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From the Rampage Desk: Week 11 - Unlucky 7

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The beloved Rampage put their 7-game losing streak on the line today and Monday at the home of the AHL's worst team. Iowa has the worst points percentage in the AHL by a lot, they don't score much and give up 3.33 goals per game. Time to make the donuts.

News

- Gabe Beaupre was optioned back to the Komets yesterday, which gives me hope that Siemens might be ready to go. But I've been hurt before.

- Komets beat writer Justin Cohn had a really good take on Ft Wayne's recent struggles, one of the main points being a lack of leadership on the ice. You could take out "Komets" and replace it with "Rampage" for a lot of this article and it would ring true.

- Speaking of the Komets, Goalie Spencer Martin is working his way through some ups and downs in his rookie campaign. Every start alternates between horrible and fantastic in an odd sine-wave of inconsistency. Check this out:

Odd-numbered starts – 5-0, 2 SO, .962, 0.98 GAA
Even-numbered starts – 1-4, .843, 5.27 GAA

Explain that if you dare.

- Even more Komets! Great words from Komet and former Monster Shawn Szydlowski after their 5-1 win last night:

Yes, we should do that!

Injury Report

M-A Cliche is out with UBI and not on the trip. No timetable for return.

Duncan Siemens is out with a hand/wrist injury and is considered d2d. Really need him back, like today.

Max Noreau is also out with UBI and won't play on this trip although he is with the team in Iowa

Z

I keep holding myself back from going on a scathing rant about Zadorov’s play and it’s getting harder and harder to resist the urge. He kicked the 1st Manitoba goal of the night past Picks on Wednesday and was in the box for dumb penalties on the first two goals Thursday. Aside from that, I lost track of all the other lazy, careless plays he made during the 2 games. Yeah, he can make a play or two and score some goals but I can’t help but think that a couple of these games would have been in the win column without him in the lineup, and that’s a terrible feeling to have about a wildly talented player that should be part of the organization’s core going forward. The Rampage are having a hard enough time scoring and defending right now, having one of the key players actively sabotaging the efforts of everyone else is tough to take.

Because he's huge and has NHL experience, it's easy to forget how raw and undeveloped he is. The good play we see is the teaser for the future, the bad is a reminder that it's going to take some time and hard work. My take is that he's really struggling with confidence issues which manifest themselves in what appears to be careless or lazy play on the ice. I don't think he's either of those things at all, but without confidence he's just not making the right decisions and it's extremely frustrating to watch.

Avs fans constantly ask how he's doing or if he's ready to be called up soon and the only answer anyone who watches the games can give is that he's making progress bit by bit but isn't anywhere near ready to play in the NHL right now. He's not "better than Nate Guenin" because he could singlehandedly be responsible for 3 goals against in a row at any time and the positives don't outweigh that yet. But that doesn't mean he won't be ready soon either. Some confidence and a lightbulb moment and he could start dominating the AHL in the matter of a few games.

Recap: Manitoba

The freefall through the standings continued Wednesday night as the Rampage looked awful in a 5-1 loss to one of the league’s doormats. The Moose are the AHL’s worst team at generating SOG yet they hung 36 on SA. They average under 2 goals a game and scored 5.

A mediocre first started with a Bordy penalty where Nikita Zadorov kicked a puck past Calvin for the 1st Moose goal. Mikko Rantanen made up for it with a fantastic steal in the o-zone, splitting the defense and putting a wicked backhand top shelf for the lone Rampage goal. The 2nd period was about as lame with the Moose getting more shots and better chances and another goal, this time from one of their own players. There were signs of life for a brief stretch, at one point they were outshooting Manitoba 8-2, but a frustratingly poor power play killed any momentum they had.

The 3rd period was a special kind of terrible and the worst period the Rampage have played all year. The whole team was out to lunch mentally and a few individuals (like Mat Clark) were sub-ECHL quality in every aspect of playing hockey. Down 2-1, they had no urgency and didn’t get a shot until 5 minutes had passed. Their second and final shot of the game came a few minutes later.

Clark was brutal, so bad. On the ice for every goal that wasn’t kicked in by a giant Russian defenseman. Everyone wants Dean’s head on a pike for this game but what’s he supposed to do? His top defensive pair is injured and he asks Clark to step up and be the veteran shut-down guy he’s supposed to be and this is what happens. It’s extremely frustrating.

Thursday's 3-2 loss was tough to take. The Rampage played pretty well (for them) and could have had this easily but for a few key mistakes. The 1st period was boring and slow, reminding me of how the Avs played when they first went to the trap and started to get out of their slump. The 2nd was 2013 Monsters hockey, wide open with lots of fights and stupid penalties. The 3rd started out poorly then looked ok once Manitoba turdled and score effects began to take over.

Goals from Mikko and Z, both on the power play, weren't enough to overcome some costly mistakes. Zadorov was in the penalty box for the first 2 goals and the winning goal was scored on what seemed like 50th odd man rush allowed by the Rampage in the game. Some day this will all stop, I just know it will.

Preview: Iowa

Iowa is the worst team in the AHL by record, points, percentage or what have you. Even with a 7-game losing streak, the Rampage are 13 points ahead of them in 3 fewer games. That said, the Monsters were 0-2-2 against a very similar Wild squad last year so even playing well this would be no slam dunk. It will take everything that San Antonio has to beat them.

One huge problem is that there aren’t a lot of options to shake things up with this lineup. The facts are that the top 2 centers and top defensive pairing are injured so the team is what it is. It’s up to the guys getting opportunities and increased responsibilities to take that and run. The lines have been blendered, every defensive pair imaginable has been tried, there’s really nothing left to try. No one is coming back from the Avs and the best hope is that Siemens comes back for these two games and provides something on the back end and that Noreau and Cliche can be healthy by the time Xmas break is over. Don't forget these are the last two games we have Mikko for a while as well so if anything it could get worse before it gets better.

Lines/Pairs from Thursday:

Mikko – Smitty – Borna
Aggz – Hish – Pete
Schumi – Sam – Evs
Bordy – Bourke – Mags

Bigras – Clark
Z – Corbs
Mase – Hubie

Picks
Will

Scratched: Cheek (nacho), Beaupre (nacho), Duncan (UBI), Max (UBI), Clish (UBI)

Everberg was a good addition to the 3rd line on Thursday, was probably the best SA line, but the top 2 are still struggling badly other than Rantanen. If I had Randy Ladouceur's ear about pairings, I'd go with Bigras/Duncan, Z/Clark and Mase/Corbs today.

Schedule

Sunday at Iowa 4pm in the ET

Monday at Iowa 8pm in the ET

All games on Ticket 760

Links

Stats

Standings - Rampage 4th in the Pacific but not in a playoff spot

Preview

Next up

Five days off for Xmas then 3 games vs Texas in 4 days, all without Rantanen

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Today's game doesn't conflict with the Avs and tomorrow's starts an hour before the Avs take on TML. Stop by and support your prospects, enjoy!