From the Rampage Desk: Defense Hot, Offense Not
The beloved Rampage are in a bit of a scoring slump. It was hidden a bit by some solid defense at first but 2 points in the last 4 games have them falling down the standings. They are now in 4th place but only by a couple of percentage points over Texas.
Stumbling in the standings is one thing, forgetting how to score goals is another. San Antonio has 8 goals in the last 6 games. Sounds bad, right? They’ve only given up 12 so maybe there’s hope. Let’s look at the usual culprit, shooting percentage.
Shots, last 6 games: 188
Shooting percentage: 4.3%
Bingo. Up until this stretch the Rampage were shooting a healthy 9.9% on the season. Injuries and callups have taken a bit of a toll on the lineup but with guys returning on the California trip it didn’t help. They did, however, help the power play going 3 for 7 in the last 2 games after getting blanked in 4 straight.
On the bright side, defensively they were more than stout. The PK went 21/23, quite a bit better than their 81% coming in. Martin & Husso held up their end of the bargain too with a .929 save percentage, much better than the team’s .895 beforehand. Two goals against per game is a huge improvement on 3.13 as well.
Cy Young Award Winners
The Rampage have very few natural centers, Girard & Toninato are the only two that play every night. There are plenty of guys that can do a reasonable job at any forward position but the lack of playmakers is a concern when goal scoring craters like it has in the past couple weeks. Only 4 players have double digit assists this year and 2 of them are defensemen. The other 2 (Agozzino & Belzile) are what I would consider shooters that often develop plays by looking for others to get tips or rebounds. The 2 natural centers have 20 points between them and only 7 are assists. What?
When you think of guys that have more goals than assists, images of power forwards that live within 5 feet of the net come to mind, often called Cy Young Award Winners. Not on this years’ Rampage, check these fellows out:
That looks like an ok pitching staff, Nantel and Girard are straight up killers. 37 goals total between the 5 and barely half that in assists. It’s fun if you like weird stats but in the grand scheme of things there’s a big problem with forwards creating plays. Only 3 have what you would consider “playmaker” numbers: Aggz 8-15, Ranford 2-9 & Kostin 2-9. Out of those 3 only Kostin is what I would consider a gifted passer, although still very raw, and Agozzino is good at this level.
What does this say? The Rampage are opportunistic scorers and not playmakers at all. They score off turnovers and transition, rebounds and chaos in front of the net. I have come to the conclusion that this is by design and not just a function of the personnel on the roster. The offensive system Coach Veilleux uses is not meant to take advantage of skill, it’s constructed to grind. A playmaking center isn’t necessary so lines with 3 wings are common and could explain partially why J-C Beaudin is with the Eagles instead of spending his first pro year in the AHL like he should be.
In the 2nd half of the season the Rampage are going to need a more diverse offense or more slumps could be on the way, so let’s hope there’s a plan B here. I like that the shot generation has stayed high and they are still suppressing shots well and probably quality shots too if Jared Bednar’s tactics are involved here. We’ve seen with the Avalanche that these conditions have the side effect of suppressing their own offense at times so that’s something the staff need to be careful with. In a perfect world, when you have the puck the ice opens up and it closes back down when the opponents take control, but that’s a delicate balance to achieve.
– J-C Beaudin and Shawn St-Amant were re-assigned to the Eagles on Tuesday and played in Colorado Wednesday night. BR’s Nathan Rudolph covered the game for us and got an interview with Beaudin post-game, check it out here.
– Tage Thompson was re-assigned to the Rampage from St Louis Wednesday
– David Warsofsky got his first callup to the Avs on Thursday. Interesting move since Andrei Mironov was sent down for the bye week but remains in San Antonio for the time being.
– AJ Greer was recalled back to the Avs Thursday after the bye week.
– Thomas Frazee was called up from Norfolk for the 3rd time this year (technically, once was just because he was traded in the ECHL) and still has yet to suit up for the silver & black.
Friday night vs Milwaukee, 8:30pm ET – TV on FSSW
Sunday afternoon vs Milwaukee 4pm ET
Thanks to the San Antonio Rampage for the feature photo and to the AHL for the stats
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