Grand Rapids rolled into the Ricoh Coliseum for the first time in 2012-13, escaping with a 4-3 shootout win, in a game that featured them coming back from a 3-1 deficit to force extra time, and winning on the shootout, scoring three straight goals on Marlies goalie, Jussi Rynnas.
I was at the game and filed these player reports on the Griffins players.
Gustav Nyquist (RW) – Likely would have graduated full time with the Red Wings if the lockout had not intervened .. more in tune defensively, improved deep zone positioning, covering up for center when he’s been engaged along the boards or in corners, but not far away from his point man – as a winger covering the space up top .. involved and always close to the play and the puck .. seems to have moved away from stealth and weak side plays, being more proactive and accessible to teammates .. drawn into more individual scrums and often pressuring opponents into creating turnovers .. slippery as an eel with fluid skating and creative stutter steps when trying to get past defenders along the boards to maximize his space .. found all alone in front and with a quick one-timer scored the first Griffins goal .. the puck spends very little time on the blade of his stick when in a scoring area .. no dawdling with the puck, just gets it on net and scoots to the front .. two goals including game-tying third goal that sent the game to extra time .. dynamic offensively and adding a steady defensive presence to his resume.
Tomas Tatar (LW) – Sleek Slovak struggles with a size disadvantage but bravely fights to get positioning on the inside and challenges .. solid vision and slick passing ability, through legs, or in contorted shapes .. patient and doesn't panic under pressure .. always moving and involved, very rarely static .. cross crease pass to Nyquist on the first Grand Rapids goal .. quick release with surprising velocity on a short wind up .. cerebral player draws men over to him and slows down the play to a desired pace, only to open up with quick feet .. the size factor aside, there’s a slew of players on the left side to compete with and an apparent roster spot on Detroit isn’t clear.
Landon Ferraro (C) - solid acceleration albeit with a slushy stride .. finishes checks with authority, but knows when to just impede the players progress, being able to stay active and adapt to the play .. uses an active stick to block passing lanes .. first unit PK .. uses quickness and acceleration while in motion to move the puck .. lacks natural skilled hands and limited imagination with the puck, more utilitarian .. solid defensive awareness .. covered up for pinching defenseman and saved a scoring chance .. missed a glorious chance all alone midway through the third period with the game tied to put the Griffins ahead when Grant sent the puck in the middle here he picked it up .. solid compete and consistent efforts.
Joakim Andersson (C) - Red Wings 2nd selection in 2007 (88th overall) still shows deficiency in his skating mechanics .. slow off the mark and wild in top speed .. former Swedish junior star had a good day in the faceoff circle, winning the majority of draws, and tying up his man when he lost it .. stands in front of the net on the PP .. rubbed out his forward along the boards, forcing an early play that led to a turnover .. very aggressive - led to a penalty, which the Griffins killed off - and then called once again for a check where he jumped up at the Marlie player along the boards and called for contact to the head .. broke a plane of glass finishing a check, albeit after the whistle .. aggressive nature with good defensive instincts and solid positioning in the defensive zone .. uses his frame to both protect the puck and aggressively initiate contact.
Riley Sheahan (C) – Detroit 2010 first round selection (21st overall) displayed a wide horseshoe stance and wide stride though not the nimblest of feet .. lateral movement is average and he showed more straight ahead speed and acceleration and burgeoning lateral movement .. used in virtually every situation, but saw his ice time reduced during a second period flurry of penalties that had others starting ahead of him .. smartly covered up for his pinching defenseman and showed a good sense as the high center supporting a defensive position .. seemed less engaged at times during the second period where he was chasing a Marlie player from the offensive zone, back through the neutral zone and then for some strange reason let up when he hit the Griffins blueline, even though he was there, stride for stride .. faded into the background slowly after that .. mixed outing with a teaser of two-way skills with hints of inconsistency shift to shift.
Louis Marc Aubry (C) – Tall and lanky – listed at 6-foot-4, 208 pounds .. used a defensive foil as a pivot on a checking unit .. follows the puck on the ice almost to the point of fixation yet remains in the game flow .. makes relatively safe decisions on the forecheck and effective defense in his own zone .. skating and balance remain a concern which affects his mobility .. strong with his stick and persistent in engaging opponents and forcing defensemen to hurry their plays .. physical at times along the boards, and fighting in front, but doesn’t consistently initiate contact .. relies more on long reach and positioning .. shaping into a defensive pivot, with a good sense and size, with an upgrade in skating as a work in progress.
Brendan Smith (D) – Another draft pick that would have graduated to the NHL .. played man first, puck second .. strong on his feet and in physical confrontations .. gaps are loose and uses his stick to cover distance, a dangerous circumstance if he loses a step and player flies be on the outside.. joined the rush late in the first period and the play broke down, recovered the puck in the neutral zone and slid down the right wing, making a horrific drop pass that Nyqvist couldn't hang on to ending up in a turnover rush the other way and ended up in a goal .. has to be more mindful of where the play is and the risk involved in dropping a pass without support .. didn't make as many individual rushes, but jumped into the rush and supported offensively .. kept himself restrained, making good, hard outlets and long stretch passes .. has a tendency of playing high in the defensive zone, a detriment when the play breaks down and gets back in deep .. still some learning on the defensive side.