes: Barons head coach Todd Nelson was the first player signed by the Griffins franchise in 1996…Oklahoma City is tied for sixth in the West Division despite being 11 games over 0.500…The Barons are just 15-14-2-4 at home…Former Griffin Alexandre Giroux, currently on recall to Edmonton, ranks among the AHL’s elite with 29 goals (3rd) and 65 points (2nd)…Veteran NHL netminder Martin Gerber is 13th in the league with a 2.46 GAA.
Sun., March 13 at San Antonio Rampage (35-24-3-0) – AT&T Center – 5:30 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 5:15 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 30-16-1-2-0 Overall, 15-8-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 1-1-1-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Fourth and final meeting overall, second and final in San Antonio. NHL Affiliation: Phoenix Coyotes. Head Coach: Ray Edwards (2nd season). Notes: After winning 28 of 40 games (28-10-1-1-0) against the Rampage over their first seven seasons as rivals (2002-09), the Griffins are 2-6-1-0 against San Antonio since the start of last season…Grand Rapids won the most recent clash, 5-2 in San Antonio on Jan. 13…San Antonio is tied for sixth in the West Division despite being 11 games over 0.500…Former Griffin Garrett Stafford’s 40 points rank 10th among AHL defensemen…The Rampage’s power play ranks second in the league (22.8%).