The Afternoon Shift – March 10

You'd need one of these to cool off the Griffins.

Don’t look now, but the Griffins are officially the hottest team in the American Hockey League.

Grand Rapids’ 7-1-0-2 record in its last 10 games is the best of all 30 AHL teams, while its season-high four-game winning streak ties Connecticut and Portland for the league’s longest active run.

The Griffins’ climb to within six points of a playoff spot can be credited most notably to rookie goalie Jordan Pearce, who has played the last 10 games with a 2.37 GAA and a 0.923 save percentage and earned his first AHL shutout. His stats to this point of the season (2.67, 0.914) are nearly identical to Jimmy Howard’s career numbers as a Griffin (2.67, 0.911), and his save percentage is just 0.002 from entering the top 10 on the franchise’s single-season list, which includes such names as MacDonald, Howard, Prusek, Lalime, Lamothe and Fountain. Pretty good company, if Pearce can join them.

The other key factor to the team’s surge has been the offense, which has posted as many five-goal games during the last 10 outings (five) as it did in its previous 31 contests. Five players have averaged at least one point per game during the stretch — Jamie Tardif (6-6–12), Ilari Filppula (1-11–12), Tomas Tatar (6-5–11), Jamie Johnson (4-6–10) and Cory Emmerton (2-7–9 in 9 games) — while Chris Minard has scored a goal in six games and both Francis Pare and Logan Pyett have recorded hat tricks.

The Griffins will look to maintain their momentum and improve upon their sixth-place standing this weekend, when they continue their road trip with three games in three nights against a pair of desperate teams that are currently tied for sixth in the West Division. They’ll make their first-ever visits to Oklahoma City on Friday and Saturday, before boarding a Sunday flight to San Antonio for that afternoon’s game at 5:30 EDT. 

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent links:

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goal:

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