The beloved Rampage captured 4 out of 6 points in the their 3 game set this weekend, including an amazing OT shutout by rookie goalie Spencer Martin. Now they head to Stockton on their way out of California for a match with the last-place Heat. I wrote this last night so this is basically a quick re-write after the morning's moves
- The Avs have put Nate Guenin on waivers after waiving Brandon Gormley last week. Gormley has been assigned to the Rampage, no word on when he will arrive. I'll assume Guenin will also be joining the team after he clears tomorrow.
- Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov were called up to the Avs today. Love it for them, hate it for San Antonio. Z has improved to the point where he is probably an upgrade on Gormley and Guenin at the NHL level, especially the level the Avs D has been for the last couple of weeks. Bigras hasn't seen any NHL action to date but this is what we've been dreaming about for years: The Avalanche calling up a young prospect from their AHL squad, not just to fill an injury hole, but to actually improve the team. I think he's still a little raw, but he's also smart. It's going to be a good test.
Barring a collapse, I think Zadorov is up with the Avs for good but I think Bigras is just up for a few games. Could definitely work out differently depending on how they play.
Mikko Rantanen returned from World Juniors but didn't play due to a case of UBI. Could play tonight
Joey Hishon left Saturday's game midway through the 1st with UBI and didn't play Sunday. Word is that it's not serious and he could be available tonight
Borna Rendulic left Friday's game with LBI which also is not considered serious and he too could be in the lineup tonight
Andrew Agozzino is still out with a broken foot or whatever it is. He's using a walking boot and there's still no word on when he will return to the ice.
Clark, Cliche and Noreau all returned to the lineup in Bakersfield.
Recap: Bakersfield/San Jose
The Rampage got a few veterans (Max, Clish, Clark) back in the lineup and pretty much dominated the Condors from soup to nuts. Chris Bigras got the scoring going early with yet another savvy shot from the point, Borna Rendulic and Joey Hishon added goals later on but the name of the game was defense. The Rampage allowed a shocking 17 SOG, that’s 7 fewer than their best effort to date, and didn’t turtle or cave in late for a change. Roman Will had a light but effective night, allowing only a PPG halfway through the 1st.
Some major flaws plaguing the team were exorcised in this game and if that hints at things to come we could see the team get right back on track. The Condors scored, instead of the usual letdown and subsequent 2nd, 3rd, 4th goals in a row for the opponent, the Rampage got it back a few minutes later. The 2nd period, long the bane of their existence, they let up a whopping 3 SOG to BAK while putting up 11 of their own, including Hishon’s goal. The 3rd period collapse, did not happen and even with the EN flurry at the end there wasn’t the feeling of dread we’ve had so much lately. A very complete performance.
After Friday’s dominant win, the Rampage were somewhat less than engaged for the late-night showdown vs the Cuda. Matt Clark got the 1st goal of the game and his 1st of the season but subsequently the team began giving away pucks all over the place and San Jose capitalized twice in 22 seconds followed by a PPG from a Bigras hooking penalty that didn’t need to happen. The game was basically over after the 1st period and the remaining time was a score-effect scrimmage, ending up 6-4.
Some positives to take away are things like Bigras, Zadorov and Henley scoring a few nice goals and Reid Petryk continuing his hot streak with a trio of assists. The Rampage looked quite good in the 3rd period with San Jose sitting on the lead, actually got the SOG totals back to respectability with a final tally of 28-31. Given that they were without Rendulic and Hishon for all or most of the game putting up 4 goals isn’t a bad thing at all.
The negatives were plenty however. Roman Will had a bad night. Yeah, the team’s defensive play should take plenty of blame but there were a couple of howlers in there too. You can’t help but wonder what the game would have been like at 3-2 going into the 3rd. Joey Hishon left the game with an undisclosed injury midway through the 1st and for whatever reason that seemed to cave in the structure of the entire forward corps. No one had any chemistry and moving the puck out of the d-zone and developing o-zone time became extremely difficult. The team fell into the old soft & ineffective 1-2-2 plus the generic & predictable breakouts that simply don’t work anymore. As bad as the defensemen looked at times you can trace a lot of that back to how easily San Jose traversed the neutral zone and were able to stifle the breakouts.
On Sunday we saw a very unRampageous game. After getting marginally beat in the first, mainly due to PP time, San Antonio came out of 1st inter and dominated play giving up a grand total of 8 shots in the 2nd/3rd. This wasn’t due to lots of blocks and clogging up the game, they had the puck in the San Jose end constantly. Barracuda goalie Aaron Dell was stout and the only reason this game wasn’t done in regulation.
Reid Petryk gets a big shoutout not only for the game-winner, which was a beautiful end-to-end rush and finish, but also for the 5 assists he had on Friday and Saturday. That’s a huge weekend. His charging penalty was total bullshit too, ref didn’t even call it until after the big scrum and gave a make-up call right after the PK. Spencer Martin wasn’t busy but played a great game, especially in OT where he stopped 4 decent chances. Congrats for his first AHL shutout and since OT shutouts are so rare it makes it even more impressive.
The Rampage beat Stockton 5-1 early in the year and took a loss during the 7-game losing streak. To get moving in the right direction, this is what you'd call a "must win".
Lines/Pairs from Sunday:
Mason (did not play)
Scratched: Corbett, Hish (UBI), Borna (LBI), Mikko (UBI)
We could see any or all of the injured fellows back tonight so I expect some changes. Given Marty's performance on Sunday, looks like he could be the starter.
Obviously the defense will look quite different with the departure of Z/Bigras. Duncan will move back up the lineup and Geertsen/Corbett will get back in. Could be some weird shifts at first given that these moves came about rather suddenly and there's been no time to practice this way. The joys of the AHL.
Rampage at Stockton, 10pm in the ET. Radio on Ticket 760
A weekend pair in Milwaukee
* * * * *
No conflict tonight so stop by and hang out with your prospects, enjoy!