AGD: Back on the Horse

 

Time: 6:00pm

Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago

Broadcast: teamradio.ca, SNET ONE

Abbotsford gets a chance to end a rough month on a high note with a pair of games starting tonight against the Chicago Wolves. The Heat have only won 2 of their last 10 contests and have fallen to 4th in the Western Conference as a result (although they are now just 3 points out of 11th thanks to a high level of parity in the AHL this year).

The Wolves are the Canucks affiliate and sit another 3 points back of 11th with 30 overall. Although their mediocrity isn’t a big surprise, the struggles of Eddie Lack to date certainly are. The 24 year old is coming off back-to-back better than .925 SV% seasons and was roundly considered to be one of the best goalie prospects in the game prior to the start of the season. To date, however, he has managed just a .899 save rate in 13 games played. As a result, veteran Matt Climie has split time with Lack and actually put up better numbers (15 games, .921 SV%).

As for the Heat, their issues are obvious – they can’t score. A lack of shots on net plus a miserable shooting percentage dry spell has sunk their record in December. Abbotsford now has 69 goals in 29 games, which is tied for the lowest scoring rate in the entire league with the Hamilton Bulldogs (who currently sit last in the Conference).

Related, it’s still unknown when Sven Baertschi will return to the line-up. He has been working out and practicing for awhile, but the team remains tight-lipped about announcing a definite return date.

The Line-up

Michael Ferland is back in junior and David Eddy was called up by the club a few days ago. If Baertschi is still on the sidelines, here’s how the lines may end up:

  • Kolanos – Byron – Walter
  • Horak – Street – Sylvester
  • Olson – Reinhart – Nemisz
  • Bancks – Laing – Aliu
  • Brodie – Piskula
  • Breen – Callahan
  • McKelvie – Tuzzolino
  • Brust

Greg Nemisz has now gone 10 games without a point. It will be interesting to see when he can finally crack the goose egg. He only has 11 shots on net over that same period.

Steve McCarthy has been out with an injury for the last 5 games. His departure leaves the team a little thin on the back-end in terms of mobility and puck moving – only TJ Brodie of the remaining bodies is above average in those areas.

The Opposition

The Wolves continue to be led in scoring by AHL vet Brett Sterling. Zack Kassian is second on the team, although his 16 points in 25 games is fairly underwhelming considering the expectations of him iven his draft position and as the anchor piece in the Cody Hodgson trade.

  • Ebbett – Sterling – Kassian
  • Gordon – Schroeder – Haydar
  • Sweatt – Pinnizotto – Rodin
  • Longpre – Miller- Desbiens
  • Tanev – Connauton
  • Matheson – Koslin
  • Hunt – Andersson
  • Climie

Chris Tanev is the Wolves version of TJ Brodie, albeit a bit older and probably with less offensive upside. Nevertheless, he’s a solid all around defender who uses skating and vision more than brawn to get things done.

Sum It Up

The Heat would really like to find a way to end their December slide before the new year rolls around. They have scored 3 or more goals in a game just once this month (3-2 win over the Toronto Marlies) and that was back on December the ninth, nearly 3 weeks ago. As long as the offense is stuck in neutral, it will be tough to put a few more "W’s" on the board.

  • Managed to record the game and watch it later on. Some thoughts:

    – Heat spent a lot of time in their own zone dodging bullets. There was about a 10 minute period area in the 2nd where they strung together some strong forechecks and they scored 2 of their 3 goals there. If we could track corsi in the AHL, Im guessing Abbotsford would have been in the red by double digits.

    – Krys Kolanos looked a lot better in this game than the others I’ve seen this year. More engaged, better decision making. His feed for the GWG was fantastic.

    – Danny Taylor was excellent.

    – Greg Nemisz and Max Reinhart spent the entire game in their own zone. Ward seems to put Reinhart out for a lot own zone draws, but they can’t seem to get past the other half of center.

    – Brett Olson had a decent outing. He created the first goal with nifty play.

    – Byron is lucky he scored the final goal. He made two critical mistakes which led to the two CHI goals.

    • I agree, as I thought the only players that consistently played well tonight was Brodie and Kolanos (the Olson-Liang-Bancks line was good too). Byron was making mistakes and shouldnt have been the first star but thats what happens when u get the GWG. Nice play on the goal though.

      The way Kolanos plays in the NHL baffles me when I see what he can do in the AHL. I remember he missed that open net via wrap around while with the Flames. I think he lacks confidence at the NHL level, and he blew his chance to ever play in the NHL again, I think.

      The Heat are pretty boring without Baertschi in the lineup. I cant imagine how bad it would be without Brodie in the lineup.

      I keep expecting more out of Horak and Rienhart and Aliu-in physical way…

  • the ss nemisz resembles the ss minnow. obviously nemitz benefitted emensely playing on a powerhouse spits team, amazing how often we see inflated junior stats bamboozle buton and his scouts. i remember watching that flat tire against my nephew in bantam and thinkin the kid cant skate at the next level.

  • What really bothers me is that Ferland couldn’t find his way into this lineup. He should be a perfect fit with his size and scoring ability. I thought he looked good in dev camp, made some very smart plays. I can’t see another year in junior doing anything for him, but hopefully they know what they’re doing.

  • Just watching the game again here and thinking. Wow, Breen is really, really good (relative to my original impressions of him). Can’t believe I’m saying it, because he’s always looked like a beer leaguer, but I’ve got to give credit where it’s due.