Welcome to Wolves Roundup, a weekly report of highlights, notes and transactions from the Chicago Wolves’ previous week of competition during the 2016-17 season.
Get Your Rally Caps On
On Monday, the Chicago Wolves dropped a 6-3 decision to the Grand Rapids Griffins at Van Andel Arena in Game 4 of the Central Division Finals. The loss puts the Wolves on the brink of elimination from the 2017 Calder Cup Finals.
When the series reconvenes for Game 5 on Saturday at Allstate Arena, Chicago will be looking to rally and avoid elimination for the second time during these playoffs. During the first round, the Central Division Semifinals, the Wolves twice came back from one-game deficits in the best-of-five series to overcome the Charlotte Checkers and move onto a Finals matchup with the Griffins.
Chicago also needed a set of back-to-back victories in order to secure their Round 2 bid, and now the team will look to secure three consecutive wins to keep its Calder Cup dreams alive. The Wolves are 17-9 all-time when facing postseason elimination. However, it is a toss-up if they can finally slay the Griffins — who have been a bur under their saddle all season — as the Wolves are just 3-3 when facing elimination against Grand Rapids.
Through the first four games of the best-of-seven series, the Griffins have outscored the Wolves 17-13 and outshot them 144-115. The Griffins have put no fewer than 31 shots on goal during each game and posted a 40-shot contest that was the most the Wolves have given up against an opponent during the 2017 postseason.
The Wolves have played nine games — the most games of any of the 16 Calder Cup teams — and have given up the most shots – 305. They are also the only club to give up more than 300 shots on net. On average, the Wolves allow 33.89 shots per game that ranks them 12th among Calder Cup teams.
Conversely, Chicago has yet to put more than 31 shots on the Griffins’ net. The Wolves are averaging just 29.33 shots per game and that places them 11th among Calder Cup teams.
The 2016-17 AHL MVP has been doing what he can to carry his team through the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. Through four games between May 3-8 against the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Central Division Finals, Agostino has led the Chicago Wolves offense with five points (3G, 2A) and two multi-point performances. The 25-year-old most recently nabbed two goals in Chicago’s 6-3 loss on May 8. With the injury bug hitting the Wolves hard, including three of four alternate captains, Agostino was called upon to represent team leadership and sport an “A” during Monday’s contest.
The 20-year-old was one of the Chicago Wolves’ top rookies during the regular season, and he has rolled that responsibility into the 2017 postseason. While the Wolves are trying to weather injuries, the situation has pushed Blais up to the team’s top line with Kenny Agostino and Andrew Agozzino. While the Quebec native has just two assists through the last four games, he is still second in team playoff scoring with seven points (2G, 5A) and has become a target for the opponent, which opens his linemates up for more scoring opportunities.
The team captain has quietly helped the Chicago Wolves stay afloat during the postseason. The 30-year-old leads Chicago blueliners in scoring with a goal and five assists for six points through nine games. Butler has nabbed a goal and an assist in the last four outings — between May 3-8 — and has eight shots on goal in that span. The St. Louis native has been skating on the Chicago’s top defensive pairing with second-year defender Jordan Schmaltz.
Through four games from May 3-8, the 23-year-old has two goals and an assist for three points and one of those markers was the game-winning goal in the Chicago Wolves’ 7-3 romp over the Grand Rapids Griffins on May 5. MacEachern has been skating on a line centered by Alex Friesen and with Scooter Vaughan on the opposite wing. During the Central Division Finals, the Michigan native has a +2 plus/minus rating along with five shots and goal and just two penalty minutes.
Monday, May 8 (at) Grand Rapids 6, Chicago 3
- Grand Rapids took the second of back-to-back games at Van Andel Arena to grab a 3-1 Central Division Finals series lead over Chicago.
- Left wing Kenny Agostino netted a pair of goals for his third multi-point playoff outing.
- Rookie Tage Thompson collected Chicago’s third tally.
- Goalkeeper Ville Husso stopped 32 of 37 shots.
Saturday, May 6 (at) Grand Rapids 4, Chicago 2
- The Griffins gained a 2-1 Central Division Finals lead over the Wolves. Matthew Ford, Ben Street and Tyler Bertuzzi all scored in the first period to give Grand Rapids a 3-0 lead in the opening 11 minutes.
- Captain Chris Butler and rookie Mackenzie MacEachern both scored early in the third period to get Chicago within a goal.
- Goaltender Ville Husso gave up three goals on nine shots to earn the loss and was replaced by Jordan Binnington, who stopped 30 of 31 shots.
Friday, May 5 (at) Chicago 7, Grand Rapids 3
- Chicago took a 3-0 lead and added four third-period goals to rout Grand Rapids and even the Central Division Finals at one game apiece.
- Rookies accounted for eight points — and three goals — in the contest.
- Forwards Kenny Agostino (2A), Ty Loney (2A), Mackenzie MacEachern (G, A) and Tage Thompson (G, A), as well as defenseman Vince Dunn (G, A), all turned in two-point performances.
- Forward Andrew Agozzino netted a short-handed marker while Brett Sterling collected his first AHL postseason tally since 2011 and defenseman Petteri Lindbohm also scored.
- Rookie netminder Ville Husso turned aside 28 shots in the victory while Chicago handed Griffins goalie Jared Coreau his first loss of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.
- The Griffins took Game 1 of the Central Division Finals over the Wolves.
- Left wing Kenny Agostino was the lone scorer for Chicago.
- Forwards Tyler Bertuzzi (2A), Martin Frk (G, A) and Ben Street (G, A), along with defenseman Nathan Paetsch (2A), all turned in two-point performances for Grand Rapids.
- Chicago rookie netminder Ville Husso made 31 saves in the loss while Griffins veteran goalkeeper Jared Coreau turned aside 27 shots.
|Saturday, May 13||vs. Grand Rapids||Allstate Arena||7 p.m. CT|
|Monday, May 15**||at Grand Rapids||Van Andel Arena||6 p.m. CT|
|Tuesday, May 16**||vs. Grand Rapids||Allstate Arena||7 p.m. CT|
** If necessary
Some Central Divisional Semifinal games will be broadcast on The U Too. Click here to visit a complete broadcast schedule; all games stream live on AHLLive.com.