Wolf Prowl - January 20th, 2012

Patrick Johnston
January 20 2012 04:30PM


Can you imagine what Matt Clackson and Zach Stortini might be talking about?
Probably what are good places to eat near the Allstate Arena.
(Photo: Chris Jerina/AHL in Photos)

The Wolves' system is finally showing consistency, but a couple hiccups this week. They'll be hoping to get back on track this weekend before heading out west to show their stuff in front of the Vancouver faithful.

Weekly Wrap

Three games in the last week: the Wolves continued their homestand with games on back-to-back nights (Friday and Saturday) and on Wednesday. On Friday, the Crimson and Gold won their fifth in a row on the back of 32 saves from Matt Climie. The line of Jordan Schroeder, Bill Sweatt and Mike Davies led the way, potting both goals in the 2-1 win.

The Wolves turned right around the next night and took on Lake Erie, but their winning streak ground to a halt. Hang the loss on a weak 3rd period, as the home team conceded 4 goals after dominating the first two frames. Worse, the Wolves had outshot the Monsters 28-18 through 40 minutes. The Monsters outshot the Wolves 13-4 in the final frame. It was a bad, bad scene at the Allstate Arena.

Wednesday's game was no different as the Wolves took an early lead only to see it wash away midway through the 2nd period. The visiting Texas Stars led 4-2 after two periods and held off a strong fightback by the Wolves to skate out 4-3 winners on the night. Eddie Lack struggled in his second straight start, making 26 saves but giving up 4 goals. He had the exact same numbers against Lake Erie.

The Wolves are now 21-14-1-3, tied for 2nd in the Midwest Division and 7th in the Western Conference. They've scored 114 goals (12th in the league) and conceded 106 goals (7th in the league).

Standouts

Mike Davies has lit a fire under his line, as he recored 2 goals and 3 assists in the 3 games this week. He's recorded a point in all four games he's played since returning to the lineup on January 11th. 6 of his 7 points on the season have come in those 4 games. His goal against Milwaukee was a spectacular effort, picking up a Brown-to-Bure-esque pass from Nolan Baumgartner at the blueline, skating in alone on Admirals goalie Jeremy Smith, getting off a tricky backhand shot and staying strong on the forehand to bang home the rebound. He made a great pass on the give-and-go which brought Billy Sweatt's game winner.

Similarly, Jordan Schroeder has found his scoring touch, also picking up points in 4 straight games. He scored goals on both Saturday and Wednesday. With just 21 points in 39 games much more is expected from him, but he's been more consistent in the last month. How he plays over the next two months or so will speak volumes about his long-term prognosis.

Nathan Longpre's goal was his first in 7 games. He's been bouncing up and down the lineup and has fallen well off his torrid pace from early in the season. He didn't score in December. He has 5 points in the 7 games in January.

Yann Sauve is playing well and the puck is bouncing well for him. He was +4 for the week and is +7 on the month. Getting his regular partner, captain Nolan Baumgartner, back in the lineup seems to have steadied his game. 

Lowlights

After a torrid start to the month, Steve Reinprecht cooled off a little, scoring just 1 goal in 3 games. He was also -3. Mark Mancari is in a mini-slump too. He picked up just an assist in the 3 games and went -4 for the week. Same deal, Tim Miller. He's gone 4 games without a goal, and has just 1 assist in that time.

The week after being named to the AHL all-star team, Kevin Connauton picked up a pair of assists (his first points in January) but he was also a -4 in Saturday's loss.

Eddie Lack had two of his weakest performances in his year and a half in North America. After apparently struggling with the flu during Saturday's game, he let in two suspect goals against Texas. Matt Climie was also stricken with the flu (he actually threw up into the net at the end of the 2nd on Friday), which kept him out of action altogether on Saturday. He also lost his lunch in the crease during the Friday-night game.

Lineup Notes

The callup wheel o' fun continued this week, as Mike Duco was sent back to the Wolves on Monday. Chris Tanev was recalled on Wednesday.

Darren Haydar had been out injured since January 8th but returned to the lineup on Wednesday. He skated on a linewith Longpre and Miller. Anton Rodin also returned the lineup for the game against Texas - he'd been a healthy scratch since the 7th. He lineup with Mancari and Reinprecht.

The fourth line continues to be a mix-and-match job between Victor Oreskovich, Mike Duco, Byron Bitz, Stefan Schneider, Antoine Roussel and Matt Clackson. Oreskovich has been spending some time as a centre in this mixer.

Many players battled the flu through the week leading up to the weekend back-to-back. Apparently, in addition to Eddie Lack's sloppy stomach, Vic Oreskovich made multiple trips from the bench to the toilet during the game.

The hunting ahead

A Friday/Saturday home-and-home with Rockford, and then the much-anticipated two-game set in Abbotsford on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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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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