week the Stockton Heat headed south to the Lone Star State to face off against
the San Antonio Rampage and the Texas Stars.
found a way to squeak out a close win in the Alamo City on the back of two
Emile Poirier goals (finally!) and two primary assists from Turner Elson.
Saturday night was a different story though. It was one of those infamous Texas
ChainStars Massacre games the Flames’ AHL affiliates always seem to have. They lost
5-2 because Brett Ritchie’s a pretty alright player who notched a hat trick against
week I talk about the Tale of the Two Kenn(e)ys and a dreadful couple of games
for the Heat’s power play.
Photo Courtesy of Matt Christians
gotten a lot of inquiries about how Kenney Morrison has been doing in Stockton
this year, which is fair. He was supposedly a solid acquisition as far as college
UFA’s go, so I get there is a bit of buzz around him.
makes it that much harder to break it to you fine folks. To say he’s had a
rough year would be an understatement. He’s been more lost in his own zone than
Shadow, Sassy and Chance were in Homeward Bound. Some games it looks like he
has trouble figuring out which man to cover all while he’s anticipating where
the puck’s going to go. At times it almost looks like the game is a tad too fast for him to process.
let’s also be fair to the kid. Out of the Heat’s 19 games this season, Morrison
has been a healthy scratch in 12 of them. It’s tough to really get in a groove at
all playing as sparsely as he has. With how much Morrison has been struggling
this season, why not ease him into things in the ECHL? There are enough bodies
on the blue line that the Flames have that luxury. Sending Morrison to
Adirondack would leave the Heat with seven healthy defensemen, which usually
means a rotation of Patrick Sieloff, Aaron Johnson and Dustin Stevenson.
don’t think it’d be appropriate to count Morrison out just yet, however. It is
only his first professional season. There will be growing pains. There are
every year for almost every rookie rear-guard, but they need to play and Kenney
Mo isn’t playing often enough. He needs to learn how to deal with the infinitesimal
chaos of your average AHL game. Practice helps (which he’s doing a lot of), but it only goes so far. He
has to be able to put that practice into practice. His offensive instincts are
too good to go to waste.
let’s talk about the other Kenny. You
know, the one who spells his first name correctly? Yeah, he’s pretty good. Kenny
Agostino’s starting to look like the crown jewel of Jarome Iginla’s remnants.
That’s not to say he didn’t look awesome last season in upstate New York, but I
wanted to be cautious in thinking that was going to be a normal Agostino season.
Now, 19 games into his sophomore season, he’s still looking like that player
(after a somewhat slow start to the year).
Yale University alumnus has seen an interesting pattern in his two years, not unlike
the future Hall of Famer he was traded for. Agostino has had a slow starts to
each season, but ramps up around Christmas time and becomes perhaps the Heat’s
most dangerous player in the new year. Sounds a bit like Jarome, doesn’t it? It’s
certainly looking like the same pattern this season.
Agostino does best is he recognizes developing dangerous chances and acts on
them with no deliberation. He thinks the game quickly and piles up the assists.
If he’s in a perimeter position with a defender’s stick in the way, instead of
peeling off, he’ll recognize his center or right winger driving to the net and
put it there. That play has gotten him more points than any other way.
easy for him to get buried amongst names like Granlund, Poirier and Grant, but
every game he earns a chance to be called up. Problem being, the Flames are
healthy and those chances aren’t coming as frequently as he’d hope. Keep an eye
on Agostino into the new year though. He’s going to really start heating up.
PLAY ANYTHING BUT
was painful to watch Stockton’s power play this week. They went 0/10 in two
games and had so few scoring chances you began to wonder if Ryan Huska taught
them zone entry at all.
was a hideous display of dump and chase on the power play and a gorgeous
display of opposing penalty killers getting to the puck first and clearing the
zone. The Heat made them look really good. The sad part about their power play
this weekend wasn’t even really how awful it looked – it was more about the
expectation of having a half decent power play all season. They’re 19th
in the league in road power plays (17th in total power plays). Fans
have come to expect a certain level of respectability from them, but they didn’t
show it this past week.
fact, you know it gets bad when Huska threw Blair Riley and Austin Carroll out
there in desperation to see what happens (no offense to Blair Riley or Austin
Carroll). Even if the Heat get set up on the power play, the book is out on
what they do once they have the puck: get it back to Oliver Kylington, Jakub
Nakladal, Aaron Johnson or Brett Kulak, let them fire it through traffic, hope
for the best. What does that sound like? Their parent club. Just like the
Flames, the Heat generate a great deal of offense on the rush, so unless they
can do that on the power play, their only hope is to let their premier defensemen
get it through traffic and try and get a tip.