Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Filling Holes

In a move designed to compensate for the recent call-up of Parker Milner to Bridgeport, the Missouri Mavericks traded for Chris Rawlings from Idaho.  Going to the Steelheads is Torin Snyderman.  Rawlings' acquisition comes as the New York Islanders, who are the parent club of the Mavericks, had to fill a hole with Jaroslav Halak out, and therefore, called up Christopher Gibson from Bridgeport of the AHL.  Naturally, there is a chain reaction, and for the Mavericks, that meant Bridgeport needed a goalie to take Gibson's spot, meaning Milner was the one to get the call.  Rawlings will be stepping in with Josh Robinson as the tandem in goal for the Mavericks until Halak gets back to full health.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mavericks Report: Ending the Year on a High Note

With a new winning streak that includes a 3-1 win over Allen on Saturday, the Missouri Mavericks will look to not only end 2015 on a winning note when they take on Wichita on Thursday, but also begin 2016 the same way with Allen coming into town on Friday before hitting the road to Evansville for a Saturday tilt.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mavericks Report: Perfect at Home

The Missouri Mavericks' 14-game winning streak may have ended last week, but their home record was still perfect, and they were looking to keep it that way with three games over the weekend.

First up was the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday and Saturday, and while they had their way in a 5-2 win on Friday, they had to hold off a furious charge late in the third period to secure a 3-2 win.  Against Quad City on Sunday, they found themselves down 2-1 early in the second period before coming up with three unanswered goals to come away with a 4-2 win and their home record still spotless.

Missouri hits the road on Saturday to take on the defending Kelly Cup champion Allen Americans.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A New Boss in Storm City

It's been a trying season for the Guelph Storm, as they will have failed to crack double digits in the points standings by the time they play their first game after Christmas break, though they did manage to win today and snap a 15-game winless streak.  Today, in addition to the win, the Storm announced that Jarrod Skalde will take over as head coach starting with the December 29 game against Erie.  Skalde takes over for Bill Stewart, who resigned from the post after just three months on the job.

Skalde comes with a resume that includes 88 games in the NHL and many more games in the AHL, and he also comes with a Turner Cup won in 2001 with Orlando as a player and head coaching experience from his time with Norfolk of the AHL and Cincinnati of the ECHL.  He enters the Guelph job with the task of getting Guelph to respectability for the rest of this season and beyond, and given that the Storm are in rebuilding mode, it will be a study in just how patient Skalde will be with a team that will make mistakes this season and most likely, the next.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Back on the Road

The Zack Kassian saga is taking a turn for the better, as he was cleared for on-ice competition after serving time in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program due to an incident prior to the start of the season.  The Montreal Canadiens, in response, sent him to St. John's of the AHL after he cleared waivers in an effort to get him back into playing shape.  This is a big step for Kassian, as he not only tries to find his way on the ice, but also off it, as he continues to return to good health. The moves will also help Montreal if all works out the way they hope, as they will have a big bodied player that they've always wanted.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mavericks Report

I've been long overdue to start talking about the hockey team that plays in my backyard known as the Kansas City area, and the timing of this first of what hopefully will be a weekly segment couldn't have gone worse.

Entering the week on a 14-game winning streak, the Mavericks were looking to make it 15 on Sunday at Tulsa. However, things wouldn't go the Mavericks' way, as the Oilers would halt the streak with a 4-3 win.  Andrew Courtney, Sebastien Sylvestre, and Tanner Fritz scored for the Mavericks, who will look to start a new winning streak this coming weekend, as they will be at home to host Cincinnati on Friday and Saturday and Quad City on Sunday.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Back to the Drawing Board

The Mike Johnston-era in Pittsburgh is over after just a season and a half.  With a record of 58-37-15 and seeing a formerly powerful Penguins team go from Stanley Cup contenders to fighting for their playoff lives, someone had to fall on the sword for a team that features Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel.  Taking over is Mike Sullivan, who was in his first season as head coach of the AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.  Sullivan also coached in Boston for a couple of seasons, and will be tasked with turning around the fortunes of a team that couldn't get their power play going under Johnston.

So, what went wrong with Johnston?  To figure it out, his system while in Portland was based on defensemen getting into the action, as players such as Derrick Pouliot (who still couldn't crack the Penguins' NHL roster even with his former junior coach there) and Seth Jones thrived.  With the right defensemen, the forwards would fly around and cause problems, as players such as Nic Petan and Ty Rattie proved in Portland.  The general hope was that the system would carry over with the Penguins, which was obviously not the case.  Of the Penguins this season, only Malkin has produced anything resembling average (for him) numbers.  Meanwhile, the blueliners haven't done a heck of a lot this season, as Kris Letang has just one goal to go with 13 helpers while only Olli Maatta has played to expectations among the rest of the group.  Marc-Andre Fleury needs help, and it will be up to Sullivan to help push the offensive needle in the right direction with a system that will benefit the Penguins.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Streaking: Missouri Style

The image above has been commonplace lately for Missouri Mavericks fans, as the team is riding a 14-game winning streak in its second year as a member of the ECHL and its first as an affiliate of the New York Islanders.  In 22 games, which is a third of the ECHL season, the Mavericks are 19-2-0-1, having established a fairly comfortable lead over the next best team in the Western Conference in Quad City.  The Mavericks will have a chance to make it 15 in a row on Sunday at Tulsa and should they do so, will have three games at home the following weekend with Cincinnati and Quad City. The task will be a little tougher, as current leading scorer Jesse Root was recently called up to Bridgeport of the AHL.  However, the two-headed goaltending system of Parker Milner and Josh Robinson have proven to be more than up to the task, as they have a combined 1.58 GAA.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dupuis Retires

Pascal Dupuis was forced to retire from the NHL yesterday due to a medical condition related to blood clots, something that began in January 2014 when the blood clots were first diagnosed.  In 2014-15, he only played 16 games before shutting it down in November due to a blood clot in the lungs.  After 18 games and a health scare on December 1 against San Jose, Dupuis decided to call it a career, citing family reasons.

Dupuis was a player that very few had a bad word for, as he was one of the most respected players in the league, especially by those for whom he played with in his career.  Undrafted, he parlayed a 50-goal season with Shawinigan of the QMJHL into a free-agent deal with Minnesota, where in his best season there, netted 20 goals and 28 assists in the 2002-03 season that saw Minnesota go to the Conference Finals that season.  He would later spend a brief time with the New York Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers before heading to Pittsburgh in 2008 in a trade that involved Marian Hossa.  In the 2011-12 season, he notched career highs in goals and points, and also played a key role in the 2009 Stanley Cup run with Pittsburgh.

Many times, it's the superstars that get the credit, but it's the players like Dupuis and Rich Peverley who turn in an honest effort night in and night out that truly make a team better.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Tale of Two Teams

Two seasons ago, the Erie Otters and the Guelph Storm were squaring off in the OHL Western Conference Final in which Guelph would ultimately win in five and go on to win the J.Ross Robertson Trophy before falling a win short of the Memorial Cup that season.  Here we are now, and Erie is at the top of the league while Guelph still hasn't cracked 10 points for the season.  What happened?

In the junior leagues, every team will see their share of highs and lows, some more on the high side than others. Erie was supposed to fall off a little this season with Connor McDavid moving on to the NHL.  They were still supposed to be good with Dylan Strome being the man now, but somewhere along the way, something better happened.  Alex DeBrincat has emerged as a true goal scoring threat, something that was still in question after last season even though he was the only 50-scorer in the league last season. It is clear that DeBrincat is out to not only prove that his play isn't just a result of playing with McDavid, but also that being 5'7" isn't going to be a hindrance, and given that there is a precedence for players his size succeeding in the NHL, he may do it.  On the other end, Guelph is dead last with just five points to show for the season, and it's now past the first third.  Seeing the likes of Jason Dickinson, Robby Fabbri, and Tyler Bertuzzi leave to turn pro, it wasn't supposed to be this terrible.  However, this is where they are, and now, not only can they not score, they can't stop the puck from going in, either.  Justin Nichols accounts for both of the team's victories, and he sports a decent save percentage at .914.  However, the same cannot be said for Bradley Van Schubert, who is winless in nine starts, and sports a ghastly 5.89 GAA and a .845 save percentage, which was why they brought in Michael Giugovaz, who has been well-traveled in the OHL.  Of course, he hasn't done great in two starts with the Storm, but then again, the Storm are the worst offensive team with just 42 goals, which is 20 behind the next worst team in Owen Sound, who sit in the sixth spot for the playoffs as of this writing.  Given that the Storm share a division with Owen Sound, Kitchener, London, and Erie, with the last three leading the Conference in the standings, things look bleak for the Storm this season, which means they will have the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Draft to look forward to, whoever that ends up being.