Back-to-Back Preview: Toledo Walleye (19-4-0-0) at Utah Grizzlies (9-14-1-1)

Who doesn’t love a couple of back-to-back games to get your weekend hockey fill? Toledo are certainly not strangers to the arrangement, as they look to close out their three game series and six game road trip tonight and tomorrow against the Utah Grizzlies. On Wednesday Toledo took care of the Grizzlies 5-3 with the game winning goal going to Carter Sandlak, improving the Walleye to 3-1 on the road trip. Toledo has been a stellar road team thus far, holding the best record on the road at 11-3-0-0. Utah would love nothing more than to knock that record down a bit though, so let’s see how they match up for the next two games.

Toledo Walleye
League Standing: 1st place at 19-4-0-0 and 38 points
Western Conference Standing: 1st
Central Division Standing: 1st
Goals Scored Average: 4.57, with 105 goals scored ranking 1st
Goals Against Average: 2.96, with 68 goals allowed tied for 8th
Power Play: 26.0%, 1st
Penalty Kill: 80.8%, 21st

Utah Grizzlies
League Standing: 23rd place at 9-14-1-1 and 20 points
Western Conference Standing: 12th
Mountain Division Standing: 7th (Last)
Goals Scored Average: 2.8, with 70 goals scored tied for 18th
Goals Against Average: 3.64, with 91 goals allowed ranking 25th (third to last)
Power Play: 17.7%, 12th
Penalty Kill: 83.9%, 13th

Player Transactions:

 Toledo Walleye:
Today (December 16th) Jay Stevens was released from his emergency backup goaltender position, and Jared Nightingale (D) was loaned to the AHL Chicago Wolves. Nightingale was also suspended for two games following a slashing incident during the Utah-Toledo game on December 14th, which he will serve when he returns to Toledo from Chicago. Dane Walter (F) has been activated from reserves.

Utah Grizzlies:
On December 14th Jay Stevens was released from the emergency backup goaltender position, on December 13th Brad Navin (F), Eric Springer (D), and Troy Redmann (G) were all added to the roster.

The Walleye are looking to close out the road trip with a series sweep against a Utah team that has been struggling during the first third of the season. Utah’s defensive unit is abysmal right now, allowing 3.64 goals a game, which the Walleye should be able to exploit. The Grizzlies offensive unit is a bit better, ranking 18th in the league for goals scored, but facing a tough task when taking on the best offense in the ECHL. Give Utah credit though: they battled back after being down 4-1 to pull Wednesday’s game to 4-3 before Toledo added a fifth goal to clench the game. Toledo will have to make adjustments to prevent the Grizzlies from getting back into games, especially since Nightingale will not be with the team due to his call up. Our defensive unit has been lacking lately, allowing 18 goals over four games this road trip. We cannot allow this to continue if we want to stop atop the league, so be sure to expect Coach Delmore to get the defense back on course. Utah’s special teams are above average, PP at 12th and PK at 13th, so expect that to be a strength for them even against our number 1 PP unit. Hopefully the Walleye can get squared away for both coming contests, and return to the Huntington Center on Friday with 21 wins. Let’s Go Walleye!

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