CHICAGO WOLVES (43-21-5-4) AT IOWA WILD (35-26-8-5)
POTENTIAL PLAYOFF PREVIEW?
The Chicago Wolves have controlled their own fate when it comes to the postseason, clinching a playoff spot on March 29 with a victory in Grand Rapids before securing the Central Division title for the third year in a row on April 6 with a win over Colorado. The only question mark now is the Wolves’ first-round opponent. Six teams can still wind up as the No. 4 seed as no other team in the Central Division has claimed a spot in the race for the Calder Cup.
Grand Rapids sits in second with 87 points with two games remaining and needs just one point to reach the postseason. Milwaukee’s 84 points are good for third and its magic number to clinch a playoff berth is four, but an overtime loss to Rockford on Tuesday put the Admirals in a vulnerable position with the rest of the field so close on their heels.
Iowa moved into fourth with 83 points, just one point back from Milwaukee, with a win over Grand Rapids on Wednesday. Manitoba is fifth with 81 points but has a game in hand over Milwaukee and Iowa as well as the tie-breaker with 35 regulation or overtime wins. Texas and Rockford are tied with 80 points and both have a magic number of eight, so both need to sweep their final two games and get a little help from others to move into a playoff spot.
Carr’s an all-star
The American Hockey League announced Thursday that Chicago Wolves left wing Daniel Carr has earned a place on the 2018-19 AHL First All-Star Team. Carr ranks among the AHL leaders in goals (30), points (71) and plus-minus rating (+35) despite being out of the lineup since March 5 due to injury. Though he has played just 52 games, the 27-year-old Sherwood Park, Alberta, native stands third in the league in points and plus-minus rating and shares sixth in goals. He paces all skaters with 1.37 points per game.
“I think it’s very deserving,” said Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson. “In addition to his skill as a player, he’s an extremely hard worker. He came to the rink every day doing everything he could to get better. He competes — that’s his best attribute. He played for us in all situations. He was very consistent from the beginning of the season to his last game. That’s what you want. His consistency was a result of his work ethic.”
Carr owns a spot on the AHL First All-Star Team alongside Syracuse center Carter Verhaeghe, Toronto right wing Jeremy Bracco, Hartford defenseman John Gilmour, Rochester defenseman Zach Redmond and Charlotte goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic. Carr is the only player from the Central Division to appear on either the First or Second team as voted on by the AHL’s coaches, players and media.
BY THE NUMBERS
2.59: The Wolves are allowing the third-fewest goals per game in the AHL, giving up an average of 2.59 goals each contest. That means this year’s squad has a remote chance to break the franchise record of 2.51 GAA set by the 2013-14 Midwest Division champs. If the Wolves allow one goal over their final three regular-season games, then they’ll set the team record.
3: The Wolves’ prowess during even-strength play shows up in the league’s plus/minus ratings as Chicago owns the top three spots. Center Gage Quinney holds the lead at +38 while rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud owns second at +36 and veteran forward Daniel Carr stands third at +35. Arturs Kulda (+46) set the franchise record in 2009-10.
8: Left wing Daniel Carr became the eighth Wolves player to be named to the AHL First All-Star Team since the franchise joined the AHL in 2001. He joins left wing Kenny Agostino (2016-17), center Wade Megan (2016-17), goaltender Jake Allen (2013-14), center Jason Krog (2007-08), left wing Brett Sterling (2006-07), right wing Darren Haydar (2006-07) and defenseman Travis Roche (2004-05).
15: Rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan produced his 15th goal of the season on Saturday night in the first period. That’s the fourth-highest total for an AHL defenseman this season — trailing only Rochester’s Zach Redmond (21), Hartford’s John Gilmour (20) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Ethan Prow (18). Coghlan leads all AHL rookie blueliners in goals and has become the first Wolves defenseman since Paul Postma in 2009-10 to score 15 goals.
46: The Wolves lead the American Hockey League in first goals as they’ve scored the opening marker in 46 of their 73 games this season. When the Wolves have scored first, they’ve gone on to produce a 31-11-3-1 record, which breaks out to a .717 points percentage. When Chicago doesn’t score first — such as Sunday’s shootout loss to Colorado — its record stands at 12-10-2-3 (.537).
54: The Wolves are outscoring their opponents by 54 goals this season (243-189). Only Syracuse (+73), Charlotte (+60) and Bakersfield (+55) are better. Colorado led Chicago after the first period on both Saturday and Sunday, which was a rare occurrence for the Wolves as they lead the AHL with a +31 margin (81-50). Syracuse and Charlotte are next at +26.
55: The Wolves have had one of the top defenses down the home stretch, allowing just 55 goals in the 28 games since Feb. 2. Chicago’s 1.96 goals against per game average ranks second among all AHL teams in that span — only Charlotte’s 1.93 average, allowing 54 goals in 28 games, is better.
358: 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 defenseman Jake Chelios made his NHL debut March 29 for the Detroit Red Wings, he became the 358th player (out of 623 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).
NEXT THREE GAMES
All games are streamed on AHLTV.
The games on April 13 and 14 will be broadcast on CW50.