CHICAGO WOLVES (6-3-0-1) at MANITOBA MOOSE (6-4-0-0)
racking up the goals
The Chicago Wolves boast one of the most explosive offenses in the AHL. In every game except one this season, the Wolves have produced at least three goals. For the season, Chicago shares third place in the 31-team AHL with 4.1 goals per game. Only the Springfield Thunderbirds (4.56) and Iowa Wild (4.5) are faring better while the Toronto Marlies also have posted 41 goals in 10 games.
Weirdly, though, the Wolves have lost their last two games — including Friday night’s 5-4 loss at Manitoba — despite multiplying their offensive chances and minimizing their opponents’ opportunities. On Friday night, the Wolves set season-highs for shots (36) and shot differential (+16). In each of their last two games, the Wolves have surrendered a season-low 20 shots to the Moose (Friday night) and the San Antonio Rampage (last Sunday).
NOT AFRAID TO BE DIFFERENT
On Sunday at San Antonio, the Wolves went on the power play facing a 2-0 deficit with 15 minutes left. Head coach Rocky Thompson decided to pull goalie Max Lagace to give his power-play unit a 6-on-4 advantage. The decision worked out as forward Curtis McKenzie tipped home defenseman Erik Brännström’s slapshot.
Based on that success, no one seemed surprised Friday night when Thompson removed goaltender Oscar Dansk once the Wolves received a power play chance with 10 minutes to go and a chance to cut into a 5-2 deficit. Though the Wolves didn’t take advantage of this 6-on-4 situation, Thompson kept the net empty after the power play expired and Chicago wound up producing a pair of goals with a 6-on-5. Brooks Macek scored with 6:00 to play and Nic Hague with 3:43 left to cut the margin to 5-4.
A FEW COMPARISONS
After 10 games last season, the Wolves’ leading scorer was Teemu Pulkkinen and he owned 6 goals and 7 assists. Brooks Macek, meanwhile, has scored 10 goals in 10 games this year and shares the AHL lead with Cleveland’s Zac Dalpe. Linemate Daniel Carr produced two more points Friday to push to a team-high 14 points in 10 games.
The Wolves picked up their sixth win this season on Oct. 26 in their eighth game. Last season, the Wolves didn’t earn their sixth win until Dec. 6 in their 22nd game. These Wolves have 41 goals in 10 games. Last year’s Wolves needed 16 games to score their 41st goal.
By The Numbers
4: The Wolves already own four goals this year with their goalie pulled — which matches the total last year’s team managed during the 76-game regular season. The third and fourth such goals came in Friday night’s 5-4 loss at Manitoba when Brooks Macek and Nic Hague tallied in the final six minutes. The second occurred in Sunday’s third period when Curtis McKenzie scored in a 6-on-4 situation. The first doubled as the team’s first goal of the year as Erik Brännström scored with goaltender Oscar Dansk pulled as the Wolves took advantage of a delayed penalty call.
4: Here’s an oddity: The Wolves’ last four games have been against four different teams — and yet each of these teams has started a goalie whose last name starts with B. The Wolves started the streak by defeating Cleveland’s J-F Berube and Texas’ Landon Bow, but they’ve fallen the last two games against San Antonio’s Jordan Binnington and Manitoba’s Mikhail Berdin. Meanwhile, the Wolves also have played four games against goalies whose last name starts with M — and they’ve earned 7 of a possible 8 points.
9: This marks the second of nine times this season the Wolves get to face the same opponent on consecutive days. Chicago swept Colorado in the first back-to-back on Oct. 5-6 and here are the upcoming back-to-backs where the teams are sure to build up a good friendship in a short period of time: Tucson (Dec. 15-16), Rockford (Dec. 28-29), San Antonio (Jan. 4-5), Tucson (Jan. 11-12), Texas (March 1-2), Colorado (April 6-7) and Manitoba (April 13-14).
10: Wolves right wing Brooks Macek scored in the third period Friday night to pick up his 10th goal in 10 games this season. That enabled him to regain a share of the AHL lead in goals. Cleveland’s Zac Dalpe produced a hat trick earlier Friday night to leap over Macek for about an hour.
14: Left wing Daniel Carr not only posted a goal and an assist on Friday night, he earned a +1 plus/minus rating to maintain the top spot on the AHL’s plus/minus rating list with a +14. His closest pursuers just so happen to play on his line — as center Gage Quinney holds second place with a +13 rating and right wing Brooks Macek ranks third with his +12.
200: Forward Curtis McKenzie handed out a pair of assists Friday night to bring his career AHL point total to 200. The 27-year-old British Columbia native has racked up 10 points in 10 games with the Wolves and 84 goals with 116 assists in 233 AHL regular-season games overall.
353: If you’ve suited up for the Wolves, chances are better than 50/50 that you’ve also played in the National Hockey League. When Daniel Carr, Curtis McKenzie and Zach Whitecloud made their Wolves debuts on Oct. 5, they became the 351st, 352nd and 353rd players (out of 615 Wolves all-time) who have competed for the Wolves and in the NHL. That 57.4 percent overall success rate is even higher among goaltenders. Of the 54 players who’ve tended the net for the Wolves over the years — starting with original goaltenders Ray LeBlanc and Wendell Young and continuing through current Wolves Max Lagace and Oscar Dansk — 37 boast NHL experience (68.5 percent).