The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/05/13 at 11:49 PM ET
The Grand Rapids Griffins begin what is a "light" week by AHL standards--playing only two games over the course of 4 nights--when they battle the Hamilton Bulldogs during their annual matinee game on Saturday, and while I'm about to post the Griffins' weekly press release, the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner offered a much more succinct "state of the Griffins":
The defending Calder Cup champions are 7-2-1-1 and lead the Midwest Division and the Western Conference heading into Wednesday’s annual home matinee game against Rockford. The game starts at 11 a.m. at Van Andel Arena.
The record marks the Griffins’ best start since 2005-06 (8-2-0-1, 17 pts.), when they won the AHL’s regular season championship, and their second best in 13 AHL seasons
Playing at home has been more challenging than away. The Griffins, just 1-2 at home, have earned points in all eight road games, and their 14 points on the road (6-0-1-1) is tried for best in franchise history (7-1-0-0 in 2004-05) and 2002-03 (6-0-1-1).
Goaltender Tom McCollum is 5-0, the fifth time a Grand Rapids goalie has started that fast, and one game away from Petr Mrazek’s 6-0 mark set last season. McCollum, with a 2.29 goals against average and .921 save percentage, has played more than Mrazek, who was just returned to Grand Rapids from Detroit on Tuesday.
Gustav Nyquist is the top scorer with 13 points (5-8-13) in 10 games, good for ninth in the league.
The Griffins on Wednesday will face a Rockford team that’s in close pursuit. The IceHogs are second in the division, a point behind at 7-5-1-0 with two more games played.
Here's the Griffins' weekly press release...
GRIFFINS AIM TO EXTEND DIVISION LEAD DURING WEDNESDAY'S ANNUAL MATINEE GAME
Last Week’s Results
Wed., Oct. 30 Charlotte Checkers 2 at GRIFFINS 5 5-2-1-1, 12 pts. (2nd, Midwest Division)
Fri., Nov. 1 GRIFFINS 6 at Lake Erie Monsters 4 6-2-1-1, 14 pts. (2nd)
Sun., Nov. 3 GRIFFINS 3 at Rockford IceHogs 1 7-2-1-1, 16 pts. (1st)
The Midwest: Thanks to five straight wins, Grand Rapids (7-2-1-1, 16 pts.) has edged ahead of the Rockford IceHogs (7-5-1-0, 15 pts.) for first place in the Midwest Division, while the Milwaukee Admirals (6-0-2-0, 14 pts.) follow closely behind in third. The Iowa Wild (5-4-0-0, 10 pts.) rank fourth, while the Chicago Wolves (4-6-0-1, 9 pts.) trail the division in fifth place. The Griffins also jumped into first in the Western Conference after earning three wins last week.
Matinee Game: The annual matinee game returns on Wednesday for its 13th consecutive year. The Griffins’ annual matinee game has become a major educational event for West Michigan schools. Approximately 4,000 students and teachers will arrive at 9 a.m. to take part in many unique learning experiences prior to the game. This season, the Griffins have partnered with local organizations such as the West Michigan Optometric Association and the West Michigan District Dental Society to provide a variety of “Health & Wellness” educational displays and exhibits for students and teachers. The matinee game experience will include the second Griffins High School Symposium, which will assist students in developing their career interests and preparing for an academic life beyond high school. The Griffins have teamed up with Grand Valley State University, Northwood University, Central Michigan University, Aquinas College, Western Michigan University, Hope College and Calvin College to create a fun event that will showcase a wide variety of exciting programs offered within each school’s curriculum. Senior bingo will be held in the banquet rooms from 9:15-10:30 a.m. Bingo is free and prizes include Griffins memorabilia and various gifts from our sponsors. For more information on the Griffins’ 13th annual matinee game, please visit griffinshockey.com/matinee.
Wednesday Promotions: Wednesday’s game versus Rockford marks the second Amway Winning Wednesday of the season. All fans who were in attendance for the Griffins’ 5-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers on Oct. 30 can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to either the matinee game or the game on Wednesday, Nov. 20 versus Milwaukee at 7 p.m. If the Griffins beat the IceHogs, every fan in attendance may also redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the game on Nov. 20. The box office will be open following the game for redemptions if the Griffins win. Fans may also redeem their stubs at The Zone during business hours (Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-2p.m.) and at the box office the night of Nov. 20. Additionally, the first 300 fans to visit the Amway table in Section A will receive a gift. Wednesday is also a Library Day; 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.
Road Warriors: Dating back to the playoffs, the Griffins are 11-0-1-1 in their last thirteen road games, including 6-0-1-1 this season, and only 1-4 in the last five at home. The road record marks just the second time in 18 seasons that the Griffins have earned points in their first eight road games. The 2002-03 squad was also 6-0-1-1 (W-L-T-OTL) after eight road games and added another OTL (6-0-1-2) before dropping its first road contest in regulation. The current streak matches the best eight-game road start in franchise history, tying both 2004-05 (7-1-0-0, 14 pts.) and 2002-03 (6-0-1-1, 14 pts.).
On Their Way: The Griffins’ 7-2-1-1 record (16 pts.) marks their best start since 2005-06 (8-2-0-1, 17 pts.), when they won the AHL’s regular season championship, their second-best start in 13 AHL seasons and their third-best start in 18 total seasons (9-1-1, 19 pts. in 2000-01 in the IHL).
Hog Wrestling: With Sunday’s 3-1 victory over the Rockford IceHogs, the season series is now tied at one game apiece. Traditionally, the Griffins have struggled to close out at the BMO Harris Bank Center, registering a 5-9-2-3 all-time record against Rockford on the road. At Van Andel Arena, however, the Griffins’ all-time record against the IceHogs is 9-6-1-1. All time, the Griffins have produced a 14-15-3-4 record against the Chicago Blackhawks’ affiliate. Before dropping three consecutive contests last weekend, Rockford was the sole points leader in the Western Conference. The Griffins had the exact opposite week, earning three outright victories and six points from Wednesday to Sunday, launching the team to first place in the Midwest Division and Western Conference. Rockford could usurp the division lead from the Griffins with a regulation victory over Grand Rapids on Wednesday.
All in the Family: The IceHogs are featuring a familial connection on the ice this season in the form of brothers Alex and Terry Broadhurst. Left wing Terry, 24, is in his second full professional season after signing with the team as a free agent in 2011, while younger brother Alex, 20, joins Rockford after spending last year with the OHL’s London Knights. The Chicago Blackhawks’ seventh choice (199th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Alex (4-7—11) ranks second on the IceHogs in scoring and the elder Terry (3-5—8) is tied for fourth among team scoring leaders. Before turning pro, Terry attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he spent three full seasons with the Mavericks. Near the end of Terry’s collegiate career, Alex also intended on becoming a Maverick, but was drafted by Chicago and departed for the OHL. Reunited in Rockford, the brotherly duo has made a strong showing, posting a combined total of 25 games, with seven goals and 12 assists.
Just Desserts: Two of Grand Rapids’ four losses this season came at the hands of opponents the team faced last weekend. The Griffins suffered their only shootout loss of the season to the Rockford IceHogs on Oct. 19 after dropping a two-goal lead in the last 2:10 of the third period. On Oct. 25, the Charlotte Checkers shut out the Griffins at Van Andel Arena 5-0. Grand Rapids had rematches with both Charlotte and Rockford last week, defeating the Checkers 5-2 at home on Wednesday and edging out the IceHogs 3-1 on Sunday.
Right Wing Leaders: Right wing Gustav Nyquist (5-8—13) leads the team in scoring, having established his dominance since the first game of the season. Right wing Tomas Jurco (5-7—12, 2nd) follows closely behind after his three-point performance (one goal, two assists) against the Charlotte Checkers last Wednesday and his two-goal effort against the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday. Ranking third in scoring, right wing Teemu Pulkkinen (4-5—9), has jumped up on the Griffins’ leaderboard courtesy of a two-goal game against Rockford on Oct. 19 and a two-assist game against the Iowa Wild on Oct. 27. Brennan Evans (22, 1st) and Triston Grant (16, 2nd) lead the team in penalty minutes, both having appeared in all eleven contests with the Griffins.
McCollum’s Hot Streak: Goaltender Tom McCollum’s 5-0 record marks just the fifth time that a Griffins goalie has started a season 5-0 or better. Petr Mrazek (6-0, 2012-13), Ty Conklin (5-0, 2011-12), Joey MacDonald (5-0, 2004-05) and Mathieu Chouinard (5-0 in 2000-01) are the only other netminders in Griffins history to post as strong of a start as McCollum.
Griffins Streaks: Cory Emmerton’s four-game point streak (four assists, Oct. 26-Nov.1) came to a halt on Sunday, tying him with Gustav Nyquist (three goals, four assists, Oct. 4-18) and Tomas Jurco (four assists, Oct. 4-18) for the longest point streak on the team. In the goal category, Mitch Callahan, Jeff Hoggan, Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Ryan Sproul are all tied on the team with snapped two-game goal streaks. In the goaltender department, Tom McCollum is on a five-game winning streak (Oct. 4-Nov. 3). Landon Ferraro is on a five-game road point streak, registering six points (3-3—6) since the Griffins’ 4-5 shootout loss to the IceHogs on Oct. 19. The Griffins have the longest active winning streak in the league, edging out the Adirondack Phantoms and the Milwaukee Admirals, who have both won four games in a row.
November Transactions: The Detroit Red Wings on Sunday recalled defenseman Adam Almquist from Grand Rapids. The Huskvarna, Sweden, native made his NHL debut in Detroit’s 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, becoming the 135th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Almquist has appeared in 10 games with Grand Rapids this season, tying for fourth in scoring (0-7—7) on the team. On Monday, the Red Wings reassigned defenseman Richard Nedomlel to Grand Rapids from the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye and reassigned right wing Martin Frk to the Walleye from the Griffins. Frk, 20, has appeared in six contests with the Griffins this season, registering six penalty minutes. Nedomlel, 20, has yet to appear in a game with Grand Rapids this season. He appeared in four games with the Walleye, posting two points (1-1—2), two shots on goal and 18 penalty minutes. On Tuesday, Detroit assigned goaltender Petr Mrazek to Grand Rapids and recalled goaltender Jared Coreau from the Griffins. Mrazek made his season debut and played his third career NHL game with the Wings on Saturday in a 5-0 victory, shutting out the Edmonton Oilers on the road. Playing all 60 minutes, he prevented 14 shots on the way to his first NHL career shutout.
Walleye World: Through seven games, Trevor Parkes (5-4—9) leads the Walleye in scoring, Kevin Lynch (3-2—5) ranks third and Max Nicastro (0-3—3) and Marek Tvrdon (2-1—3) are tied for fifth. The Walleye (3-3-1-0) currently rank third in the ECHL’s North Division with seven points.
Wed., Nov. 6 vs. Rockford IceHogs (7-5-1-0) – Van Andel Arena – 11 a.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 10:40 a.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com. All-Time Series: 14-15-3-4 Overall, 9-6-1-1 Home. Season Series: 1-0-0-1 Overall, 0-0-0-0 Home. Third of 10 meetings overall, first of five at Van Andel Arena. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Ted Dent (third season). Notes: The Griffins fell to the IceHogs 5-4 in a shootout on Oct. 19 after giving up a two-goal lead in the last 2:10 of the third period. Grand Rapids bounced back on Sunday, Nov. 3 with a 3-1 win at the BMO Harris Bank Center…Rockford defenseman Klas Dahlbeck is on a four-game point streak, setting a career high in goals (four) and matching his career high in points (eight) in 13 games. Dahlbeck was the lone IceHog to score in Sunday’s game against the Griffins. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound blueliner leads in goals scored among defensemen for Rockford, and he is tied for fourth on the club in scoring with eight points (4-4—8)…Rockford has tallied a third-period goal (16) in 10 consecutive matches…Rockford defenseman Adam Clendening (2-10—12) leads the team in scoring, followed in second by center Alex Broadhurst (4-7—11) and in third by center Mark McNeill (7-3—10).
Fri., Nov. 8 at Hamilton Bulldogs (5-2-0-3) – Copps Coliseum – 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WOOD 106.9 FM/1300 AM at 7:10 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at AHLLive.com, free audio available through woodradio.com. All-Time Series: 36-32-1-0-4 Overall, 17-19-0-0-1 Road. Season Series: 1-0-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Road. Second of four meetings overall, second of two at Copps Coliseum. NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens. Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre (second season). Notes: The Griffins beat the Bulldogs 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 12….Hamilton ranks first in the North Division after earning three of four possible points over the weekend…Defenseman Magnus Nygren (1-7—8) leads the team in scoring, followed by right wing Sven Andrighetto (3-4—7) and left wing Rick Tarnasky (5-0—5), who ranks third…Bulldogs goaltender Dustin Tokarski is ranked eighth among league netminders with a 2.14 goals against average, while Robert Mayer is tied for 13th with a 2.33 GAA.
And here's Bob Kaser's Griffins-IceHogs game preview:
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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.