This Week’s Games
Fri., Dec. 26 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Dec. 27 - Lake Erie Monsters at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Dec. 17 - Syracuse Crunch 1 at GRIFFINS 5 - 14-7-3-3, 34 pts. (T2nd, North Division)
Fri., Dec. 19 - Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 6 - 15-7-3-3, 36 pts. (T2nd)
Sat., Dec. 20 - Milwaukee Admirals 0 at GRIFFINS 2 - 16-7-3-3, 38 pts. (T2nd)
Sun., Dec. 21 GRIFFINS 6 at Rochester Americans 0 17-7-3-3, 40 pts. (2nd)
Jingle Bell Rock: The Griffins have climbed into sole possession of second place in the North Division – just two points behind leader Manitoba – after winning four games in five nights last week by a combined 19-4 score to earn their first sweep of a 4-in-5 since Nov. 18-22, 2005. Those four victories improved Grand Rapids’ record to 17-7-3-3, putting it 10 games over 0.500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 2005-06 season and tying for the second-best mark in franchise history through 30 games (in terms of points and regulation losses). The 2002-03 squad went 17-7-4-2 (40 pts.) through 30 games, while the 2000-01 IHL unit set the standard at 21-6-3 (45 pts.).
Cure for the Holiday Blues: Grand Rapids will host the Peoria Rivermen this Friday and the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday. Friday will be another Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs night, with $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts available from 6-8 p.m. while supplies last, as well as College Night and Library Night. On Saturday, fans can bring their skates and take to the ice for the post-game open skate.
Nothing for Christmas: Jimmy Howard stopped all 28 shots in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Milwaukee while Daniel Larsson made a season-high 38 saves in Sunday’s 6-0 triumph at Rochester, giving the Griffins consecutive shutouts for the first time since Dec. 30-31, 2006.
Causes for Celebration: The Griffins franchise achieved three significant milestones last week, with another waiting to reached at any time:
• Friday’s game vs. Milwaukee marked the 500th regular season home game in Griffins history. They now sport a record (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) of 285-159-15-8-34 (0.626) through 501 games at Van Andel Arena;
• On Saturday, Grand Rapids resident Bernie Loomans passed through the Van Andel Arena turnstiles as the 4 millionth fan in Griffins history. He was presented with the following prize package during an on-ice ceremony during the first intermission: A Griffins jersey with the numeral “4” and the nameplate “MILLION” on the back; Four lower bowl tickets to every Griffins home game during the ensuing 4 million seconds (12 games, Dec. 26-Jan. 31); Gas card to travel 4 million feet ($50); 4 million Zimbabwean dollars ($4.54 U.S.); 4 million micorliters of Pepsi (2 two-liter bottles); 4 million milligrams of Van Andel Arena popcorn (8 pounds, 13 ounces); Forty “100 Grand” candy bars; Four days of recognition on the griffinshockey.com splash page; and a four-second standing ovation from Griffins fans during the on-ice ceremony;
• Sunday’s game at Rochester was the Griffins’ 1000th regular season contest. They show an all-time record of 531-357-27-20-65 (0.587);
• The next former Griffin to skate in the NHL will become the team’s 100th NHL graduate.
Bring It On!: The Griffins have thrived during hectic schedules this season, as they are now a combined 9-2-0-1 when playing three times in as many nights and an incredible 7-0-0-1 when playing four games in five nights.
Home Sweet Home: After winning three home games in four nights last week, the Griffins are an impressive 10-2-1-3 at Van Andel Arena this season and have points in 11 of their last 12 games in friendly territory (8-1-1-2).
Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins today nominated center Francis Pare for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he tied for the AHL lead with seven points (3-4—7) and a plus-seven rating in four games last week. He posted two points in each of the weekend’s three games and is now averaging nearly a point per game for the season (7-7—14 in 15 contests). Despite playing in only half of the Griffins’ 30 games thus far, Pare is tied for the club lead with a plus-nine rating.
Daniel’s Den: Daniel Larsson made a season-high 38 saves in Sunday’s 6-0 win at Rochester to record his third shutout of the season, tying him for second in the AHL in that category. Over his last 11 outings, he is 8-1-1 with three shutouts, a 2.03 GAA and a 0.930 save percentage (278-299). Oddly, Larsson is 0-3 in his first decision of each month and 10-0-1 in all other contests.
Howard Says Halt!: Jimmy Howard stole the show and the game on Friday, making 28 saves to log his 11th career shutout and guide the Griffins to a 2-0 win over Milwaukee. Thanks to Howard’s larceny, the Griffins overcame a 28-16 deficit in shots to claim their third home win in four days. Howard’s thievery helped him record his first whitewash of the season, which moved him into sole possession of second place on the team’s all-time shutout list. He passed Marc Lamothe (10) and now trails only Joey MacDonald (16).
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand fifth in the AHL with an average attendance of 6,315, a year-to-date increase of 17.8% over the first 16 home contests of 2007-08 (5,362). The team’s total attendance of 101,038 is its highest through 16 home games in five years, since the 2003-04 campaign (104,871).
Honor Roll: Jakub Kindl’s career-high three-point effort (0-3—3) on Sunday extended his scoring streak to four games (1-5—6) – marking another career high – and gave him points in seven of the last eight contests (1-8—9)…Since earning just three assists through his first 11 contests, Cory Emmerton has tallied 13 points (3-10—13) in his last 17 games…Evan McGrath’s goal on Sunday extended his point streak to a career-high five games (1-4—5) and gave him points in nine of his last 13 games (4-8—12)…Jason Jozsa’s point streak now stands at four games (0-5—5), doubling his previous AHL best…After going 20 games without a goal, Ville Leino lit the lamp three times last week…Darren Helm has goals in five of the last eight games (5-1—6)…Mattias Ritola has points in four of the last five games (3-3—6)…Justin Abdelkader has points in seven of his last 11 appearances (2-6—8)…Darren Haydar has points in five of the last seven outings (2-3—5)…Francis Lemieux netted his first career hat trick in Friday’s 6-3 win over Milwaukee.
Skeleton Crew: The Griffins’ recent success has come without the services of some of their key personnel, as defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (seven games) and Garrett Stafford (five) and forward Justin Abdelkader (two) have all missed time of late due to injuries. In addition, Grand Rapids played with only five defensemen on Sunday due to an injury suffered by P.J. Atherton on Saturday.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Justin Abdelkader – T9th rookie points (19); Jakub Kindl – 4th defenseman points (20), T5th defenseman assists (15); Daniel Larsson – T2nd shutouts (3), T14th GAA (2.58); and Garrett Stafford – T11th defenseman points (16).
Hard to Kill: The Griffins’ seven regulation losses are the fewest in the Western Conference and are tied for the fewest in the AHL, but their six losses past regulation time (3 OTL, 3 SOL) also tie for the most in the league.
Here’s the Situation: Oddly, nine of the Griffins’ 13 losses have come during games in which they scored first (11-5-2-2), while they have suffered just four defeats when allowing the first lamp-lighter (6-2-1-1)…Grand Rapids is 13-0-1-1 when leading after two periods and a robust 3-4-1-0 when trailing entering the third period…The Griffins have recorded 30 or more shots in all but nine games and are 12-4-2-3 when doing so…There have only been seven games this season in which Grand Rapids was outshot, with one contest ending in even attempts. The team is 13-4-2-3 when outshooting its foes.
Milestones: Garrett Stafford needs six more games for 400 as a pro…Ryan Oulahen currently stands in seventh on the Griffins’ all-time games played list with 259, just five behind sixth-place Derek King (264)…Aaron Downey is four appearances shy of 700 pro contests.
Welcome to Grand Rapids: On Sunday, the Griffins recalled defenseman Brett Peterson from Phoenix (ECHL) in hopes of having him make his Grand Rapids debut, but weather prevented him from getting to Rochester in time for the game. Peterson has tallied seven points (2-5—7) and 30 PIM through 20 games with the Roadrunners this season…Last Monday, Grand Rapids recalled defenseman P.J. Atherton from the Ontario Reign of the ECHL. Atherton, 26, has logged 14 games in the ECHL this season between Las Vegas (5) and Ontario (9), tallying two points (1-1—2) with the Wranglers and seven points (2-5—7) with the Reign. The Edina, Minn., native notched his first assist as a Griffin on Friday and also shows six PIM through seven games thus far with Grand Rapids.
Eight Was Enough: The Griffins brought a decisive end to a frustrating skid by sweeping their weekend set versus Milwaukee (6-3 on Friday, 2-0 on Saturday), snapping winless streaks of 0-6-1-1 overall and 0-2-0-1 at home against their cross-lake rival. Friday’s victory was their first against the Admirals since a 4-2 win at Van Andel Arena on Dec. 29, 2007.
Fri., Dec. 26 vs. Peoria Rivermen (18-12-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 9-9-0-1 Overall, 4-4-0-1 Home. Season Series: 0-1-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Second of six meetings overall, first of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Davis Payne (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have already faced 16 different opponents this season, and the Rivermen are one of only five who’ve managed to defeat Grand Rapids in regulation (5-3 in Peoria on Nov. 8)…The Rivermen are 11-3-1-0 at home but just 7-9 on the road…Though tastefully named, Peoria center Curtis Fraser is no relation to Griffins head coach Curt Fraser.
Sat., Dec. 27 vs. Lake Erie Monsters (11-12-1-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 8-3-1-1 Overall, 5-1-0-0 Home. Season Series: 2-0-1-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth of eight meetings overall, second of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Joe Sacco (2nd season). Notes: In their last two visits to Van Andel Arena, the Monsters have lost by scores of 5-1 (Nov. 7) and 6-1 (March 26)…Lake Erie has been outscored 27-13 in six all-time games at Grand Rapids, giving up five or more goals on four occasions…The Monsters enter the week on a five-game point streak (2-0-0-3)…Lake Erie goalie Tyler Weiman ranks fourth in the AHL with a 2.25 GAA.