While America honors Martin Luther King Jr. today with a federal holiday, the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs meet at the MetroCentre for the lone game on the AHL schedule
Monday, Jan. 19, 1 p.m.
Team Record: 23-12-4-2
Last Game: 3-2 SOW vs. Chicago (Jan. 17)
Season Series: 5-1-1-0
Last Meeting: 3-2 Road SO Win (Jan. 17)
Team Record: 19-15-4-1
Last Game: 2-3 SOL vs. Rockford (Jan. 17)
Season Series: 2-4-0-1
Last Meeting: 2-3 Home SO Loss (Jan. 17)
This marks the second of three times this season that the Wolves and IceHogs face each other in back-to-back games. On Nov. 28-29, the Wolves won both games. This time around, the IceHogs are trying to post back-to-back wins after picking up a 3-2 shootout victory Saturday night at Allstate Arena in Chicago’s first shootout of the season.
If Rockford wins today, then it clinches at least a tie for the 2014-15 Illinois Lottery Cup. The trophy goes to the team that posts more wins in this 12-game series — and Rockford took five of the first seven
When the Wolves scored 5-plus goals in three consecutive games Dec. 21-26, it appeared the team had solved its offensive woes. But in the eight games since, Chicago has managed just 13 goals (1.63 avg.) and posted a 2-4-1-1 record.
This is the next-to-last game of a stretch where the Wolves play six Midwest Division opponents in seven games. They’ve gone 0-4-1-1 in their last six games against division foes to drop below .500 (9-10-3-1) against Rockford, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and Lake Erie this year. Conversely, Midwest-leading Rockford is 14-7-3-0 within the division.
By The Numbers
44 – The Wolves fired a season-high 44 shots on Saturday night against Rockford, which is the franchise’s best since launching 45 shots on April 6, 2014, in a shootout loss to Iowa at home.
+22 – The Wolves fired a season-high 44 shots on Saturday night against Rockford, which is the franchise’s best since launching 45 shots on April 6, 2014, in a shootout loss to Iowa at home.
97.3 – The Wolves have succeeded on 36 of their last 37 penalty kills on the road. It’s a streak that began Nov. 26 at Milwaukee and stretches over 12 road games. Chicago has killed 89.6 percent of its shorthanded situations on the road this season (69 of 77), which ranks third in the league.
Follow The Action
Today’s game begins at 1 p.m. and can be seen on The U-Too (channel 26.2). U-Too also can be found on XFinity’s Chs. 230 (HD) and 360 (SD), RCN’s Ch. 35 and WOW’s Ch. 170. The game can also be streamed on www.ahllive.com.
#23 Magnus Paajarvi
Ever since Paajarvi has taken the ice for his first game on Dec. 30, there has been an added spark to whatever line he’s found himself on.
The native from Sweden has contributed 1 goal, 2 assists and a +2 plus/minus rating in 7 games. More to the point, Paajarvi has been on the ice for seven of Chicago’s 11 goals during those seven games, but just two of the opponents’ 19 goals over that stretch.
The 23-year-old forward tallied his first goal for the Wolves — and first in the AHL since Dec. 14, 2012 — on Saturday night against the IceHogs. While his pedal-to-the-medal style of play hasn’t translated into extra wins for the Wolves, it’ll soon pay dividends for the team as a whole.
#33 Scott Darling
Rockford has a problem not many teams have, and for them, they relish in it. Scott Darling and Michael Leighton are arguably both NHL-caliber netminders — one who spent bits and pieces of nine years in the big show and another who has seen his first-ever NHL action this season.
This season, Darling is 5-2-0 with a 1.97 goals against average and .937 save percentage in his seven games with the Blackhawks, plus a 10-5-2 with a 2.20 average and .929 save percentage with Rockford. Due to constant movement this season, Darling hasn’t found much of a groove since the end of November. In Darling’s most recent start on Friday, he shut out the Iowa Wild on all 30 shots faced for his first snub of the AHL season.
The Wolves have only seen Darling twice this season and both were in Rockford. Chicago tallied six goals total but split the series with their victory coming in overtime.