INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – The Mavericks have traveled to West Valley City, Utah this weekend to face the Utah Grizzlies in a three-game set. This series will be a big one for the Mavericks as they try to get something going on the road. The Mavericks’ only road win this season came on November 13 against the struggling Allen Americans. The Mavericks will be taking on a formidable Utah squad that sits second in the Mountain Division with a 7-4-0 record. Coming off of a loss at home to the Tulsa Oilers, the Mavericks will be looking to start rolling and put together some consistent wins.
Tonight @ 8:10 Central Time/ 7:10 Mountain Time
Tomorrow night @ 8:10 Central Time/ 7:10 Mountain Time
Sunday afternoon @ 2:10 Central Time/ 1:10 Mountain Time
Storylines to Follow
On Friday morning, the Stockton Heat recalled goaltender Andrew Shortridge from the Mavericks. The move makes sense considering the Mavericks had four goaltenders on the roster. This move leaves the Mavericks with Angus Redmond, Daniil Chechelev, and Matt Greenfield as their goaltenders. Greenfield is currently on the Commissioner’s Exempt List due to COVID protocols.
The Mavericks fell flat in a 3-1 loss on home ice to the Tulsa Oilers on Tuesday morning. The Mavericks are still looking for a win against the Oilers after this loss. The Mavericks made a lot of the same mistakes as they have made in their other losses including poor puck control, and not creating enough traffic in front of the net. Their power play continued to struggle going 0-for-5.
The Mavericks are remarkably average when it comes to a statistical analysis of their performance. They currently have a .500 record at 5-5-0-0. They have allowed 33 goals against, and have scored 33 goals for. They have 10 standings points in 10 games played. The Grizzlies have a .636 winning percentage. They’ve scored 41 goals, while only allowing 33 goals against.
The leading scorer for the Mavericks is currently Westin Michaud who has 10 points (4G, 6A) in nine games. Lane Scheidl leads the team in goals with five. For the Utah Grizzlies, their leading scorer is defenseman Charle-Edouard D’Astous who leads with an eye-opening 14 points (8G, 6A) in 11 games. He is far and away the Grizzlies’ leading goal scorer as well. His eight goals are tied for the league lead.
Utah’s Consistent Scoring
The Grizzlies have scored in 25 of 33 regulation periods so far this season, including a goal in all three periods last Friday against the Adirondack Thunder. They’ve scored three or more goals in their first ten games this season. They’ve also scored in their two overtime opportunities this season.
The Mavericks will have Angus Redmond and Daniil Chechelev at their disposal this weekend. The Grizzlies will have Hunter Miska and Garrett Metcalf and Peyton Jones available in net. Miska is joining the Grizzlies after stints with the Colorado Eagles of the AHL, and after serving as the backup for the Colorado Avalanche in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. One would expect Miska to get at least one start this weekend. He has had impressive numbers in the past, however, in the two games he’s played for the Eagles this season he only has a .757 save percentage and has a whopping 8.38 goals against average.
Daniil Chechelev is really an unknown element for the Mavericks. Despite putting up impressive numbers in Russia, he will be making his North American debut. He is also only 20-years-old and hasn’t played since last season in Russia. Expect him to get at least one start in this series.
The Mavericks currently have six assigned players from the Stockton Heat, and Utah has seven assigned players. At one point, Utah had as many as 11 assigned players on their roster. Utah’s assigned players are as follows: Peyton Jones, Andrew Nielsen, Charle-Edouard D’Astous, Luke Martin, Matthew Boucher, Miles Gendron, and Hunter Miska who is on an NHL contract.
Keys to the Game
The Mavericks’ penalty kill has been effective so far this season, but their power play has been lackluster. The Mavericks have got to get something going on the man advantage. Currently, their power play is going along at just a 19% clip. This is not going to win games. Their penalty kill is operating at a 89% pace. If they can close the gap on their special teams play, good things will happen for the Mavericks.
Get Back to the Physical Game
Early on in the season the Mavericks established themselves as a hard-hitting, aggressive team. In the last few games, that hard edge has not shown itself quite as much. The Mavericks play their best game when they are aggressive, assertive, and impose their will on their opponents. This starts with finishing checks and taking the body every chance they get. It is possible they’ve been laying off of this some to prevent penalties, but with their penalty kill as good as it is, it is worth taking the risk. When they’re flying, hitting, and getting to their game they are a hard team to stop.
Net Front Traffic
The Mavericks have been struggling to create traffic in front of the net for most of the season. With how many shots this team takes from the point and above the slot, it is imperative that they remedy this. People always talk about getting “greasy goals” but it is high time that the Mavericks actually start executing on it. They have big bodies on the roster in Shawn Weller and Reid Perepeluk. Plant these guys right on top of the crease and start funneling shots to them. Goals will come with that formula.
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