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DEFENSIVE STAND


This Week’s Games
Fri., Feb. 19 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com / XM Satellite Radio (XM 204/Sirius 208)

Sat., Feb. 20 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com

Sun., Feb. 21 - Texas Stars at GRIFFINS - 4 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Tue., Feb. 9 - GRIFFINS 2 at Texas Stars 1 - 23-28-0-1, 47 pts. (7th, North Division)

Fri., Feb. 12 - GRIFFINS 7 at Houston Aeros 2 - 24-28-0-1, 49 pts. (6th) 

Sat., Feb. 13 - GRIFFINS 0 at Houston Aeros 1 OT - 24-28-1-1, 50 pts. (T6th)

Mon., Feb. 15 - GRIFFINS 1 at Rockford IceHogs 2 OT - 24-28-2-1, 51 pts. (6th) 

Turning the Corner: The Griffins’ current four-game point streak (2-0-2-0) constitutes their longest road run of the campaign and their second-longest point streak overall this season, behind only their nine-game winning streak from Oct. 23-Nov. 13. Grand Rapids earned six of a possible eight points during its recent four-game road trip and has accumulated eight of a possible 12 points (3-1-2-0) in its last six games since enduring a seven-game losing streak.

Weekend of Fun: The Griffins return to Van Andel Arena this weekend to host three games in three nights for the third time this season and just the sixth time in their 14-year history. Fri. vs. Hamilton: The popular Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs promotion runs from 6-8 p.m. (while supplies last), and the first 1,500 fans will receive a Darren McCarty Griffins jersey card courtesy of J & H Family Stores. College Night attendees can purchase lower bowl tickets for just $10. Sat. vs. Peoria: Presented by Lake Michigan Credit Union, the Griffins will host West Michigan Idol Night featuring Kalamazoo native and top-five finalist during last season’s American Idol, Matt Giraud. Giraud will meet fans and sign autographs prior to the game and perform during the first intermission. Ticket specials include the Idol 4-Pack, the LMCU Blue Crew, and discounts for fans who follow the Griffins on Facebook and Twitter. Sun. vs. Texas: Fans can enjoy $1 Pepsi products and $1 Cole’s Breadsticks from 3-5 p.m., and the first 1,000 kids ages 12 and younger will receive a Griffins player card strip, courtesy of Play N Trade Alpine. The annual Season Ticket Holder Party will feature an array of pre- and post-game activities exclusively for Griffins’ season ticket holders, and other fans can save on tickets by either purchasing a Fan 4-Pack or showing their public library card to receive a Library Night discount ($10 lower bowl ticket).

Within Striking Distance: The Griffins currently reside in sixth place in the North Division with 51 points, but they stand just seven points out of a playoff spot (fourth place Manitoba at 58) and nine points out of third place (Abbotsford at 60). To earn either spot, they also need to climb over Lake Erie, which sits fifth with 56 points.

That’s More Like It: After fighting through a nightmarish 2-10-0 stretch from Dec. 20-Jan. 29, Daniel Larsson has regained his all-star form over his last five games, posting three wins, two overtime losses, a 1.79 GAA and a 0.938 save percentage (145-154) since Feb. 5. He helped the Griffins earn points in all four games of their recent road trip (Feb. 9-15), showing a 1.49 GAA and a 0.951 save percentage (123-129). Larsson now stands in sixth place on the Griffins’ all-time wins list with 38 victories, just three behind fifth-place Ian Gordon (41).

Defensive Lockdown: For the first time this season, the Griffins have limited their opposition to two goals or less in four straight games, all of which were played on the road. In regular season play, Grand Rapids last accomplished the feat from March 15-22, 2009 (overall) and Jan. 14-Feb. 4, 2009 (road).

Odd Occurrences: Only eight times in 14 seasons (a span of 1,105 regular season contests) have the Griffins been tied 0-0 at the end of regulation time. Saturday’s road game against the Aeros marked their first-ever 1-0 overtime loss, and Houston was also the site of the only scoreless game in Grand Rapids franchise history, a 0-0 deadlock at the Compaq Center on March 6, 2002…Saturday and Monday marked just the second time in franchise history that the Griffins suffered consecutive overtime losses (Nov. 28-30, 2002)…Fifteen Griffins skaters recorded points in Friday’s 7-2 thrashing of Houston.

Short Stories: Grand Rapids has killed off 12 straight and 41 of 44 (93.2%) opponent power play chances over its last 11 contests. In the 11 games prior to that stretch, the team allowed 15 power play goals on 51 chances (70.6% PK)…Jamie Tardif’s shorthanded tally on Friday gave the Griffins four shorthanded goals in a span of 13 games, after once being the only AHL team that had not scored a goal this season while down a man.

Lilja Heads Back to Detroit: On Friday, defenseman Andreas Lilja was recalled from his conditioning loan with the Griffins by Detroit, where he remains on injured reserve. Lilja, 34, appeared in four games with the Griffins between Feb. 3-9, going scoreless with six penalty minutes and a minus-two rating. He became the fifth Red Wings regular to make his Griffins debut during a conditioning stint, joining Curtis Joseph (2003-04), Chris Osgood (2005-06), Manny Legace (2005-06) and Chris Chelios (2008-09).

See You in Vancouver: Defenseman Sergei Kolosov is expected to make his Olympic debut at 3 p.m. EST Wednesday when Belarus takes on Finland in the first of its three preliminary round games at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. He and his countrymen will also face Sweden this Friday and Germany on Saturday. The qualification round (Feb. 23-24), semifinals (Feb. 26), Bronze Medal Game (Feb. 27) and Gold Medal Game (Feb. 28) will continue through the end of the month, meaning Kolosov could miss as many as 11 Griffins games during his absence. Kolosov will become just the third player in franchise history to participate in the Olympics as an active Griffin, joining Niklas Kronwall (2006 Sweden) and Julien Vauclair (2002 Switzerland). In the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, Kronwall became the first Griffins alumnus to earn an Olympic medal, winning gold thanks to Sweden’s victory over Finland in the championship game. Three of the other 11 men’s hockey teams are counting on former Griffins in their medal quests. Kronwall (2003-06) and Stefan Liv (2006-07), who also won gold with Sweden in 2006, will look to repeat, while Slovakia’s Pavol Demitra (1996-97) and Tomas Kopecky (2002-06) and Finland’s Valtteri Filppula (2005-07) will try to dethrone the defending champs.

If Only We Played in the North Division. Oh, Wait…: Of their 55 games thus far, the Griffins have played only 18 within the North Division, compiling a respectable 11-7-0-0 mark (0.611) against their theoretical rivals. By contrast, they’ve staged 37 interdivisional contests against the West – the only division in which every team sports a winning record – with a 13-21-2-1 record (0.392) to show for it.

Who’s Hot?: Jeremy Williams has points in six of the last seven games (2-6—8)…Mattias Ritola (2-1—3) and Logan Pyett (0-2—2) each have points in two of the last three contests.

Home Sweet Home?: Despite starting the season with eight straight wins at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids is now one game under 0.500 at home (14-15-0-0) after dropping 12 of its last 14 within friendly confines. Following their current four-game homestand (Feb. 19-24), the Griffins will play 14 of their final 21 contests on the road, where they own a 10-13-2-1 mark.

NHL Alumni Report: Last Wednesday, former Griffins captain Darren Haydar became the 109th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL, logging 5:22 of ice time and two shots for Colorado during the Avalanche’s 4-3 home win over Atlanta. Haydar paced the Griffins with 80 points (31-49—80) in 79 games last season. 

Scouting Report

Fri., Feb. 19 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs (34-13-3-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. / XM Satellite Radio (XM 204/Sirius 208). Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 21-25-1-0-2 Overall, 12-10-1-0-2 Home. Season Series: 1-2-0-0 Overall, 1-1-0-0 Home. Fourth of six meetings overall, third and final in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Guy Boucher (1st season). Notes: The Griffins took a 3-1 win from Hamilton in their most recent meeting, Jan. 16 at Van Andel Arena, breaking a five-game regular season losing streak to the Bulldogs…Hamilton’s 0.691 winning percentage and 76 points both rank second in the AHL to Hershey (0.792, 84)…The Bulldogs boast two of the league’s top four goalies in Cedrick Desjardins (1.95 GAA, 2nd) and Curtis Sanford (2.00 GAA, 4th), the backbones of a defense that has allowed a league-low 122 goals (2.22 per game).

Sat., Feb. 20 vs. Peoria Rivermen (24-23-1-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 14-13-1-2 Overall, 6-7-1-1 Home. Season Series: 3-2-0-1 Overall, 1-2-0-0 Home. Seventh of eight meetings overall, fourth and final in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Rick Wamsley (1st season). Notes: The Rivermen are 5-10-0-3 since Rick Wamsley assumed the head coaching reins from Davis Payne (now head coach of the St. Louis Blues) on Jan. 2…Since winning the season’s first three meetings by a combined 9-3 margin, the Griffins have dropped three straight to Peoria (3-4 SOL on Dec. 15, 1-5 L on Dec. 27, 2-3 L on Jan. 15)…The Rivermen have lost four straight to fall to seventh in the West Division standings…Peoria’s Lars Eller is tied for seventh in scoring among AHL rookies (8-25—34)…The Rivermen own the AHL’s second-ranked power play (20.6%).

Sun., Feb. 21 vs. Texas Stars (29-18-3-4) – Van Andel Arena – 4 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 3:35 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series/Season Series: 3-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fifth of six meetings overall, second of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Dallas Stars. Head Coach: Glen Gulutzan (1st season). Notes: The Griffins have won three straight games against the Stars, including a 4-1 victory in Grand Rapids on Nov. 20, and have held Texas to just six goals combined in their four meetings this season…The Stars have fallen from a first-place tie in the West Division down to fourth place, thanks to their first three-game losing streak of the season…Travis Morin’s 35 points (14-21—35) stand sixth among AHL rookies…The Stars rank fourth in the AHL in both penalty killing (86.7%) and goals allowed per game (2.41).

 

Griffins Game Rewinds

Feb. 15 at RFD - 1-2 OTL
WTKG Radio Highlights: Ritola goal   IceHogs goal 1   IceHogs OT goal
WTKG Intermission Interview: Darren Helm
Official Game Report

Feb. 13 at HOU - 0-1 OTL
AHLLive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Aeros OT goal
Official Game Report

Feb. 12 at HOU - 7-2 W
AHLLive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Tardif SH goal   Vigilante goal   Abdelkader goal
WOOD Radio Intermission Interviews: Olympic Predictions
Official Game Report

Feb. 9 at TEX - 2-1 W
AHLLive Video Highlights
WOOD Radio Highlights: Rissmiller goal   Pare goal   Texas goal
Official Game Report

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