All this talk about the Jazz and their homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs probably drove the Utah Grizzlies crazy this weekend.
The Grizz have had five days to languish after losing the home-ice advantage they briefly owned for their first-round playoff series. They lost that when they blew a two-goal lead before falling to Kansas City 4-3 in overtime Wednesday."It's not the end of the world," said Utah coach Butch Goring.
It does, however, pretty much put the Grizzlies in a must-win situation for Game 2. Faceoff is tonight at 7 at the E Center.
"It makes the next game a huge one for us," added Goring.
The Blades are sitting pretty regardless of tonight's outcome. Even if they don't win, they could wrap up the series this weekend in Kansas City. Going down 0-2 would put the Grizz in a deep hole to climb out of as they attempt to beat the Blades for a fourth postseason in a row.
"Obviously in a short series whenever you lose the first game it is a little bit discouraging," said Utah defenseman Gord Dineen. "But the thing is, they have to win three games against us. It is a best-of-five series."
The Grizzlies will need to do a lot better job on special teams if they hope to get back into the series. They gave up three power-play goals and a shorthanded goal in Game 1.
"We need to make some adjustments on our penalty killing and our power play," Goring said. "Obviously the difference was the special teams. We lost that battle badly."
Part of the reason was because the Blades were able to get off some good shots from the point. That's been a problem for the Grizzlies, who have lost five straight games, the past few weeks.
"The last 10 games our penalty killing was pretty lax and the other night was just kind of an extension of that," Dineen said. "We're letting teams get set up in our end which before was one of our strong suits."
Another adjustment the Grizzlies could make tonight is between the pipes. Mark McArthur looked a bit shaky at times, making 32 of 36 saves in his first-ever playoff start in Game 1.
"I thought McArthur played his game," Goring said.
That particular game, however, did include giving up two goals on shots taken just inside the blueline.
"Now I know what to expect," said the 21-year-old who beat out Jamie Ram for the first start. "Hopefully if I get a chance to play again Monday it will be a lot better performance and the team will come out with a W."
Goring said he wasn't going to make a decision until he knew if Philippe DeRouville was going to be sent back to Utah from Hartford of the AHL.
DeRouville, who was in net for the Blades when the Grizz eliminated them last year, finished fifth in the IHL in goals-against. Opponents averaged 2.56 goals against him, which was about one goal less than McArthur and Ram gave up a game. DeRouville's save percentage (.916 over 30 games) was much higher than theirs as well.