Sunday, March 28 | 7:00 p.m. | Allstate Arena | Facebook
The Best Offense is High-Scoring Offense
Since the Chicago Wolves and Iowa Wild met on March 18 and the Wolves reeled off seven goals for a win, the Wild have been outscored 20-9 by their opponents in their last four games. Iowa returns to Allstate Arena after taking a 7-2 thrashing against the Milwaukee Admirals on Sunday. Prior to that game in Milwaukee, the Wolves were the last team to score seven goals against the Wild. Surprisingly, the Wild did have one game that was determined by one goal and it even needed a shootout. Although Chicago has been part of 34 one-goal decisions, their contests at Allstate Arena against the Wild this season have been high-scoring affairs. Less dramatic, but still notable, Chicago has outscored Iowa 17-12 in those three games.
BACK ON TRACK
Wednesday is Game 2 of a four-game homestand for the Chicago Wolves. On Sunday, they overcame the Grand Rapids Griffins in a shootout to help get back in the win column on home ice. Prior to March 10, the Wolves had won 15 of 16 home games dating back to Dec. 6. During that stretch the club also set franchise records with 14-game point (Dec. 6 to Jan. 10) and 13-game home win (Dec. 6 to Feb. 15) streaks. However, on March 10, the Manitoba Moose punched the Wolves for a 2-1 win, and then the Rockford IceHogs rolled in and kept battering until the Wolves bled for two more consecutive losses on March 11 and 17. The trio of setbacks marked the second time this season Chicago dropped three straight at Allstate Arena. On the bright side, all three games were one-goal decisions — Manitoba and Rockford only outscored the Wolves 7-4 in three combined games.
SAILS ON THE HORIZON
Right now, there is a six-team horse race for four Calder Cup Playoffs spots happening in the Central Division. The Manitoba Moose have been the division’s No. 1 for nearly the entire season while the Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Iowa Wild, Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs have been buoying between the No. 2 and 6 positions. However, the Moose have not been nearly as dominant of late and the Wolves — the current division No. 2 — are just three points back. Additionally, the Wolves (6-3-1-0), Griffins (5-4-0-1) and IceHogs (7-1-1-1) have all been pretty good in their last 10 games. That said, the team to watch is Milwaukee. While the Admirals are just 6-4-0-0 in their last 10 games — still not shabby — they own the best season record in head-to-head competition with the five teams they’re battling for a postseason spot. In games against the Griffins, IceHogs, Moose, Wild and Wolves, the Admirals have produced a 24-16-3-0 record for a .593 points percentage — the best showing of those teams. In six days, the Admirals will dock at Allstate Arena for the first of three games in seven days to finish the season series with the Wolves.
By the Numbers:
- 1.00: Through 41 games, forward Tomas Hyka is averaging one point per game to lead all Chicago Wolves skaters. Wednesday marks Game 68 for the Wolves and Hyka has missed 26 of those due to a mixture of injuries and National Hockey League recalls. The 25-year-old was intermittently recalled from loan between Feb. 19 and March 15. In that time frame, the European free agent — who signed with the Vegas Golden Knights last summer — made his NHL debut on Feb. 19 against the Anaheim Ducks and then netted his first NHL goal on Feb. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks.
- 6: In Sunday’s thrilling shootout victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Chicago Wolves killed six Griffins man-advantages. The feat marked the sixth time during the 2017-18 campaign the Wolves have killed at least six penalties in a single game. The last time the Wolves were a perfect 6-for-6 was Jan. 1 at Wells Fargo Arena against the Iowa Wild. Chicago also recorded its game with the most PKs this season against Iowa — on Dec. 16 — when the Wolves accrued nine penalty calls that resulted in man advantages for the Wild. On that night, the Wolves were 6 for 9 on the PK. Six is also the highest number of kills in which Chicago has remained perfect in a game.
- 9: This season, center Brandon Pirri owns nine first goals. That total not only leads the Chicago Wolves, but leads every skater in the 30-team American Hockey League. In terms of the Wolves, Pirri’s total is three times the next-best Wolves skaters. Across the AHL, he holds a one-goal lead over Springfield’s Anthony Greco and Tucson’s Mike Sislo.
- 67: Forward T.J. Tynan missed his first game of the 2017-18 campaign Sunday against the Grand Rapids Griffins, so captain Paul Thompson stands as the Chicago Wolves’ lone iron man of the season. With 67 games this season and 29 games at the end of the 2016-17 campaign with the Springfield Falcons, Thompson owns a personal AHL iron-man streak of 96 games. If the 29-year-old can keep up his streak alive, he will finish the regular season with a 105 consecutive games. The streak began on Feb. 11, 2017.
- 100: On Sunday, captain Paul Thompson logged four penalty minutes to bring his season total to 100 and mark the first time the nine-year veteran hit triple digits. His previous season-high was the 96 minutes he recorded two seasons ago with the Albany Devils. With his 100 penalty minutes, Thompson has accounted for 13.7 percent of the Wolves’ minutes this season and is the most-penalized skater this season. While he leads Chicago — the closest skater is Wade Megan with 52 PIM (just 7.1 percent of the team’s total PIM count) — Thompson ranks just 18th in the league in penalty minutes. The amount is especially impressive when the hard-nosed forward’s eight-game penalty-less streak is taken into consideration. The infraction-less stretch that took place from Feb. 18 to March 9 is the third-longest non-penalty stint of Thompson’s career. During the 2014-15 campaign — from Feb. 27 to April 10 — Thompson managed to avoid the box for 17 straight games.
- 728: After racking up 14 penalty minutes on Sunday, the Chicago Wolves are now the third-least penalized team in the American Hockey League. Previously, the Wolves were the No. 2 least-penalized team trailing only their in-state rival, the Rockford IceHogs. While Rockford remains the only team averaging fewer than 10 minutes per game, the Wolves own a 10.78 per-game average. Fourteen PIM isn’t even Chicago’s single-game high — it’s 32 which they recorded on Dec. 2 against Sunday’s same opponent, the Grand Rapid Griffins — but it did allow the Griffins six power plays.
- Chicago rallied to cap the season series with a shootout victory.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen kicked off the rally just 3:32 into the third frame.
- With 31 seconds to play, defenseman Zac Leslie netted the game-tying goal.
- Center Brandon Pirri was the lone scorer in the shootout.
- Goaltender Oscar Dansk made 30 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts for the win.
- The Wolves fell to the IceHogs for the third straight Illinois Lottery Cup contest.
- Forward Teemu Pulkkinen netted two goals while Brandon Pirri accounted for the third.
- Goaltender Max Lagace made 33 saves in his second straight start.
|Wednesday, March 28||vs. Iowa||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Saturday, March 31||vs. Texas||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Tuesday, April 3||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
|Friday, April 6||at Iowa||Wells Fargo Arena||7 p.m.||Watch|
|Saturday, April 7||vs. Milwaukee||Allstate Arena||7 p.m.||Tickets|
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March 18, 2018
|11/26/2017||Allstate Arena||L, 4-6|
|12/16/2017||Allstate Arena||W, 6-3|
|01/01/2018||Wells Fargo Arena||W, 2-1|
|01/17/2018||Wells Fargo Arena||L, 2-5|
|02/09/2018||Wells Fargo Arena||L, 4-1|
|03/18/2018||Allstate Arena||W, 7-3|
|04/06/2018||Wells Fargo Arena|