Marlies Maul Griffins 4-0
Costly miscues and absent offense to much for GR to overcome...
By Jason Kasiorek
November 11th, 2023
The visiting Toronto Marlies handed the Griffins their second straight defeat of the weekend cruising to a 4-0 win. While they controlled play for most of the game, the Marlies also got some help as the first two goals were the direct result of Griffins turnovers. The suspect defense was only part of the story tonight as the Griffins offense (or lack thereof) was also a culprit. After scoring 11 goals in the first three games of the season, the Griffins have only scored 11 in the next seven games and were shutout for the 2nd time in that span.
Promising start for Grand Rapids as they had some good pressure early, more energy than the start of Fridays 7-3 loss to these same Marlies. Josiah Didier in the corner tried to go D-to-D and flubbed the pass putting a point bank shot on Hutchinson. The Griffins netminder was forced to make a quick save but the rebound came right out to Blandisi in the slot and he buried it. Nolan Stevens to the box for hooking, but the GR penalty killing unit was up to the task, killing off the powerplay without a lot of god chances against. Marco Kasper crashed the net for a nice scoring chance, but somehow Hildeby made the stop. Wyatt Newpower dove to keep the puck in at the line but missed, allowing a breakaway on Hutchison who ended up in the net with puck down 2-0. Shortly after that goal the Marlies had another great chance, going in on Hutchinson on a 2-on-1 with Rafferty back. Rafferty took away the pass, but Hutch had some trouble with the shot, juggling it for a minute before closing the glove. Carter Mazur was sprung on a breakaway and shot in on Hildeby firing a hot just wide. Didier along the boards was rushed into turning the puck over again. Shots on goal: GR 9 - Tor 9.
Grand Rapids with a two-on-one, Soderblom and Mazur working the give and go for a great scoring chance, but Hildeby made a huge stop. Hutchinson way out of the net to play a loose puck, but a Marlies' forward blocked it to keep possession. The Griffins netminder had to scramble back to stop a scoring chance. Griffins unable to clear the zone for a very long shift, chasing the puck around. To add insult to injury, when they finally got a stick on it, the linesman was in the way and it stayed in the zone. Rafferty picked up a loose puck and took it to the net for a chance. Jonatan Berggren missed on a chance right in front and was visibly frustrated, smashing his stick loudly on the glass as he skated away. The Griffins generating pressure around the net, and drew a penalty. The Powerplay unit had some good puck movement and Edvinsson had a glorious chance but misfired. Shots on goal: GR 6 - Tor 12.
Elmer Soderblom took a high-stick, setting up another Griffins man-advantage, but GR had no good chances, and almost no time of possession in the offensive zone. The Marlies are controlling play and Grand Rapids is starting to get feisty. Edvinsson and Steves were jawing and bumping into each other but were separated before anything came out of it. Edvinsson agitating in front of the net, and then gave Singleton a face-wash. Mazur drove Mastrosimone into the boards head-first behind the play, and ended up in the box. On the ensuing powerplay, Dmitry Ovchinnikov chipped it into the net through a lot of traffic in front to run the lead to 3-0. Mazur cross-checked behind the play right in front of the official, but no call made. Kiefer Bellows capped off the scoring when he won a footrace against Jared McIsaac and sniped a shot past Hutchinson, glove side. Shots on goal: GR 8 - Tor 6. For the Game: GR 23 - Tor 27.
#17 Hirose - #12 Aston-Reese - #43 Mazur
#20 Soderblom - #92 Kasper - #48 Berggren
#71 Hanas - #93 Lombardi - #11 L'Esperance
#32 Spezia - #21 Stevens - #65 Shine
#77 Edvinsson - #40 Newpower
#22 Wallinder - #25 Rafferty
#3 McIsaac - #44 Didier
Starter: #35 Hutchinson
Backup: #33 Cossa
#17 Hirose - #92 Kasper - #43 Mazur
#77 Edvinsson - #48 Berggren
#20 Soderblom - #293 Lombardi - #11 L'Esperance
#71 Hanas - #25 Rafferty
#12 Aston-Reese - #65 Shine
#77 Edvinsson - #40 Newpower
#32 Spezia - #65 Shine
#22 Wallinder - #25 Rafferty
Tough to even know where to start after last night. I guess I will start by saying that Michael hutchinson had a strong night in the nets despite the score. He was hung out to dry and really only had a chance on one fo the Marlies Goals. Which leads us to the defense, which was awful for large parts of the game. I try not to single out players very often, but Didier did not have a good game, and truthfully didn't have a good weekend. For a veteran defender you would expect a bit more composure, but he was exposed several times by speed, and had some costly turnovers. He wasn't alone as Wyatt Newpower had a tough night as well. He did not appear to be comfortable, and was guilty of trying to do too much several times. The towering defender also appeared to have issues with the Marlies speed.
On paper this team looks to have plenty of offensive pop, but in practice so far there have been very few players driving gate offense. Joel L'Esperance in particular needs to shoulder some of this, the veteran goal scorer has been nearly unnoticeable in the early going. The young players led by Soderblom, Hanas, and to a lesser extent Kasper have not been able to get going yet, and just too many players on a nightly basis not generating chances or setting up plays in the offensive end.
The good news is that it is still early in the season, and the players should adjust to the new coaching staff in time. One would also suspect that the kids will start to produce at some point. Lombardi and Mazur have been conspicuous on the ice and it is only a matter of time before they start putting up numbers.