The Afternoon Shift – April 29

We knew them when./Photo by Mark Newman

The leading point producer and top goal scorer from the Griffins’ last Calder Cup run in 2009 are making their presence felt in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ville Leino and Justin Abdelkader led Grand Rapids to its first and only playoff upset two years ago, toppling Hamilton 4-2 in the AHL’s North Division Semifinals. The pair put on a clinic the likes of which have rarely been seen during the Griffins’ lengthy postseason history.

All of the dynamic duo’s 21 combined playoff points were registered during that six-game series against the Bulldogs. Abdelkader’s six goals set a Griffins record for a single playoff round, while his four-game goal streak fell one shy of the franchise playoff mark.

Meanwhile, Leino’s 10 assists tied the Griffins’ single-series record, while his 13 points fell one short of the team’s standard. In addition, he set a franchise playoff record with a six-game assist streak.

Last spring, Leino transformed the City of Brotherly Love into Villedelphia, setting an NHL record for playoff scoring by a rookie and tying for sixth in the league with 21 points. His seven goals also established a Flyers franchise record for goals by a rookie in a single playoff season.

Leino’s gone right back to his old tricks this year, currently tying for first in the NHL in shooting percentage (37.5) and ninth in goals (3). In addition to scoring the overtime winner in Game 6 against Buffalo, he tallied Philly’s fourth goal in Game 7 that chased heralded netminder Ryan Miller from the crease and, eventually, the postseason.

As for Abdelkader, evidence of his impact can also be found on the stat sheet, but just not under the scoring columns. While centering Dan Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi on the third line, he leads Detroit and ranks among the NHL’s elite by winning 61.1% of his faceoffs, and his average ice time of 15:46 ranks fourth among Red Wings forwards. He’s more than earned the trust of Detroit’s coaching staff with his physical, dependable play.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL link:

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goals:

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