Update (10.36AM)- Sadly, the Griffins lost in OT last night in Rochester. Bootland did manage to get them one point, however, with his goal 14 seconds before the end of the third. That point puts them 3 points ahead of Peoria, though the Rivermen do have four games at hand.Â -Megan
The Griffins have improved greatly since December. They had a mediocre January, going 6-5. However, they went 8-2 in February, for a 14-7 record in 2007. This was highlighted by a six game win streak from January 27 through February 17. They have one more game, tonight at Rochester, to close out the month. Their record currently stands at 29-22-4-2. This record is good enough for the final playoff spot of the Western conference, two points ahead of Peoria.
Matt Ellis has been all but phenomenal. He scored his first career hat trick on February 16, lifting GR to a 5-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage. He scored one short handed goal, one power play goal, and one even strength empty net goal against the current team of last season’s AHL MVP, Donal MacLean. The next night, Ellis scored the game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory over the same team. This was his 20th goal of the season, making him just the fifth Griffin ever to earn back-to-back 20-goal seasons. On February 19, he was named AHL Player of the Week for the period ending February 18. He is the first Griffin to receive this honor this season. During that period, Ellis had 4 goals, 2 assists, and 6 points in 3 games. On the season, he has 21 goals, 42 points, 9 power play goals, 4 short handed goals, a +/- of 0, and 38 PIM in 52 games. In 7 games with Detroit, he has 0 points and is -1.
Howard and Liv have played well. Howard has played 34 games total, going 16-14-4 with 4 shutouts, a 2.81 GAA, and a .905 save %. Liv has improved greatly, going 12-10-2 in 24 games with 2 shutouts, a 2.99 GAA, and a .896 save %.
Overall, the defense has played well. One guy that stands out to me is Derek Meech. He is really coming into his own this season. In 53 games with Grand Rapids, he has 5 goals, 17 assists, 22 points, 3 short handed goals, 34 PIM and is +3. He works hard every shift, evidence by his two blocked shots on one shift in the Griffins’ 1-0 SO win over Syracuse on Saturday. He got hit in the wrist on the first one and was clearly in pain for the rest of the shift. He is currently out with an injury to his right wrist.
Eric Himelfarb is impressing me lately. He is probably the hardest worker on the team. In 48 games, he has 12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points, 4 short handed goals, 32 PIM, and is -1 . He gets a lot of chances every game, and a lot of breakaways, but he has trouble finishing.
Darryl Bootland continues to play well. In 53 games, he has 16 goals, 12 assists, 28 ppoints, 3 PPG, 183 PIM, and is +9. Hopefully he’ll keep it up, have a good camp, and finally make the Wings.
The Griffins seem determined to not only make the playoffs, but to do well, as evidenced by a recent flurry of roster changes. On the 19th of this month, the Griffins obtained LW Tony Voce from the Philadelphia Phantoms on loan. In 45 games, Voce has 8 goals, 22 points and 50 PIM.
On the 23rd, Grand Rapids got RW Adam Keefe from the Manitoba Moose. In exchange, they loaned RW Brendan Brooks to Manitoba. Keefe has 2 goals, 4 points, and 91 PIM in 22 games. Brooks had 9 goals, 17 points, and 44 PIM in 51 games.
On the 26th, they traded RW Ryan Keller to the Syracuse Crunch for C Ben Simon. Keller had 9 goals, 17 points, and 26 PIM in 38 games. Simon has 9 goals, 21 points, and 77 PIM in 56 games this season. His AHL totals are: 336 games, 60 goals, 149 points, and 363 PIM. He has also played 81 NHL games, 68 with Atlanta (6 in ’01-’02, 10 in ’02-’03, and and 13 in ’03-’04) and 13 with Columbus in ’05-’06. In those games, he has 3 goals, 4 points, and 47 PIM.
On the 27th, the Washington Capitals “reassigned” RW Jonas Johanssen from Hersey to Grand Rapids. In return, we loaned RW Scott Barney to the Hersey Bears. In 40 games with Grand Rapids, Barney had 4 goals, 12 points, and 26 PIM. Johansson was Colorado’s first pick of the 2002 draft. In 44 games with Hersey, he had 5 goals, 24 points, and 48 PIM.
Today, the Griffins signed D Jim Jackson to a professional tryout. In 54 games this season with Gwinnett of the ECHL, Jackson has 11 goals, 29 points, and 78 PIM.
In addition to all these changes, D Dan Syvret was recalled by Edmonton, and Matt Ellis, Matt Hussey, and Josh Langfeld are all up with Detroit.
Hopefully, the trades and will provide some much needed offense down the stretch. If Grand Rapids can continue to win, they should be able to keep their playoff spot ahead of the Peoria Rivermen.