12/06/2011 12:05 PM
This Week’s Games
Fri., Dec. 9 - GRIFFINS at Milwaukee Admirals - 8 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sat., Dec. 10 - GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs - 8:05 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM / AHLLive.com
Sun., Dec. 11 - GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves - 4 p.m. - WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM / AHLLive.com
Last Week’s Results
Tue., Nov. 29 - GRIFFINS 4 at Toronto Marlies 3 OT - 8-11-1-0, 17 pts. (4th, North Division)
Fri., Dec. 2 - Toronto Marlies 3 at GRIFFINS 6 - 9-11-1-0, 19 pts. (4th)
Sat., Dec. 3 - Chicago Wolves 4 at GRIFFINS 5 OT - 10-11-1-0, 21 pts. (4th)
Perfection: Grand Rapids entered last week with no points to show for back-to-back solid efforts against the league-leading Oklahoma City Barons, who beat the Griffins 5-4 on both Nov. 25 and Nov. 27. The team rebounded in a big way, winning all three of its games, including two against the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies. The Griffins beat the Marlies 4-3 in overtime in Toronto last Tuesday and 6-3 at Van Andel Arena on Friday. They capped off the week, and their first three-game winning streak of the season, by defeating the Chicago Wolves 5-4 in overtime on Saturday.
Ready for the Road: The Griffins will take their three-game winning streak on the road this week, as they will play the second of six three-in-threes on the season. The team will open up the trek in Milwaukee on Friday at 8 p.m. EST with the third of four meetings on the season. The teams split the first two, with each team winning once on the road. On Saturday, the Griffins will visit a building in which they’ve won just twice in 12 attempts when they take on the Rockford IceHogs at the BMO Harris Bank Center at 8:05 p.m. EST. They’ll wrap up the weekend with their first trip of the year to Chicago, facing off against the Wolves on Sunday at 4 p.m. EST. The Griffins look to continue climbing the Western Conference standings, where they are just two points out of a playoff spot.
Offensive Surge: After averaging just two goals per game through the first eight games of the season, the Griffins’ offense continues to roll at a red-hot pace, averaging 4.2 goals per game over their last 10 contests and 4.67 over their last six, having scored at least four goals in six straight games. The Griffins sit eighth in the AHL with a 3.18 goals-per-game average on the season, a product of their 33.64 shots-per-game average, which ranks fourth in the league.
Overtime Thrillers: Grand Rapids improved its post-regulation record to 3-1 last week, winning a pair of games in overtime. Last Tuesday, Landon Ferraro’s third goal in four games gave the Griffins a 4-3 victory against the Toronto Marlies. Ferraro knocked home a rebound off of a Garnet Exelby blast at 4:11 of the extra session to end the Marlies’ six-game winning streak. Joakim Andersson scored the overtime winner versus Chicago on Saturday, taking a feed from Brent Raedeke and breaking in alone to beat Wolves goaltender Matt Climie over the shoulder to give the Griffins their third consecutive victory. The Griffins’ two overtime wins last week matched their combined haul from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons.
North Division Supremacy: The Griffins continue to be successful within their own division, posting a 7-2 record against North Division rivals while outscoring them 35-19. They beat the division-leading Toronto Marlies twice last week, first in a 4-3 overtime decision in Toronto last Tuesday before winning 6-3 at home on Friday to improve to 3-0 against them this season. They have three division battles remaining this month, all against the second-place Lake Erie Monsters, whom they trail in the North Division standings by just three points.
Place in History: Francis Pare continued to climb up the franchise’s all-time leaderboards last week. With his two assists on Friday versus Toronto, Pare tied and passed Matt Ellis for eighth place all time in assists, now sitting at 85. He is just two shy of tying Jeff Nelson for seventh and three shy of tying Glen Metropolit for sixth. Pare’s goal on Nov. 23 versus Hamilton saw him pass Jiri Hudler for seventh all-time in goals, sitting just two behind Ellis for sixth. He is also one point behind Ellis for seventh in franchise history in points, where he sits with 152.
Strength in Net: Goaltender Tom McCollum has made the most of his opportunity with the Griffins this season, starting and winning all three games last week. McCollum made a team-high 37 saves in last Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime victory over Toronto, before steering aside 23 of 26 against Toronto on Friday and 28 of 32 against Chicago on Saturday. It was the first time McCollum won three straight games since he won four in a row as a rookie from Oct. 24-Nov. 13, 2009 and the first time any Griffins goaltender did the deed since Jordan Pearce won three straight last season from March 12-16. The team also saw goaltender Joey MacDonald return to practice last week after missing nearly a month with a concussion suffered on Nov. 5 versus Charlotte. MacDonald is expected to make the road trip and return to the lineup as early as Friday.
Like Father, Like Son: The Griffins are getting contributions from many rookies this season, but they saw a pair, Louis-Marc Aubry and Landon Ferraro, step up offensively last week. Aubry recorded the first multipoint game of his professional career, notching a goal and two assists on Friday versus Toronto en route to being named the game’s first star. In addition to scoring the overtime winner last Tuesday in Toronto, Ferraro notched assists on Friday and Saturday, giving him a four-game point streak heading into this week’s road trip, with five points (3-2—5) in six games overall. Aubry and Ferraro also both have the distinction of having fathers, Pierre Aubry (1980-85) and Ray Ferraro (1984-2002), who played in the NHL.
Fabian Frenzy: After being involved in six transactions to and from Grand Rapids between Nov. 22-28, Fabian Brunnstrom will skate with the Griffins indefinitely after being assigned on Saturday morning. Brunnstrom was named the second star in the Griffins’ 5-4 overtime win versus Chicago, recording one goal and one assist. Brunnstrom has five points (2-3—5) in five games with the Griffins this season.
Conner Gets the Call: The Red Wings last Wednesday recalled right wing Chris Conner from the Griffins. Conner led the Griffins in scoring with 23 points (7-16—23) in 20 games before his recall, and he is currently tied for 10th in the AHL overall. Conner became the 122nd Griffins alumnus to play an NHL game when he made his Red Wings debut on Friday in the team’s 4-1 win at Buffalo. The Livonia, Mich., native has played in 142 career NHL games, totaling 40 points (16-24—40). He spent the majority of the 2010-11 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, tallying 16 points (7-9—16) in 60 regular season contests and adding one goal in seven postseason games.
Number 121: When he skated for the Florida Panthers last Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, Mark Cullen became the 121st alumnus of the Griffins to suit up for an NHL game. Cullen, who previously played 32 NHL games for Chicago and Philadelphia from 2005-07, recorded 47 points (16-31—47) in 59 games for the Griffins in 2007-08.
League Leaders: The Griffins have several players who sit near the top of AHL leaderboards. Although he missed the team’s last two games while in Detroit, Chris Conner is tied for 10th in league scoring, with 23 points (7-16—23) in 20 games…Conner was overtaken last week by linemate Gustav Nyquist, who is tied for seventh in the AHL with 24 points (7-17—24) in 22 games. Nyquist leads all AHL rookies with 17 assists, and he sits just one point back of Norfolk’s Cory Conacher for the overall rookie scoring lead…Jamie Johnson is tied for eighth in the AHL with 11 goals…Garnet Exelby currently ranks second in the AHL with 98 penalty minutes…Doug Janik is tied for fifth among AHL blueliners with 15 points (4-11—15) in 22 games…Logan Pyett is tied for fifth among AHL defenseman with 11 assists…Despite being out of the lineup since Nov. 5, goaltender Joey MacDonald is still among the AHL’s top goaltenders with a 2.17 goals against average (T6th), a 0.930 save percentage (5th) and two shutouts (T2nd).
Who’s Hot?: Several Griffins have found the scoresheet with increasing regularity, as the team’s offense continues to flourish…Gustav Nyquist has eight points (2-6—8) in his last five games…Jamie Johnson has a point in each of his last five games, totaling three goals and two assists along the way…After not scoring a goal in the team’s first 14 games, Joakim Andersson has six goals in his last eight games…Logan Pyett tallied four assists in three games last week…Francis Pare has six points (2-4—6) in his last six games…Brendan Smith is riding a three-game point streak, with four points (2-2—4) in his last three games…Doug Janik has four points (1-3—4) in his last two games and 13 points (3-10—13) in his last 11…Landon Ferraro has a four-game point streak (2-2—4)…Tomas Tatar has recorded 10 points (2-8—10) in the team’s last eight games.
Redemption Coming Up: All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 5-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Nov. 23 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the Griffins’ next home game, Dec. 14 versus Rockford. Tickets can be redeemed at The Zone during business hours (M-F 10-6; Sat. 10-12) and at the box office before next Wednesday’s game.
Milestone Watch: Several Griffins are approaching personal milestones…Francis Pare is two goals from tying Matt Ellis for sixth in franchise history with 69, two assists from tying Jeff Nelson for seventh in franchise history (and three from tying Glen Metropolit for sixth), and one point from tying Ellis for seventh among the Griffins’ all-time point leaders…Joakim Andersson skated in his 100th game as a Griffin last Tuesday at Toronto, while Jamie Johnson did the same on Saturday versus Chicago…Tom McCollum is six games shy of 100 as a pro…McCollum passed teammate Jordan Pearce last week on the team’s all-time goaltending minute leaders. McCollum ranks eighth all-time with 3309:41 spent between the pipes, while Pearce sits ninth at 3156:38…Joey MacDonald is seven games from 200 as a Griffin and 400 as a pro…Chris Conner is three points from 200 in the AHL…Doug Janik is eight penalty minutes from 200 as a Griffin and 900 in the AHL.
Fri., Dec. 9 at Milwaukee Admirals (13-6-0-1) – Bradley Center – 8 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com. All-Time Series: 55-42-7-5-5 Overall, 24-23-5-4-3 Road. Season Series: 1-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Third of four meetings overall, second of two in Milwaukee. NHL Affiliation: Nashville Predators. Head Coach: Ian Herbers (1st season). Notes: Grand Rapids has split the season series with Milwaukee so far, beating the Admirals 5-3 in Milwaukee on Oct. 29 and losing 3-1 in Grand Rapids on Nov. 19…The Admirals were the first team in the AHL to go through a coaching change, when the Carolina Hurricanes hired Kirk Muller to be their head coach on Nov. 28. Milwaukee replaced Muller with assistant coach Ian Herbers…Milwaukee is led in scoring by former Griffin Chris Mueller with 17 points (9-8—17) in 19 games. He is currently on recall to Nashville…Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith is among AHL leaders with 11 wins (2nd) and a 2.17 goals against average (T5th)…Milwaukee defenseman Ryan Ellis is tied for fifth among AHL blueliners with 15 points (4-11—15) in 20 games…The Admirals are tied with Worcester with an AHL-low 51 goals against, averaging just 2.55 goals against per game to tie for fourth lowest in the league…Grand Rapids is tied with Milwaukee and two other teams (Hershey and Abbotsford) with an AHL-best three-game winning streak.
Sat., Dec. 10 at Rockford IceHogs (8-13-1-0) – BMO Harris Bank Center – 8:05 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 7:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through ESPN961.com. All-Time Series: 7-13-2-2 Overall, 2-7-2-1 Road. Season Series: 0-2-0-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Third of four meetings overall, second of two in Rockford. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (1st season). Notes: The Griffin have dropped both contests to Rockford this season, losing 3-2 in Rockford on Oct. 8 and 5-3 in Grand Rapids on Nov. 9…The IceHogs are 29th in the AHL with 17 points, having lost their past four contests…Rockford is led by forward Brandon Pirri, who is tied for 13th in the AHL with 22 points (10-12—22) in 20 games and defenseman Brian Connelly, who leads all AHL blueliners with 21 points (2-19—21) in 22 games…The IceHogs have seen their offense jolted by the addition of Rostislav Olesz, who has nine points (3-6—9) in eight games after being assigned by the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 17…Rockford has a better record on the road (5-4-1-0) than at home (3-9-0-0)…Rockford has allowed 80 goals on the season, ranking last in the AHL with a 3.64 team goals against average…The IceHogs are one of three teams to rank ahead of the Griffins in shots per game, as the IceHogs sit third with a 34.77 average…The Griffins have lost four straight games in regulation in Rockford, where they are winless (0-6-1-0) since claiming a 5-4 shootout win on Jan. 2, 2010.
Sun., Dec. 11 at Chicago Wolves (9-8-1-3) – Allstate Arena – 4 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 3:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 49-37-2-3-2 Overall, 24-22-0-1-0 Road. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, first of two in Chicago. NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks. Head Coach: Craig MacTavish (1st season). Notes: The Griffins won the team’s first matchup of the season 5-4 in overtime on Saturday…The Wolves are led in scoring by former Griffin Darren Haydar, who is tied for seventh in AHL scoring with 24 points (7-17—24) in 21 games. Haydar recorded 80 points (31-49—80) in 79 games for the Griffins in 2008-09…Chicago defenseman Kevin Connauton is tied for first among AHL blueliners with seven goals…Chicago has taken the third-fewest penalty minutes in the AHL with 276, behind only Milwaukee and St. John’s…The Wolves are winless in their last four (0-2-1-1) and saw a five-game road winning streak snapped by the Griffins on Saturday…Griffins captain Garnet Exelby won a Calder Cup with Chicago as a first-year pro in 2001-02. Exelby recorded seven points (3-4—7) and 257 penalty minutes in 75 regular season games with the Wolves, adding four assists in 25 playoff contests.