Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grigorenko makes impact in Super Series opener

Mikhail Grigorenko scored a goal and an assist Monday as Team Russia opened the 2012 Subway Super Series with a 6-2 victory over the QMJHL All-Stars. The QMJHL’s fifth-leading scorer with 31 points (12+19), Grigorenko displayed his usual offensive poise with several smart passes while using his stick wisely in the defensive zone.

Grigorenko opened scoring by finishing a quick transition play with a snap shot from the lower circle at 9:49 of the opening period. In the second period, the crafty pivot cleanly won an offensive zone draw to Mikhail Naumenkov, whose rocket from the point gave the Russians a 4-1 lead.

Overall, Grigorenko looked like the natural center prospect that the Sabres drafted. He’s never going to be a high energy forechecker but his hands make him dangerous on every shift and he’s conscious in how he functions in support of his defensemen. Whether or not he parlays his early-season QMJHL success into an NHL role once the lockout ends remains to be seen, but he’s certainly on the right track.

Game Two of the series takes place Wednesday in Val-d’Or.