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The Malik Report

Griffins-Marlies series gets underway on Friday

The Grand Rapids Griffis will begin their second-round playoff series against the Toronto Marlies starting on Firday, and the Griffins' PR department has posted an extensive (if not exhaustive) series preview. This is just a selection from the...Oh, about 8-page-long preview, and please take note that the AHL employs a 2-3-2 series format, so the Griffins will host Toronto for 3 straight home games beginning on May 15th:

#2 TORONTO MARLIES vs. #3 GRAND RAPIDS GRIFFINS 2013 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs  *  Western Conference Semifinals  *  Best of Seven

Game 1 - Fri., May 10 - GRIFFINS at Marlies - 7 p.m.
Game 2  - Sat., May 11 - GRIFFINS at Marlies  - 3 p.m.
Game 3  - Wed., May 15 - Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (season ticket Game D)
Game 4 - Fri., May 17 - Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game E)
*Game 5 - Sat., May 18 - Marlies at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. (Game F)

*Game 6 - Tue., May 21 - GRIFFINS at Marlies - 7 p.m.
*Game 7 - Wed., May 22 - GRIFFINS at Marlies  - 7 p.m.

     * If necessary. All times Eastern and subject to change. All games on Newsradio WOOD 106.9 FM & 1300 AM.

The Lowdown: The Midwest Division champion Griffins advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals after dispatching the Houston Aeros in a tightly-contested five-game series. After missing out on their first chance to close out the series at home during Game 4, Grand Rapids finished the series with a dominating 7-0 win at Van Andel Arena. The Marlies will begin the seven-game series with more than a week of rest, having swept their first-round series against Rochester with a 3-2 overtime victory on May 1. The third-seeded Griffins finished with just one less win (42) and four fewer points (92) than the second-seeded Marlies, who captured their second straight North Division title. Toronto advanced to the Calder Cup Finals in 2012 by defeating Rochester, Abbotsford and Oklahoma City, but it was swept by Norfolk in the championship series.

Last Time Around: Grand Rapids and Toronto will square off in the playoffs for the second time, as the Griffins defeated the Marlies 4-1 in the 2006 North Division Semifinals. Game 1 of that series was the second-longest in franchise history, as Jiri Hudler scored at 2:21 of triple overtime on the Griffins’ franchise-record 63rd shot to give the team a 6-5 victory. Grand Rapids ended the series with a 2-1 double-overtime victory in Game 5 at Ricoh Coliseum, as Matt Ellis scored just 11 seconds into the fifth period to lead the Griffins over their then-division rivals and sweep all three games in Toronto

Check the History Books: The Griffins and Marlies have had 54 regular season meetings during Toronto’s eight years in the AHL, with the Griffins showing a 28-23-2-1 record. The four regular season meetings this year marked the lowest total ever between the two clubs, as they had met at least six times every season since 2005-06 as members of the North Division, where the Griffins played until relocating to the Midwest Division this season. Each team won a pair of games against the other in the season series, but Toronto took points in all four contests, as both Griffins victories came in a shootout. Grand Rapids is 16-10-1-0 all time against Toronto at Van Andel Arena and 12-13-1-1 at Ricoh Coliseum.

History Will Be Made: The Griffins matched a 44-year old record during their 7-0 victory over Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The win equaled the AHL’s largest margin of victory ever in a winner-take-all game, matching an 8-1 win by the Quebec Aces over the Providence Reds in the 1969 semifinals. Additionally, the seven-goal margin set Griffins records for largest in a playoff shutout and a home playoff game. The Griffins closed out Houston’s AHL tenure with its first series win since 2009. Petr Mrazek, who made 24 saves in the victory, became the first Griffins goalie in 10 years to record a playoff shutout (Marc Lamothe, May 2, 2003 at Chicago) and was the first rookie goaltender in franchise history to blank an opponent in the playoffs.

Playoff Facts and Figures: After defeating Houston 3-2 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Griffins are now 2-3 all time in best-of-five series. The 7-0 win over Houston in the decisive Game 5 on May 4 improved the Griffins to 2-4 in a “winner-take-all” scenario, 7-10 when facing elimination (4-5 on home ice), and 9-11 (3-7 at home) when their opponent is facing elimination. It also marked the first time since Game 7 of the 2006 North Division Finals against Manitoba that Grand Rapids closed out a series on home ice. The Griffins have now won nine of their 19 total playoff series with a combined 48-49 record. They have never lost a best-of-seven series after winning Game 1 (4-0), and they are 3-7 when losing Game 1. Grand Rapids’ active leading playoff scorer is Francis Pare, who is tied for 30th all time with seven points (3-4—7) in 13 games. Others active players in the top 50 include Jan Mursak (T34th, 1-5—6 in 18 GP), Tomas Tatar (T50th, 3-1—4 in 5 GP), Luke Glendening (T50th, 2-2—4 in 5 GP) and Nathan Paetsch (T50th, 0-4—4 in 5 GP).

The Underdog: The Griffins enjoyed home ice advantage in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against Houston, but their matchup in the semifinals against Toronto marks the fourth time in their last five playoff series that they are the lower-seeded team. Grand Rapids has won just one playoff series – the 2009 North Division Semifinals against Hamilton – as the lower seed.

Get Your Tickets: Tickets for Griffins playoff home games – Game D (series Game 3), Game E (series Game 4) and Game F (series Game 5) – are now on sale for $33, $27, $23, $19, $17 and $15 (additional $2 per ticket on day of game), reflecting a league-wide increase of $1 over regular season prices. Playoff tickets may be purchased in person at The Zone at Van Andel Arena and all Star Tickets locations, by phone at (800) 585-3737, or through http://griffinshockey.com


Playoff Promotions: In celebration of the team’s return to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Griffins have adapted their popular Friday promotion and are offering $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all home playoff games, including Fridays, from the time doors open until one hour after the start of the game, as well as “Free Ride to the Playoffs,” allowing fans to ride The Rapid busses to and from any postseason game with complimentary fare by showing their ticket to the game. Fans can also purchase a Playoff 4-Pack to receive four or more tickets to a playoff game of their choice to save $3 off of day-of-game pricing per ticket at http://griffinshockey.com/tickets/specials



Playoff Roster: The following 28 players are eligible to suit up for the Griffins in the postseason: goaltenders Tom McCollum, Petr Mrazek and Jordan Pearce; defensemen Adam Almquist, Chad Billins, Brennan Evans, Gleason Fournier, Max Nicastro, Xavier Ouellet, Nathan Paetsch, Brett Skinner and Ryan Sproul; and forwards Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitch Callahan, Willie Coetzee, Landon Ferraro, Luke Glendening, Triston Grant, Jeff Hoggan, Tomas Jurco, Jan Mursak, Andrej Nestrasil, Francis Pare, Trevor Parkes, Teemu Pulkkinen, Brent Raedeke, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar. Additionally, if assigned by the Red Wings, defenseman Brian Lashoff and forwards Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist will be eligible for Calder Cup Playoff action.

And as previously stated, the preview continues at length...

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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.


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