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The Malik Report

Grand Rapids Griffins frame their weekend ahead: 3 games in 3 cities in 3 nights

The Grand Rapids Griffins have a very busy weekend ahead, and the team posted its weekly press release on Wednesday night:

This Week’s Games
Fri., Oct. 25    Charlotte Checkers at GRIFFINS    7 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM/ AHLLive.com
Sat., Oct. 26    GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves    8 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM/ AHLLive.com
Sun., Oct. 27    GRIFFINS at Iowa Wild    6:05 p.m.    WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM/ AHLLive.com

Last Week’s Results
Fri., Oct. 18    Milwaukee Admirals 3 at GRIFFINS 2    2-1-1-0, 5 pts. (T2nd, Midwest Division)
Sat., Oct. 19    GRIFFINS 4 at Rockford IceHogs 5 SO    2-1-1-1, 6 pts. (T2nd, Midwest Division)

Three in Three: The Griffins will play the first of this season’s six three-in-threes this weekend, hosting the Charlotte Checkers on Friday at 7 p.m. before paying their first visits of the season to the Chicago Wolves on Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT and the Iowa Wild on Sunday at 6:05 p.m EDT.

The Midwest: The Rockford IceHogs (9 pts.) have taken a three-point lead over the rest of the Midwest Division, while the Griffins, Iowa Wild, Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves are all tied for second place with six points each. Grand Rapids faced two Midwest Division opponents last weekend, narrowly dropping both contests. Following a banner-raising ceremony to celebrate the team’s 2013 Calder Cup victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,834 fans, the Griffins fell to the Admirals 3-2 over the course of three frames. On Saturday, the Griffins traveled to Rockford and endured a 5-4 shootout loss after the IceHogs scored two goals with less than three minutes remaining in the third period to tie the game. After a scoreless overtime, Rockford connected on three of its five shootout attempts, while Gustav Nyquist was the only player to score for Grand Rapids.

Friday Promos: Friday’s game versus Charlotte gives fans the opportunity to enjoy $2 hot dogs and $2 domestic drafts from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last. College students can purchase an upper 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. Every Friday night is also a Griffins WGRD D-Zone night, where fans can have $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served directly to their seats and also a Free Ride Friday, permitting any fan to enjoy complimentary fare on the Rapid busses by showing their ticket to that night’s game. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinshockey.com/dzone to order D-Zone tickets, and visit ridetherapid.org for information on bus schedules, routes and maps.

Déjà Vu: Grand Rapids began its 2013-14 home schedule the same way it began last season’s slate, with a 3-2 loss to Milwaukee.

A Night to Remember: While the score of the Griffins’ home opener was not what fans were hoping for, the pregame festivities left all of those in attendance with a memory that will last a lifetime. The Griffins finally raised their championship banner last Friday, with the help of a few familiar faces, in front of a sold-out crowd. As WOOD TV8 sports anchor and Griffins color commentator Larry Figurski emceed the event, the banner was carried out on to the ice by four members of the Griffins Youth Foundation; Mark Izzard, a member of the Grand Rapids Owls; Don McSween, the Griffins’ first captain in 1996; Mike Fountain, a member of the Griffins’ 2000 Turner Cup Finals team; and Darren Helm and Kirk Maltby, who both represented the Red Wings. Dan Devos and David Van Andel, co-owners of the team since its inception, were also present. The entire arena rose to their feet in applause as the banner, illuminated in light, was slowly lifted to the rafters of Van Andel Arena, signifying the end of last year’s tremendous success and the beginning of the 18th season.

New Homes: The Chicago Wolves changed NHL affiliations over the summer after their previous parent club, the Vancouver Canucks, chose not to renew their affiliation agreement. The Wolves are now the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, who were the owners of last year’s Peoria Rivermen. In turn, the Canucks then purchased the Peoria Rivermen, reinventing the team as the Utica Comets. The Iowa Wild, who played as the Houston Aeros last year, changed locations to Des Moines, Iowa, for the 2013-14 season. The move ended a 19-year stint for the Houston Aeros, whose franchise began in 1994 as part of the IHL.

One-Goal Decisions: Save for the 8-1 season-opening victory over the Rochester Americans on Oct. 4, each contest this season has been decided by a single tally. The Griffins have been to the shootout twice, despite leading in shots for four out of five contests this season, winning against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Oct. 12 and losing to the Rockford IceHogs last Saturday, Oct. 19. Grand Rapids also fell in overtime by one mark to the Toronto Marlies on Oct. 5, and last Friday’s home-opening loss to the Milwaukee Admirals was dropped by a single goal.

AHL Leaders: Gustav Nyquist (3-4—7, T6th) ranks among the league’s leaders in scoring and continues to lead in scoring for the team; Tom McCollum is tied for fourth among AHL goaltenders with a 1.00 goals-against average; and Adam Almquist (0-5—5, T6th) ranks among defensive leaders in points.

Team Leaders: Gustav Nyquist (3-4—7) has led the team in scoring, along with multiple other categories, since the season opener, and he is followed closely by Tomas Jurco (T2nd, 1-4—5) and Adam Almquist (T2nd, 0-5—5). After a two-goal performance against Rockford last Saturday, Teemu Pulkkinen (T3rd, 2-2—4) climbed up the team’s leaderboard, tying with rookie defenseman Alexey Marchenko (T3rd, 1-3—4).

Griffins Streaks: A shared season-high four-game point streak (Oct. 4-18) for Tomas Jurco and Gustav Nyquist came to a halt with Saturday’s loss to the IceHogs. Jurco is the sole leader for the longest assist streak (four games, Oct. 4-18). In the goal category, Mitch Callahan, Jeff Hoggan, Nyquist and Riley Sheahan are all tied on the team with two-game goal streaks.

The Graduates: The Detroit Red Wings on Monday recalled center Darren Helm and defenseman Xavier Ouellet from the Griffins and assigned center Luke Glendening to their AHL affiliate. Helm, 26, made appearances in both Friday’s 3-2 home-opening loss to the Milwaukee Admirals and Saturday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Rockford IceHogs. Due to various injuries, Helm has not appeared in an NHL game since April 11, 2012. Glendening, 24, returns to the Griffins after making his debut with the Wings on Oct. 12, when he became the 133rd Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound forward skated in five games with Detroit, tallying six shots on goal and two penalty minutes. Ouellet, 20, has registered two points in five games with the Griffins this season. Prior to joining Grand Rapids, the rookie defenseman was a part of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, tallying 101 points from (31-70—101) 2011-13. He made his NHL debut in Monday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, becoming the 134th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL and the second Griffin to make his debut with the Wings this season. Ouellet was assigned to Grand Rapids on Tuesday, but was recalled from the Griffins again on Wednesday, when he is expected to make in appearance in Detroit’s game against the Ottawa Senators at Joe Louis Arena.

Walleye World: Several familiar faces will take to the ice in the ECHL Toledo Walleye’s home opener this Saturday. The team opened its season on the road against the Fort Wayne Komets in a 4-3 shootout win on Saturday, Oct. 19. Trevor Parkes, who split his time between Toledo and Grand Rapids last season, scored an unassisted goal for the Walleye, while Travis Novak, who joined the Griffins during training camp, notched his own marker in the third period. Kevin Lynch, who signed a one-year contract with the Griffins over the summer, and Max Nicastro are also members of the team. Parkes, Lynch and Nicastro could all see playing time in Grand Rapids this year.

Scouting Report

Fri., Oct. 25 vs. Charlotte Checkers (2-2-0-0) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 6:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 2-6-0-0 Overall, 1-3-0-0 Home. Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two at home. NHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes. Head Coach: Jeff Daniels (3rd season). Notes: Grand Rapids tied the 2012-13 series, 2-2-0-0, including a 1-1 record at Van Andel Arena…Charlotte finished 42-26-4-4 last season and tallied 92 points, finishing second in the South Division, 4th in the Western Conference and 8th overall in the AHL…The Checkers lost to Oklahoma City 2-3 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals…Checkers left wing Chris Terry (3-1—4) is on a four-game point streak, earning a point in each contest so far this season…Defenseman Mark Flood is tied for second in goals scored for all AHL defensemen with Andrew Bodnarchuk of the Manchester Monarchs, Alex Grant of the Norfolk Admirals and former Griffins defenseman Chad Billins, who is now with the Abbotsford Heat.

Sat., Oct. 26 at Chicago Wolves (3-3-0-0) – Allstate Arena – 8 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:40 p.m. TV: The U-Too (Chicago) at 8 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 56-40-2-4-2 Overall, 28-23-0-2-0 Road. Season Series: First of 10 meetings overall, first of five in Rosemont. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: John Anderson (12th season). Notes: Grand Rapids won the 2012-13 series, 7-1-0-0, posting a 4-0 record at Allstate Arena…Chicago finished 37-30-5-4 last season and tallied 83 points, finishing fourth in the Midwest Division, 10th in the Western Conference and 16th overall in the AHL…John Anderson returns to Chicago’s bench, having led the team to four cups in the IHL and AHL between 1997-08. Chicago goaltender Jake Allen ranks among league goaltending leaders for goals against average (1.99, T10th)…Right wing Mark Mancari (4-1—5) and center Corey Locke (2-3—5) are tied for the scoring lead on the Wolves.

Sun., Oct. 27 at Iowa Wild (3-1-0-0) – Wells Fargo Arena – 6:05 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 5:40 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. Season/All-Time Series: 0-0-0-0 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Road Season Series: First of 10 meetings overall, first of five in Des Moines. NHL Affiliation: Minnesota Wild. Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst (1st season). Notes: The Iowa Wild played as the Houston Aeros last year, losing to the Griffins 3-2 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals…The Wild are off to a solid start in their debut AHL season, tying for second with four other teams in the Midwest Division, including Grand Rapids…Iowa has only played in four games, winning three of those contests outright…Center Zack Phillips (2-2—4), center Jake Dowell (1-3—4) and left wing Erik Haula (1-3—4) all tie for the scoring lead for Iowa, each having played in four contests…Rookie forward Raphael Bussieres leads the team in penalty minutes with 20…Rookie goaltender Johan Gustafsson ranks 2nd in AHL goaltending leaders with a 0.50 goals-against average and enjoyed his first professional shutout in Iowa’s season-opening game at home against the Oklahoma City Barons on Oct. 12…Out of the 22-man Iowa roster, only Tyler Graovac (-1) and Raphael Bussieres (-1) register a minus-rating.

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.