February 26: Blog Entry: Game Day
02/26/2011 11:08 AM - Adam Turner
The month of February will not end soon enough for Utah as with the light schedule, the Grizzlies have lost a bit of their momentum from early in the month when they carried over a season-high five-game unbeaten streak that extended from January-February right out of the all-star break.
However, after winning their first two games of the month, Utah has since dropped six of seven contests as tonight they play just their seventh game in 21 days. For the Grizzlies, it’s again getting back to basics. If you listen to coaches give their keys to the game before every game on Grizzlies Radio, it’s never rocket science. It usually sounds something like, “we want to take the pucks deep, eliminate turnovers, stay out of the penalty box and win the battles.”
Utah is looking to manufacture some goals and that starts with quality scoring chances. Last night, only 19 shots on David Shantz didn’t get nearly enough going, as Victoria took control of the game early and never really relented.
Momentum is also an area of concern for Utah. It took Victoria 15 seconds last night to get their lead back after Utah tied late in the second and 19 seconds to stretch the game from 2-1 to 4-1. The Salmon Kings also took complete charge of the game with four goals in 5:48 after Utah tied.
When you look at the box score from last night, Utah gave up five five-on-five goals, but no one was less than a minus-two, which says everyone was involved in the debacle.
We’ve covered the “don’ts”, now the Grizzlies just need to execute the “do’s” to get back on track headed into March.
February 25 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/25/2011 11:22 AM - Adam Turner
Yesterday presented an interesting scenario for Josh Meyers, Ryley Grantham and Bryan Cameron as all three were assigned from Calgary’s AHL affiliate in Abbotsford to the ECHL.
Both traveled to the ferry outside of Vancouver and boarded it for Victoria. They then were picked up and taken to Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre where the Grizzlies and Salmon Kings will play this weekend. That’s where Meyers and Grantham and Cameron begun on separate paths. Meyers and Grantham dropped their gear off in the Utah locker room and Cameron took his stuff to the Victoria locker room. Being that Abbotsford had just called up one of the Salmon Kings top forwards in Ryan MacMurchy, it looks like they sent Cameron here to compensate for that and not to their affiliate in Utah, a team that is already stacked with players and has little to no roster room. That’s a nice move by Abbotsford, most AHL teams, including some Utah has dealt with, have taken little to zero regard for the ECHL team that they are working with.
Speaking of new guys, rookie goaltender Kyle Moir, who was drafted by Nashville, will get the start tonight for Utah after flying in from Toronto in a delayed flight that arrived after midnight after just completing his college career.
For whatever reason, Utah’s trips to Victoria are always bunched together. Until last February, Utah hadn’t been here since October of 2009 and then was scheduled again in early April. This year, it’s Utah’s last stop in the Western Conference and today starts a stretch of five-straight road games in Victoria, with the Grizzlies returning in three weeks.
February 19 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/19/2011 10:54 AM - Adam Turner
The Utah Grizzlies saw some good things happen last night and actually set or were close to setting some season-highs as they got back to basics and hard work.
Utah’s tenaciousness drew 10 power-plays, a season-high, and four five-on-three power-play situations was the most earned all year. Utah though did have their streak of a shorthanded goal in two-straight games snapped. 23 shots in the second period was their second-highest total of the year, as was 43 shots in the game. Now the Grizzlies focus is just burying a few more chances.
The Grizzlies second periods on this home stand have been nearly perfect. They have outscored the opposition 4-1 and outshot them 54-23 in the middle frames the last three nights after last night’s 23-4 pounding of Las Vegas on the shotboard.
Brett Parnham, who left last night after hitting the ice in front of the Las Vegas net was placed on 3-day IR today. It’s unfortunate all around, especially since Brett had four goals and two assists in his last seven games before last evening.
It was a good run for Utah, this morning is the first since December 10 that they awake and don’t see themselves atop the Mountain Division standings. They’ll look to reclaim that spot tonight with a big win and an Alaska loss.
February 18 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/18/2011 10:23 AM - Adam Turner
It’s always puzzling to look at a stat sheet and see a team’s leading scorer be a minus. That means that the opposition is scoring more five-on-five when those said leading scorers are on the ice. Utah’s leading scorer Kevin Deeth is a plus-14 this year.
For Utah, the plus-minus stat lately has highlighted some great accomplishments. We touched on it in Tuesday’s blog and will go a little further today. Ten Utah players still have an even or better in at least four-straight games, meaning that they’re not on the ice when the opposition is scoring five-on-five.
Simon Ferguson, Kevin Deeth and Brian Kilburg all have played nine-straight games since finishing as a minus in a game. Brett Parnham has an even or better in eight-straight games and Brock Wilson has six. While some selfish players are happy to just chisel their points and add a minus-three every night, thinking that is getting the job done, coaches and general managers will look first at the plus-minus.
While, we have highlighted over half of the team who is a plus or better over the last two weeks, there isn’t a glaring number of any player who is a minus for more than two-straight games at any point. The team as a whole has been solid even-strength.
The plus-minus stat in hockey was also officially added as an official box score fixture in the NBA a few years ago after several teams had been keeping it on their own as well.
So the next time you look at a players scoring and think they’re great, slide over and look at the plus-minus before making your official judgment, especially in the ECHL.
February 16 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/16/2011 10:57 AM - Adam Turner
Nick Tuzzolino became the fourth Utah player to go from Utah to the AHL this season as he joined Jake Gannon in non-contract players who have earned call-ups.
The roster for Utah has been much more stable this season as the team has experienced the trickle down from the structured and set Calgary organization. Utah also has more players under ECHL contracts this year with only Hugo Carpentier, Giffen Nyren and J.P. Lamoureux being under contract with the affiliate.
The stability of the roster and the rosters of Abbotsford and Calgary has allowed Utah to keep more of a set roster which obviously benefits the Grizzlies and their will to win every game without constantly having to adjust. However, like with Nick Tuzzolino and Jake Gannon, the Grizzlies are still developing players for the AHL and would never hold anyone back from a call-up. Though it has been nice to see the guys who go up to the AHL play and not just sit in the stands as a healthy scratch as was a frequent case in the previous affiliation. Jake Gannon tallied two third period assists last Wednesday as Peoria battled back from a 3-0 third period deficit and went on for a 4-3 shootout win.
Last season, Utah saw eight players who started in Utah go to the AHL, ten in 2008-2009 and nine who started in Utah played in the AHL in 2007-2008.
February 15 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/15/2011 9:52 AM - Adam Turner
As the Grizzlies have come out strong since the all-star break at 5-1-1-0, several things have drastically changed after they struggled going into the break.
Utah hasn’t allowed a first period goal in six of their last seven games after going through a stretch of allowing a first period goal in nine-straight games and going 3-6. They have also allowed two goals or less in five of their last seven and six of their last 8 games after allowing four or more in four-straight games and losing all four.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have ten skaters who are an even or better in at least four-straight games. While, Utah is winning games, they’re not necessarily putting up a lot of goals. Since the all-star break, they have scored more than three goals just once.
Between Utah and Alaska, don’t necessarily expect a lot of fireworks in the first period. In the four games between the two teams this year, two have been 1-0 after one period, one has been scoreless and one has been 1-1.
Andrew Engelage, who has far and away the best numbers in the ECHL since the all-star break has seen Alaska just once this year in the four games played.
February 10 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/10/2011 11:05 AM - Adam Turner
Paul Crowder returns to the Utah lineup tonight for the first time since November 19. The older Crowder was getting in quite a groove at the time of his injury with four goals and seven assists in his last 10 games.
That included a two goal and two assist two-game series in Las Vegas November 5 and 6. The games added up quickly, he missed exactly half of the season injured, but will definitely be a big boost for Utah to get back.
The schedule actually does even out. Tonight, Utah gets a one and done in Las Vegas, while after words, they will head for their only weekend off of the year and leave the Wranglers to a busy weekend with the Victoria Salmon Kings. By the end of the weekend, Utah and Vegas will be even in games played, which hasn’t been the case since before the first game of the season.
The opposite occurred in Utah in December, with Las Vegas coming up for their only game of the week and leaving the Grizzlies to play a weekend with the Ontario Reign. Las Vegas won that game 3-2 for their only regulation win of the year against the Grizzlies.
February 5 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/05/2011 11:39 AM - Adam Turner
With his game-winning goal last night, Brett Parnham has now scored five of his 14 goals this season in six games against Stockton.
Parnham isn’t the only Utah player this season who has had good success against a particular team. Marcus Carroll has scored eight of his 25 points against Idaho and Tim Crowder has scored six of his 12 goals against Las Vegas. Most Grizzlies players have put up their most points against Ontario.
As far as periods go, Tom May has scored seven of his nine goals in the second period. Matt Clarke has scored five of his six goals at home.
Utah figures to see a much better Stockton team tonight as Head Coach Matt Thomas wasn’t happy with his team’s effort last night as they dropped to 1-3-0-1 since the all-star break. “We were a horrible team. I don’t know what happened to us. I couldn’t get over the lack of intensity, we created absolutely no emotion. It was a terrible game.”
Utah controlled Stockton last night five-on-five and now hasn’t allowed a five-on-five goal since 11:51 of the first period Monday which spans 170 minutes and 12 seconds.
February 4 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/04/2011 11:59 AM - Adam Turner
The Western Conference battle between the top three teams, based on winning percentage, has been kind of a rock, paper, scissors battle with Utah, Las Vegas and Stockton all being one of the those three objects.
Utah (rock) is 5-1-0-1 against Las Vegas (scissors), but 1-4 against Stockton (paper). Las Vegas has cut Stockton’s paper by going 4-0 against the Thunder but just 2-4-1-0 against Utah who has crushed their scissors. Stockton is 0-3-0-1 against Las Vegas, but has covered Utah’s rock by going 4-1 against the Grizzlies.
Entering tonight, Utah trails Las Vegas by two points and leads Stockton by six.
The Grizzlies are definitely looking for revenge against the Thunder after going 0-3 against Stockton at Maverik Center January 14-17. That sweep really made a statement against Utah, who is 9-3-2-0 in their last 14 home games minus that rough weekend.
Utah is unbeaten in their last four at 3-0-1-0 after dropping six of their last seven, while Stockton is 1-2-0-1 in their last four games after winning eight-straight games.
Things between these two teams have been anything but friendly, with the Grizzlies top two games in penalty minutes this year for both them and their opponents being against Stockton.
February 2 Blog Entry: Game Day
02/02/2011 10:35 AM - Adam Turner
Goals for and goals against are obviously always crucial when it comes to winning a hockey game. With the Grizzlies and Wranglers, there are some very unique trends that we’ll be watching tonight as the game takes shape.
Las Vegas goaltenders Joe Fallon and Michael Ouzas, along with Utah’s Andrew Engelage and the recalled J.P. Lamoureux rank fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively in the ECHL in goals-against-average. Andrew Engelage is the only unbeaten goaltender though in this season series. He is 4-0-0-1 with a 2.50 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage.
At the same time, Utah has scored four goals or more in their last three games against Las Vegas. The Wranglers as of late have also been offensively powerful, by scoring four goals or more in 10 of their last 13 games and six goals each in two of their last six games.
The Wranglers traveled to Utah after last night’s 6-2 over Stockton, a game in which they jumped up 4-0 in the first period.
Tim Crowder leads Utah in scoring against Las Vegas with five of his 12 goals this year against the Wranglers.