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November 2007 Griffins Report
Record Losing Streak Keys Disastrous Month...
By Jason Kasiorek
December 5, 2007

After winning all their road games and losing all their home games in October, the Griffins were ready for a change. Unfortunately the change they got was not the one they wanted. The bottom fell out and the team stumbled through a record ten game losing streak on the way to a 2-9-0-2 record for the month. Grand Rapids was outscored by their opponents 46 to 34 over the stretch, but if you take out the two wins the discrepancy widens to 44-24.

The team started to show some life towards the end of the month, winning their first home game on the 24th against Iowa, and then dropping the division leading Marlies 6-1 in Toronto. The Griffins have a long way to go however, having left 26 of a possible 42 points on the table at the quarter pole. Grand Rapids snuck into the postseason on the last day in 2006-07 with 85 points. To reach that total this season they would need to go 34-24-1 the rest of the way, a tall order for a team with 7 wins in 21 games.

At the end of November, Grand Rapids stood 5th in the Northern Division with a 7-12-0-2 record in 21 games. Those 16 points also left the Griffins languishing in the 13th spot (out of 15) in the Western Conference.

The following is a review for November:

OFFENSE - In an attempt to create some more scoring, coach Stothers split up the team's #1 line and created two balanced units from it. The red hot Mark Hartigan centered speedy wingers Carl Corazzini and Darren Helm, combining for 14 goals and 27 points in 13 games. Pivot Mark Cullen was put between emerging threat Jamie Tardif and smooth puck-handler Mattias Ritola for a line that connected for 11 goals and 24 points. The third line featured Evan McGrath between Ryan Oulahen and either Randall Gelech or Brett Engelhardt, while the fourth line featured bangers Mike Walsh and Adam Keefe centered mostly by McGrath or Oulahen. Johan Ryno was productive early in the month before returning to Europe.

November Thumbnails: .
Player GPGAPTSPIM+/-ShtsNotes
Mark Hartigan13841226-645Picked it up after a slow start to turn in a scorching month.
Mark Cullen13 4 8 12 27 -3 45Offensive contributor kept up the pace despite changing linemates.
Carl Corazzini13 3 7 10 2 0 43Deceptive winger great at creating chances and finishing them.
Jamie Tardif13 2 4 6 8 -5 32Hard-nosed winger earning more icetime with offensive skills and willingness to block shots.
Darren Helm13 3 2 5 4 0 39Emerging as a true offensive talent on this team, his speed kills the opposition
Johan Ryno5 2 1 3 0 1 6Returned to Sweden after good start.
Evan McGrath11 1 2 3 4 1 31Becoming a quality two way center but more offense is expected.
Mattias Ritola11 1 1 2 4 1 20Slick stickhandler starting to find offense.
Brett Engelhardt91 1 2 10 -1 25Faded fast after strong start then lost his regular spot in the lineup.
Ryan Oulahen131126-1 23Brings leadership and defensive acumen, needs to step up offense.
Randall Gelech1111210-2 16Struggling winger trying to find his place in the lineup.
Mike Walsh51010-14Enthusiastic hitter brings energy to lineup, adds first AHL goal.
Adam Keefe1100044-1 6Despite getting into penalty trouble, Keefe gives 100 percent every shift.

DEFENSE - Defense (or lack thereof) has been one of the biggest thorns in the side of this team so far this season. Every night is an adventure with giveaways, poor coverage, blown assignments, and plain old bad decision making. Offensive blueliner Garrett Stafford led the way, posting a -11 for the month, closely followed by struggling rookie Jakub Kindl's -8 in 8 games. Brad Ference started to turn things around towards the end of the month, but still has a ways to go. The same could be said for Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson as well. Afterthought Tom Galvin remains the steadiest rearguard in his own end and has forced playing time over Detroit contracted players, while Jon Insana has battled inconsistency as he tries to find his game.

November Thumbnails:

Player GPGAPTSPIM+/-ShtsNotes
Garrett Stafford 13 2 5 7 10 -10 37 Offensive blueliner needs to work on his defensive game.
Jonathan Ericsson 12 2 3 5 13 -1 36 Talented Swede battling sophomore slump and inconsistency.
Tom Galvin 12 0 5 5 10 1 8 Steady in his own end and makes whoever he is paired with better.
Jon Insana 11 0 5 5 4 0 8 Young rearguard looks confused at times, maybe overthinking game.
Jakub Kindl 8 1 2 3 8 -8 10 Rookie phenom suffers brutal start, looked to be improving towards end of month.
Kyle Quincey 12 12 3 26 0 21 Perhaps guilty of trying to do too much, Quincey has a ways to go to reclaim the form that saw him recalled to Detroit.
Brad Ference 11 0 0 0 41 1 10 Veteran policeman looks out of sync, but beginning to show signs of putting his game back together.

GOALTENDING - Adam Berkhoel was winless in his four appearances in November, giving up 9 goals on 64 shots. He had one relief appearance, playing 11 minutes and change after batterymate Howard was shelled by Hamilton. Jimmy Howard rang up both of the Griffins wins for the month, but balanced that out by dropping 8 other starts, compiling a gaudy 3.46 GAA for the month. Neither netminder has been particularly sharp, but Jimmy needs to step up his play if he has any hopes of an NHL job next season.

SPECIAL TEAMS - The Griffins have the 16th rated penalty-killing unit with an overall 83.4% kill rating (24 goals on 145 chances). Both the home and road units are square in the middle of the pack rated at 14. That is the good news as the powerplay unit has continued to slide. The home man-advantage unit is rated 28th of 29 at 10.9% (6 goals in 55 chances), while the road unit has fallen from 8th to 14th clicking at 16.7%. This gives the team an overall rating of 14.3% good for 22nd. The Griffins need to improve their special team's play in order to start putting some wins on the board and have any shot at a playoff birth. Sniper Hartigan leads the way with 5 powerplay goals followed by Corazzini and Ericsson with three each. Stafford and Cullen each have a pair with the man advantage. Mark Cullen has the team's lone shorthanded goal.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH - Mark Hartigan. After a slow start, Hartigan has come alive as one of the few offensive threats on this team. In the month of November he potted 8 goals and 4 assists in 13 games sandwiched around his first call-up to Detroit. Despite not being one of the rotating Captains, Hartigan has also taken on a leadership role with this club and can be seen trying to pump up the guys on the ice.

ROOKIE WATCH - Despite putting up reasonable stats in limited playing time, winger Johan Ryno returned home this month citing problems on and off the ice. Fellow Swede Mattias Ritola scored his first AHL goal, and while defensively responsible, is still battling inconsistency in the other end. Darren Helm has taken a prime spot in the lineup, showcasing his speed and skill on the top line, and earning time on the penalty-killing unit. Mike Walsh made the most of his recall from the ECHL, providing energy in a checking role and notching his first AHL goal. Super prospect Jakub Kindl continues to struggle at both ends of the ice, going -8 in 8 games to drop his team low number to -11. He also notched his first AHL goal this month, and added 2 assists.


NOTEABLE MOVEMENT - G Jimmy Howard assigned by Detroit (NHL)... G Cody Rudkowsky released from PTO... LW Mike Walsh recalled from Dayton (ECHL)... LW Johan Ryno re-assigned to Djurgardens IF (SEL)... LW Mark Hartigan recalled by Detroit (NHL)... Hartigan assigned by Detroit (NHL)...

KEY STATS - Jimmy Howard is tied for 7th among goaltenders with 1 shutout... Mark Hartigan is tied for 7th in the AHL in goals with 11... Mark Cullen is 19th in the league with 15 assists... Adam Keefe is 12th in penalty minutes with 71...

IN THE PIPELINE - With the recall of winger Mike Walsh, the only player under contract to the organization playing in a lower pro league is blueliner Cleve Kinley. Kinley (17-3-6-9-20-+10) started out like a house on fire offensively, but needed some work in his own end. The last month has been a reversal of sorts as the young rearguard has tightened up his defensive game while not jumping into the play as much.

NHL ALUMNI WATCH - Former Griffin Jason Spezza sits atop the leaderboard of Grand Rapids Alumni in the NHL with 26 points in 19 games for the Senators. Mark Hartigan became the most recent Griffin to be recalled to the NHL this month, seeing one game in Detroit before being returned to the AHL. Current stats as of 12/4/07:

PlayerGP G A PTS PIM +/-
Kevyn Adams, Chicago15 0 1 1 11 -5
Maxim Afinogenov, Buffalo 24 4 6 1018 -5
Sean Avery, Rangers (Inj.) 14 2 7 9 30 1
Darryl Bootland, Islanders (Min) 4 0 1 1 2 0
Sheldon Brookbank, Devils 16 0 0 0 18 -2
Pavol Demitra, Minnesota 13 4 7 11 6 2
Mark Eaton, Pittsburgh 26 0 1 1 25
Matt Ellis, Detroit 14 2 2 4 8 2
Valtteri Filppula, Detroit 26 4 5 9 6 2
Shane Hnidy, Anaheim 27 0 1 1 21 -2
Jiri Hudler, Detroit 26 6 10 16 8 5
Chris Kelly, Ottawa 25 4 6 10 10 3
Tomas Kopecky, Detroit 22 1 3 4 11 3
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit 22 1 7 8 18 0
Brett Lebda, Detroit 26 2 5 7 18 8
Derek Meech, Detroit 60 0 0 0 -1
Mark Hartigan, Detroit 1 0 0 0 0 0
Glen Metropolit, Boston 25 6 4 10 6 5
Mark Mowers, Anaheim (NWT) 17 1 0 1 8 0
Chris Neil, Ottawa 253 4 5 60 3
Karel Rachunek, Devils 19 1 5 6 22 13
Jason Spezza, Ottawa 19 4 22 26 14 7
Todd White, Atlanta 26 6 9 15 16 o
Jason Williams, Chicago 20 7 12 19 10 0

PlayerGP W-L-T GAA
Patrick Lalime, Chicago 9 4-4-0-0 2.46

UP NEXT - Grand Rapids starts the month on the road with contests against conference rivals Houston and Milwaukee before heading back for a six game homestand. There they will face Lake Erie and a Friday - Saturday double header against Syracuse, a pair against 2007 Calder Cup Champion Hamilton and a Saturday night game against Milwaukee. After a Tuesday night start in Milwaukee they face off against a pair of Illinois teams, the IceHogs and the Wolves at home before venturing on a two game road trip. After playing Lake Erie and Toronto in their own buildings, the Griffins finish off the month at home against the Admirals and Bulldogs.