CHICAGO WOLVES (20-9-3-1) AT IOWA WILD (17-8-4-3)
BACK WHERE THIS STREAK BEGAN
The last time the Chicago Wolves arrived in Des Moines, they were looking to end a five-game skid when matching up with the first-place Iowa Wild on Dec. 5 and 7. The Wild took a 3-0 lead 27 minutes into the Dec. 5 game and things looked dire.
That’s when Daniel Carr, who had just returned from a six-game stint with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, answered with a power-play goal and the Wolves proceeded to rally for a 4-3 overtime triumph. Two days later, the Wolves battled for a 5-4 victory.
That pair of wins has turned into the current 10-0-1-0 streak that has the Wolves atop the Central Division. The Wolves have outscored opponents 45-18 since falling behind 3-0 to Iowa on Dec. 5. Chicago also has reached the 20-win mark before New Year’s Day for just the sixth time in the franchise’s 25-year history — joining the 1997-98, 1998-99, 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08 teams. Put another way, Rocky Thompson joins John Anderson as the only Wolves coaches to accomplish this feat.
Iowa, on the other hand, has gone 4-5-0-1 and has been outscored 39-36 since the puck dropped against the Wolves that weekend. Prior to facing the Wolves on Dec. 5, Iowa had given up a total of 54 goals (2.45 per game) but have surrendered an average of 3.90 goals per game since.
who’ll coach the all-star classic?
The 2019 AHL All-Star Classic takes place Jan. 27-28 in Springfield, Massachusetts, and with the popular four-division, 3-on-3 round-robin format still in effect. Each division needs a head coach — and the honor goes to the coach with the best points percentage in each division at the end of today’s games. The Iowa Wild (41 points in 32 games) have to win in regulation today against the Wolves (44 points in 33 games) to deny Rocky Thompson the honor.
OTHER ALL-STAR THOUGHTS
American Hockey League scoring leader Brandon Pirri would be a natural choice for the AHL All-Star Classic, but he has been busy piling up 5 goals and 2 assists in six games for the Vegas Golden Knights over the last 11 days. Daniel Carr will soon take the AHL scoring lead from Pirri as he’s just one behind with his 17 goals and 23 assists. Carr leads the league in plus/minus rating (+25), shares first in power-play goals (9) and the Wolves own a .759 points percentage (19-5-2-1) when he plays.
BY THE NUMBERS
2: The Wolves’ 2-1 overtime win against Rockford on Saturday night means Chicago has scored at least two goals in all 33 games this year – a feat no other AHL team can match. While this streak owns the franchise record for opening a season with 2+ goals, it ranks second on the overall list. John Anderson’s 2006-07 team set the franchise mark by scoring 2+ in 36 consecutive games from Oct. 15, 2006 to Jan. 6, 2007. Of course, it helped to have league MVP Darren Haydar on the roster. Haydar set the AHL point streak record by recording at least one point in each of the Wolves’ first 39 games that year.
6: Goaltender Oscar Dansk has been magnificent over the last four weeks as he carries a six-game winning streak into today’s action. Starting with his 32-save shutout on Dec. 8 at Rockford, Dansk has produced a 6-0-0 record with a 1.17 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage.
11: The Wolves have earned at least one point in the last 11 games, going 10-0-1-0 for the longest active point streak in the league. Not only is Chicago within two games of the AHL’s longest streak this year (Syracuse from Nov. 2 to Dec. 7), it’s within three games of tying the franchise record set by the 2007-08 Calder Cup champions and equaled by the 2009-10 West Division champs and the 2017-18 Central Division titlists.
26: During the first period of Saturday’s game against Rockford, the Wolves outshot the IceHogs 26-6. While it was the most shots put up in a single period this season in the league, it was just one shy of the franchise record set on Dec. 19, 1997, in the second period against Manitoba.
44: The Wolves sit at the top of the Central Division and Western Conference with 44 points. Through 33 games, the Wolves (20-9-3-1) are off to the franchise’s best start since John Anderson’s 2007-08 squad that started 24-8-1-0 on its way to the Calder Cup championship.
128: Chicago leads the AHL with 128 goals — seven more than Syracuse — so it makes sense that the Wolves boast three of the league’s top 10 scorers: League leader Brandon Pirri (17A, 24A), No. 2 Daniel Carr (17G, 23A) and No. 6 Brooks Macek (17G, 17A). Center T.J. Tynan sits just outside the top 10 with six goals and 25 assists for 11th place.
354: 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 goaltender Eddie Pasquale won his NHL debut Dec. 4 for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings, he became the 354th player (out of 616 Wolves all-time) who have competed for the Wolves and in the NHL. That 57.5 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 — 38 boast NHL experience (70.4 percent).