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MOOSE, MONSTERS AWAIT GRIFFINS

This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose // Tues., April 4 // 8 p.m. // MTS Centre
GRIFFINS at Manitoba Moose // Wed., April 5 // 8 p.m. // MTS Centre
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:35 p.m. both nights
Watch: AHLLive.com    
Season Series: 0-0-0-0 Road, 2-0-0-0 Overall. Third and fourth of four meetings overall, first and second of two at the MTS Centre.
All-Time Series: 22-15-0-0-2 Road, 49-25-1-1-7 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: Winnipeg Jets
Noteworthy: In six games as a member of the Griffins against Manitoba, Eric Tangradi shows 15 points (7-8—15) and a plus-11 rating.

Cleveland Monsters at GRIFFINS // Sat., April 8 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
GRIFFINS at Cleveland Monsters // Sun., April 9 // 5 p.m. // Quicken Loans Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday and 4:35 p.m. on Sunday
Watch: AHLLive.com both nights, CLE 43 WUAB (Cleveland) on Sunday   
Season Series: 4-0-0-1 Home, 2-2-1-0 Road, 6-2-1-1 Overall. Eleventh and 12th of 12 meetings overall, sixth of six at Van Andel Arena, sixth of six at Quicken Loans Arena.
All-Time Series: 26-12-1-2 Home, 18-14-3-6 Road, 44-26-4-8 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: Columbus Blue Jackets
Noteworthy: The Griffins and Monsters played eight of their 12 matchups this season before the calendar turned to 2017.

Last Week’s Results
Wed., March 29    Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 2     43-19-1-4 (91 points, 1st Central)
Fri., March 31    Charlotte Checkers 3 at GRIFFINS 1    43-20-1-4 (91 points, 1st)

Sat., April 1    GRIFFINS 1 at Rockford IceHogs 4    43-21-1-4 (91 points, 1st)

Opening Faceoff: For the first time all season, the Griffins have dropped three consecutive games in regulation. In the 20 games following a regulation defeat this season, the Griffins post a 14-5-0-1 (0.725) record. Thanks to a 0.659 points percentage, Grand Rapids continues to lead the Central Division while placing third in the Western Conference and fourth in the AHL. In terms of points, Grand Rapids trails Chicago by one point with two games in hand for the top spot in the division and leads third-place Milwaukee by three points with one game in hand. A week ago today, Grand Rapids held a three-point edge over Chicago with two games in hand and a seven-point lead over Milwaukee with one game in hand. The Griffins make their first trip north of the border tonight and Wednesday as their three-game road trip wraps up in Manitoba. Grand Rapids concludes its week with a home-and-home set against Cleveland on Saturday and Sunday.

This Week’s Promotions: On Saturday against Cleveland, the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a Nathan Paetsch bobblehead, courtesy of Michigan Office Solutions. The Griffins, in partnership with Michigan Office Solutions (MOS) and Meijer, will hold a Wish List Drive on Saturday prior to the 7 p.m. game, that will benefit Kids’ Food Basket in West Michigan.

Last Week’s Recap: Grand Rapids had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 loss against Milwaukee on Wednesday at Van Andel Arena. Filip Hronek scored his first professional goal and Martin Frk added his team-leading 27th, but an early third-period goal by Adam Payerl broke a 2-2 tie and proved to be enough for the Admirals. Grand Rapids dropped a 3-1 decision at Van Andel Arena on Friday night to the Charlotte Checkers. A 1-0 game with 20 minutes to play, Charlotte notched two goals in a span of 3:01 in the third period before Matthew Ford closed the game’s scoring. For the first time all season, the Griffins lost three straight games in regulation following a 4-1 defeat at Rockford on Saturday.

Playoff Bound: With Grand Rapids’ 3-2 win at Milwaukee on March 26, the Griffins clinched a Calder Cup Playoff berth for the 15th time in franchise history and fifth consecutive season. Five straight trips to the postseason ties a franchise record (1999-00 to 2003-04). March 26 is the earliest date that the Griffins have secured a playoff spot since clinching on March 12, 2006. This season’s berth marks the sixth time in as many full seasons as an AHL head coach that Todd Nelson has led his team to the Calder Cup Playoffs. The 2013 Calder Cup champions, Grand Rapids is 79-72 (0.523) all-time in the postseason and has won at least one series in each of the last four playoffs. In their 18 seasons of being affiliated with an NHL team, this year marks the first time that the Griffins’ parent club has not qualified for the postseason. The Ottawa Senators made the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 2000-02 while the Red Wings were playoff participants from 2003-16 as part of their 25-year run.

Follow the Leader(s): Ben Street (25-29—54), Matt Lorito (20-33—53), Martin Frk (27-23—50), Evgeny Svechnikov (18-26—44) and Eric Tangradi (15-26—41) lead the team in points...Street and Svechnikov are currently on recall with Detroit...Rookie Dan Renouf has 61 PIM to pace the team…Captain Nathan Paetsch has a team-best plus-16 rating…Jared Coreau ranks 12th with a 2.36 GAA and 13th with a 0.918 save percentage...Eddie Pasquale ties for fourth with four shutouts, places 14th with a 2.52 GAA and ties for 15th with a 0.916 save percentage.

Missing Pieces: Due to either being on recall with Detroit or injured, the Griffins have been without five of their top nine scorers and their most productive defenseman during each of the last two games. Entering last Saturday’s loss at Rockford, that equated to 39.7% of the team’s goals (93/234), 41.0% of the assists (161/393) and 40.6% of the points (254/625). Grand Rapids was also without four of its top six scorers and its top-scoring defenseman for last Wednesday’s home loss against Milwaukee. Evgeny Svechnikov, the team’s top-scoring rookie, was recalled by Detroit on Monday.

40 and Counting: The Griffins have reached the 40-win plateau for the fifth consecutive season and 14th time overall in the franchise’s 21-year history. Grand Rapids has qualified for the playoffs in 13 of the 14 seasons when notching 40 or more wins. The Griffins secured win No. 40 in the 62nd game of the season, tying last year’s club for the third-fastest the team has reached the benchmark. Only the 2000-01 (59 games) and 2005-06 (60 games) squads did so quicker. Grand Rapids has also achieved the 90-point mark for the 13th time in club history and fifth straight year. The Griffins are on pace to finish the season with 100 points. Grand Rapids has amassed 100 or more points five times previously (115 in 2005-06, 113 in 2000-01, 111 in 1999-00, 106 in 2002-03 and 100 in 2013-14).

Current Playoff Picture:
CENTRAL DIVISION

Place Team Points PCT Games Left Home Road Opp. Win. % GR Magic # Over (Pts.) Magic # Over GR (Pts.)
1 xGR 91 0.659 7 3 4 0.523 --- ---
2 xCHI 92 0.648 5 3 2 0.499 12 16
3 MIL 88 0.629 6 4 2 0.500 10 20
4 CLE 77 0.550 6 3 3 0.549 n/a n/a
5 CHA 75 0.543 7 4 3 0.536 n/a n/a
6 IA 70 0.507 7 5 2 0.569 n/a n/a
7 RFD 60 0.429 6 2 4 0.592 n/a n/a
8 MTB 59 0.421 6 4 2 0.562 n/a n/a

x - Clinched playoff berth
Currently in playoff position
Eliminated from playoff contention

Svechnikov Debuts: Recalled on Monday by Detroit, Evgeny Svechnikov became the 164th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL when he debuted with the Red Wings later that night. He logged 13:10 of ice time and scored the deciding goal in the shootout as Detroit beat Ottawa 5-4 at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings and Senators will rematch tonight in Ottawa. Detroit’s first round draft pick (19th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Svechnikov, 20, has skated in 68 games with the Griffins and ranks among the AHL’s rookie leaders with 44 points (T6th), 18 goals (T10th) and 26 assists (T14th). Earlier this season, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound winger logged a 12-game point streak that marked the longest by a Griffins rookie and tied for the fourth-longest run in club history.

Nastasiuk Joins Griffins: The Detroit Red Wings today reassigned forward Zach Nastasiuk to the Grand Rapids Griffins from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. In his second professional season, Nastasiuk has recorded 34 points (13-21—34), a plus-nine rating and eight penalty minutes in 47 games with the Walleye this year. He shows 54 points (23-31—54) and 18 PIM in 72 career games in Toledo. Detroit’s second choice (48th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Nastasiuk has skated in four games with the Griffins this year and contributed one assist. Appearing in 42 career regular season AHL games since debuting with Grand Rapids in the latter stages of the 2014 campaign, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound winger has banked nine points (3-6—9) and four PIM, while tacking on one assist in 11 Calder Cup Playoff contests.

Holmstrom Reassigned by Detroit: The Detroit Red Wings on Sunday reassigned forward Axel Holmstrom to the Griffins from Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League. Detroit’s sixth choice (196th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Holmstrom notched two points (1-1—2) while being limited by injury to 16 regular season games with Skelleftea this year before contributing seven points (3-4—7) in seven playoff contests. The 6-foot, 198-pound winger has played in 112 professional games with Skelleftea since debuting in 2013-14 and has notched 45 points (19-26—45) and 24 penalty minutes while adding 31 points (12-19—31) in 32 postseason games. He was named Sweden’s junior player of the year in 2014-15. Holmstrom is the third Red Wings draft pick to join Grand Rapids in recent weeks, along with Givani Smith and Filip Hronek

Griffins Release Spink: The Griffins on Sunday released forward Tylor Spink from his professional tryout. Spink signed his PTO last Saturday and made his Griffins debut later that night at Rockford and notched one shot. In his first full year as a professional, Spink has skated in 63 games with the Toledo Walleye and ties for the ECHL’s rookie scoring lead with 72 points (27-45—72). Among all skaters, Spink ties for 12th in points and 10th in assists. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound winger has logged seven career games in the AHL, appearing in one with Milwaukee and three with Albany this season after making his league debut in two games with Toronto last year.

Four in Detroit: Tomas Nosek, Robbie Russo, Ben Street and Evgeny Svechnikov are on recall with the Detroit Red Wings. The 161st Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, Russo has skated in 16 games since debuting on March 7 and shows a plus-two rating while averaging 15:52 of ice time. Nosek has skated in eight games this season and scored his first NHL goal on March 28 at Carolina. Street became the 163rd Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL when he made his Red Wings debut on March 28 and picked up an assist on Nosek’s marker. Svechnikov, the 164th Griffin to play in the NHL, debuted last night against Ottawa and delivered the deciding goal in a 5-4 shootout win. 

Smith Debuts: Givani Smith made his professional debut with the Griffins during the team’s 3-1 loss versus Charlotte last Friday. Detroit’s second choice (46th overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Smith was reassigned by Detroit from Guelph (OHL) on March 22. Skating in 64 games with Guelph this season, Smith ranked third on the team in scoring (26-18—44) and led the OHL in penalty minutes (139).

First Time for Everything: Filip Hronek scored his first professional goal while on the power play during last Wednesday’s loss versus Milwaukee. Reassigned by Detroit from Saginaw (OHL) on March 22, Hronek was skating in his third AHL and 44th professional game (41 were spent in the Czech Extraliga). Hronek was Detroit’s third choice (53rd overall) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Picking up an assist on Hronek’s goal was Dominik Shine, who was playing in his second pro game. Signed to a one-year contract for 2017-18 and to an amateur tryout for the remainder of this season on March 14, Shine played at Northern Michigan University (WCHA) from 2013-17 and was the conference’s leading goal scorer this season.

Coreau Climbs Charts: Take a look at where fourth-year pro Jared Coreau stacks up in Grand Rapids’ all-time goaltending record book:

Career Stat Rank Next Up
61 W 4th 3rd - 90 - Howard
11 SO 3rd 2nd - 14 - Howard
104 GP 4th 3rd - 186 - Howard
6048:40 4th 3rd - 10659:17 - Howard
2,820 saves 4th 3rd - 4849 - Howard


Fantastic Frk: Martin Frk leads the team with 27 goals, including five in the last seven games, to tie his output from a season ago and match a career best. He has also set a career high with 12 power play tallies (see where that ranks in the club’s all-time single season list below). Frk logged 11 markers on the man advantage in 2015-16 and is the second player in team history to record consecutive seasons with double-digit power play goal totals (Eric Manlow in 2004-05 and 2005-06). Including his 27-goal haul from last season, Frk is the ninth player in franchise history to log consecutive 20-goal campaigns and the first since Teemu Pulkkinen in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Tomas Tatar recorded three-straight 20-goal seasons from 2010-13, the only player in team history to accomplish such a feat.

Rank Player PPGs Year
1 Donald MacLean 21 2005-06
2 Darren Haydar 16 2008-09
3 Eric Manlow 15 2005-06
  Kent McDonell 15 2005-06
5 Jeremy Williams 14 2009-10
6 Jeff Nelson 13 1996-97
7 Martin Frk 12 2016-17
  Carl Corazzini 12 2007-08
  Glen Metropolit 12 1998-99
  Michel Picard 12 1996-97


On the Power Play: The Griffins rank second in the league with a power play percentage of 25.4% (75/295) but are 2 for 19 over their last four games. Grand Rapids has relied on the power play for 31.9% of its goals (75 of 235), the highest percentage in the AHL. The power play has been keyed by Martin Frk (12-13—25), Ben Street (10-15—25), Tomas Nosek (7-17—24) and Matt Lorito (4-20—24), who lead the team in points. Frk ties for fourth in the league in power play tallies, as 12 of his team-leading 27 markers on the year have come with more skaters. Mitch Callahan and Frk have been on the ice 40 times during a power play goal, tied for tops on the team. Of the Griffins’ 75 power play goals, 33 have been scored with five forwards on the ice, 26 with four forwards and one defensemen, 14 with three forwards and two defensemen, one with three forwards and one defenseman and one with six forwards. With 12 PPGs from Frk and 10 from Street, the Griffins have two or more players record double-digit PPG totals for the sixth time in franchise history and first since 2008-09 (Darren Haydar 16, Justin Abdelkader 10).    

Chasing PP History: With only seven games remaining, the Griffins are set to shatter the franchise record for best power play percentage in a season, which was set by the 2005-06 squad at 21.8%. The 2005-06 club, which played 80 regular season games, also scored 120 PPG, the most in team history. The AHL’s single-season record for highest power play percentage was set in 1993-94 by the Springfield Indians at 26.78%.

Shuttin’ It Down: Eddie Pasquale recorded his fourth shutout of the campaign on March 25 at Rockford and is tied for ninth on the franchise’s single-season shutout list. Six players hold the club record with six clean sheets in a season. Grand Rapids’ goaltenders have combined for eight shutouts this season, the most since the 2008-09 club blanked nine opponents.

Spreading the Wealth: Behind Martin Frk (27), Ben Street (25) and Matt Lorito (20), Grand Rapids has three or more players with 20-plus goals for the third consecutive season. The Griffins have three players (Street, Lorito, Frk) with 50 or more points, the most since the 2011-12 squad had six. 

The Puck Stops Here: Third in the league in goals against per game (2.52), the Griffins are on pace to allow only 191 goals total which would be the sixth-lowest amount ever in franchise history (166 in 2003-04, 177 in 2002-03, 178 in 2001-02, 185 in 2014-15, 187 in 2013-14).

Shots Fired: Martin Frk paces the league with 223 shots and is on track to finish with 245, which would place seventh in franchise history and be the most since the 2007-08 season. As a team, the Griffins tie for second in the AHL, averaging 33.06 shots per game.

Bookends: The Griffins lead the league with a plus-24 goal differential (71-47) in the first period and place third with a plus-28 differential (84-56) in the final frame. Grand Rapids is 34-4-1-1 (0.875) when striking first.

Showing Discipline: The Griffins are the least penalized team in the league, averaging just 10.5 penalty minutes per contest. In fact, Grand Rapids is on pace to log 796 PIM, which would break the franchise record for fewest PIM in a season set by the 2014-15 team with 869. Rookie Dan Renouf leads the team with 61 PIM and is on track for 67 this season, which would make him the first team PIM leader to not break the century mark (previous low: Brennan Evans, 111 PIM in 2013-14).

Magic Numbers: The Griffins are 34-4-1-1 when scoring the game’s first goal, 31-1 when leading after one period and 31-2-1-0 when leading after two periods…Grand Rapids is 42-5-0-2 when scoring three goals or more and 1-16-1-2 when scoring two or less.

All About Chances: The Griffins are tied for the second-most shots (33.06) and place third in goals (3.41) per game in the AHL while surrendering the third-fewest goals (2.52).

Rookie Production: Twelve rookies have suited up for the Griffins this season, which surpasses last year’s total of seven. Those 12 rookies have combined for 162 points (59-103—162), which equates to 25.1% of the team’s goals (59/235), 26.1% of the assists (103/395) and 25.8% of the points (162/628).

Top Single-Season Rookie Scorers in Griffins History:

Player (Season)
GP
G
A
Pts
Teemu Pulkkinen (2013-14) 71 31 28 59
Gustav Nyquist (2011-12) 56 22 36 58
Glen Metropolit (1997-98) 79 20 35 55
Justin Abdelkader (2008-09) 76 24 28 52
Francis Pare (2008-09) 63 24 24 48
Kevyn Adams (1996-97) 82 22 25 47
Evgeny Svechnikov (2016-17) 68 18 26 44
Eric Himelfarb (2004-05) 76 19 24 43
Kyle Criscuolo (2016-17) 69 17 22 39
Robbie Russo (2015-16) 71 5 34 39


Milestones: With 15 goals this season, Mitch Callahan has 93 in his career to rank third all-time in franchise history…He trails only Francis Pare (102) and Michel Picard (158) in the record books…Callahan’s 181 career points (93-88—181) are seventh all-time in team history…Logging 46 PIM this season, Callahan has become the ninth player in franchise history to amass 400 or more career PIM…Captain Nathan Paetsch has 121 career assists to rank sixth all-time in team history…Paetsch is nine behind Derek King for fifth…Paetsch played in his 600th AHL game last Wednesday versus Milwaukee…Eric Tangradi needs three points to reach 100 as a Griffin.

Walleye Report: Under first-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye have clinched a Kelly Cup Playoff berth and the Central Division as they have reached 100 points (48-17-2-2 record). Former Griffin Shane Berschbach (18-60—78) and rookies Tyson Spink (33-39—72) and Tylor Spink (27-45—72) lead the team in points. Second-year pro Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is 32-13-1 while placing third with a 2.34 goals against average and fifth with a 0.916 save percentage. Griffins-contracted Cal Heeter is 13-2 between the pipes and shows a 3.12 GAA and a 0.892 save percentage.

Every Goal Counts: Since the Monsters joined the AHL in 2007-08, the Griffins have matched up against them 82 times. Forty-one of those 82 games have been decided by just a single tally, including 24 in overtime or a shootout. The Griffins have the slight edge, winning 21 of the one-goal contests. Dating back to the start of the 2014-15 campaign, 18 of the last 32 meetings between the clubs have been decided by one goal, including five of 10 encounters this season (Oct. 22: 3-2 W, Nov. 9: 5-4 SOW, Nov. 30: 2-3 SOL, Dec. 6: 2-3 OTL, Dec. 28: 3-2 W).

Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play games on consecutive days a total of 27 times this season. Compare the statistics for when the Griffins have played on successive nights:

  First Night Second Night Third Night
W 13 18 1
L (incl. OT, SO) 11 6 1
GF 2.92 4.00 3.00
GA 2.33 2.38 4.00
PP % 19.80% 29.67% 11.11%
PK % 82.50% 85.39% 75.00%
SF 32.83 31.79 31.50
SA 28.58 32.33 29.00


Win Some, Lose Some: Compare the statistics for the Griffins during their 43 wins and 26 (including overtime and shootout) losses:

  GF GA
PP % PK % SF SA
W (43) 4.40 1.86 29.23% 85.99% 33.98 29.84
L (26) 1.77 3.62 19.19% 76.54% 31.54 29.50