This Week’s Games
Fri., March 20 - Toronto Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sat., March 21 - Toronto Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Sun., March 22 - GRIFFINS at Lake Erie Monsters - 5 p.m. - NHL Network / WOOD 1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Fri., March 13 - Peoria Rivermen 1 at GRIFFINS 4 - 38-16-6-6, 88 pts. (2nd, North Division)
Sat., March 14 - Peoria Rivermen 3 at GRIFFINS 1 - 38-17-6-6, 88 pts. (2nd)
Sun., March 15 - Milwaukee Admirals 2 at GRIFFINS 1 - 38-18-6-6, 88 pts. (2nd)
Pack Your Bags: After completing their five-game homestand with a two-game set against Toronto this Friday and Saturday, the Griffins will embark on a franchise-record eight-game road trip that begins Sunday at Lake Erie and concludes April 5 at Rochester. Grand Rapids will play just one of its final 10 contests at Van Andel Arena, as its home finale on Friday, April 10 vs. Hamilton will be followed by the regular season wrapup on April 11 in Peoria.
The Chase Continues: Despite suffering consecutive regulation losses at home for the first time all season, the Griffins did not lose any ground in the race for first place in the North Division over the weekend, as Manitoba also sustained defeats on both Saturday and Sunday. Second-place Grand Rapids still trails the Moose by five points, but hard-charging Hamilton has pulled within four points of the Griffins. In an interesting scheduling twist, three of Grand Rapids’ final five regular season games will be against the Bulldogs.
Fun at the Van: This Friday’s game against the Marlies, sponsored by Borgman Ford Mazda, 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 ($10 lower-bowl ticket with student I.D. or library card). Griffins fans will attempt to break the record for the largest circle dance by doing the Hokey Pokey during the second intermission, and the team’s autographed, Red Wings-style third jerseys will be auctioned to the public after the game. On Saturday, 2,500 fans will receive a Justin Abdelkader bobblehead, courtesy of Comcast, and everyone who brings their skates can take to the ice for the post-game skate. It’s the Griffins’ annual Star Wars Night, as over 50 Star Wars characters will roam the concourse, taking photos with fans for a small donation to the Griffins Youth Foundation, which will sell t-shirts and pucks featuring a limited-edition Star Wars Griffins logo. After the game, the Griffins will auction off eight autographed, game-worn black New Year’s Eve jerseys.
Smile for the Camera: Sunday’s 5 p.m. game at Lake Erie will be televised live on the NHL Network.
Come One, Come All: The Griffins stand third in the AHL in attendance with an average of 7,173, which represents a year-to-date increase of 6.9% over the first 37 home contests of 2007-08 (6,708). Sunday’s game was witnessed by the Griffins’ third sellout crowd of the season (10,834), as they ended their 3-in-3 home weekend with a cumulative attendance of 28,770 (9,590 avg., 89% capacity). Based on presales for the final three home games, Grand Rapids is guaranteed to realize three straight seasons of increased attendance for the first time in franchise history. The Griffins also have a great chance to finish with their largest attendance since the 2000-01 season, as their total attendance of 254,569 is their highest through 37 home games in eight years.
On the Brink of 300: Grand Rapids needs two home-ice victories to record its 300th regular season home win. Through 522 games over their 13 seasons, the Griffins boast a record of 298-164-15-10-35 (W-L-T-OTL-SOL) (0.628) at Van Andel Arena.
Sail Away: The Griffins finished their season series against West Division-leading Milwaukee with a 2-5-1-0 record, with all six losses coming by just a single goal. Dating to last season, Grand Rapids is 2-8-1-1 in its last 12 games against the Admirals.
AHL Player of the Week Nominee: The Griffins on Monday nominated right wing Darren McCarty for the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week award, after he contributed three points (1-2—3) and a plus-three rating in three games last week. He scored a goal and added an assist in Friday’s 4-1 win over Peoria, then notched an assist on Sunday against Milwaukee to give him points in six of eight games (2-5—7) since rejoining the Griffins.
All Good Things Must End: Darren Haydar’s recent 10-game point streak (Feb. 20-March 13) tied for the seventh-longest in franchise history and was the longest for a Griffin since Matt Hussey registered points in 10 straight games from Jan. 19-Feb. 18, 2007. He has points in 18 of the last 20 games (10-20—30), 23 of the last 27 contests (12-24—36), 28 of the last 33 outings (13-30—43) and 35 of the last 43 games (16-35—51).
For the Record: Justin Abdelkader tied a Griffins rookie record (Kevyn Adams, 1996-97) with his 22nd goal of the season on Friday against Peoria, while moving past Adams into sole possession of second place on the Griffins’ all-time single season rookie scoring list with his 48th point. He now stands seven shy of record-holder Glen Metropolit (1997-98). Abdelkader currently ranks third among AHL rookies in both points and goals…On Saturday, Francis Pare scored his 21st goal of the campaign, putting him one shy of the aforementioned rookie record and placing him in a tie for third place among Grand Rapids’ all-time rookie goal scorers. His 41 points rank fifth all time among Griffins rookies…Jimmy Howard now stands at 86 victories for his Griffins career, just two shy of the franchise’s all-time leader in wins, Joey MacDonald (88)…Ryan Oulahen, who has tied his career high of 30 points set last season, already has scored a personal-best 18 goals, giving him 52 as a Griffin and putting him just four shy of Travis Richards (56) for 10th place in club history.
Get Busy: This coming weekend will present another 3-in-3 stretch for the Griffins, a gauntlet the team will run three times over its final 12 games. Grand Rapids is 14-8-0-2 (0.625) this season when playing three times in as many nights, including a 5-3 mark in the third game.
Honor Roll: Evan McGrath has points in six of the last nine games (3-5—8)…Ville Leino has points in four of six games (2-2—4) since returning from the Red Wings…Francis Pare has points in five of the last eight games (4-2—6)…Justin Abdelkader has seven multi-point outings in his last 19 games (8-12—20) as well as points in 13 of 20 appearances (8-13—21) since returning from a two-game stint with Detroit.
Take Me to Your Leaders: Several Griffins rank among the AHL’s individual leaders: Darren Haydar – T4th points (69), T11th goals (26), T10th assists (43), T1st power play points (36), T6th power play goals (13), T6th power play assists (23); Justin Abdelkader – 3rd rookie points (48), 3rd rookie goals (22), T8th rookies assists (26), 5th rookie shots (165); Cory Emmerton – T12th rookie assists (25), T2nd among rookies in shootout-winning goals (2); Francis Pare – T14th rookie points (41), T4th rookie goals (21), T9th overall and T2nd among rookies in shooting percentage (0.198), T2nd rookie plus/minus (+19); Garrett Stafford – 6th defenseman points (40), T4th defenseman goals (11); Jakub Kindl – T18th defenseman points (31); Jimmy Howard – T15th save percentage (0.914), T9th shutouts (3); and Daniel Larsson – T11th wins (21), T2nd shutouts (5).
Milestones: Darren Haydar is three goals shy of 200 as a pro and four tallies away from 200 in the AHL…Jason Jozsa is five games away from 400 as a pro.
M*A*S*H Report: Jamie Tardif has missed the last four games due to injury. Francis Lemieux returned to action Saturday after missing eight straight games, while both Tom Galvin and Jimmy Howard returned Friday after missing five consecutive games.
Close But No Cigar: Twenty of the Griffins’ 30 losses this season have been by a single goal (eight regulation, six OT, six SO), including four of their last five defeats and seven of their last nine setbacks.
Fri., March 20 vs. Toronto Marlies (35-26-2-5) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sat., March 21 vs. Toronto Marlies – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. (Fri.) and 6:35 p.m. (Sat.). Web Casts: Video web cast ($6 at AHLLive.com) and audio web cast (free at woodradio.com) available through griffinshockey.com. All-Time Series: 13-14-1-0 Overall, 7-5-1-0 Home. Season Series: 3-2-1-0 Overall, 1-0-1-0 Home. Seventh and eighth of eight meetings overall, third and fourth of four in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs. Head Coach: Greg Gilbert (3rd season). Notes: Jiri Tlusty has 11 points (2-9—11) in only five games against the Griffins this season, while Tim Stapleton (six goals in five games) and Andre Deveaux (five goals in four games) are also among 12 Marlies who have averaged at least one point per game versus Grand Rapids…Darren Haydar has 11 series points (2-9—11) while Justin Abdelkader has six goals in as many games against Toronto…Toronto has won three straight to strengthen its hold on the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division…The Marlies and Griffins are tied for third in the AHL on the power play (20.6%).
Sun., March 22 at Lake Erie Monsters (30-31-2-5) – Quicken Loans Arena – 5 p.m.
TV: NHL Network at 5 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 4:35 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: 9-5-1-2 Overall, 3-2-1-2 Road. Season Series: 3-2-1-1 Overall, 1-0-1-1 Road. Eighth of eight meetings overall, fourth of four in Cleveland. NHL Affiliation: Colorado Avalanche. Head Coach: Joe Sacco (2nd season). Notes: The Griffins have lost three straight games against the Monsters (0-2-0-1), including a 3-2 shootout loss at The Q on Feb. 28…Despite Lake Erie’s sixth-place standing in the North Division – 10 points out of a playoff berth – Grand Rapids has led at the end of regulation in only two of their seven meetings this season…With a league-high six shutouts to his credit, Monsters netminder Tyler Weiman is tied for 10th in the AHL with a 2.43 GAA…Lake Erie’s power play stands last in the league at 12.1%.