Griffins Fall Short in 5-4 Loss to Marlies|
Late Rally Can't Make Up For Defensive Struggles...
By Jason Kasiorek
In what is becoming a familiar story, the Griffins staggered out to a 5-1 deficit in a penalty filled contest highlighted by awful defensive play and a lack of movement. If this was a week ago, this is where the story would end, but the last two games, Grand Rapids has shown some life authoring two impressive third period rallies. Unfortunately like on Friday, this rally fell one goal short, as the home team came out on the wrong side of a 5-4 decision to the Toronto Marlies. Corazzini (5), Oulahen (3), Ryno (3) and Stafford (4) scored for the Griffins, who played most of the game without leading scorer Mark Cullen after he was tossed for spearing. Jimmy Howard took the loss, surrendering 5 goals on 26 shots.
The griffins tried to play more physical game in the first, but Toronto matched them hit for hit, and relished that part of the game. The play mostly stayed in the GR zone with the Marlies putting on most of the pressure. Winger Adam Keefe did a good job early of agitating and providing energy. The Griffins struck first, on the powerplay, with Corazzini tipping a Kindl point shot past Clemmensen. Spotty play in the Griffins end, leads to lots of giveaways and turnovers. Howard gotten roughed up in the crease by Aubin and Cullen retaliated, spearing the Marlies winger and drawing a five minute major and a game misconduct for his troubles.
Toronto took advantage of the ensuing three-minute powerplay by scoring two goals against the Griffins. Boyce gained the zone and rocketed around the Griffins' net, passing to Earl, the late man, for an easy goal. The second goal came with the Marlies pressuring on the doorstep and both GR defenders behind the net. Hartigan couldn't clear his man, leading to a goalmouth scramble that was jammed behind Howard by Mitchell. Jimmy came up big with several stops while 4-on-4 to keep the game close. Penalties again are becoming a problem with a steady stream of players to the box. McGrath got smoked with a huge open ice hit that left him sprawled out and helmet less. Former junior teammate Keefe immediately dropped the gloves and tried to retaliate, but only succeeded in setting up another Marlies powerplay. Shots on goal GR 14 - Tor 12.
The Griffins killed off another Keefe penalty to start the second period. Toronto is getting away with a lot of crashing the crease and making contact with Howard. A shot from the circle by Newbury, screened by Ritola, bounced through Jimmy, five-hole, as he moved to square to the shooter. Corazzini had a great chance, hitting the post, on a rebound of a Hartigan shot on the powerplay. Quincey took Newbury into the boards hard, and the Marlies winger attacked him. Kyle held on and tried to cover up until the officials could pull the incensed Newbury off him. Quincey of course drew the extra two minutes, setting up yet another Marlies man advantage. Keefe went to the box to serve the extra two minutes and was given a ten misconduct on the way there for unsportsmanlike conduct. Helm had a great shorthanded chance towards the end of the period, followed by Hartigan going end to end and just not being able to get it over the pad of Clemmensen. Grand Rapids negated another powerplay with a penalty, and then got another chance when Aubin hooked down Howard. Shots on Goal: GR 13 - Tor 7.
Griffins killer Simon Gamache, recently assigned to Toronto by the Leafs, made the score 4-1 when he stroked a shot from the circle past Howard on a nice feed from Murray just three minute in to the third. Three minutes later, Quincey and Stafford in front of the GR net couldn't stop Ondruss from crashing the crease and popping another one home for a 5-1 lead. Keefe challenged Murphy to a fight and after they both dropped the gloves and removed the helmets, Murphy one-punched Keefe to the ice. Ryan Oulahen started the comeback just before the halfway mark of the period, notching a goal assisted by Helm (Helm's first professional point). Rookie Johan Ryno cut the lead to two, scoring his third of the season with four and a half minutes on the clock. Grand Rapids pulled Howard with 1:09 on the clock and Stafford moved the Griffins to within one with one minute left in the game. That was where the game would end. Shots on goal - GR 13 - Tor 7 For the Game: GR 40 - Tor 26.
Helm - Corazzini - Cullen/Ritola
Ritola - Hartigan - Tardif
Ryno - McGrath - Keefe
Oulahen - Hartigan - Engelhardt
Ericsson - Galvin
Quincey - Stafford
Kindl - Ference
Hartigan - Corazzini - Cullen/Ritola
Ericsson - Stafford
Oulahen/Ryno - McGrath - Engelhardt
Kindl - Quincey
Tardif - Oulahen
Quincey - Stafford
Ritola - McGrath
Kindl - Ference
If this team had played the first 50 minutes like they did the last 10, they would have won the game easily. The griffins continue to exhibit poor defensive play, and are guilty of standing around too much. I can't believe that a team coached by two former defenseman with NHL experience can be so awful in their own end.
Keefe is one of the hardest workers on the club, and I appreciate how much energy he brings, and that he will stand up for his teammates. He was over the edge tonight and cost his team, finding the balance is his next assignment. A member of the Wings brain trust said they needed to "put him on a leash" for the rest of the night.
Evan McGrath continues to under whelm with his offensive abilities at the pro level, but really looked good on the PK. He broke up several plays and created turnovers with his anticipation.
Despite going -3 on the night, Mattias Ritola had another solid outing and really looks to be gaining confidence in his abilities. Watching him stickhandle around players to gain the zone, and his work to keep the puck alive on the powerplay was amazing. Now he just needs to start going to the net and generating offense.
Hartigan looked good all night, creating chances and buzzing around the net. After a slow start he really is coming on strong.
Insert the normal comments about how awful Kindl is playing, I won't beat this dead horse any longer, but I lost track of the number of times I cursed him for a turnover or sloppy play.
Darren Helm finally stood out form the pack tonight after a decidedly invisible start to the season. He was involved at both ends of the ice and used his speed to generate a nice shorthanded chance.