With just three games left in the season, the Chicago Wolves have yet to clinch the Central Division title after their hot start. Over the last week, Chicago lost back-to-back games against Grand Rapids but rebounded with a high-scoring, stressful win against the IceHogs.
Cleveland, with a 0.611 points percentage, has been quickly chasing down the Wolves for the division title.
With their magic number at two, Chicago is on the road, playing at Grand Rapids tonight and at Rockford on Friday before finishing their season at home against the IceHogs this Saturday.
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May 7 @ Grand Rapids
Chicago began their week with a high-event affair in Grand Rapids where Anthony Richard and Philip Tomasino continued their battle for the team lead in goals. Despite scoring twice on six power play chances, Dominik Bokk and David Cotton’s third-period heroics weren’t enough.
Riley Barber scorded the Griffins’ winning goal with just 13 secons left in regulation.
May 8 vs. Grand Rapids
Chicago appeared non-energized by the Griffins’ late game-winner the night prior as the allowed nearly 20 shots to Grand Rapids’ in Saturday’s first period.
Tommy Novak scored the Wolves lone goal as Chicago could get no offense going in the second half of the game.
May 10 vs. Rockford
Early on in this one, Chicago looked like they would handle Rockford convincingly and put many of their struggles shown against Grand Rapids behind them. Philip Tomasino, Jamieson Rees, and Brandon Hickey helped the Wolves get out to a 4-1 first-period lead; That lead grew to 5-2 in the second period.
In the final frame, the Wolves’ defense collapsed, allowing three Rockford goals before hanging on for a 6-5 victory.
Players of the Week
Sean Malone: While reflecting honestly about the inconsistency of some Wolves players this past weekend, Head Coach Ryan Warsofsky praised Malone, saying, “He’s a pro. He gets it,” when referencing the habits the staff is trying to preach in their locker room. Malone won’t wow you on the ice, but he’s a workhorse who can excel in all situations and set a great example playing alongside younger guys.
He notched just one assist in this series but has 11 points in 20 games while wearing an “A” this season. [RK]
Tommy Novak: In his last three games, Novak scored two even-strength goals and added three assists, including two primary ones. The center is neck-and-neck with Philip Tomasino for the team scoring lead (28 and 29, respectively), but Tomasino has played in two more games. Thirteen of Novak’s 28 points have been primary ones scored at even strength, and I break down some more impressive numbers below. [ED]
Notes and Quotes
- Tucson Roadrunners: Tucson went 1-2-0 against Texas last week and were outscored 12-8 by the Stars. Michael Carcone finished the series with two goals and one assist; Josh Wilkins went pointless in just one of those three games.
- It’s really been a treat to watch Anthony Richard return to his high-octane form this season. In the five games of his I’ve tracked this season, he’s recorded 13.36 shot attempts per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time—7.13 of those attempts have been from high-danger areas.
- Chicago kept their infractions somewhat in check during this three-game series, recording just 20 penalty minutes.
- Josh Healey and Frederic Allard have been demoted, for lack of a better term, to Chicago’s third pair. Allard has struggled defensively as of late, giving up more high-danger shot attempts, missing on zone exits, and allowing 3.28 goals against per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time.
- Tommy Novak was asked about the scoring race between him and Philip Tomasino and had high praise for the latter and his finishing ability. Tomasino has been on the ice for an extraordinary 5.81 goals-for per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time and recorded 1.94 goals per 60 and 3.00 primary points per 60. But Novak has quietly been just as effective, recording 1.05 goals per 60 and 2.44 primary points per 60 but also has a 62% primary-point share compared to Tomasino’s 52%.
- Patrick Harper has struggled to enter the lineup lately, playing last on April 26.
- Connor Ingram appears done for the season after leaving the game on May 2 after taking a puck up high to the neck area.
- Head Coach Ryan Warsofsky mentioned post-game on Saturday that some players aren’t currently in the lineup due to their lack of consistency each night: “We have players that are still learning...what it means to be a pro. How you prepare yourself in practice is consistent; How you play is consistent...Not gonna start naming names but there are just guys that we don’t know what they’re giving us shift to shift...”
- I can’t help but think Luke Evangelista is one of those players Warsofsky is referencing, but I don’t think you can fault him much. It’s a sharp learning curve for someone his age who hadn’t played hockey in a year. This past week, he looked lost at times but activated well at others. He played one of his better games of the season on Monday and nearly scored his first AHL goal.
- Marc Del Gaizo picked up two more assists in the past three games; He’s gaining excellent confidence with his playing time.
- Warsofsky admitted Monday that it’s been a challenge motivating his team in a weird year with no playoffs, but his staff has stressed that there’s always something to chase: “We try to push our players to improve every single day—not just one week and then the next week you’re back in your old habits...That’s what we’ve talked about a lot is just being more consistent...We as coaches get into a tough spot when we try to overwhelm these young players...But we’re not here to just satisfy guys, we want to push our guys to be great.”