The beloved Rampage head to Charlotte minus two of their most important players. Duncan Siemens & Rocco Grimaldi were called up to the Avalanche late yesterday afternoon. This along with a growing list of injuries puts them behind the 8-ball against a Checkers team battling for their playoff lives.
- Duncan and Rocco were called up to the Avs Tuesday, probably won’t be back until next week. Looking forward and barring injuries, we should get those two back along with Compher, Lindholm and perhaps Jeremy Smith.
- Chris Bigras has missed a few games with LBI now. No news on a return time.
- Turner Elson has also once again been laid up with LBI. He played 9 games after coming back from missing most of the season with another(?) LBI. Feel bad for the guy, he’s got some game and is looking for a contract next season. Don’t know how the Avs are going to feel about that, he makes Bryan Lerg look durable.
- AJ Greer took a puck off his lower leg Friday night and immediately went to the locker room. Did not play on Saturday, more on this as it becomes available.
- Troy Bourke missed both weekend games with illness.
- Shawn St Amant didn’t dress Saturday for reasons unknown but it looked like he was a game-time decision rather than a scheduled scratch.
- Ben Storm and Brady Shaw made their Pro and Rampage debuts over the weekend
Siemens & Grimaldi
Rocco Grimaldi gets his second callup to the Avs after several with the Florida Panthers. He’s got 29 goals and 51 points in the AHL this year so we know he can get it done here. In early December he got a game with Colorado and played maybe a period plus a couple of shifts but racked up 3 shots on goal in that short time. Hopefully Jared Bednar lets him go nuts a little more this time.
Duncan Siemens also gets his 2nd Avalanche callup and 1st since being an injury replacement for Bad Stuart several years ago in the season finale. Rewind back to October, he was the final cut from the Avs D and has done everything asked of him this season, playing solid defense, leading the D in plusminus (I know, humor me) and becoming the de facto captain. Without peeking into the mindset of the Avs development staff too much, I don’t think this will change his status in the org drastically regardless of his play but it’s a nice reward for a good soldier. I hope he’s able to take advantage of the situation and help an awful team win a game or two going into the offseason.
Another weekend, another pair of losses in predictable fashion. After playing a close game Friday, the Rampage lost on a pair of goals mid-2nd period Saturday and could mount no challenge. Grand total of 13 SOG in the two 3rd periods, that’s just awful. They were gifted a 5-minute PP at the end of game 2 and took two and a half minutes to get the first shot. The Avs and Rampage both suffer from one of the most ineffective and unwatchable power play strategies I’ve ever seen. Neither team can enter the zone cleanly and many times have trouble exiting their own zone. It’s baffling, things that get done as a matter of course at even strength become insurmountable tasks with a man advantage. And yet the coaching staffs keep ramming the same poor strategies in there as if they have no choice.
On a brighter note, San Antonio managed 3 goals in the 2nd game of a back-to-back where previously they were more likely to be shut out (6 times) than win (5 times). Also Ben Storm and Brady Shaw had solid performances in their first games for the Rampage. Storm had a screen on a Gus Young goal that temporarily tied the game and Shaw showed defensive diligence backchecking to negate a couple of odd-man rushes created from D-man pinches.
The Checkers sit 2 points out of the final playoff spot in the Central so I expect a bit of urgency on their part. They’re behind Cleveland, victims of a season sweep at the hands of the Rampage, so San Antonio could end up playing somewhat of a role in who goes and who blows.
Lineup vs STK
Bourque - Smith -
Ranford - O’Brien - Nunn
Nantel - Girard - Petryk
Shaw - Belzile - Storm
Siemens - Clark
Geertsen - Gelinas
Young - Boikov
Scratch: Hamonic (nacho), St-Amant (?), Bourke (ill), Bigras, Greer, Elson (all LBI) + chronics
Alrighty, assuming that at least one out of Bourke/St-Amant is able to play Rocco’s spot is covered. Hamonic can take the spot left by Duncan’s callup although it would be nice to see Chris Bigras instead. More than nice, actually. Last time Hamonic dressed the staff used him sparingly in a game where Sergei Boikov was ejected for violence midway through.
Just about all the Rampage’s offensive firepower is in Colorado or injured. Colin Smith becomes the top scoring threat but unfortunately he’s also a major defensive liability. Speaking of defense, the Rampage’s top D’s are also in Colorado or injured. This is Mason Geertsen’s time to shine, he’s been steady for several weeks now and can chip in offensively when he’s not covering for Eric Gelinas’ mistakes. Things may seem pretty grim with this lineup but sometimes major absences cause a team to get together and get things done.
Tuesday vs Charlotte 7pm ET
Wednesday vs Charlotte 7pm ET
All games on Ticket760
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Tonight’s game starts a couple hours before the Avs take on the Hawks but tomorrow’s runs free and clear.