The beloved Rampage entered this weekend with a puncher’s chance to rise out of 6th place in the Pacific Division and move into a tie with 4th place Texas. All they had to do was beat Texas twice, and they came close, but couldn’t pull it off.
TX 2 – SA 1 on Friday
Shots for: 38
Shots against: 18
PP 0/2, PK 1/1
This was very close for the first two periods. The Rampage took the lead with 29 seconds left in the 2nd when the PP continued pressure after the penalty was over and Nic Meloche fed Klim Kostin who shot it at the net for a Zach Sanford tip. The 3rd period was nuts, Rampage outshot the Stars 17-4 but gave up 2 goals on some of the usual mistakes. If you want to talk about mistakes then talk about 1 goal on 38 shots. Most of those were poor quality shots but there were enough good ones that 2 or 3 goals should have happened.
SA 2 – TX 1 on Saturday
Goals: Agozzino, Graham
Shots for: 29
Shots against: 32
PP 0/1, PK 0/1
This was more of your typical Rampage game. Aggz scored in the closing minutes of the 1st, they came out flat in the 2nd but gave up nothing. Jesse Graham scored early in the 3rd which the Stars matched later but a pretty even period meant that San Antonio got the 2 points. Andrew Hammond made his debut for the Avs org after being acquired four months earlier and played a solid game for the win.
The Rampage had their usual difficulties scoring like they have for most of the season now. They shot 4.5% which makes Texas’ 7.5% look racy in comparison. If you like patterns, check out goals for in their last 10 games:
1, 2, 4, 4, 1, 2, 4, 4, 1, 2
I guess they’re scoring 4 in each of the games coming up against Stockton, right? They won all four games when they scored 4, although they needed a shootout in one. The impressive thing is getting 4 points out of 6 games where they scored 2 or less. 10 games/12 points on 24 goals is pretty darn efficient.
The Rampage’s play of late has allowed them to stay close to the playoff teams but not gain on them. The real chance was beating Texas twice in regulation this weekend and then doing the same on the final weekend of the season. After dropping Friday’s match they sit 6 back with 8 games to go. It all comes down to entering the final weekend 4 or less points back, which won’t be easy since Texas has a game in hand.
Lines/Pairs from the Weekend
Sanford – Aggz – Ranford
Greer – Belzile – Joly
Kostin – Girard – Vogie
Nantel/Musil – Bleackley – Beaudin
Geertsen – Meloche
Butler – Graham
Graves – Vannelli
With all the injuries and callups there weren’t any lineup options for Coach Veilleux and the staff, the only healthy scratch in both games was ATO defenseman Scott Dornbrock. The only players that have produced more than half a point per game this season in the lineup were Agozzino & Belzile (both at 0.58/gm). Blame lack of skill if you like but consistency is more the issue.
From game to game and even from period to period the execution of basic offensive tactics and plays isn’t there. I don’t know what the team is being taught in practice but simple things like completing a pass to a teammate and shooting a puck accurately at the goal do not get done in games more often than not. When the fundamentals fail then complex tactics don’t have a chance. From my viewpoint, the coaching staff have overreacted to errors on the ice by continually simplifying the systems and tactics the team employs during games. The result is a low-skill, risk-averse strategy that completely takes individual creativity out of the picture. No one is playing up to their potential and outside of perhaps Nic Meloche defensively no one is developing into better players. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch the ultimate goal of the AHL, developing young players, set aside due to fear of undesirable results like goals against and team losses. It’s very short-term thinking and has to be addressed once the season is over or year one with the Eagles will be even worse.
– On Thursday Spencer Martin and Andrew Hammond were sent down from the Avs, although Hammond had been in SA for a while practicing after a concussion. Joe Cannata was sent back to the Eagles after going 2-0-1 last weekend.
– Sam Blais was recalled to St Louis on Friday morning, sent back during the game in Cedar Park then recalled right after it was over. You follow me? He was sent back for the 2nd time in 24 hours on Saturday but not in time to play. This kid has been jerked around hard by the Blues. I realize they have bigger problems to worry about than their new AHL affiliate but I’d file this series of transactions as stupid, incompetent or both. What it comes down to is that Blais missed two games that he didn’t need to because his team’s management didn’t know what they were doing.
– For reasons unknown the Blues also re-assigned Adam Musil to the Czech National Team on Saturday. Musil had been benched for a while but finally got back in the lineup on Friday.
– Joe Cannata and Julien Nantel were called up from the Eagles on Saturday. Nantel played and Cannata backed up Hammond. They’re both gone again now.
– Ville Husso was re-assigned on Sunday. Looks like he and Hammond are the goalies for the time being.
– Rocco Grimaldi practiced with the team at the end of last week for the first time since suffering UBI in a game against Rockford 5 weeks ago. Barring another setback he could be returning in the near future.
– Shawn St-Amant left with UBI against Cleveland last weekend, no details on that
– Reid Petryk has LBI and missed both games against Texas
– Nolan De Jong is out with UBI
It doesn’t look like the Avs are going to send Warsofsky or Toninato back until the Avs season is over. Spencer Martin is up on what is perhaps an emergency basis and we could see him back once Bernier’s hand infection subsides.
– The Blues signed Austin Poganski, their 4th rounder in 2014, to an ELC and he will be headed to the Rampage this week.
– Avs 2016 5th rounder Adam Werner has signed an ATO with the Rampage following the close of his season in Allsvenskan. He’s a 6’5 goalie and went 26-21-0 with a .914 Sv% for Bjorkloven IF this year.
Friday vs Stockton 8:30pm
Saturday vs Stockton 8pm
This is the last full week of practice they have so good time to figure out the not scoring thing, if that’s possible.
Thanks again to the San Antonio Rampage for the feature photo and the AHL for stats and boxscores