The beloved and depleted Rampage went 1-1-1 against their BFFs the Texas Stars last weekend. Playing .500 hockey isn't going to get them into the playoffs however, they sit outside the line once again but have two games against the team directly above them this week. It's a big task to get 2 wins, but it pretty much has to be done.
Alex Belzile joined Gabe Beaupre as recent callups from Ft Wayne for Tuesday's game. He centered the 4th line and looked decent in limited time.
Rampage mascot T-bone made the news for harassing several Stars players, including goalie Max Lagace, during Sunday's teddy bear toss. He was given a game misconduct for idiocy but received no further action from the AHL that we know of.
Mikko Rantanen has had a goal and an assist in 4 games so far at the IIHF World Junior Championships. The Finns take on the disappointing Canadian squad in the round of 8. Very mixed reviews on his performance so far. I haven't seen any games because there's more or less no legal way to watch them in the US, but I doubt he's as bad as all the idiots who never watch him play say it is. He should return to his day job for next weekend's games.
Just throwing this out there: Shane O'Brien is still a classless douche
Mat Clark has joined the long list of Rampage wounded, missing all 3 games vs the Stars. Dan Weiss mentioned a case of LBI which I believe he's been dealing with off and on for quite a while.
Max Noreau is skating with the team and hopefully will return very soon. Word is that he has a hand injury
Andrew Agozzino has a broken foot and we assume he will be out until February at least. One positive side to this is that whatever was bugging him before, probably the lingering effects of his early shoulder injury, should clear up as well. Aggz was ridiculous down the stretch last year and San Antonio will probably need ridiculous by the time he gets back.
M-A Cliche has not been skating with the team and is out with a head injury
Calvin Pickard's callup will probably extend into the upcoming California trip, Reto Berra will be out until next week at least. Just spitballing here, but perhaps Yogi comes down to San Antonio for a conditioning assignment before returning to Avs backup duty.
Recap: 3 vs Texas
The Rampage stumbled into Cedar Park Center last Saturday with lots of injuries and callups off the roster and suffered another one when Mat Clark was scratched for what seems to be chronic LBI issues right before game time. Undaunted, they came out hot and played the first 15 minutes of the game in Texas’ zone getting goals from Zadorov and Everberg. The they took a little breather for 20 minutes just to make things interesting for the home crowd, letting the game fall back to 2-2. Joey Hishon scored his first of 2 goals late in the 2nd to send San Antonio to intermission with a 1-goal lead. Hubie took his second dumb penalty of the night to open the 3rd and Texas once again tied things up. Colin Smith scored a go-ahead goal midway through but the Stars got it right back of course. The Stars’ Esa Lindell was called for a soft interference call with 28 seconds remaining and Joey Hishon capitalized 6 seconds later thanks to more Texas atrocious goaltending and the victory was complete.
The Stars outshot SA 48-26 (as usual) and 19-4 in the 2nd. Dan Weiss nailed it when he said we PDO’d this one. San Antonio shot 19.2% and got .917 goaltending from Roman for a 111 PDO in the game. There were plenty of mistakes on the Rampage side, uncountable odd-man rushes against as has been the case all year, but the Stars tragic flaw of poor defense and goaltending bit them once again.
As Dan Weiss mentioned during Sunday's broadcast, the Rampage are getting killed by their penalty kill lately. They let in 4 goals in 8 PK’s at this point in the 3-game set vs the Stars, and only 3 at even strength. I guess I have a newfound appreciation for Mat Clark. Like his parallel on the Avs, Nate Guenin, he might not look all that special but for whatever reason he can prevent goals while being a man down. The staff’s blissfully ignorant overuse of Hubert Labrie in all situations has given them mountains to overcome. Hubie was on the ice for both PK goals against on Sunday and that’s gotta stop.
That said there were some positives, the Rampage outshot the Stars somehow 36-35, although scoring effects were in play most of the game. Joey Hishon scored his 3rd goal in two days, it’s always nice to see him getting on a hot streak. Dude loves playing Texas for whatever reason. Everberg had a a goal/assist, he’s playing better than before the break. Reid Petryk had an assist for the 2nd night in a row, good to see him productive after falling off a cliff for a few weeks. Spencer Martin was a little shaky for the 1st half of the game but settled down after and kept the team in it til the end. Nick Drazenovic had another good game but wasn’t as effective at wing as he was as a center from my POV.
The Rampage picked up a point in Tuesday's 5-4 OT loss and outshot the Stars for the 2nd straight game, giving them 3 out of 6 for this mini-series which is ok on paper. They somehow managed to hang on to 3rd in the Pacific as well. In spite of copious errors, dumb plays and a totally bullshit OT penalty call they still played pretty well over the past 2 games, which is weird because those are the 2 they lost. I can’t help but again relate this to the Avs struggles a couple of months ago when they started to buckle down and actually play well on the ice but weren’t getting the results. During the 7-game losing streak, the team was playing awful hockey and individual mistakes were costing them wins. Now they just need to eliminate a steaming pile of those individual mistakes and things will start going their way.
The defense was a real mixed bag and mostly bad at that. Zadorov had a bad game with the familiar pinches and turnovers but it was his first in a while so that’s progress. Corbs is a good complement for Z but he continues to make the same errors over and over going back to last year, turning it over at the blue line – often resulting in odd-man rushes the other way and bad D-to-D passes in the defensive zone. Fix that please. Beaupre was useless. I like the guy but in 3 years he hasn’t shown any improvement at all and absolutely can’t stay out of the box. Labrie does so many terrible things it’s not even worth going over anymore, dressing him is the same as spotting the other team 2 goals at the start of the game. Bigras has been playing poor the last 3 games, guess why. Duncan was probably the best defenseman out there but he’s not a guy that can carry a pair with Boop and still look fabulous. When Dean put Duncan and Bigras out there together (even a couple times on PP), strangely enough good things started happening. Someone get healthy. Please.
Preview: San Diego
The Gulls roll into San Antonio with 4 fewer points but edge the Rampage out on percentage for the 3rd spot in the Pacific. It would be a good time to win some games at home for a change. San Diego has been mediocre lately so it's not out of the realm of possibility. We'll see some combination of veterans Matt Hackett and Anton Khudobin in goal, Khudobin was yanked last night against Texas after letting in 5 goals on 31 SOG in the first 2 periods.
Tiring of Dan Maggio's limited usefulness, the Rampage called up Alex Belzile from the Komets and tried to make a real 4th line on Tuesday, and it worked more or less. Now that Belzile has had a few days to practice with the guys I think it could pay off. The Gulls are a big physical team and we need to see 4 lines rolling as long as possible to keep up. If Beaupre gets another start over Mason after his gruesome 3-penalty performance I just don't know what to say. Roman has been playing good but not great lately so I'm guessing he starts the first game at least.
Lines/Pairs from Tuesday:
Evs – Hish – Pete
Draze – Smitty – Borna
Schumi – Sam – Bordy
Cheek – Belzile – Bourke
Bigras – Hubie (barf)
Z – Corbs
Beaupre – Duncan
Scratched: Mason, Mags
Injured: Clark, Noreau, Aggz, Cliche
Friday night vs San Diego 8:30pm ET
Sunday afternoon vs San Diego 5:00pm ET
All games on Ticket 760
A few days off then a trip to California to play the Condors, Cuda and Heat, hopefully with Mikko Rantanen in tow.
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Neither game conflicts with the Avs so stop by and support your prospects, enjoy!