This Week’s Games
GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves // Fri., Feb. 3 // 8 p.m. // Allstate Arena
Listen: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:35 p.m.
Watch: The U Too (Chicago) and AHLLive.com
Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Road, 5-2-0-0 Overall. Eighth of 10 meetings overall, fourth of five at Allstate Arena.
All-Time Series: 38-29-0-2-0 Road, 76-51-2-6-2 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues
Noteworthy: Dating to Dec. 30, 2014, Grand Rapids has won eight of its last 10 against the Wolves at Allstate Arena while outscoring Chicago 38-14.
Milwaukee Admirals at GRIFFINS // Sat., Feb. 4 // 7 p.m. // Van Andel Arena
Listen: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:35 p.m.
Season Series: 2-0-0-0 Home, 4-1-0-0 Overall. Sixth of 12 meetings overall, third of six at Van Andel Arena.
All-Time Series: 47-24-2-1-2 Home, 82-55-7-6-7 Overall.
NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators
Noteworthy: Milwaukee’s last win at Van Andel Arena came Jan. 31, 2015, as Grand Rapids has won the last nine meetings on home ice.
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Jan. 25 Iowa Wild 2 at GRIFFINS 1 27-11-1-2 (57 points, 1st Central)
Fri., Jan. 27 San Jose Barracuda 4 at GRIFFINS 1 27-12-1-2 (57 points, 1st)
Sat., Jan. 28 Stockton Heat 1 at GRIFFINS 2 28-12-1-2 (59 points, 1st)
Opening Faceoff: The Griffins wrapped up a five-game homestand with a 3-2 record following last Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Stockton. Grand Rapids has points in 22 of the last 28 games (19-7-1-2) and continues to lead the Western Conference while placing third in the AHL with a 0.686 points percentage. After five days off from games due to the all-star break, the Griffins are back in action for a road-home back-to-back this weekend against a pair of teams chasing them in the Central Division standings. Grand Rapids travels to second-place Chicago on Friday before returning home to play third-place Milwaukee on Saturday.
This Week’s Promotions: On Saturday against Milwaukee, the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a Tyler Bertuzzi bobblehead, courtesy of Lake Michigan Credit Union.
Last Week’s Recap: On Wednesday, Iowa won in regulation at Van Andel Arena for the first time since March 8, 2014, as former Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan delivered the game-winner in the Wild’s 2-1 victory. In the inaugural meeting against the San Jose Barracuda on Friday, the Griffins lost 4-1 to mark the largest home defeat since March 26 of last season (2-5 L vs. Lake Erie). Welcoming another California team to Van Andel Arena for the first time ever on Saturday, Grand Rapids snapped a two-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Stockton, thanks to a late third-period goal from Ben Street.
Follow the Leader(s): Ben Street (14-19—33), Matt Lorito (10-22—32), Tomas Nosek (14-17—31) and Mitch Callahan (11-18—29) lead the team in points…Kyle Criscuolo’s 25 points (11-14—25) tie for 15th among rookies while Evgeny Svechnikov’s 24 (13-11—24) tie for 19th…Robbie Russo’s 25 points (6-19—25) are the most among team defensemen and tie for 14th among league blueliners…Dan Renouf and Martin Frk both have 40 PIM to pace the team while Russo has a +11 rating.
January Stats: Ben Street (8-4—12) and Tomas Nosek (5-7—12) led the team with 12 points in 12 January games…Street posted a team-best eight goals while Nosek, Martin Frk and Tyler Bertuzzi were tied with seven assists apiece.
Coming up After the Break: Since joining the AHL in the 2001-02 season, the Griffins post a 249-185-22-21 (0.567) record in games played after the all-star break. Grand Rapids has recorded a 0.500 mark or better in each of the last six seasons after the break, including a 45-19-3-1 (0.691) record in the last two years. In his five full seasons as an AHL head coach, Todd Nelson has led his teams to a winning record after every all-star break, going 85-51-3-15 (0.610).
On the Power Play: The Griffins lead the league with a power play percentage of 27.3% (51/187) and have recorded at least one goal while on the man advantage in 11 of the last 13 games, 16 of the last 19 and 29 of the last 34. Going scoreless on the power play on both Friday and Saturday last week, Grand Rapids has gone two games without a power play goal for the first time since Dec. 9-11. Grand Rapids has converted on the power play in its last four road games and eight of its last 10 home contests. The Griffins have relied on the power play for 36.2% of their goals (51 of 141), the highest percentage in the AHL. The power play has been keyed by Tomas Nosek (7-14—21), Matt Lorito (4-14—18) and Martin Frk (9-7—16) who lead the team in points. Nosek’s 21 points are tied for fourth league-wide while Frk ties for second in the league in power play tallies, as nine of his 14 markers on the year have come with more skaters. Mitch Callahan has been on the ice 34 times during a power play goal, tops on the team.
Power Play Streaks: The Griffins had their 11-game power play goal streak come to end following an 0-for-2 effort versus San Jose last Friday. Earlier this season, Grand Rapids tied a franchise record with a 13-game run. Take a look at the longest power play streaks in club history:
|2016-17||13||Nov. 9-Dec. 7||33.3% (21/63)|
|2005-06||13||Feb. 24-March 23||22.3% (23/103)|
|2016-17||11||Dec. 31-Jan. 25||31.3% (15/48)|
|2005-06||11||Oct. 15-Nov. 15||22.1% (17/77)|
|2002-03||9||Oct. 18-Nov. 7||18.5% (12/65)|
Chasing PP History: To put in perspective the success of the Griffins’ power play thus far, the franchise record for highest power play percentage in a season is 21.8%, set in 2005-06. Through 43 games, the 2005-06 team stood at 21.6% while on the man-advantage (63/292). The 2005-06 club, which played 80 regular season games, also scored 120 PPG, the most in team history. The Springfield Indians hold the AHL record for highest power play percentage in a season, finishing at 26.78% in 1993-94.
The Puck Stops Here: Tied for the league lead in goals against per game (2.33), the Griffins allowed their 100th goal of the season in last Saturday’s 2-1 win against Stockton. The 100th tally coming in game 43 ties for the fourth-longest into the season in team history before the goals against count reached the century mark (51 games in 2003-04, 47 games in 2000-01, 44 games in 2002-03 and 43 games in 2013-14). In fact, the Griffins are on pace to allow only 176 goals, which would be the second-lowest total ever (166 in 2003-04), and their 2.32 goals against are on track for what would be fourth best in club history (2.08 in 2003-04, 2.21 in 2002-03 and 2.23 in 2001-02).
Start It Up: The Griffins’ 0.686 points percentage is tied with the 2013-14 (28-12-1-2, 0.686) and 2008-09 (25-9-6-3, 0.686) teams for the third-best record in franchise history after 43 games, trailing only the 2000-01 (32-7-4, 0.744) and 2005-06 (29-11-1-2, 0.709) squads.
Specialty Teams: In addition to having the league’s top power play unit, the Griffins rank 12th in penalty killing at 82.9%. Grand Rapids’ combined power play and penalty kill percentage of 110.2 leads the league.
Russian Influence: Rookie Evgeny Svechnikov has accumulated seven points (3-4—7) during his five-game point streak, which is tied for the second-longest run on the team this season. Svechnikov has skated in all 43 games this season and ties for seventh among first-year AHL players with 13 goals.
Fast Starts: The Griffins are outscoring opponents 45-24 in the first period, and their plus-21 difference is the largest in the league. Grand Rapids’ 45 first-period markers and 27 first goals are both tied for the most in the AHL and the Griffins are 23-3-1-1 (0.857) when scoring first. The 24 goals given up in the first period are tied for the league’s lowest total of any team in any period.
Home Sweet Home: The Griffins have points in 12 of their last 15 games on home ice (10-3-0-2), including wins in nine of the last 12. After playing eight home contests in January, Grand Rapids will have seven more in the month of February. The Griffins are 16-6-0-2 at home this season and their 34 points are tied for most in the league. Grand Rapids dropped back-to-back home games last week against Iowa and San Jose, marking the first consecutive home defeats since April 13-16 of last season.
Quieting the Crowds: Grand Rapids is 12-6-1-0 on foreign ice and its 25 points are eighth in the AHL, despite tying for the fourth-fewest road games played (19). The Griffins’ plus-14 goal differential on the road is fourth in the league.
Shining Stars: Led by head coach Todd Nelson, the Central Division won the 2017 AHL All-Star Challenge on Monday night for the second time in as many years. Second-year pro and first-year Griffin Matt Lorito scored the shootout-deciding goal in the championship round, to go along with a goal and an assist. Playing in his first all-star classic, Lorito totaled two goals and an assist in four games during the tournament. Robbie Russo, the first player in Griffins history to be named to a year-end All-Star Team, an All-Rookie Team and an All-Star Classic, notched a pair of assists in the challenge. The Central Division's win in the All-Star Challenge followed a victory by the Western Conference in the AHL Skills Competition the previous night.
Between the Pipes: With Jared Coreau on recall in Detroit, goaltenders Eddie Pasquale and Cal Heeter have stepped up their games. Pasquale has points in 13 of his 17 starts on the season, ranks fifth with a 2.22 goals against average and has two shutouts. Last Wednesday’s 2-1 loss versus Iowa marked his first home regulation loss this season (5-1-0-2). Heeter has won seven of his nine starts for the Griffins this season and is a combined 17-3 between the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye and Grand Rapids. If he had enough minutes to qualify, Heeter’s 2.11 GAA would rank third and his 0.932 save percentage would lead the league. In fact, if Heeter’s minutes met the 840 minutes requirement, all three goalies who have played a game with the Griffins this season would rank inside the league’s top five in GAA. In each of their last five starts, Pasquale has let in just eight goals (1.62 GAA) and stopped 144-of-152 shots (0.947) while Heeter has given up nine goals (1.81 GAA) and saved 143-of-152 (0.941).
Milestones: With 11 goals this season, Mitch Callahan has 88 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 172 career points (89-83—172) are eighth-most in team history, seven behind Jiri Hudler for seventh…Captain Nathan Paetsch has 117 career assists to rank sixth all-time in team history…Paetsch is 13 behind Derek King for fifth…Matt Lorito needs two points to reach 100 as a pro…Eighth-year Griffin Brian Lashoff played in his 300th game as a Griffin last Saturday against Stockton…He is one of 10 players in franchise history to play in 300 or more regular season contests and the third this season (Callahan on Oct. 14 vs. Chicago and Paetsch on Nov. 18 vs. Texas) to achieve the benchmark…Eighth-year pro Eric Tangradi played in his 100th game as a Griffin last Wednesday against Iowa…Tyler Bertuzzi needs five games played to reach 100 with the Griffins.
Showing Discipline: The Griffins are the least penalized team in the league, averaging just 9.95 penalty minutes per contest. In fact, Grand Rapids is on pace to log 756 PIM, which would break the franchise record for fewest PIM in a season set by the 2014-15 team with 869. Dan Renouf and Martin Frk are tied atop the team lead with 40 PIM and are on track for 71 this season, which would make either one of them 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 23-3-1-1 when scoring the game’s first goal, 19-1 when leading after one period and 22-1-1-0 when leading after two periods…Grand Rapids is 27-1-0-1 when scoring three goals or more and 1-11-1-1 when scoring two or less.
All About Chances: The Griffins are averaging the most shots in the league (34.19) and the sixth-most goals (3.28) while surrendering the fewest goals (2.33) and the 13th-fewest shots (29.26). Grand Rapids has recorded 30 or more shots in the last eight games, averaging 36.88 shots during that span.
Spreading the Wealth: The Griffins have seven players with double-digit goal totals, the most in the league. Three players – Ben Street, Tomas Nosek and Martin Frk – are tied for the team lead with 14 goals each.
Rookie Production: The Griffins have played eight rookies this season, which already surpasses last year’s total of seven. Those eight rookies have combined for 93 points (39-54—93), which equates to 27.7% of the team’s goals (39/141), 23.1% of the assists (54/234) and 24.9% of the points (93/374).
Sinking their Battleship: Since the 2013-14 season, the Milwaukee Admirals are 10-18-2-3 (0.391) against the Griffins, including a 2-12-1-1 (0.188) mark at Van Andel Arena. Over that same time frame, Milwaukee is 134-72-17-15 (0.630) against the rest of the AHL. Milwaukee’s last win at Van Andel Arena came Jan. 31, 2015, as Grand Rapids has won the last nine meetings on home ice and outscored the Admirals 34-11. In the last six games between the former International Hockey League rivals at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins have shut out the Admirals twice and allowed just five goals total.
Three in Detroit: Jared Coreau, Nick Jensen and Anthony Mantha remain on recall with the Detroit Red Wings. Coreau, the 158th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, shows a 5-1-3 record, a 2.90 GAA, a 0.907 save percentage and two shutouts. Jensen, the 159th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, has skated in 16 games, recording four assists, a plus-two rating and two PIM. Mantha totals 22 points (11-11—22), a plus-seven rating and 18 PIM in 34 contests.
Walleye Report: Under first-year head coach Dan Watson, the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye have points in eight of their last 10 and continue to lead the league with a 32-8-1-1 record (0.786). Rookies Tyson Spink (20-27—47), Tylor Spink (16-29—45) and former Griffin Shane Berschbach (8-36—44) lead the team in scoring. Second-year pro Jake Paterson, Detroit’s second pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, is 22-6-1 while placing sixth with a 2.56 goals against average and tying for 10th with a 0.910 save percentage. Griffins-contracted Cal Heeter, who is on recall in Grand Rapids, is 10-1 between the pipes and shows a 3.03 GAA and a 0.898 save percentage.
Back-to-Backs: The Griffins will play back-to-back games a total of 27 times this season. Compare the statistics for when the Griffins have played on consecutive nights:
|First Night||Second Night|
|L (incl. OT, SO)||7||2|
Win Some, Lose Some: Compare the statistics for the Griffins during their 28 wins and 15 (including overtime and shootout) losses:
|GF||GA||PP %||PK %||SF||SA|