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From the Rampage Desk: Week 6.1 - Better to be lucky than good

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The beloved Rampage and their 7-1-4 record take on the Texas Stars for two more games at some weird starting times this week, a Sunday afternooner then a Tuesday morning tilt. Despite losing their starting goalie and their top center and even the top defenseman now, they still keep rolling on.

News

Calvin Pickard and Zach Redmond have been called up to the Avalanche due to injuries for Semyon Varlamov and Brad Stuart. Ben Street might have been available to come back to SA this weekend but Gabe Landeskog's suspension has put that on hold for now.

Andrew Agozzino and Marc-Andre Cliche came back to the lineup Wednesday after missing time with UBIs but Max Noreau missed Fridays game with an undisclosed injury. Patrick Bordeleau will serve the final game of his supension today and will be available for the Tuesday morning contest.

Fears of a long term injury for Mikko Rantanen turned to joy when he rejoined the team on Friday

Mason Geertsen returned to the blueline Friday for the first time in 4 games and immediately paid benefits. He had an assist on a Mikko Rantanen goal and he and Hubert Labrie were very solid in both zones. I really think that San Antonio missed him a great deal while he was in exile and optically it looks like he was the one carrying the pairing with Zach Redmond and he was the wrong one to scratch.

Recap: Texas/Stockton

With Picks unexpectedly on his way to Boston the Rampage turned to Roman Will to fend off the relentless Texas attack and the results were somewhat less than outstanding. Seven dominating minutes in, the Stars had a 3-0 lead and the game was more or less settled. The rest of the game traded momentum and goals ending up 6-3 for Texas.

Roman Will wasn’t great but he really wasn’t any different than he’s been over his AHL career. Statistically you would expect him to let in a goal every 7 SOG, about twice Pickard’s rate, and that’s pretty much what happened. If San Antonio continues to allow 35 SOG per game with him in net then… well, you do the math.

That said, the defense was doing Roman no favors Wednesday. Outside of maybe Max Noreau, they all left a lot to be desired. Coach Dean swapped Duncan and Zadorov to break up the Z/Reds turnover factory and hardly played the struggling Bigras/Clark pair in the 2nd with decent results but overall there needs to be some changes made going forward if San Antonio is going to compete without Calvin in the nets.

Andrew Agozzino and M-A Cliche made their return to the lineup, also with some decent results. Aggz had a goal & assist going at about two-thirds power but his line was victimized on a few of the early goals. Cliche played on the the Henley line with Troy Bourke which was probably the best out of the 4 in both zones.

Friday night the Rampage faced a struggling Stockton team and fell ass-backwards into a win they did everything but give away. The Heat opened the scoring early in the 1st with the usual howler through Roman Will's legs, but honestly he did a great job from then on until the shootout. M-A Cliche got the goal back 2 minutes later then Colin Smith took advantage of an atrocious STK turnover with a slick wrist shot to make it 2-1. Even tho' they were getting killed on shots, the Rampage took the lead into 1st intermission.

In the 2nd, Stockton tied the game back up with a 2v1 thanks to some questionable SA defensive play in the o-zone. Late in the period Mason Geertsen got a nice shot from the point which Mikko Rantanen converted for his 4th goal of the season and the Rampage once again took a lead into the intermission.

No lead is safe in the 3rd period lately, after a puck over glass infraction by Joey Hishon the Heat tied the game once again on the PP. This fired Hish up and he forced the Heat to put the puck in the seats with a gritty 1v4 forecheck. Stockton proceeded to take 3 more penalties in the next 5 minutes but SA only managed a single goal by Smitty while giving up a terrible 2v0 which of course tied the game and sent it to OT.

Stockton dominated the OT, including a PP, but Roman was stout and we had our first skills comp of the year. Both goalies were horrible in the shootout which basically fell the Rampage's way only because Markus Granlund missed the net completely. Every other shooter scored (Smitty, Mikko & Hish for SA) and the 2 points were ours.

I'll give some props to Roman, he stopped 35 of 38 and two of the goals he had no chance on. It's something to build on, we have no idea how long Calvin's gone for so he's our guy now unless Spencer Martin somehow comes in like a house afire. I still don't like his fundamentals, crouching too low and not enough positional discipline but if the team can start giving him a hand in the d-zone he's starting to show he can get it done.

Speaking of the team giving Roman a hand, they really need to step that up like right fucking now. Every defenseman is making terrible outlets right to the opponent which says a few things to me. First, it's a tendency that teams have seen on film and are exploiting. Second, the forwards are too far away and need to work on close support for breakouts. We've seen the Avalanche overcome this lately and the Rampage were quite good at this until a few games ago, so get it fixed and give the young goalies a break.

Just a side note on Zadorov: There are some things he's been doing that are awe-inspiring, end-to-end rushes, big shots from the point, big open-ice hits, skillful steals and pokechecks, etc. Then he will flat out deal the puck right to an opponent in a high-danger area or float away from whoever he's supposed to be covering. Seeing him in the role he's had in San Antonio makes it obvious it was the right call to get him time to learn his craft in the AHL. He and defense coach Randy Ladouceur have some work ahead but the results should be spectacular. When he gets to his prime he could be a better version of EJ, maybe a whole bunch better.

Post-game thoughts from Coach Dean

Interview with Mikko Rantanen

Interview with Colin Smith

Highlights

Preview: More Texas

The Rampage get ready for meetings 4 & 5 out of 14 this year with the Stars. The first 3 have been on the road and despite Texas controlling a lot of the play they have held up at 1-1-1. The Stars have outshot SA by a cumulative 117-84 so far or by 11 SOG per game.

Hopefully we see Max Noreau back on the blueline, he was greatly missed on PP not to mention 5v5. Borna Rendulic took his spot on the point and was terrible, do not want to see that again. Also, there's little reason to play Dan Maggio against the Stars so please put Meursy there or even Labrie.

Lines and pairs from Friday night:

Aggz/Hish/Mikko
Cheek/Smitty/Pete
Bourke/Clish/Borna
Schumi/Sam/Mags

Bigras/Clark
Duncan/Z
Mase/Labrie

Will
Martin

Scratched: Meurs, Noreau (UBI?), Bordy (susp)

Schedule

Rampage vs Texas Sunday 5:00pm in the ET

Rampage vs Texas Tuesday 11:30am in the ET

All games on Ticket 760

Links

Stats

Standings - Rampage 3rd in the Pacific and 4th in the WC

Preview

Next up

Ontario & Charlotte this weekend, then a Thanksgiving road trip through the midwest

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Neither game conflicts with the Avs and Tuesday's will be a great time-waster at work so stop by and support your prospects. Enjoy!