Griffins Second Half Report Cards
Frustrating Season Comes To An End In Game 7...
By Jason Kasiorek
In the end, an inability to stay out of the penalty box and a woeful powerplay were the chief culprits in another first round Griffins playoff loss. Not that that should be a surprise given the inconsistent regular season this club put together. Sweeping changes are expected for next season as a large part of the roster will not be back in Grand Rapids in 2007-08.
These are the Griffins second half grades from game 41 through the playoffs:
The Rating Scale:
A - Excellence
B - Above Average - Exceeds Expectations
C - Average - Meets Expectations
D - Below Average
F - Fail
Link To First Half Report Cards
C Matt Ellis A
The Captain wrapped up another impressive campaign, leading the club in goals despite playing 16 games in the NHL. A force in all three zones, Matt led the league in shorthanded goals, and was one of the primary reasons this club was even in contention for a post-season berth. He turned his play up another notch in the playoffs, and stands ready for his next challenge a job in the NHL.
D Derek Meech A
Had a very impressive first half, but after his NHL recall, turned on the offensive component to his game. The rock solid defender should earn consideration from the wings next season in at least a part time basis.
D Dan Smith A
Smith made a miraculous recovery in the last 40 games, regaining his grinding, physical defensive game, and even chipping in a few points along the way. After posting a team low -9 the first half, Dan was a team best +22 in the second. A staple on the penalty killing unit, Smith was often paired with the younger players to add stability to their games.
C Ryan Oulahen A-
The most improved player on the team according to Coach Ireland, Oulahen really stepped up his game in the latter stages of the season. He added a little bit more of an edge to his calling card defensive game, but it was on the other side of the puck that he made his biggest steps. Due to injury and recall, he found himself centering the teamıs number one line for most of February, and accounted for himself well, averaging a point per game. He has firmly placed himself on the Red Wings radar for the future.
RW Scott Parse B+
Scott came from out of nowhere to be a surprising scorer in the last stage of the season with his blend of skill and desire. He played very well on the powerplay, showing off good hands and a propensity for clutch scoring. Parse disappeared in the playoffs, not surprising for a rookie in his first pro experience.
D Jon Insana B+
Insana remade his game from gambling offensive defenseman to a steady stay at home type, and it paid off for him. Using his great skating and new defensive responsibility, Jon earned a contract and displaced a couple of regulars to garner a spot on the blueline in the playoffs.
RW Jamie Tardif B+
Former training camp tryout was thrust into a prominent roll after being signed from the ECHL. He responded by putting up a seven game scoring streak (7-2-9) including a hat trick to establish himself as a capable player. As players returned to the lineup and he found his ice time reduced, he still contributed with his hitting and aggressive play. Jamie suffered a back injury at the end of the season that cost him his spot in the lineup, but may have played well enough to return next season.
G Jimmy Howard B+
Jimmy took huge strides in the second half, especially as the end of the season drew to a close. His bad games were becoming fewer and farther in between, and he was taking control of games as his four second half shutouts allude to. Howard raised the level of his game another notch for the playoffs and was easily the teamıs best player, sending the series to 7 games and posting stellar numbers.
LW Ben Simon B
Simon has always been the type of player that you notice when he comes in to your building because he plays such an intense, aggressive game. You appreciate him even more when he is on your team, because he plays to win and will give everything he has every shift to accomplish that. His arrival immediately shored up the Griffins killing unit, and he chipped in a couple of shorthanded goals as well.
C Eric Himelfarb B
Himelfarb continued his strong defensive play in the second half, even notching some timely goals, including a share of the AHL shorthanded goals leaderboard. He paid heed to his coachıs demand for more grit and energy and was rewarded with more ice-time. He tailed off again offensively in the playoffs, and at the end of his contract, could have played his last game as a Griffin.
C Jeff Campbell B-
A hard worker, Campbell earned a spot in the lineup with his gritty play and stellar work ethic. As the season dragged on, he went from the 4th line to the 1st line and then to the pressbox in a matter of weeks as more talented players were added to the lineup.
C Kip Miller B-
Miller started to slow down over the backstretch of the season, both in production and energy. Still an effective passer on the powerplay, he doesnıt appear to be capable of changing a game at this point. He looked increasingly frustrated and disinterested on the ice, and was not much of a factor in the postseason.
LW Tony Voce C+
Tony was added around the deadline to help improve the woeful Griffins powerplay. He did chip in a few points, but really didnıt make much of difference with the man advantage. Voce really stepped up his play in the playoffs, scoring some big goals as one of the few offensive threats for the team.
D Kyle Quincey C+
Whether from injuries or an inconsistent lineup, Kyleıs game dropped a notch after the first of year. Inconsistency and defensive lapses marred some pretty good stretches of play for the physical defenseman. He still has the skills, but just doesnıt seem to put them together every game. That being said he was one of the more effective bluelinerıs on the Griffins, and was recalled to Detroit at the end of the season where he scored his first NHL goal.
RW Adam Keefe C+
Added energy and toughness in his limited time in a Griffins sweater. Despite the lack of points, showed off some reasonable skill and the ability to play a regular shift. His presence was missed the last few weeks of the season and the playoffs.
RW Matt Hussey C
While he finished as the Griffins third leading scorer, Hussey had a frustrating season. A streaky player, Matt didnıt compete every night and his inconsistent effort led to a benching at the start of the playoffs. When he is on, he is a tremendous player, and when he is not, you donıt notice him for games at a time.
G Stefan Liv C
Stefan made some great strides in the second half, adjusting to the smaller rinks and the quality of shots in North America. With Howardıs January ankle injury, Liv was pressed in to duty as full time starter and acquitted himself well. It was during this time that he won his teammates over, as he returned early from battling an ankle injury and the flu to make a start in place of replacement ECHL goalie Vicari who had been shelled in his only other start. The team won thanks to a solid effort by Liv, the first of five straight wins for the rookie netminder.
D Brad Norton C
Norton struggled at times on the ice during the second half, but showed signs of improving as the playoffs started. His penchant for bad penalties at the worst times, will be how he is remembered for his play this season. Not the most gifted player in terms of skill, Brad possesses other intangibles which make him valuable to the team. A presence on the bench and in the room, Norton is a favorite of coach Ireland.
D Jonathan Ericsson C
Ericsson hit the wall mid-January and has not been the same player since. It is very common among players used to the shorter seasons in Europe and college hockey, to burn out in the second half before adjusting to the longer schedule. In addition to his size and skating ability, Jonathan also has a cannon of a shot with a quick release, and soft hands, which would be a primary scoring threat on the powerplay if he used them more consistently.
D Tom Galvin C
Perhaps the surprise of the first half, Galvin quieted down in the second and found himself fighting for playing time. A solid, mobile blueliner, Tom made the playoff roster, but was too far down the depth chart to get into a game.
C Evan McGrath C-
While he still has a ways to go, McGrath used a trip to the ECHL to boost his confidence find a little bit more of his game. Evan still needs to work on his defense although he has taken some big steps since the beginning of the year. Always an offensive dynamo in the OHL, he also has to work on keeping his feet moving and trying to make things happen instead of standing around so much. Next season should be a bit smoother ride with a years experience under his belt.
D Danny Syvret D+
After a solid first half, Syvret's game slid during the latter parts of the season until he was a frequent scratch during the postseason. Despite his impressive junior pedigree, Danny is not an offensive defenseman and needs to return to playing a simple game, clearing the zone and moving the puck up ice with a good first pass.
RW Darryl Bootland D+
Production slipped in the second half as well as his effectiveness. Still has the ability to change a game with his physical play and clutch scoring, just doesnıt do it as often. Despite cutting his penalty totals almost in half from last season, Booter let his frustration dictate his play too much down the stretch and in the postseason. A new home next season may be the best thing for this popular Griffin.
RW Jonas Johansson D
Johansson never really found his groove with the team after being acquired from Hershey. While he didnıt play that badly, he also never really did anything noteworthy to cement his spot in the lineup.
D Jakub Kindl Incomplete
Kindl was up and down in his only action of the season during the playoffs. He logged a lot of ice time especially with the man advantage, where he was pretty good at moving the puck and showed off a hard, accurate shot. He has a little work to do defensively, but seemed to recover quickly, using his mobility well.
C Jan Mursak Incomplete
While the scoresheet wonıt necessarily back it up, Mursak was one of the most impressive forwards on the team during the postseason. After adjusting to the pace during the first game, he was dangerous with the puck for the rest of the series. Still a year away from playing in the AHL, Jan showed some jaw-dropping moves, and the talent to compete at this level.
LW Cory Emmerton Incomplete
Emmerton only saw action in two games, and looked to be a step slow in both his skating and his reaction time. Another season in junior should help him develop his game for another crack at the AHL at the end of next season.