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DOWN TO THE WIRE


This Week’s Games
Wed., April 11 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks

Fri., April 13 - GRIFFINS at Hamilton Bulldogs - 7:30 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sat., April 14 - Hamilton Bulldogs at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD/B2

Sun., April 15 - GRIFFINS at Toronto Marlies - 4 p.m. - WOOD/B2

END OF REGULAR SEASON
 
Last Week’s Results
Wed., April 4 - GRIFFINS 1 at Syracuse Crunch 3 - 35-28-6-5, 81 pts. (4th, North Division) 

Fri., April 6 - Toronto Marlies 0 at GRIFFINS 4 - 36-28-6-5, 83 pts. (4th) 

Sat., April 7 - GRIFFINS 3 at Chicago Wolves 5 - 36-29-6-5, 83 pts. (4th)

Down to the Wire: Entering the final week of the regular season, the Griffins maintain a three-point lead over Peoria in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Griffins’ magic numbers for securing their ninth playoff berth in 11 seasons stand at one point over Syracuse and six points over Peoria, meaning the earliest they could clinch is Friday in Hamilton. The Griffins’ playoff chase breaks down as follows:

Team - Points/Wins - Games Left - Opponents’ Win. % 
Grand Rapids - 83/36 - 4 (1 home, 3 road) - 0.558 (@Ham, @Ham, HAM, @Tor)
Peoria - 80/36 - 4 (2 home, 2 road) - 0.615 (MIL, @Oma, OMA, @Mil)
Syracuse - 77/33 - 3 (1 home, 2 road) - 0.629 (@Roc, ROC, @Wbs)

The Grand Finale: West Michigan Chrysler Jeep Dealers present the Grand Finale of the Griffins’ regular season this Saturday, when Grand Rapids hosts the Hamilton Bulldogs at 7 p.m. Packed with great entertainment from start to finish, the night will feature pre-game pyro as fans welcome the Griffins to the ice, and live musical performances from the Verve Pipe’s Brian VanderArk during the first intermission and ska masters Mustard Plug during the second. Fans are also invited to bring their skates and take to the Van Andel Arena ice following the game.

Road Blues: The Griffins have lost their last eight games on the road (0-5-1-2), their longest drought since a team-record nine-game road losing streak (0-7-2) from Jan. 5-Feb. 7, 1998.

For Better or Worse: The latest the Griffins have ever clinched a playoff berth is March 24 (2000), and the earliest they’ve ever been eliminated from postseason contention is April 16 (2005). One of those marks will fall this week.

Friendly Confines: Grand Rapids, which owned a 7-9-2-2 record on home ice in late December, has won 12 of 15 (12-2-0-1) and 15 of its last 19 games (15-3-0-1) at Van Andel Arena. Fans have noticed, as eight of the last 15 home games have been witnessed by crowds in excess of 10,000, including six sellouts. Friday’s capacity crowd of 10,834 was the seventh this season, and with only a few hundred tickets remaining for the home finale this Saturday, the franchise will realize both its largest overall attendance and its first increase in attendance since the 2002-03 season.

Sudden Impact: Hobey Baker finalist Scott Parse has wasted no time in making his presence felt since signing an amateur tryout with the Griffins on March 27, tallying points in four of six games (2-4—6). The Portage native and former Nebraska-Omaha star earned an assist and scored in the shootout in his first pro game on March 28 (a 3-2 win over Milwaukee), scored the tying goal and assisted on Kip Miller’s overtime tally in a 2-1 triumph over Chicago on March 31, scored Grand Rapids’ lone goal in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss at Syracuse, and logged a pair of assists in Friday’s 4-0 blanking of Toronto.

Exclusive Company: Jimmy Howard stopped all 29 shots on Friday to earn a 4-0 win over Toronto and tie a franchise record with his sixth shutout of the season. He equaled the mark held by Joey MacDonald (2003-04), Marc Lamothe (2002-03), Mike Fountain (2000-01) and Pokey Reddick (1996-97), while joining the first three as the only Griffins netminders to log back-to-back 20-win seasons.

Miller Time: Kip Miller, already second in Griffins history with 75 goals and third with 207 points, notched two assists on Friday against Toronto, the first of which – his 131st – moved him past Derek King into sole possession of third all time. With 71 points (25-46—71) in 74 games this season, Miller needs one point to tie Tomas Kopecky (2005-06) and Stacy Roest (2002-03) for 10th on the Griffins’ single-season scoring chart, and two points to tie Eric Manlow (2005-06) for ninth.

Alumni Watch: Defensemen Kyle Quincey (Detroit) and Danny Syvret (Edmonton) returned to the Griffins today on assignment from their NHL teams. Each player earned his first NHL point on his team’s final goal in its final regular season contest on Saturday. Quincey beat former Griffin Patrick Lalime in the second period of Detroit’s 7-2 win over Chicago, while Syvret earned an assist on the game-winning goal in Edmonton’s 3-2 victory at Calgary.

Sweep Needed: If the Griffins win each of their final four games, they’ll record their eighth-consecutive 40-win season overall and their sixth straight as members of the AHL, tying the league record set by the Cleveland Barons from 1947-53.

Short Stories: The Griffins continue to lead the AHL with a franchise-record 23 shorthanded goals. Fourteen of those have been scored in the last 28 games alone, a number that matches or surpasses the season-long haul of 18 other teams. Strangely, over the last 26 games, the Griffins have scored only one more power play goal (14) than shorthanded goals (13).

Scouting Report

Wed., April 11 at Hamilton Bulldogs (41-27-3-5) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Fri., April 13 at Hamilton Bulldogs – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Sat., April 14 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. (Wed. and Fri.) and 6:40 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-4-0-1 Overall, 2-1-0-1 Home, 0-3-0-0 Road. Eighth, ninth and tenth of 10 meetings overall, fourth and fifth of five in Hamilton, fifth and final in Grand Rapids. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 14-12-1-0-2 Overall, 8-4-1-0-2 Home, 6-8-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Don Lever (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins have lost their last five visits to Copps Coliseum by a combined 20-6 score, with their last victory coming in 3-1 fashion on Nov. 6, 2005…Grand Rapids has scored only nine regulation-time goals in seven games against the Dogs this season…Hamilton’s Yann Danis is 4-1-0 with a 1.38 GAA and a 0.952 save percentage against the Griffins this year.

Sun., April 15 at Toronto Marlies (31-38-2-5) – Ricoh Coliseum – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 4-3-0-0 Overall, 2-1-0-0 Road. Eighth and final meeting overall, fourth and final in Toronto. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 7-6-0-0-0 Overall, 3-3-0-0-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (1st season). Notes: The home team has won the last three meetings between Toronto and Grand Rapids, following an eight-game winning streak by the visiting team…Toronto is 17-18-0-3 on the road but 14-20-2-2 at Ricoh Coliseum…Matt Ellis has six goals in seven games against the Marlies this season…Jimmy Howard is 3-1-0 with one shutout, a 1.37 GAA and a 0.957 save percentage versus Toronto.



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