After receiving an eye injury in a game against St. Louis on December 2, 2018, Arizona Coyotes forward Michael Grabner returned to the ice on March third in a game against the Calgary Flames.
One would assume after not playing a game for three months, it would understandably take him some time to get back to an NHL level of play. It would appear that Michael Grabner would like you to hold his drink. He immediately played like his old self against the flames, generating five shots on goal.
While he didn’t score, he did generate opportunities and play well. He would take that momentum into the next game against the Los Angeles Kings a couple of nights later. Grabner would take less shots, however it is a fair trade off for a two goal effort on his only two shots. His first of those being a short handed goal.
The next game against Chicago, Grabner wouldn’t get much going, though the entire team looked flat. So I find it unfair to single our Grabner in this case.
Skipping ahead one more night, the Coyotes were in St. Louis to take in those same blues who injured him back in December. Grabner had another good performance, recording two shots on goal and a +/- of +2.
Last Night Versus The Ducks
To cap off his first five games back, let’s take a brief look at his performance last night against the Anaheim Ducks. He was able to put his name on the scoreboard once again on the penalty kill. He did a good job getting the puck out of the zone and into the capable hands of Brad Richardson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Grabner recorded an assist for his troubles. Later on in the game, he had a blocked shot and had a -1.
Grabner Hasn’t Lost A Step
Grabner’s impact hadn’t just been on offense, he is an incredibly talented defender as well. Doing a good job to limit the opposition, as evident by his +2 through his four games back. The penalty kill has also benefitted with his return. Only allowing one goal in ten penalty kill situations since he’d been back. Plus, his short handed goal against the Kings.
His teammates seem to be feeling the momentum of his presence, as in those five games Richardson has recorded a couple of assists and Vinnie Hinostroza has scored four goals since Grabner’s return. I’d say that’s good production out of the third line.
Grabner has two goals, and one assist, for three points in his first five games back. As for the defensive aspect, he recorded three blocked shots, and a +1 in his first five games back. He definitely hasn’t lost a step in his game over the past three months while recovering from his injury, and the Coyotes are even better with him back.
stats from NHL.com
featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler