With Nate Thompson also added, Alain Vigneault initially wasn’t sure if Grant would line up at center or on the wing. One day later, Grant was immediately tabbed as the third-line center as he’s been there for three straight games.
It wasn’t a smooth start for Grant. However, that was understandable when it was revealed that he took a red-eye flight to Philadelphia on Monday and then played on Tuesday night. He was sluggish in the first two periods before looking more active in the third.
After a few days to practice with the team and recuperate from the jet lag, Grant showed more of his skillset in the weekend home-and-home set with the New York Rangers.
Grant’s weekend ended with his first goal and assist as a Flyer in Sunday afternoon’s win, which was undoubtedly the highlight of his first few games. He also showed his defensive prowess in both games, which is what he’s more known for.
Let’s start with those two points on Sunday afternoon.
Grant’s first point came while shorthanded. After Michael Raffl knocked down Ryan Strome, Grant skillfully kicked the puck up to his stick and caught up to it up ice. He settled the puck on a two-on-one rush and made a nice pass to Raffl, who did the rest.
Then, three minutes and thirty seconds of game time later, he scored a goal of his own.
On his goal, he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and took advantage of some bad defensive positioning to skate in on Henrik Lundqvist. He made a move, Lundqvist bit, and Grant finished it off.
It was a good afternoon for Grant and the Flyers.
While Grant’s offensive ability was on display there, he showed more of his all-around game on Friday night. In his first game after having at least a full day in Philadelphia, he started off strong. On his very first shift, he got in deep to support Tyler Pitlick along the boards. He helped win the battle and then went to the front of the net, creating traffic for a point shot.
On his next shift, he got back to defend a Rangers’ 4-on-2 chance after being the trailer on a Flyers’ failed rush. He went down to a knee to block a pass, then stayed with it and got the puck to a teammate to clear the zone.
There are times when Grant looks like a third defenseman while the Flyers are in their own zone.
Later in the first period, Grant took away a potentially dangerous chance in the slot by poking the puck away, blocking the shot attempt, and passing to a winger to get the puck out of the zone.
It’s the little things that make a big difference in the long run.
He’s no stranger to defending the slot. In the second period, he went to a knee again to take away a passing lane, then tied up a man in front to neutralize a potentially dangerous chance.
Late in the third period, with the Flyers up 5-1, he was still defending the slot.
He got into the shooting lane and then picked off a cross-ice pass to clear the zone after Pitlick blocked the shot.
He does the little things in the offensive zone, too. After winning a faceoff, he made a handful of plays to either keep the cycle alive, get in front for a chance, or set up a scoring chance. That resulted in nearly a minute in the offensive zone.
Grant has found some chemistry on the third line with James van Riemsdyk and Pitlick, and he’s been an important part of the penalty kill as well. He picked up that shorthanded assist and has also shown he’ll go all out to clear the zone.
Grant has played nearly four minutes (3:54) on the penalty kill so far, allowing three shot attempts and one shot on goal. Unfortunately, that shot ended up being a goal. But he has a shorthanded assist, so all is well so far.
Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers certainly didn’t make the flashy move at the deadline, but Grant was a good acquisition. He’s been solid so far and looks like he’ll be able to fit in for the rest of the year.
In an ideal world, Grant would probably be the fourth-line center, but he’s holding his own on the third line and showing promise for the stretch run.