Wolves Don’t Receive Arniel’s Message, Fall to Griffins

The disarray is symbolic of the Wolves’ effort. At least they showed some fight here, though.

Last Saturday night, Scott Arniel channeled his inner Gregg Popovich. Sort of. Even though it was for completely different reasons, the coach sat many of his team’s stars in an attempt to send a message. After having fallen all the way down to .500 – including a 1-5-2 swoon to end the month of November – the team responded with a strong effort against the Peoria Rivermen, by winning 3-1.

The likes of Jordan Schroeder, Zack Kassian and Kevin Connauton were all back in the lineup for this tilt against the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, and unfortunately, the team reverted back to its old nasty habits. In a completely listless effort in front of their home crowd, the Wolves lost by a score of 3-0. Unfortunately for Arniel, his message didn’t get through with the same efficiency as the voice mail sent by the NHL to the PA.

Read Past the Jump for Notes on the Game.

The Wolves started the night with a line of Kassian-Sterling-Ebbett. On their opening shift, a lucky bounce sprung them for an impromptu 2-on-1. Unfortunately, Kassian telegraphed the pass across the ice the entire way, and it was easily broken up. Given the wicked wrister he put on display early on in the season, this play left me scratching my head. It also wasn’t the only time that he came across as a little gun shy, showing a reluctance to pull the trigger. It seems like ages ago that he was running wild on the Abbotsford Heat in front of an arena full of Canucks fans, and brass.

After an even start to the game, in which the Wolves were keeping up with the Griffins, everything changed following a sloppy penalty by the returning Kevin Connauton. The Griffins didn’t score on the power play, but they did throw everything but the kitchen sink at goaltender Matt Climie (who got the nod once again with Eddie Lack still nursing an injury).

They essentially wound up using those impressive two minutes with the man advantage as a springboard, and didn’t look back until the final buzzer. The shots on goal were 15-5 for the Griffins after 20, and wound up being 37-20 by the time it was all said and done. 

An interesting combination in this game was the partnership between Anton Rodin and Jordan Schroeder. There were a handful of occasions where they nearly broke free for a ‘home run’ play, but either a good defensive play or an unlucky bounce thwarted them. I would very much like to see them continue playing together for the next little while. I think they have a legitimate chance to make sweet music together; it’s just a question of whether Arniel will let it happen.

One of the lone bright spots on this night for the Wolves was Matt Climie, who did everything in his power to keep his team in it. While many of his saves seemed to come in an unorthodox, off-balance fashion, he got the job done. He managed to make himself look very big between the pipes, making the opposition attempt to make the perfect shot to beat him. In fact, the only puck which got by him through the first two periods was a power play tally which went off of Connauton, and in.

What does this loss mean for the Wolves? They fall to 9-9-3 on the year, making them 4th in the Midwest Divison. They now travel to Rockford, to take on a team which they have found success against this season. Quite frankly anything will look like an improvement from this one.

Fun with Numbers:

0.3: Was the blood alcohol level of Red Wings prospect Riley Sheahan back on October 29th. This has nothing to do with the game, but is one of the wildest stories I’ve seen in some time and I just recently came across it. I figured this would be a good platform to pass it along to those who have not seen it yet.

He was arrested while driving with a BAC of 0.30. What’s even crazier, though, is that he was wearing a Teletubbies costume, while carrying the driver’s license of teammate Brendan Smith. He was legally classified as "super drunk", which I didn’t know existed.

9: Was the number of shots on goal the Chicago Wolves had through 40 minutes of action in this one. Now, I’m no mathematician, but that doesn’t seem like a winning formula.

10: Was the number of pounds defenseman Kevin Connauton lost thanks to his bout with a nasty stomach flu. I bet he wishes he had sat out this one as well, as he far too frequently got caught out of position.

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