Eddie Lack stood tall in game three. His mates worked hard too, keeping most Rampage attacks to the outside.
(Chris Jerina/AHL in Photos)
Apologies, readers, this one got lost in the wash. More to come as the weekend rolls along.
Missing two key offensive performers, the Wolves buckled down and won a tight affair against San Antonio on Monday night. Facing do-or-die without Nik Jensen and Steve Reinprecht, Chicago leaned heavily on the veteran savvy of Mark Mancari and Darren Haydar. Haydar, who is taking over an AHL playoff scoring record it seems every night, was especially influential, recording two goals and playing first unit penalty kill minutes all night.
Mancari was an offensive force, double-shifting for much of the night. His extra icetime resulted in 8 of his team’s 16 scoring chances in the game.
For more analysis and some detailed stats (including zone starts and chances) read past the jump!
-Byron Bitz was quickly ushered back to Chicago after the Canucks were eliminated on the weekend. Bitz took most of the team’s crucial third period draws, and won the late faceoff that led to Haydar’s empty net goal.
– Brad Hunt and Mark Matheson carried the bulk of the defensive zone minutes, allowing Nolan Baumgartner and Kevin Connauton plenty of rest. The latter two saw most of the offensive zone ice time. Yann Sauve and Ryan Parent, consigned to the third pairing, saw little ice time, and practically none in the third. Parent got a couple extra shifts with Baumgartner, but Sauve saw the ice on only a handful of shifts.
– Jordan Schroeder took very few faceoffs. His line showed well early, scoring a goal off a shot by Schroeder from the half-boards that deflected off a San Antonio defender. As the game progressed, the tight checking of San Antonio bogged down Schroeder, Sweatt and Davies’ skill game.
– San Antonio’s strategy, as it has been all year, was obvious. Keep the puck on the outside and look for counter-attacking chances. The Wolves’ puck-possession game largely counteracted this desire from the Rampage, and it wasn’t until late that San Antonio, chasing the game of course, were able to mount any sustained pressure.
– The Wolves’ penalty kill, their achilles heel in the first two games, was largely effective. San Antonio’s one goal came from a defensive breakdown for the home team’s pk, but for the most part, San Antonio lacked confidence taking the puck towards the slot and only generated three chances with the man advantage. They were held chanceless in their two third period opportunities.
– Mark Mancari is a force. His shot is tremendous, as is his strength. He loves to lug the puck up the ice and he goes to all the right spots. It’s just too bad his feet are so slow.
– Matt Clackson dressed for his first playoff game, but you have to wonder if he’ll be back in for any more games. He took a very silly elbowing penalty in the second period and never saw the ice again. He’d been forechecking well in his limited ice time.
– The Wolves earned three straight power plays in the second period, mostly a result of their strong play in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, they didn’t translate any of their even-strength cominance into a power play goal.
– The first period was some of the dullest hockey I’ve seen in a long time. At one point the Rampage lost an offensive zone faceoff and not one player pursued the puck behind the net. Instead they all retreated into the neutral zone and set their trap up.
– Halfway through the game, the chances were 6-4 for Chicago. Things livened considerably once San Antonio started to press in the latter half of the second. Their run of chances late in the third tilted the overall tally in their favour, in a classic example of score effects. Teams from behind all end up ‘trying harder’ than the team leading.
– San Antonio’s second goal, scored with just a second left in the game, was purely Eddie Lack’s fault. With the puck at his feet, the Stork attempted to flip the puck out of the zone himself, but whiffed badly and the puck squirted straight to Jon Matsumoto. The Rampage’s leading scorer made no mistake, but it was definitely a case of too little too late.
GAME THREE LINES
SCORING CHANCES AND ZONE STARTS
|CHI: 4||2nd||SA: 3|
|CHI: 9||3rd||SA: 9|
|CHI: 16||SA: 18|