The beloved Rampage managed to drag themselves out of their 5 week long funk and win 3 in a row this week. Perhaps the real test is this weekend playing a much stronger San Diego Gulls squad.
- Anton Lindholm got his first NHL callup on Monday and made his debut with the Avs Wednesday night vs the wingy wheels. Reports so far are pretty favorable, might not see Anton back in San Antonio again for a while if ever.
- Justin Hamonic was recalled from the Eagles and played just 7 minutes on Monday due to lack of healthy and present defensemen. I think he’ll be on his way back to the ECHL soon if not already.
- Julien Nantel was also recalled from Colorado but didn’t dress for any of the games and didn’t skate with the team yesterday. It’s also possible he’s back with the Eagles already for a 6-day trip to Utah. If he does play in all 3 of those games he will be qualified for the ECHL playoffs.
- Garry Nunn has missed a couple games with an undisclosed injury but it looks like he’s now available
- Gus Young has been out for 6 weeks or so but it also appears that he’s mended and ready for action
- Eric Gelinas missed the first 2 games this week with an undisclosed injury but returned for the back end of the 3-in-3
Fast Facts: Monsters/Stars
SAR 4 - CLE 3
SAR 2 - TX 1 (SO)
SAR 4 - CLE 0
Shots: 87-66 (56.9%)
PP was 3/16, which is somewhat misleading but still solid
PK was 11/13
Joe Cannata saved 16/19 (.842) in game 1
Spencer Martin saved 46/47 (.979) in games 2&3 + saved all 3 in the TX shootout
Goals: Bourque (2), Grimaldi (2), Belzile, Smith, Bourke, St-Amant, Bigras
Brendan Ranford had the only goal in the shootout vs TX
Assists: Boikov, Ranford (4), Smith (2), Bigras (2), Petryk (2), Girard (2), Belzile, Greer, O’Brien, Bourque
Looking at the lines and what roles they play, the Girard line is the only consistent scoring line at even strength. The Smith line is basically a PP line, although Turner Elson keeps them honest defensively. O’Brien’s line was described by Eric Veilleux as “a big, physical line” and they’ve taken a more defensive role lately, especially now that the 4th line is small with Henley’s injury. AJ Greer isn’t scoring like he was when the kid line was together but playing this role with a solid vet like OB is making him a more well-rounded player. The Avs pretty much know what they’ve got there offensively, what they need to know going into next year is if they can put him in a bottom-6 role and have him hold his own in the d-zone.
Just to draw a few parallels between the Rampage’s 12 game losing streak that just came to a close and the one they had last year, I see some disturbing similarities. Both oddly went 37 days between regulation wins. Both came in the same basic time of the season and included various personnel changes from injuries and the trading deadline. Both ended with a nice winning streak with last year’s going 5 (and 9 of 11) and this year’s going 3 so far.
The disturbing part is that the Avalanche swapped out most of the players and the Head Coach over the summer and it happened again. Maybe it’s a coincidence but is that likely? On a micro level it’s still the players losing confidence and not getting it done on the ice on a nightly basis. On a macro scale it leads one to wonder whether these losing streaks are a symptom of larger issues in the organization. Or to put it another way, are these streaks the result of something the Avs org is doing to the Rampage and it’s players?
Preview: San Diego
Knocking around the impuissant Monsters and squeaking out a shootout win vs the hapless Stars is one thing, playing at the level of a team like the Gulls is another. San Diego is 2nd in the Pacific & WC and is 20 games over .500 with a +35 goal differential. I like the Rampage’s chances a lot better with the confidence of a 3-game win streak but these are going to be tough games. The Gulls are physical & skilled but on the plus side San Antonio split a pair in California earlier in the season.
Lines/Pairs from Tuesday:
Greer - O’Brien - St Amant
Elson - Smith - Grimaldi
Ranford - Girard - Bourque
Bourke - Belzile - Petryk
Bigras - Clark
Boikov - Siemens
Geertsen - Gelinas
Scratch: Nantel, Hamonic (nacho), Nunn (?BI), Young (?BI) + chronics
Given they just won 3 in a row I’m not looking for any changes, at least for tonight. Cannata should play one of these games but it’s hard to take Marty out now that he’s back in the groove.
Friday vs San Diego, 8:30pm ET
Saturday vs San Diego 8pm ET
All games on Ticket760
JP, Nate and Topher return this week with an all-new episode of Running With the Herd Live
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Neither game conflicts with the Avs b2b this weekend so stop by and support your prospects!