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Griffins are even hotter than Red Wings

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Xavier Ouellet

Detroit – The Red Wings aren't the only team on a long points streak right now.

The minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins are doing nearly as well.

The Griffins tied their franchise record Sunday with their 11th consecutive victory, rallying for a 4-3 overtime victory over Iowa.

The Red Wings went into Monday's game against Buffalo having earned points in 13 consecutive games (8-0-5).

Xavier Ouellet scored at 2:33 of overtime to complete the Griffins' comeback.

Grand Rapids won 11 in a row in March 2006. The Griffins can set a new record Wednesday when they visit Cleveland.

Coach Jeff Blashill watched the highlights of Sunday's victory.

"I was pumped, it looked real exciting," said Blashill, who coached the Griffins the last three seasons. "Todd Nelson (Griffins coach) has obviously done a great job. They had a tough start but he's stayed even-keel and stuck with the plan, and the players have worked to where they are playing great.

"It speaks to the level of prospects we have in the system."

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The Griffins (13-8-1) opened the season 2-8-1 before going on their current hot streak.

A key reason the Red Wings and Griffins have both been successful, said Blashill, is the culture of winning at the NHL level has filtered down to AHL locker room.

"There's a real similar culture in the locker room," Blashill said. "It's a big reason a number of the prospects have come up and had success."

Sabres getting better

The Buffalo Sabres have been in the NHL's basement the last couple seasons but have been anything but a pushover this season under new coach Dan Bylsma.

A native of Grand Haven, Michigan, Bylsma is molding the young Sabres into a winning organization.

"The team's real structured," Blashill said. "They're playing hard for him. That's probably the best compliment to a coach, that his team is structured and they play hard."

The Sabres had an NHL-low 54 points last season. They are 12-15-3 this season going into Monday night's game in Detroit.

Points of emphasis

Despite the recent success, Blashill wants to see the Red Wings improve in two specific areas.

"One, our turnovers have crept up over the last five-game segment," Blashill said. "We need to limit our turnovers. As we comtinue to become a better offensive team, we have to measure that versus making sure we're good defensively."

Blashill also wants to see his team limit the number of goal-scoring chances allowed.

"Manage our risk and limit our turnovers," Blashill said.