Wolf Prowl - December 16th, 2011

Patrick Johnston
December 16 2011 12:00PM


Darren Haydar picked up his 700th career point this week

The Wolves re-found their scoring touch over the past week but the goalies still had to be spectacular. It's the same refrain: if the Wolves score, they tend to win, even if they are struggling in their own end. If they could ever sort things out defensively they'd be the dominant force many were predicting before the season.

The Week that Was

The Wolves started the weekend off with their 5th loss in a row, dropping a 6-3 decision to Rockford. A return to the Allstate Arena on Saturday seemed to cure the team of their woes, however, as the Wolves took out arch-rival Milwaukee 4-2. Sunday was another good performance; the Wolves were clinical in a 3-1 win over Grand Rapids. Thursday night was a 3rd straight win for the Wolves, as they knocked off the Checkers 2-1 in Charlotte.

Standouts

Sebastian Erixon had been scratched since November 19th but returned to the lineup on Friday and picked up an assist. He scored a goal the next night and recorded another assist on Sunday.

Mark Mancari continued his torrid pace of late, scoring 2 goals against Rockford, another goal against Grand Rapids and recording two assists on top of that. Chris Tanev had 3 assists on Saturday night and then had 2 more on Sunday.

After his two-game NHL sojourn, Bill Sweatt returned to the lineup on Thursday, scored the tying goal in the 2nd period on a great setup from Jordan Schroeder. Sweatt returned the favour, setting up Jordan Schroeder's winning goal in the 3rd.

Eddie Lack returned to his dominant self on Thursday, stopping 40 shots in the win over the Checkers.

Darren Haydar picked up his 700th career AHL point on an assist on Saturday. He also scored a goal in the game.

Lowlights

Erixon's return to the lineup started ugly: he was -3 against Rockford. The whole defensive corps was weak against the Ice Hogs as Kevin Connauton, Ryan Parent and Tanev all went -2.

Friday's poor effort went from top to bottom, even the goalies were bad.  Matt Climie was pulled after just 12 minutes, but Lack didn't fare much better in relief - both gave up 3 goals apiece. Climie bounced back on Saturday, making 31saves for the win.

Climie started his 3rd straight on Sunday but was forced to leave the game with an apparent groin injury. Lack played the last 25 minutes against Grand Rapids.

Lineup Notes

Bill Sweatt made his NHL debut just over a week ago in Montreal and then got into the next game (vs Ottawa) as well. He was re-assigned to the Wolves before Tuesday's Canucks game against Columbus.

Mark Mancari made his Canucks debut last night in Carolina, recording three shots (only one was a scoring chance, however) in 7:29 of ice time.

The Wolves called up Charlie Effinger from Missouri of the CHL to serve as the backup goalie vs Charlotte. Matt Climie strained his groin over the weekend and didn't make the trip to North Carolina. Effinger is under contract with the Wolves.

Captain Nolan Baumgartner remains out injured, as are Nathan Longpre and Kevin Doell.

Canucks' goalie coach Roland Melanson spent time with the Wolves' goalies this week.

The Hunting Ahead

With the recent run, the Wolves now sit 3rd in the division and are just 4 points back of division-leading Charlotte. The Wolves also have 3 games in hand.

The Checkers and the Wolves will do battle again tonight in Charlotte. On Sunday, the Wolves return home to host an afternoon tilt against Toronto. Next Thursday, the Heat make yet another visit to Chicago.

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Patrick Johnston is a Vancouver journalist. In addition to regular contributions here at Canucks Army, his work has appeared in The Province, Hockey Now and on the CBC. Check out his blog and other writing at http://johnstonwrites.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @risingaction
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