Utah Grizzlies: Return of the Jedi

With Kyle Thomas’ return, the formerly potent first line of Greger Hanson, Michael Pelech, and Thomas was reassembled, while Ryans Misiak, Olsen, and Walters remained together as the second line. Zach Saar, Charley Graaskamp, C.J. Eick, Brad Navin, and Erik Higby all dressed as well, with Utah icing eleven forwards and five defensemen. Rob Mann, Jon Puskar (reserve), Brendan Harms (reserve), and Travis Howe (serving a nine game suspension), were the scratches.

Kevin Carr got the start, while Walters wore the C, and Eick and Taylor Richart the As against Rapid City.

Tempers flared early and often for Rapid City, leading to a roughing minor drawn by Walters at 2:14, and a Utah power play. Walters took the best kind of revenge, taking a pass from Olsen, and hammered home the first goal. His goal sent a shower of stuffed animals to the ice on Teddy Bear Toss night. Misiak got the second assist, as the whole Ryan Line got in on the action against Walters and Misiak’s former team.

The Rush took another penalty as Richart was tag-teamed and thrown to the ice by two Rapid City players. Olsen jumped in in defense, and Utah got another power play on a roughing call. The Grizzlies got a couple of really good looks and possession from the Ryan Line, and Higby, but it ultimately came up empty.

Thomas pounced on a turn-over at 8:57, passed to Hanson, and Pelech put the puck past Adam Vay to get a 2-0 lead.

Rapid City took another roughing call as Tommy Maxwell tried to goad Walters into retaliating. Utah got a lot of space to make plays, but they were unable to get a second power play goal, and shortly after the Rush returned to full strength, Eick took a penalty.

After going more than 300 minutes, and a perfect 24/24 on the kill, the normally stellar Utah PK gave up a power play goal 13 seconds in as Pavel Jenys snuck the puck away from Carr and into the net.

The Ryan Line went to work immediately afterwards, and while their multiple chances didn’t come to anything, it was a good response.

With five minutes left in the frame, the Rush got some good offensive zone pressure, before the Grizzlies retook control of the game.

Higby took a tripping call with 2:52 to go, but Utah killed it off, and they sprang Higby out of the box. Unfortunately, Vay made the save, and the Grizzlies went into the first intermission up 2-1, out-shooting their opponent 14-8.

Utah got off to a good start in the second, and then at 2:17, Saar dropped the gloves with Josh Elmes. Elmes got more punches in, initially, after getting Saar’s jersey over his head, but Zach ultimately got the take-down in a quick bout.

Utah continued to dominate puck possession in the opening minutes of the frame, but Richart took a hooking call at 4:19, and once again, Jenys scored 15 seconds into the advantage. So, despite more or less controlling the play, and leading in shots 19-9, it was a tie game, and a familiar feeling of dread began to creep in.

Happily, it was not allowed to last for long. The third line had a strong shift in the Rush zone, followed by the Pelech line. Then Pelech sprang Thomas, who crossed the blue line all alone, and deked the pants off Vay to give the Grizzlies back the lead. Pelech and Hanson both got the assists. That’s more or less when Utah busted the game wide open.

Just over a minute later Windle sprang Higby with 12:37, and this time, Higby made no mistake on the breakaway, getting his second goal of the year on a gorgeous top-shelf snipe.

Garret Haar got a gorgeous chance, and drew a holding the stick call. Utah got a chance or two, including a gorgeous pair from Thomas, but all in all, it was not one of their better attempts. In the end, it didn’t matter, as Saar got the puck right as the PK ended, picking it up at the red line, beating both Rush defensemen, and displaying some seriously nifty hands, deking out Vay to give Utah the 5-2 lead. Graaskamp got his fourth assist of the season on Saar’s fourth, giving the Grizzlies three goals in just over four minutes.

Rapid City got a couple strong shifts in the Utah zone, but Olsen took a pass from Walters by the bench, danced into the offensive zone, split the D, and beat Vay glove-side for his seventh goal of the season. Walters and Leibinger were initially credited with the assists, though Misiak eventually got the secondary. The sixth goal set a season high for goals in a game, and there were still over five minutes left in the second.

Haar took a holding the stick call of his own with three minutes left in the second, and the Utah penalty kill continued to struggle uncharacteristically, giving up another goal at 18:40.

Hanson restored the four goal lead with 34 seconds left, after a spinning Pelech made a dandy of a pass to Thomas in the slot. His pass to Hanson fooled Vay, and Utah’s five goal second period set a season high there as well. After 40, Utah out-shot the Rush 30-18, leading 7-3.

After such a prolific second, the third was something of an anti-climax by comparison. Because Rapid City’s backup goalie was an EBUG, Vay remained in net.

Utah continued to control the game, playing (as Adrian Denny noted) some of their best structured hockey of the night, and continuing to hold a ten shot lead on the Rush.

Thomas and Navin got a two on one, as did Eick and Higby, though neither found the back of the net. Utah drew another power play at 9:24, but the Rush killed it off.

Leibinger got stung blocking a shot off the arm with just under eight minutes left, but he was back in short order, starting the rush that hit Olsen in the offensive zone. Olsen could have taken the shot, but passed instead to Misiak, who hammered home the eighth goal at point-blank range. It was the last goal of the night, and gave every member of the top six a goal.

After a whistle, Darian Dziurzynski grabbed Pelech, Eick jumped in in defense, and Tommy Maxwell dropped the gloves with Pelech. Once the dust settled, Dziurzynski got a double minor for roughing, as did Eick, while Pelech got a rough and a five for fighting, and Maxwell got five for fighting and a ten minute misconduct. The Grizzlies killed off the penalty to Eick, and when the final whistle sounded, Utah led 8-3, and out-shot the Rush 36-24.

In a nice touch, the in-arena unofficial three stars of the game went to the entire team, who absolutely deserved it. The official three stars went to Hanson (1G, 2A), Pelech (1G, 2A), and Thomas (1G,1A).

Rapid City definitely targeted Walters an Richart all night, and the Grizzlies did a surprisingly good job of not getting suckered into retaliating, the last five minutes not withstanding.

Utah’s eight goal game was a season high, eclipsing their previous high of five set against Worchester. They got two goals from every line, including one from all six of the top six forwards. Misiak, Olsen, Hanson, and Pelech, all had a goal and two assists, while Walters and Thomas both had multi-point games as well. Additionally, Sam Windle was a team leading +7 on the night, breaking an all-time Grizzlies’ record that has stood since before they played in Utah.

Utah now has a five way tie for leading goal-scorer between Pelech, Hanson, Walters, Olsen, and Richart all at seven, while Pelech (23 points), Hanson (20 pts) lead the team in points, followed by the three Ryans, and Kyle Thomas.

After getting three goals in three games, Olsen now has six points in five games, Walters has ten points in seven, and Misiak has five in the last three, while the first line appears to be picking up right where they left off.

“I thought our guys were fabulous, did tremendous.” Tim Branham said of his team’s impressive outing. “Five on five, we were dominant. I really liked the way we drove the net, put pucks on net, we played with excitement, we executed, we scored on our scoring chances. I mean, when you can add a player like Kyle Thomas, it obviously makes your team that much more deep, and just completes that line again with Hanson, Pelech, and Thomas. Those guys were so good for us when they were together, and they were what, all three of them top ten or top fifteen in the league before they got called up. And then our other line is going too with Misiak, Olsen, and Walters, it’s a big difference, right? So kudos to the boys, sometimes it can be tough to play in a game like that when the other team takes runs at you, or the score gets out of hand, and we kept the foot on the gas, and we gotta keep this feeling inside, and want it again tomorrow. I think that’s the biggest thing for this group is confidence and execution, because we were playing some really good hockey, and just weren’t getting the results, cause we weren’t scoring goals. Obviously Kyle Thomas is huge, but everyone stepped up tonight. Higby, Saar, everybody stepped up. It was good to see.”

Michael Pelech echoed Branham’s sentiments on Thomas’  return. “I think he scored 30-something goals last year, so to get a player of that caliber back in the lineup, it definitely boosts the morale, and gets the guys going”

It may not have been Carr’s best night recently, but for a change, his team had his back. “He’s been standing on his head,” Pelech added. “So to put up eight for him, that’s huge.”

Friday’s game was the first of eight in fifteen against the Rush, and hopefully, they can carry this momentum through all eight of them.

Tonight’s game is the official Star Wars night, where the snazzy jerseys the Grizzlies have been wearing will be auctioned off.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff

Utah Grizzlies: Meet the Ryan Line

Finally. A win.

However, as promised, we gotta start with the Wednesday game. It’ll be quick. I promise.

The lowdown on the 5-2 loss:

  • Ryan Walters and Ryan Olsen continued their strong play and goal scoring, on a line together with Greger Hanson
  • It looked like Walters had scored with 13:09 to go in the first, but the goal was waived off on a high-stick, and that bad luck seemed to dog them all game. That same line had already rung the post earlier, and it seemed as though Brad Navin hit iron at least twice.
  • Kevin Carr was perhaps the shakiest he’s looked all season, giving up four goals on ten shots, and was pulled for Angus Redmond half way through the game.
  • Utah looked like they were playing a little scared, understandable when every mistake made seems to have led to disaster lately.
  • The Grizzlies drew a surprisingly high three goaltender interference penalties.
  • Speaking of power plays, special teams went well for Utah, Walters scoring on the penalty kill, and Olsen on the power play.
  • They say goalies can’t stop what they can’t see. Ryan Faragher stopped those too. It was that kind of night.
  • There was a line-brawl to end the game, Jones dropping the gloves, and Navin, Olsen, and Pelech all in the thick of it. Once the dust settled, Navin and Mitch Moroz got matching misconducts and roughing calls, Olsen got a rough, Jones got a double minor, and Faragher ended up with a leaving the crease violation. Likewise somehow or other, Travis Howe, who was did not play, ended up in the middle of the kerfuffle, and was consequently suspended indefinitely. 
  • Quote of note, Walters told Adam Turner of the Tribune that the Grizzlies just needed to get one win to get going again.

Now on to the good stuff.


Looking to stop the losing skid at nine, the lineup looked a little different on Friday night in Idaho.

Out were Michael Pelech and Brad Navin (and Charley Graaskamp), and in were Garrett Haar and Brendan Harms. Tim Branham opted to go with nine forwards and seven defencemen, while Kevin Carr looked for a bounce back start. To start the game, Greger Hanson skated with Ryan Olsen and Erik Higby, Ryan Walters centered Ryan Misiak and Brendan Harms, while Jon Puskar centered Zach Saar and C.J. Eick.

Not a whole lot happened in the first couple of minutes, but at 3:01 Carr made a great save, and James Melindy took a penalty. The penalty kill did a terrific job, however, allowing zero shots, even though the majority of the short-handed situation was played in their zone. Puskar was especially noticeable with two big blocked shots.

Hanson and Olsen spent a good ten seconds fighting the Steelheads in the offensive zone, and then Harms and Misiak both got point blank shots one after the other, and drew a power play with 11:53 left in the first. Utah looked pretty good on the advantage, but came up empty.

Both teams played good hockey in the minutes that followed, the shots staying close, and the score remaining 0-0. Saar and Corbin Baldwin exchanged shoves by the Idaho net with under five minutes to go, but it quickly came to nothing.

with just under 3:30 to go, Misiak, Harms, and Walters had a glorious up ice rush, added and abetted by Mitch Jones, putting the shot count up to 11-9 for Utah. Though they didn’t score, they drew another power play.

Another power saw the Grizzlies throw a flurry of shots on Philippe Desrosiers, giving them 16 on the period, but still not finding the back of the net.

Saar took a high-sticking penalty with 18 seconds to go, and after 20, Utah was out-shooting Idaho 16-10. Nevertheless, the score remained locked at zero.

Utah began the second with 1:42 of penalty time, which they killed off. They were short-handed almost immediately afterwards, however, as Puskar took a slashing call at 2:01. Once again, the penalty kill went to work. Harms made a couple of good plays, and Misiak continued to spend time running Idaho back into their own end.

Puskar evened the score later in the period, drawing an interference call steamrolling towards the Idaho net at 7:01. Unfortunately, the Grizzlies had a little trouble keeping the puck in the zone, but escaped any potential disasters.

At 11:39 it looked like Henrik Samuelsson had taken the puck away from Walters at the blue line, and was poised for a breakaway, but the only reason he got the puck to begin with was on an infraction, so Utah went to the power play yet again. The power play never really got clicking, though, and Idaho killed it off.

There was a pretty close call with about 3:30 left in the frame, when Carr made one save, scrambled for the other, and a Utah player whisked the puck out of danger. The pace favoured Idaho through the tail end of the second, and it paid off for them as the Steelheads scored on a three-on-two with 54 seconds left. It felt like an all-too-familiar back-breaker

The beginning of the third was slightly nerve-racking, as Utah pushed for some offense, and the defence fell apart a little in consequence.

To start the period, Branham also shuffled the lines up, putting Ryan Misiak together with Ryan Olsen and Ryan Walters, and the Ryan Line was born. It payed off on just their second shift, as Misiak tied the game from Walters and Jones at 4:13.

The Grizzlies were stuck running around their own zone following the goal, and at 8:18 Jones took a slashing call. Fortunately, the Grizzlies looked sharper on the PK than they had in the four minutes or so after the goal.

Haar iced the puck with 5:46 to go, and he and Windle were stuck in the defensive zone for an agonizing 46 seconds before they got a whistle.

The Ryan Line got the first offensive zone shift in what seemed like absolute ages a couple of minutes later, followed by one from Hanson, Higby, and Harms.

With less than a minute left, it looked like Utah was headed for yet another gut-wrenching OT, but Olsen received a perfect pass from Ryan Misiak behind the net, and while Idaho was distracted by a hit on Walters, he made no mistake. Thirty-nine seconds left, 2-1 Grizzlies.

Olsen’s third goal in three games held up for the game winner. Kevin Carr raised his arms to the sky, and was mobbed by his jubilant teammates.

It was only a 2-1 win, but it felt bigger than that. All through the losing streak, Branham kept preaching the same message. Work hard. Play the same way. It was incredibly frustrating at times, but they did it. And for the first time since November 11th, it finally paid off.

Ryan Walters, Ryan Misiak, and Ryan Olsen combined for five points on the night. Olsen and Misiak both had five shots, as did Richart, while Hanson and Harms both had four. Walters’  four game goal streak came to an end, but he now has seven points in five games, while Mitch Jones was once more in the thick of things.

But enough about people not named Kevin Carr. What is there left to be said. He’s been a rock for the Grizzlies. His resilience and mental fortitude have been incredible through an agonizing nine games where he fought tooth and nail to keep the score close for a stone cold offense—and often succeeded. He came back from a couple iffy outings with monster performances, and if he ever cracked under the weight of it, it never carried over into the next game.

Obviously, there are still issues. Every goal in the last five games has been scored by Greger Hanson or someone named Ryan. That’s not exactly sustainable. Nor was tonight’s game anywhere near perfect. That being said, as much as losing nine straight sucked, Utah also got points in five of those nine losses, and as much as there are things to work on still, they finally got the win.

Hopefully this is that one win Walters said Utah needed to get out of their funk.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard and Jess Fleming

 

 

Utah Grizzlies: A Tale of Two Ryans

On the heels of a Cliff Watson call-up, a Jon Puskar suspension, and the absence of Brendan Harms (probably a result of the big hit he took in Colorado), the lineup saw yet another minor change. Ryans Misiak and Olsen skated with Brad Navin, while Zach Saar drew in on the third line with Erik Higby and C.J. Eick. Rob Mann returned to the lineup for the first time since November 10th, and Travis Howe was the tenth forward.

Ryan Walters and Taylor Richart wore the As, and Kevin Carr once again got the start.

The Olsen line got the first shot of the game, but the Grizzlies took the first penalty when Michael Pelech went off for slashing at 3:07. The penalty kill remained strong, even getting an up-ice rush or two of their own.

Idaho took an answering penalty just a few moments before the kill expired, and Utah went to the man advantage. It took the Grizzlies a while to set up in the offensive zone, and they ultimately came up empty.

As Idaho returned to full strength, the Grizzlies survived the first of several mad scrambles that occurred in front of the Utah net.

Goals off the face-off continue to be an ongoing problem for Utah, as Olsen got thrown out of the circle, Misiak lost the draw, and Shane Hanna scored on a nice shot at 11:03. The Olsen line, which had, up until that point, been having a strong night, followed up the bad face-off shift with a number of strong ones in the minutes that followed.

Good hustle from Eick drew a power play at 13:32 but though the Grizzlies maintained possession for a large majority of the five-on-four, with the exception of a chance from Walters in the blue paint that rang iron, and a lovely pass from Hanson to Misiak in the slot, they were largely unable to get the puck out of the perimeter.

With about three minutes to go, Idaho a two-on-one on a bad bounce, but shortly thereafter Navin laid a hit at the Idaho bench which forced a turnover, and Misiak hit a flying Olsen with the perfect cross-seam pass. Olsen’s fourth tied the game with 2:46 to go.

Richart got taken down with 35 seconds left in the period, and Utah went into the first intermission tied 1-1, shots 11-10.

The early power play went the way of so many others, even with Philippe Desrosiers missing his stick for a substantial stretch on one shift. Navin had a couple of good attempts, and Saar got off a good shot, but Idaho returned to full strength with no change in score.

Idaho came back three on two, and while Leibinger and Richart hand their hands full with the other two Steelheads, a wide open Hanna scored his second of the game and third of the year at 3:09.

Walters was hit up high with 14:35 left in the frame, but though he went down, and took a moment to get up, but he skated off, and didn’t miss a shift. No penalty was awarded on the play.

An Idaho turnover directly onto Olsen’s stick nearly sprang 13 on the breakaway, but the puck bounced, and Utah somehow ended up with a power play a moment later. Windle and Mitch Moroz jawed at each-other for a moment, and the Grizlies went to work. With the exception of the first 30 seconds or so, it was once again a strong possession power play, and Olsen got off a big shot, but it was blocked in front of Desrosiers, and Utah was not credited with a single shot.

There was another scramble around the Grizzlies net, and then the second line carried the puck up the ice, and Olsen got another grade A scoring chance.

Higby took a hooking minor half-way through the frame, but Idaho was similarly unable to muster any shots.

The two teams exchanged offensive zone time in the final couple of minutes of the game, Utah looking a little sloppy in their own zone, and Carr making an uncharacteristically bad play with the puck. However, luck went the Grizzlies’ way for a change, and a turnover by Alexander Dahl saw the puck go straight to the stick of Walters. He made no mistake, slinging the puck past Desrosiers for his fifth of the season, and third in as many games, with 1:26 left in the period.

The teams traded zone time to start the third again, while Branham alternated almost exclusively between the first and second lines, but Walters ran into Desrosiers driving hard to the net, and took a penalty. Pelech made one of those defensive plays that make him so valuable to the team, and Utah once again got lucky in yet another scramble around the net.

The Grizzlies had a couple of egregious turnovers in the defensive zone with just a bit over twelve minutes left, but Idaho was unable to sort themselves out enough to take advantage of them. Meanwhile, the Misiak-Olsen-Navin line continued to turn in a really strong performance, eventually putting up ten of the Grizzlies’ 23 shots.

Idaho’s Austin Fyten was assessed a ten minute unsportsmanlike conduct during a time out with 4:46 left to go. Idaho pressured in the final minutes of the game, but with 5.4 seconds left in the period, they iced the puck, and the Grizzlies took their timeout to get organized.

Olsen won the draw, and Hanson got off a shot, but at the end of 60, they were still deadlocked at two.

Utah played their league-leading 10th OT in a very controlled and conservative manner, getting only one shot to Idaho’s three, but carrying the puck for the vast majority of the time. In the end, OT wasn’t enough to break the tie either, and the game went to the shoot-out. It ended in all to familiar fashion. Carr let in a single goal on a crazy fake-out, and none of the Grizzlies answered.

“Tonight, I didn’t think we got the chances like we normally have.”Tim Branham said when asked about the team’s 23-shot performance. “Normally we create a lot more chances than that. But I still think you’re right. Structurally, we’re playing fine. Some guys, I think we had a few guys that maybe could have done a little bit more, but I thought for the most part we played some pretty good hockey. Would have been nice to have gotten two points against a depleted lineup there in Idaho, but I thought their goalie made some good saves, we hit the crossbar on a wide open net again. That’s been the story of our season so far, not scoring enough goals. I thought today was an anomaly though, we didn’t generate the chances like we normally do, but yet we still were in the game, and had power plays we could have scored on, and hit a crossbar on the power play on a wide open net. It is what it is. We’ve got to keep on playing the same way. We can’t deviate from the way that we’re playing, we’ve just got to try that much harder.”

One player who did do a little bit more was Ryan Olsen. The jump that has been missing from his game of late was back with a vengeance, and it wasn’t just him. After not making the trip to Colorado, Navin looked really sold. He was making plays look easy that he wouldn’t even have tried a few weeks back, while Ryan Misiak, who was on a four point roll before last weekend, led the team with four shots, as well as being instrumental in the first goal.

“I thought he did good tonight. I thought he stepped up.” Branham said of Olsen’s game. “Obviously scoring a goal early gets his confidence going. He’s very effective when he’s skating, and putting pucks on net, cause he’s very fast at this level, a big body, and he’s very good on draws. So when he sticks to what he’s good at, he’s very effective.”

Speaking of effective players, Chris Leibinger is neither flashy, nor a particularly prolific point producer, but he turns in a quietly consistent performance night in and night out. In fact, barring two middling games when he first arrived, he’s been terrific for the team. Likewise, Mitch Jones tends to fly under the radar, unnoticeable in the way good defencemen often are, before grabbing your attention with a great defensive play, or wicked shot.

 

When asked about the power play, which carried and possessed the puck well, but generated almost no shots, Branham said, “Against a PK unit like Idaho, they’re very aggressive, so passing it along the perimeter is good to settle them down, but then at some point, you’ve got to funnel pucks to the net, and I think we missed a couple opportunities to do that. I think that if we can kind of hone in on those small little opportunities—we worked on it a lot, showed a lot of video on it, we had quite a few plays in mind—it was jut one thing here, one thing there that messed it up. But we did a good job of gaining the zone, we did a job of possessing it, now it’s a matter of making sure we take that shot with traffic, and do a better job on those rebounds, of getting to those loose pucks so we get that puck back and we shoot. I thought you were right, we did possess the puck well we’ve just gotta do a better job of funneling the puck to the net.”

Kevin Carr was a little shaky at times, and it was nice to see the Grizzlies working hard to help him out around the net, when he’s been the one doing the rescuing on most nights this season. He was excellent in the shoot out, allowing only that one crazy fake-out goal. If anyone on this team deserves some wins, it’s him.

Speaking of wins (or a distressing lack thereof), last year at this time the Grizzlies were in the middle of a nine game losing streak, with an abysmal 7-13-1-1 record on December 4th. They then proceeded on their more-or-less annual post-Christmas tear, which saw them go 29-16-3-1 after that stretch. Meanwhile, this year’s team is 6-9-5-2, with standings points in 13 of 22 games. Highly frustrating, to be sure, but certainly better than it could be.

“They’re doing ok. Tonight was frustrating, because I thought we deserved better for the way we’ve been playing lately, but we’re collecting points. These are going to be huge later on down the road. We’re collecting points, we’re not getting losses, we’re collecting those points. We’ve got a lot of games within our division coming up still. This group is never out of it, my teams are never out of it. We’ve gotta fix a couple things, and we’ll be just fine.”

Utah plays the second of six games against Idaho tonight (Wednesday) at the Mav before heading out to Idaho for the weekend.

 

Image courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming and staff

Utah Grizzlies: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This weekend was really great. I went to the games in Colorado, got to meet a whole bunch of awesome Eagles fans, and see a new arena, which was tons of fun. The downside is that I didn’t have a lot of time to write. Given the quick turn-around with a game on Monday, we’re doing this a little differently.


Overview

On Friday night, the Grizzlies lost 7-3, giving up four power play goals, and generally playing badly. Kevin Carr was pulled to start the third in favour of Angus Redmond, which did nothing to stem the tide. To be fair to both goaltenders, the team in front of them gave them almost nothing to work with. However, Utah did get three even strength goals from Cliff Watson, Ryan Walters, and Greger Hanson.

On Saturday, the game was much better. Utah was engaged from start to finish, and Carr was absolutely sharp all night. It was an unfortunately familiar tale, however, when they fell 2-1 in OT.

The Good

  • Jon Puskar is back, and it took him no time at all to start putting up points. He has an assist in each of his two games back. His speed also made a difference a number of times over the weekend.
  • The first line seems to have heated up again, with seven points in the two games, Greger Hanson scoring once, and Ryan Walters scoring twice. If they can keep rolling, that’ll be huge.
  • Whether it was the return of Travis Howe to the lineup, the resurgence of the first line, the reuniting of Brendan and the Ryans, or just general motivation following a lousy outing, Saturday’s game was far better than Friday’s in terms of team play.
  • Taylor Richart and Cliff Watson lead the charge in goal-scoring on the Grizzlies. Richart has seven goals, and Watson is tied with Pelech and Hanson with six.

The Bad

  • Richart and Watson lead the the Grizzlies in goal scoring. Obviously it’s not a bad thing that they’ve scored so many goals. What is troubling, however, is that Utah has continued to have to rely on them for so much of the offensive heavy lifting.
  • On Friday, the scratches of Brad Navin, Zach Saar, and Travis Howe, as well as the return of Puskar, meant that the lines got shaken up again, and turned in what may have been the least cohesive performance we’ve seen from them all year.

The Ugly

  • The usually terrific Grizzlies’ penalty kill gave up an abysmal four goals on Friday. Fortunately, they returned to form on Saturday, giving up only 1/8. Hopefully it was a statistical anomaly, and can be ignored…
  • Brendan Harms went down early in the second period on Saturday, and had to be helped of the ice. Unsurprisingly, he  didn’t finish the game. Here’s to hoping it wasn’t anything serious.

 

Photo courtesy of Tim Broussard, Jess Fleming, and staff