The beloved Rampage head back to San Antonio for a 9-game homestand that leads into the endless Rodeo Road Trip. Injuries and callups continue to decimate the upper end of the roster but the schedule doesn't care. Milwaukee is first in line to fall so that the horrid 10-game home losing streak may end.
Chris Bigras made his NHL debut last night and Nikita Zadorov made his NHL return and both played solidly for the Avs. Since this very situation is exactly why there are AHL affiliations, it's great to see. Still too early to tell how it's going to go but we may have seen the last of Big Z in the AHL.
Nate and JP had their always entertaining and informative Running With the Herd Live last night. Check it out.
Weird post-script to Mikko's WJC Gold Medal:
Apparently the Finnish world junior team went to Burger King after winning gold last week in Helsinki. No crazy drunken revelry!?!— James Mirtle (@mirtle) January 15, 2016
Mikko Rantanen is out with a hand injury, no idea when he will suit up. Coach Roy remarked that he might be off to Colorado when healthy.
Joey Hishon is out with UBI
Andrew Agozzino is out with some sort of foot/ankle issue
Reto Berra's ankle injury keeps Calvin Pickard up with the Avs. Coach Roy just shrugged when asked about a timetable.
Erik Johnson seems close to a return to the Avs. When that happens there's a decent chance San Antonio receives a defenseman. Tough to say who, there's pretty much an open competition for the last few D spots going on right now. They also might just waive Andrew Bodnarchuk and lose the contract with no one going down to SA.
Halfway Stats Review
After a red-hot 10-3-6 1st quarter, the Rampage came back to earth with a 6-12-1 2nd q, that's exactly half the points in the same number of games. Ouch. Violent drops in scoring and PDO plus the horrendous penalty kill made for tough going. A slight improvement in shot suppression is nice, but it's only a start. The 3rd quarter will be made up of this long homestand plus almost all of the Rodeo Road Trip and given the inconsistent nature of the team who knows where they'll be at the end.
Goals for: 110 (2.85/gm), 27 PPG, 5 SHG, 78 at evens (down 0.46/game from 1st Q)
Goals against: 118 (3.10/gm), 33 on PK, 4 SHGA, 81 at evens (up 0.25/gm from 1st Q)
Shots for: 1082 (28.4/gm)
Shots against: 1266 (33.3/gm)
Special teams index (PP+PK): 97.3 (down from 103.9 in 1st Q, PK has gone from 83.1% to 78.0%, 29th in the AHL)
Shooting %: 10.1 (8.4% 2nd Q, down from 11.7%)
Save %: .907 (.895 2nd Q, down from .916)
PDO: 100.8 (97.9 2nd Q, down from 103.3)
Shots for %: 46.1 (46.6 2nd Q, UP from 45.6)
The big culprit here is even strength scoring. Yeah it's hard when your skill players are hurt all the time but development means getting better as hockey players. Most of the bottom-6ers haven't been doing that, Reid Petryk being a very obvious exception. There are a lot of forwards that don't have contracts next year on this team, one fantastic way to earn one is to produce when given more responsibility, which has the added bonus of helping the team win games. See your future... be your future.
The Rampage finished off the first half of the season with a disheartening loss to 7th place Stockton. The Heat scored 2 goals in each period which was far more than the depleted SA lineup could overcome. Considering who was missing, the result wasn’t much of a surprise.
With 6 goals against there’s plenty of blame to go around. The defensive corps, missing Bigras and Zadorov and with the continued presence of the massively incompetent Hubert Labrie, seems a likely candidate for a lot of it but the defensive play of the forwards was atrocious. Little pressure on the forecheck, which gives no time for a solid neutral zone setup, meant that the Heat found it quite easy to gain the zone. Once there missed assignments, turnovers and lost battles for the puck made it easy for them to score. I’m sure Spencer Martin isn’t happy with his performance today, definitely not one of his best. In the offensive zone, the search for a finisher continued without solution. Take out Pete’s breakaway goal on the PK and the Rampage scored once on 32 shots and went 0 for 5 on the power play. That’s not good at all.
There were a few positives. Brandon Gormley flew in for the game and promptly showed us a side of his game that was completely absent in Colorado. We all know the guy can move the puck but he can generate offense as well. Five SOG and some nice setups should have netted him at least a point or two. Hopefully with some time to build chemistry he’ll start racking them up. Duncan Siemens got the courtesy star from whoever chooses those things, presumably for being the least poor defenseman in the d-zone. Reid Petryk continued his torrid streak with another goal.
The Admirals sit in 4th place in the Central with a record of 23-13-2 and defeated the Rampage 6-3 earlier this year in sort of an outlier game with Calvin Pickard fresh from sitting around doing nothing in Colorado for a couple weeks. Last year the Monsters were quite good against MKE so let's hope that's the case once again. The Rampage have unbelievably lost 10 straight at home for a wide variety of reasons, it's time to pull all the cilches together and start on time, play a full 60 minutes, get pucks deep, get pucks to the net, be strong on the puck, win battles, etc
Lines & Pairs from Wednesday night:
Evs – Clish – Pete
Schumi – Smitty – Borna
Cheek – Draz – Bourke
Bordy – Henley – Mags
Gormley – Clark
Duncan – Max
Corbs – Hubie
Scratched: Geertsen (nacho), Hish (UBI), Mikko (hand), Aggz (foot/ankle)
Mason really deserves a game here after dressing yet not playing on Sunday. Corbs was notso hotso against STK so this could be the ticket. While we'd love to see Mikko back I won't let myself get my hopes up.
Friday night vs Milwaukee 8:30pm in the ET
Saturday night vs Milwaukee 8:00pm in the ET
All games on Ticket 760
San Diego comes to town on Tuesday
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The beloved Avs are off tonight so stop by and support what's left of our prospects. Saturday's game starts an hour after puck drop vs Columbus. Enjoy!