Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 46

This week's Antler Banter is a light one with only a pair of games to report. Those games, however, came against the high-flying, high-scoring, dominating Grand Rapids Griffins who have been decimating teams on an eight-game winning streak. Since losing to Charlotte on February 19, Grand Rapids has scored four-or-more goals in five of their last eight games. Needless to say, they're on another tear through the Central Division right now. Would this win streak be pushed to nine games? Ten games? The Moose stood in their way and looked to derail the Griffins with a big effort, but they'd need two full games from every player if they were stop the Central Division's best team. Let's find out how they did on this week's Antler Banter!

The Games

So these Griffins? Wow. They're good. Grand Rapids jumped out to a 5-0 lead after a period and a half on the strength of a pair of Eric Tangradi goals, an Andy Miele goal, an Anthony Mantha goal, and a Robbie Russo goal. Chase De Leo got the Moose on the board with his 16th goal of the season on the power-play at 5:07 of the third period, and Dan DeSalvo would notch his first goal of the season at 7:16 with the extra man. Unfortunately, the comeback would be halted as Nick Jensen and Tyler Bertuzzi sniped markers later in the third as Grand Rapids took the first game of the two-game set by a 7-2 score. Jared Coreau stopped 20 of 22 shots in the win while Connor Hellebuyck surrendered all seven goals. The loss puts Manitoba at 18-34-4-5 on the season.

Game Two didn't get much better outside of an improved score, but a loss is a loss is a loss. Axel Blomqvist opened the scoring for the Moose at 10:28 with his first goal of the season, but the remaining goals all went against Manitoba. Bertuzzi on the power-play, Mantha, Frk on the power-play, Tangradi, and Nosek into an empty-new while shorthanded meant another five-goal game for the Griffins as they extended the win streak to ten games with a 5-1 victory. Tom McCollum backstopped the Griffins to another win while Eric Comrie took the loss for the Moose. With the setback, the Moose fall to 18-35-4-5 in this campaign.

In And Out

Get ready to follow this, ok?

Defenceman Jake Baker was signed to another PTO by the Moose on Friday. Baker looked good in his previous stint with the club where he had an assist in a pair of games before being cut loose. He played 50 games with the ECHL's Quad City Mallards this season as well.

Ben Walker was returned to the ECHL's Tulsa Oilers on Friday. The forward played in four games with the Moose, recording no points.

The Moose then recalled defenceman Brennan Serville on Saturday from Tulsa. Serville appeared in five games with the Moose, recording no points. In 18 games with the Oilers, he's put up one assist.

The Moose released Jake Baker from his PTO after the two crushing defeats at the hands of the Griffins. Baker played in both games, but recorded no additional points. The key? He didn't look out of place. In fact, I thought he was alright amongst the carnage.

With Dustin Byfuglien hurting, the Winnipeg Jets recalled Julian Melchiori on an emergency basis on Monday. The Moose assistant captain has two goals and four assists in 59 games with the AHL club this season, and made his Jets debut in Vancouver wearing #71.

Because the Moose were down a defenceman, guess who they brought back on a PTO? That's right: Jake Baker! He squeezed in one game with the Mallards before being brought back by the Moose on his third PTO today. Here's a thought: just sign the kid!

Coming Up

The word "playoffs" won't be mentioned in these articles going forward as the Moose are dead-last in the AHL again. Let's not even go there.

The Moose travel to Lake Erie for a weekend set against the Monsters who currently sit fourth in the Central Division at 33-19-5-5 with 76 points - some 31 points more than the Moose. The Monsters have owned the Moose all season, going 5-1-0 against the Herd with 20 goals-for and 11 goals-against. Each club has a shutout against the other as Manitoba took the sixth game of the season series by a 4-0 score. The Moose are 0-2 in Cleveland, being outscored 8-3 in those games, so they'll be in tough against a Monsters team that looks like they'll be in the post-season dance.

After that, the Moose come home for a Monday-Wednesday set against the Stockton Heat. The Heat are sixth in the Pacific Division with a 25-24-2-2 record, and the Moose have lost both games against the Heat in extra time - a 2-1 shootout loss and a 3-2 overtime loss - in California. These games should be a little more even as the Heat, like the Flames, won't be playing past the final regular season game.

I'm thinking that if the Moose can go 2-2 or 3-1, we'll call this upcoming week a success!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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