The beloved Rampage got a shootout win and a last-second gut-punch of a loss against Stockton this weekend. Neither game was very exciting but sometimes you do what you have to do to maintain pace. In previous years this probably would have been a 0 point set but nowadays the Rampage have a bit more resiliency and confidence.
SAR 2 – STK 1 (SO)
Shots: 29-27 (51.8%)
PP 0/3, PK 4/4
Grimaldi & Warsofsky both scored in the shootout to grab the 2 points. Spencer Martin allowed 1 goal late in the 2nd period and none in the shootout in a strong performance that earned him a start for the next game as well.
STK 4 – SAR 3
Goals: Blais (2), Belzile
Shots: 39-22 (64%)
PP 2/5, PK 3/4
The Rampage entered the 3rd down by a goal and dominated 18-3 on the shot board while also managing to tie it up with 4 minutes to go. Through a course of events outlined below, Stockton won the game with just 34 seconds left. Sam Blais returned to the lineup and scored 2 goals while assisting on the other. Nice to have you back. He and Belzile were the only goalscorers on the weekend, which is troubling. Marty played another solid game but got no help from his defensemen at all and thus was saddled with the loss. Let’s take a look at each Stockton goal:
STK 1 – Geertsen lost his man 3′ from the net and Marty had no chance. Not all Mason’s fault, everyone else lost their man too.
STK 2 – Siemens had a hideous giveaway at the top of the circles on a breakout and the forechecker slammed it right past Martin no problem.
STK 3 – This was goofball city. Warsofsky pinched from the left point and Rocco covered back for him then walked the blue over to the right side. Meloche had little choice but to rotate from the right point over to the left half-wall. While that was happening Stockton gobbled the puck up and got a 2v1 with Rocco defending. The rest was academic.
STK 4 – This was the gut punch. Schmaltz fell asleep at the blue creating a breakaway and Butler had to take a hooking call on the backcheck. On the resulting PK Schmaltz got called for a hi-stick behind the net. Super soft in that situation but it was careless. After almost a minute of 5v3, which Duncan, Mason & Girard defended fabulously, Butler was released just as the puck went in from the point. Ouch, really hate to see a point tossed in the can like that.
Last week I had the chance to track line changes, which you can see here, so this week I looked at the defensive pairs and how they were deployed. The game was really choppy and had a ton of faceoffs, which made it easy to track. These are all at even strength.
Butler/Schmaltz – 23 shifts
Siemens/Meloche – 15 shifts
Warsofsky/Geertsen – 16 shifts
There were several mixed pair situations and double shifts so each defensemen ended up like so:
Butler – 27 shifts (21%)
Schmaltz – 27 shifts (21%)
Siemens – 19 shifts (15%)
Warsofsky – 19 shifts (15%)
Geertsen – 19 shifts (15%)
Meloche – 16 shifts (13%)
Other than a minute in the middle of the 2nd period this game was within a goal the whole time. This had neither turtle nor garbage time and it’s a pretty fair representation of how EV and Randy Ladouceur approach usage. Like with the forward lines last week, I got an impression of each pair’s personality from concentrating on that aspect of the game.
Butler/Schmaltz: The Rampage’s top pair has a balance between the calm vet performance of Butler with Schmaltz’s risky behavior. The main weaknesses are puck recapture in the d-zone and keeping the puck in the o-zone. Strengths come from Schmaltz’s breakout abilities and offense.
Siemens/Meloche: There isn’t really a 3rd pair but I’d call this one the 2a. This is the best defensive pair and both Siemens and Meloche are adept at puck recapture and breakouts. The weaknesses are mainly in the offensive zone with Duncan not generating much and Meloche’s offensive skills yet to pay off. If Nic starts putting up points and being more aggressive in the d-zone then I’d play them more than the top pair for sure.
Warsofsky/Geertsen: This is sort of an “other 2 guys” situation because they are really different defensemen. They do have some chemistry though and have been making it work pretty well lately. The weaknesses are in the d-zone where they don’t break the puck out well and coverage is a little spotty thanks to Warsofsky’s rover mentality and Mason’s mobility. I like what they do offensively for the most part. Mason’s got an underrated shot and while Wars makes ill-advised pinches too often they can create chances.
San Jose on Tuesday then back to San Antonio to play the Zombie Pirates on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
Thanks to the San Antonio Rampage for the feature photo and to AHL.com for the boxscores and standings