From the Rampage Desk: Flirting with 1st Place

The Rampage have had a solid recovery on this homestand and now have a tenuous hold on 2nd place in the Pacific Division. Three wins in a row and 7 in their last 10 have them moving up the charts as we approach the halfway point of the season.

SAR 5 – TX 4 (OT)

Goals: Toninato, Meloche, Grimaldi (2), Belzile
Shots: 30-36 (45.5%)
PP 2/4, PK 2/4

SAR 1 – TX 0 (OT)

Goal: Toninato
Shots: 28-27 (51%)
PP 0/3, PK 2/2

SAR 2 – SD 1

Goals: Butler, Warsofsky
Shots: 31-28 (52.5%)
PP 0/3, PK 4/4

Overall

Thanks to the packed schedule I didn’t catch either of the Texas games live, which I enjoy because it let’s me examine parts of the game in greater detail. This time I tracked the line changes at even strength just to get a feel for what Coach Veilleux likes to do and who gets bonus time. After maybe once through the lines some switches were made to the LWs but for almost all of game 1 the lines went:

1st: Agozzino/Belzile/Grimaldi
2nd: Ranford/Toninato/Beaudin
3rd: Vogelhuber/Girard/Petryk
4th: Greer/Musil/Nantel

There were a bunch of penalties in this one but even so the shift structure was apparent. The Belzile and Girard lines got 12 shifts each and the Toninato and Musil lines 10 each. Veilleux rolled 4 the whole game until the final minutes when the Musil line sat and the Toninato line got 1 shift.

In game 2 there weren’t many penalties (and even fewer goals) so the structure was once again apparent. These lines stuck together as is until the 3rd period when AJ Greer and Adam Musil swapped positions:

1st: Agozzino/Belzile/Grimaldi
2nd: Musil/Toninato/Ranford
3rd: Greer/Girard/Petryk
4th: St-Amant/Beaudin/Nantel

In this one the Toninato line had 17 shifts, the Belzile line 16 and both of the Girard and Beaudin lines 15. Again Coach Veilleux rolled 4 the whole time and the differences came at the end of the 3rd period where out of the final 7 shifts the Belzile & Toninato lines had 3 shifts, Girard 1 and the 4th sat out.

Note these are shifts not TOI, if I had to guess the 1st plays more minutes than the others, in the first game the Girard line played 2nd most minutes but the Toninato line got more in game 2, especially when Greer was moved there in the 3rd. In general though, no one sat for very long other than in the special teams periods which is nice to see especially for development reasons. Also, watching like this I got impressions of the “personalities” of the 4 lines for lack of a better term.

– Belzile’s line often took the offensive zone draws and if they ended on a TV timeout they would stay out. Their shifts were longer than the other lines, a lot of times they would start in the o-one and get driven back to the d-zone and end on a clear or dump in. One thing I’ve noticed with these guys is that once the opponent gets a controlled zone exit it’s as good as in the Rampage’s d-zone, they put up little fight in the neutral zone and have trouble clearing the puck out of the d-zone.

– Toninato’s line has quick shifts, forechecks hard and generates shots well (when Beaudin or Greer are there). They can clear the zone well but struggle getting through the neutral zone. Over the two games, this line performed well other than the two periods Musil was on the wing. I’m not sure it’s exactly him being the issue but perhaps he and Ranford together might not work

– Girard’s line is the vet/shutdown line, they take long shifts and have a vicious forecheck, very similar to the Soderberg line in Colorado. The main weakness is finishing ability and a tendency to not be able to move the puck out of the d-zone with control.

– Whether it was Greer/Musil/Nantel or St-A/Beaudin/Nantel the 4th was stout. Like the 2nd they take shorter shifts than the vet lines and play at a higher tempo. Now that Greer is in Colorado it’s an impossibility but anyone that watched Rouyn-Noranda a couple years ago wonders why a Greer/Beaudin/Nantel line hasn’t shown up yet. Seriously, it would work.

Roster News

– Klim Kostin was re-assigned back to the Rampage from the Russian WJC team, who lost to the US last night. Might see him in Stockton according to Dan Weiss.

– AJ Greer was called up to the Avs and played vs Winnipeg. Michael Joly was recalled from the Eagles to take his spot

– Andrei Mironov was called up to the Avs and played vs the Islanders on NYE. Jordan Schmaltz returned from St Louis and played Sunday vs San Diego.

– Reid Petryk is out again tonight. He was reportedly ill on Sunday but that might not be the case anymore. Chris Bigras is out 4 weeks with LBI. Rocco Grimaldi was also ill on Sunday but he should be back in tonight.

Schedule

Tonight vs Bakersfield at 8pm ET then Friday & Saturday in Stockton.

Links

– Dan Weiss gameday chat with Eric Veilleux

– Topher returns with some RWtH fancy stats on the 2nd Stars game and more

 

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