IOWA WILD (27-16-4-4) AT CHICAGO WOLVES (27-17-5-1)
home at last!
The Wolves have been out on the road for the last two weeks — and have played just one game at home in the last 27 days — but Rocky Thompson’s crew returns to Allstate Arena for five home games in 10 days that features a Central Division opponent in every contest. This stretch will be the most consecutive games the Wolves have spent at home all season and could be a chance to put the last two games in Manitoba behind them. Chicago has had two four-game stints at home this year, the most recent coming Dec. 15-21 when the Wolves went 3-0-1-0.
The Wolves are in third place in the Central Division and two points behind the Iowa Wild (62 points) in the division standings, but Iowa has played one more game. A win today would bump the Wolves into second place and closer to division-leading Grand Rapids (67 points) before the Wolves face fourth-place Texas on Thursday and the Griffins on Saturday.
While the Wolves have a modest 11-8-4-1 record at Allstate Arena, Iowa has a losing record on the road, going 9-11-1-4 this season and 2-7-0-1 in their last 10 away from Des Moines. The Wild are outscoring teams by 22 goals overall (171-149) overall, but are being outscored on the road 80-65. The Wild also struggle on special teams in others’ rinks. Their penalty kill takes care of 83.5 percent of shorthanded situations, but it’s just 80.2 percent on the road. It’s the same story for Iowa’s man-advantage, which ranks fourth in the league at 22.1 percent overall but converts just 17.2 percent on the road.
since our last MEETING six weeks ago…
The Wolves have not faced Iowa since the turn of the new year, dropping games on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2 by matching 3-1 scores, but the Wild have a bit of a different look after some roster moves over the last six weeks.
Forward Justin Kloos led Iowa this season in points against the Wolves with a goal and four assists, but was traded by the Minnesota Wild to the Anaheim Ducks organization on Jan. 16 for forward Pontus Aberg. The Wild are also without forwards Joel Eriksson Ek, Luke Kunin and Kyle Rau, who have a combined four goals and three assists against the Wolves, due to recall by Minnesota.
The Wolves have lost a key component in the matchup as well with Brandon Pirri, who has two goals and five assists in the series with the Wild, playing with Vegas, but plenty of other Wolves seem poised to keep the scoring up.
The Wolves’ rookie defensemen have been particularly successful against Iowa — Nic Hague has scored three goals and added an assist, Dylan Coghlan has a pair of goals and assists and AHL All-Star Erik Brännström has dished out four assists in the series. The Wolves also have forward Daniel Carr, who not only leads the league with 62 points (27G, 35A) but rides a six-game goal streak into today’s matchup. Carr has scored a pair of goals and four assists against the Wild this year and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
BY THE NUMBERS
3: The Wolves’ prowess during even-strength play shows up in the league’s plus/minus ratings as Chicago owns the top three spots. Veteran forward Daniel Carr continues to lead the AHL with his +30 rating while linemate Gage Quinney and rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud are tied for second place at +28.
6: Daniel Carr’s six-game goal streak ranks among the longest in franchise history. The last time a Wolves player earned a six-game goal streak was in 2016-17 when Ivan Barbashev tallied each game from Dec. 30 to Jan. 8. Joe Motzko posted the Wolves’ last seven-game streak (Dec. 19, 2008 to Jan. 2, 2009) and Brett Sterling owns the franchise record with a nine-game run from Dec. 12-29, 2006. Sterling piled up 13 goals during that stretch.
23: With his goal on the Wolves’ man-advantage on Friday, Daniel Carr moved up into a three-way tie for third place in the league with 23 power-play points. Carr is one of six players to hit double digits in both goals and assists on the power play, scoring his 10th man-advantage goal on Friday in Manitoba.
28: The Wolves have scored 174 goals this season, tied for the fourth-most in the league. Chicago outscores its opponents by a 28-goal margin (174-146), which ranks as the third-best differential in the AHL. The Wolves are particularly impressive during the first period (+25) and on the road (+23).
50: The Wolves boast three players who have appeared in all 50 games this season: Forwards Keegan Kolesar, Brooks Macek and Curtis McKenzie. That’s well above average among Central Division teams. Milwaukee shares the lead with three players who have played in all 52 of the Admirals’ contests. Texas also has three. Grand Rapids and Rockford have two, Iowa and San Antonio one and Manitoba hasn’t had anybody play in all 50 of its games.
99: AHL All-Star left wing Daniel Carr enters tonight’s action with 21 points (9G, 12A) in the Wolves’ last 13 games. If he maintains his 1.41 points-per-game pace the rest of the year, he’ll finish with 99 points this season. He would become the AHL’s biggest point producer since 2009-10, when Hershey’s Keith Aucoin scored 106 points and teammate Alexandre Giroux added 103.
356: 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 recent Wolves forward Mackenzie MacEachern made his NHL debut on Jan. 10 for the St. Louis Blues, he became the 356th player (out of 619 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 55 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 (69.1 percent).