Wolves Take the Heat to School, Continue Winning Ways

Back on October 19th, the Chicago Wolves improved to 4-0 on the season thanks in large part to a virtuoso performance by Zack Kassian in front of a building filled with Canucks fans, and brass. It would be an understatement to say that the Wolves have seen their share of ups and downs since then. Nonetheless, they continued their winning ways, stretching their winning streak to 4 games following a 1-0 victory against the Abbotsford Heat. Enjoy one of their patented "ups" while it lasts, folks.

Read Past the Jump for Notes on the Game.

I assume you’re wondering why this game took place on a Wednesday morning, with the puck being dropped at 11 AM CST. The Wolves have a ‘School Day’ promotion, which they run three times a year. Schools all over Chicago take their classes on field trips, to catch the Wolves in action rather than learning how to count, and read. Personally, I’m jealous. I never got to do something like this, and that’s not fair.

It’s no secret that the Wolves haven’t exactly been the most electrifying team to watch this season. And that is only compounded by the fact that Billy Sweatt, Anton Rodin, and Steve Pinizzotto all find themselves out with various injuries right now. Sweatt took a particularly dirty elbow last time out against Lake Erie, and is out indefinitely. The culprit was suspended for his troubles, but for some reason I don’t find too much solace in that.

On Saturday night, I noted that the Wolves were having all sorts of troubles with their special teams play this season. They were last in the AHL on the penalty kill, and their power play wasn’t all that much better. While they didn’t score a goal on any of their man advantages in this one, there were positives to be drawn from their chances. They displayed strong puck possession, and moved the puck around the zone very effectively. More importantly, they avoided surrendering a goal on the PK.

The only goal of the game came off the stick of Darren Haydar, after a brilliant breakout play by Nathan Longpre. Just moments before the goal, Longpre nearly set up Haydar on a 2-on-1, which was thwarted by a brilliant save from Barry Brust. The Schroeder-Longpre-Haydar like looked very effectively, moving the puck from their end to the offensive zone before you could blink. I like to see that sort of tilting of the ice.

The Wolves have shown an ability to hold onto a 1-goal lead heading into the third period in recent games, and today was no different. They avoided handing the Heat any quality scoring opportunities, and seemed to be content winning this game by a score of 1-0. Points are points, right?

Fun with Numbers:

1: Is the number of points that were separating the 5 teams in the Midwest Division heading into this game. With their win, the Wolves temporarily leapfrog 3 teams to move atop the standings. 

34: Is the number of shots on goal the Wolves managed in this one. The line of Kassian-Sterling-Ebbett combined for 14, with the Kassassin registering 8 of them. Darren Haydar had the most dangerous opportunities, though, converting one of his 5 shots for the game’s only goal.

66: Is the number of goals both the Wolves and Heat had scored heading into this game. Only 5 teams in the entire league had scored less frequently. 

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