Weekly Plus - Minus 01/13/09|
Best and worst performances of the week...
By Jason Kasiorek
Grand Rapids kept a share of first place in the conference this week, earning five of a possible six points on the table. The team rallied around All-Star goalie Daniel Larsson to hold off Rockford 6-5, held on despite a poor outing by Jimmy Howard to earn a point in an overtime loss against the Phantoms (4-3), and tightened up to help Larsson earn his 5th shutout of the season in the rematch against Philadelphia (4-0). Ville Leino was the leading scorer on the week with five points in three games just ahead of Mattias Ritola and Justin Abdelkader (4 each), and Garrett Stafford and Darren Haydar (3 each).
This weeks top three plus and minus performances:
Ritola had points in all three games, including the go-ahead goal on Friday, and the winner on Saturday (with a whopping 8 shots on goal). The talented forward has already doubled up on his goal total from last season and has kicked his offensive game up a notch without sacrificing his strong two-way play.
Ville put on a show Wednesday against Rockford, scoring a goal and an assist during the game and then scoring two goals in the shootout to ensure the win for GR. With points in all three games last week, the streaky scorer rebounded in a big way from an off week the week prior.
Abdelkader has started to find the range again, notching 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games last week (recording at least a point in all three). Tagged with a -4 in Friday's overtime loss, the gritty freshman has been the victim of some bad bounces, but has played better than his numbers show.
Kindl's defensive game has been in a slow decline for a few weeks, but this last week, it picked up speed. The game after he was announced as a starter at the all-star game may have been his worst of the season. The offense is still there, but he needs to tighten back up again.
Howard gave up a series of fluky and soft goals in dropping a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Phantoms. Lack of consistency and focus have been the lanky netminders achilles heal all season.
Something is not right with Helm's game as of late. Whether it is an injury, AHL hangover, or chemistry on his new line, the speedy forward has stopped being an impact player. Not very noticable at either end of the ice, Darren has only 1 assist and 8 shots on goal in his last 6 games, and is a minus defensively.