02/21/2012 4:38 PM
This Week’s Games
Last Week’s Results
The Battle Begins: Grand Rapids starts this week seated fifth place in the North Division with 49 points. With two games in hand over fourth-place Hamilton (53 points), three over third-place Rochester (55 points) and four over second-place Lake Erie, the team can jump right back into the playoff mix with a successful week. The Griffins earned one point last week, battling back from a 3-1 deficit to force overtime in Chicago last Wednesday. After Brendan Smith scored his ninth goal of the season to knot the game at three, Wolves forward Billy Sweatt struck just 18 seconds into overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 victory. In its first-ever Purple Game on Saturday, Grand Rapids dropped a 3-1 decision to Peoria in a game that featured no penalties. It was the second time in franchise history that the Griffins were involved in a penalty-free game; the first came on March 21, 2009 versus the Toronto Marlies. Both games were supervised by the same referee, Jeff Smith.
Rivalry Week: The Griffins will play the first three of four consecutive games against North Division opponents this week, starting with a visit from Hamilton on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Grand Rapids will close its three-game homestand on Friday at 7 p.m. versus Lake Erie and then travel to Toronto for a 5 p.m. start on Saturday. The team has an 11-4-1-1 record against its division, while every other team in the North has double-digit losses in divisional play. The Griffins are 4-1 this season against the Bulldogs and 3-1-1 against the Monsters, with two shutouts against each opponent, and a perfect 3-0 against the division-leading Marlies.
Promotions: Wednesday’s contest versus Hamilton is the second-to-last Winning Wednesday of the season. All fans in attendance for the Griffins’ 4-1 win over Rochester on Jan. 25 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to this game. Tickets can be redeemed at The Zone during business hours (M-F 10-6; Sat 10-12) and at the box office before this Wednesday’s game. If the Griffins beat the Bulldogs, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the final Wednesday game of the season, April 4 versus Texas. Additionally, the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a t-shirt. If the Griffins win, the box office will be open following the game for redemptions. Before and after the game, fans can show their ticket to receive great food and drink specials at participating Arena District restaurants and bars as part of “Wednesday Night is Hockey Night.” Visit griffinshockey.com/hockeynight for a list of participating restaurants. Fans can also enjoy a buy-one, get-one-free deal on 16 oz. Pepsi drinks all night long at any concession stand that sells fountain drinks. Finally, fans who present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the day of the game or at The Zone anytime during the store’s regular business hours can save $7 off the price of a Lower Level Faceoff ticket (regularly $18 in advance and $20 day of game). Limit four tickets per card per person, subject to availability. Fans who attend Friday’s contest versus Lake Erie can enjoy $1 hot dogs and $1 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. Fans can ride the Rapid to and from the game and enjoy complimentary fare by showing their ticket. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps. College students can show their ID to purchase a lower bowl ticket for $13 (or $11 in advance at The Zone) and stop by the McFadden’s concourse table to receive a free pass to the post-game party at McFadden’s. Finally, with a ticket in the Griffins WGRD D-Zone, fans can avoid concession lines and get $1 beers and $1 hot dogs served to their seats. Visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to purchase D-Zone tickets.
Win, Loss and Ty: The Red Wings on Tuesday assigned veteran NHL goaltender Ty Conklin to the Griffins. The 35-year-old netminder has appeared in 11 games for Detroit this season, posting a 3-5-0 record with a 3.40 goals against average and a 0.878 save percentage, highlighted by a 29-save shutout of Colorado on Oct. 8. Conklin has been with three teams that reached the Stanley Cup Finals – Edmonton (2005-06), Pittsburgh (2007-08) and Detroit (2008-09) – and has also played with Columbus, Buffalo and St. Louis.
Elite Company: Only two goaltenders have had more NHL experience than Ty Conklin’s 211 NHL games before joining the Griffins: Curtis Joseph (767) and Chris Osgood (568), both of whom played in Grand Rapids on conditioning stints. Joseph (Oct. 24, 2003) and Osgood (Oct. 19, 2005) are among the only four goaltenders who played over 100 NHL games before making their Griffins debut, in addition to Pokey Reddick (Oct. 5, 1996) and Manny Legace (Dec. 30, 2005). All four goaltenders won their Griffins debut, and all but one (Pokey Reddick) won their home debut. Reddick’s home debut was the first home game in franchise history, a 3-1 loss to an Orlando Solar Bears team coached by Curt Fraser on Oct. 11, 1996.
Crease Shuffle: Due to the addition of Ty Conklin to the roster, the Red Wings assigned goaltender Jordan Pearce to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. Pearce shows a record of 3-7-1 with a 3.53 goals against average and 0.874 save percentage in 17 contests with Grand Rapids this season. The 25-year-old netminder has appeared in 45 games with the Walleye from 2009-11, owning an 18-22-1 record, a 3.72 GAA and three shutouts.
What’s Old is New: The Red Wings on Tuesday traded defenseman Sebastien Piche to the Tampa Bay Lightning as part of a three-team deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Tampa Bay sent forward Steve Downie to Colorado in exchange for former Griffins defenseman Kyle Quincey, who was then traded to Detroit for a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and Piche. The 24-year-old Piche had three assists and 18 penalty minutes in 22 games for Grand Rapids this season and five assists in 42 career AHL contests from 2009-12. Quincey returns to the organization after spending his first three professional seasons with Grand Rapids from 2005-08. In 201 career AHL games, he tallied 75 points (16-59—75) and 382 penalty minutes, adding one assist and 27 penalty minutes in 18 postseason contests. Quincey spent one season with the Los Angeles Kings and three with the Avalanche. He has 92 points (16-76—92) in 239 career NHL games.
So Long, Joey: Goaltender Joey MacDonald has won six straight games for the Red Wings and, with the demotion of Ty Conklin to Grand Rapids, looks to have claimed the backup role behind Jimmy Howard for the rest of the season. The 32-year-old netminder has appeared in eight games in all for Detroit, sporting a 6-1-1 record with a 1.66 goals against average and a 0.934 save percentage. He helped the Red Wings make history on Feb. 14, making 20 saves to give Detroit its NHL-record 21st straight win at home. MacDonald also has posted an 11-11-3 record, a 2.63 goals against average, a 0.913 save percentage and three shutouts in 26 appearances with the Griffins this season. He ranks first among the Griffins’ all-time goaltending leaders with 210 games played, 109 wins, 20 shutouts and 5,352 saves.
A Part of History: On Feb. 14, the Red Wings defeated the Dallas Stars to record their NHL-record 21st straight win at home. Fifteen former or current Griffins have played at least one game at the Joe during the winning streak: Joey MacDonald, Jimmy Howard, Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler, Niklas Kronwall, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Jakub Kindl, Cory Emmerton, Jonathan Ericsson, Chris Conner, Jan Mursak, Fabian Brunnstrom, Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson. The team extended its record to 23 games with a 3-2 win over San Jose on Sunday afternoon.
The March to March: Grand Rapids will finish out its busy February home schedule this week, with home games against Hamilton on Wednesday and Lake Erie on Friday. Although they will still play four of their next five at Van Andel Arena, the Griffins are looking at a March schedule that sees them play a season-high nine road games, all against a tough West Division that has four of the conference’s top eight spots. Grand Rapids will make up for its AHL-low 50 games played in a hurry, as it will play 13 games in 24 days – nine on the road, four at home – to begin March, while never having more than two days off in that span.
Sharp Shooters: Veterans Jamie Johnson and Chris Minard continue to find the back of the net with regularity, and both sit top-20 in the AHL in shooting percentage. Johnson has tallied a team-leading 18 goals on 80 shots to give him the league’s fourth-best shooting percentage at 22.5%. Minard has nine goals on 46 shots for a rate of 19.6% and 18th overall in the AHL. Minard has 13 points (9-4—13) in 14 games overall since returning from a concussion that kept him out of the team’s first 36 games.
Fantastic First Year: Left wing Gustav Nyquist currently has a team-best six-game point streak, which has seen him total seven points (4-3—7). Nyquist is now tied with Kevyn Adams for fourth place on the franchise’s single-season rookie points leaderboard. Adams had 47 points (22-25—47) in 82 games in 1996-97, and Nyquist has tied him in just 46 games, totaling 16-31—47. Nyquist is one point from tying teammate Francis Pare (24-24—48 in 2008-09), which will leave him trailing only Justin Abdelkader (24-28—52 in 2008-09) and Glen Metropolit (20-35—55 in 1997-98). The Halmstad, Sweden, native is tied with Connecticut’s Jonathan Audy-Marchessault for 12th in the AHL and second among rookies.
Milestone Watch: Joakim Andersson recorded his AHL-best 16th assist and 50th assist as a pro last Saturday versus Peoria…Chris Conner skated in his 400th professional game the same night…Brendan Smith’s next assist will top his AHL rookie season totals of 20, while Jamie Johnson’s next helper will be his 50th in a Griffins uniform. Johnson is also three games shy of 400 as a pro…Brian Lashoff will skate in his 100th game as a Griffin with his next appearance…Tom McCollum and Logan Pyett will write their name in the Griffins history books with two more appearances. McCollum is two games shy of tying Pokey Reddick (71) for seventh place all time in games played among goaltenders, while Pyett is two shy of tying Derek King (264) for 10th place among skaters.
Wed., Feb. 22 at Hamilton Bulldogs (24-23-1-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 24 vs. Lake Erie (26-24-2-2) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 25 at Toronto Marlies (26-21-2-1) – Ricoh Coliseum – 5 p.m.
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