Weekly Plus - Minus 01/20/09|
Best and worst performances of the week...
By Jason Kasiorek
The biggest story of the week was the Griffins losing the showdown for first place to the Manitoba Moose in convincing fashion. The final score ended up 6-4, but was never really that close as GR was down 4-0 halfway through the first. Grand Rapids earned points in all three of the other games this week, winning two (3-1 over Hamilton, and 3-2 in Rockford) and losing in OT against Rockford 2-1. They currently stand in second place in both the Western Conference and the North Division with 59 points, 1 point behind Manitoba. This total is also good enough for 3rd in the league trailing first place Hershey by 3 points. Also of note this week was that Grand Rapids, the AHL's number one penalty killing unit ended a string of 42 scoreless powerplays against, two shy of the club record.
In other news, center Darren Helm missed all four games this week, apparently suffering from a charley horse. The two Frankie's line has slowed down, aside from Francis Pare, and had a tough week together. Pare and Darren Haydar were the team's leading scorers on the week with four points each, closely followed by Ville Leino and Cory Emmerton with three.
This weeks top three plus and minus performances:
Pare just keeps getting it done on the scoreboard, notching 4 points in 4 games this week. He set up the gamewinner in Hamilton to start the week, and then scored two goals and an assist in third period against Manitoba to pull his team back from a 6-1 deficit.
Captain Haydar had a solid week, putting up four points in four games including some clutch scoring. He had an assist on the game winner Wednesday, scored the game winner on Saturday, and notched the team's only goal (shorthanded) in the 2-1 OT loss on Monday.
Oulahen stepped up his game in the absence of Helm and it showed up on the ice and on the scoresheet. Ryan raised his defensive rating to a team high +12 (tied with Pare) and added a couple of points to boot.
The offensively gifted rearguard seems to have lost his edge and is regularly a culprit in allowing odd man rushes and turnovers. His -3 last week dropped him to a defense worst -12, and he was on the ice for 4 of the 6 Manitoba goals on Friday.
Lemieux has been a streaky player since coming to Grand Rapids last season, and it looks like this one is over. Frankie finished the week pointless with only one shot on goal and a team worst -4 in four games.
Justin is going through a difficult part of the learning curve as he tries to adjust to the grinding pro schedule. He didn't look to have the same energy level as earlier in the season, and had a tough week, going scoreless with a -3 defensive rating to show for it.