Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 35

The Moose have been off since December 21, so there isn't a lot to report this week. Roster freezes also meant any and all player movement was zero for a good portion of that time, and that meant everyone who was with the Moose would return as of December 27 as part of the Moose. You have to think that head coach Keith McCambridge sat down at one point with his coaching staff and went over what has been working, what hasn't been so good, and what needs to be scrapped altogether. This is a team that barely scores, is eight games below .500, and looking up at a lot of teams putting lots of space between themselves and the Moose. While the Moose will stress development, perhaps they could develop some scoring? A power-play? A penalty-killing idea? Eric Comrie has been the only Moose standout thus far, and he's getting shelled most nights.

Coming To Town

I previewed them last week, but the Iowa Wild visit MTS Centre for the New Year's Eve game and will stick around for a New Year's Day game as well. You can find the preview on the bottom of last week's Antler Banter. The Moose had better win both of they hope to remain in contention, albeit a long shot, for a playoff spot.

Grand Rapids comes to town on January 3 and 5, and this is a team that isn't to be ignored. Grand Rapids started the season off on the wrong foot as they trailed the Moose for a period of time in the standings. Cue up a 15-game winning streak over 39 days that was the longest streak in the AHL since Norfolk set the standard by rattling off 28 in a row, and the Griffins are in the thick of the playoff race in the Central Division again. Grand Rapids is also 14-4-0-1 against the Central Division, so this won't be a good time if the Moose don't come ready to play. If there is a silver lining, ten of those 15 wins came on home ice, and the Griffins saw their streak snapped on December 27 by the Milwaukee Admirals in Milwaukee.

Former Winnipeg Jet Eric Tangradi leads the Griffins in goals with 13. He's the only Griffin in double-digits for goals, but don't be fooled by that. Five additional players have seven goals or more, so there is a balanced attack in Grand Rapids. Andy Miele leads the team in assists (18) and points (24), and they have 11 players in double-digits. Jared Coreau is an impressive 13-4-1 on the season with a 2.28 GAA and a .928 save percentage, so they're getting quality netminding as well. Tom McCollum is 4-6-0, but his 2.53 GAA and .924 save percentage saw he may be a victim of bad luck when it comes to his overall record.

The Moose need to beat Iowa twice and work for a split against the Griffins. The Moose are 14 points behind sixth-place Chicago, and they need a serious run of wins if there's any hope of salvaging this season.

Not Playing

Jay Harrison and JC Lipon are listed as week-to-week. There's hope they could be back in action sometime next week, but we'll see how that goes. Thomas Raffl is out long-term after that crazy story we learned of last week.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Mark Scheifele ran into Andrew Ladd in practice and sustained a concussion. If the Jets didn't have bad luck, they'd have no luck. Because there was a void at the center ice position, the Jets recalled Adam Lowry who was really looking good as part of the top unit for the Moose. He had four assists in four games with the Moose thus far, and has played a more prominent role with the Jets since his recall.

Good on Lowry for putting his "demotion" to the Moose to good use.

Watching Hockey

While the AHL games won't be televised from MTS Centre, there is that little NHL game going on in Forborough, Massachusetts between the Canadiens and Bruins. I'll most likely be watching that on Friday, so Happy New Year, Moose fans! Here's hoping 2016 being a few more wins than 2015 did!

Until 2016, keep your sticks on the ice!

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