January has not treated the beloved Rampage kindly with just 3 wins and 8 points in 9 games so far. They still hold the 3rd spot in the division as others around them also struggle and put up a win and 2 OTLs this week, looking much better on the scoreboard than they did on the ice.
SAR 3 – ONT 1
Goals: Belzile, Joly, Kostin
Shots: 17-39 (30%)
PP 1/1, PK 4/4
TUC 2 – SAR 1 (OT)
Shots: 20-55 (27%)
PP 1/3, PK 3/3
TUC 2 – SAR 1 (OT)
Shots: 18-32 (36%)
PP 0/4, PK 6/6
This was a gruesome trifecta of games to watch. Results matter so the 4 points were a nice reward but the process was garbage. In no single period did they manage to put 10 shots on goal and in 5 out of 9 they had 5 or less. I agree with Coach Veilleux’s evaluation that scoring chances were not quite as lopsided but this isn’t what we saw early in the year where none of the forwards were shooting. This time they never had the puck and the staff could find no solution.
By the numbers
Goals for: 5
Goals against: 5
Shots for: 55
Shots against: 125
Shot share: 31%
Shooting percentage: 9%
Save percentage: 96%
Power play: 25%
Penalty kill: 100%
At one time the Rampage were one of the top offenses in the AHL but 15 goals in 9 games have them in freefall, now sitting 23rd at 2.79 goals per game. Earlier in the month the issue was shooting percentage related but this week they shot well, just didn’t have the puck enough to develop scoring chances.
I sympathize with the coaching staff, a moving target isn’t easy to hit. Ontario and Tucson both applied a ferocious forecheck and the Rampage kept blundering through it making turnover after turnover. Forwards didn’t stay back to support the breakout and constantly had pucks stolen from behind. The neutral zone was a disaster area, even on power plays they couldn’t enter the offensive zone save for dump & chase. Their own forecheck was MIA and the opponents got easy clears much too often.
Any coaching staff looking at film of the past week is going to know exactly what to do against San Antonio so some big changes have to be in store at practice. This isn’t a question of raising compete level or being more physical or just getting more pucks on net. The staff have to change or augment some basic tactics on how they move the puck and create scoring chances or this will hit a point where it’s irreversible. They’ve done it once already this year and had success, they should be able to again.
Avs Players to Watch
– Nic Meloche has cemented a spot in the lineup for now and is making deliberate but noticeable progress. He’s paired with Duncan and they take a lot of the tougher matchups. I’m pretty happy with what I’m seeing in the d-zone but the lack of offensive production is a concern. The Rampage’s offensive production in general has been on hiatus for about a month now, so that’s not all on him, but there’s a lot of capacity in his game to put up points that’s not showing so far.
– Coach Veilleux has put J-C Beaudin centering a line with Julien Nantel and Shawn St-Amant, which he calls the “kid line”. I guess that’s sort of an insight into some of his usage decisions. They have good energy and haven’t struggled moving the puck like the other lines have recently. Like Meloche, the lack of offensive production from Beaudin is a concern but when no one is scoring I’m going to try not to read a lot into it yet. He gets PP2 time along with his regular shifts so hopefully that pays off at some point.
– Michael Joly is the ECHL’s leading goalscorer and an AHL contracted player with the Rampage. He had a callup earlier but was used as a grinder and that’s not him. On this callup EV has put him on a scoring line and it’s paid off with his first goal for the Rampage. I had him pegged as an ECHL Yakupov but he’s actually got a pretty well-rounded game. At times Saturday night he was carrying the line with Blais and Agozzino in all 3 zones so there’s a bit more there. I’d love to see him replace St-Amant on the kid line and see where that goes. I think Nantel’s speed and Beaudin’s playmaking ability would be a lot more complementary than being racked up with a couple of other shooters.
– Spencer Martin has been relegated to the backup role thanks to Ville Husso catching fire but he’s been decent since the turn of the calendar. Two really good games, a win over Stockton and an OTL Saturday vs Tucson, are balanced vs two shaky performances. In all fairness one of the shaky performances was on a b2b, so there’s that. Consistency is what we keep wanting to see out of Marty but it’s been elusive. The lack of goal support doesn’t help, the last 2 games that he’s given up 2 goals the Rampage are 0-1-1. That shouldn’t happen. Up until a month ago SA was 10-0-0 when he gave up 2 goals or less.
– Tage Thompson and Dominic Toninato were called up the NHL early in the week and remain there.
– Tommy Vanelli was called up from Tulsa but hasn’t dressed
- Reid Petryk is still dealing with post-concussion symptoms and skating with the team in a non-contact jersey.
- Chris Bigras is recovering from LBI and could begin practicing with the team this week
- Jordan Schmaltz has LBI as well and hasn’t started skating yet
- Alex Belzile was a game-time decision on Saturday but played
- Vlad Kamenev is rehabbing in San Antonio after getting his arm snapped in half 4 minutes into his Avs career. He’s still quite a ways out and no timetable for his return has been mentioned.
– The Avs are set to get a couple of players back after the All-Star Break so I would expect to see David Warsofsky and one or both of Dominic Toninato & AJ Greer heading to San Antonio soon.
San Jose on Thursday and Saturday then the All-Star Break.
Looming on the horizon, one more home game after the break then the Rodeo Road Trip.
Thanks to the San Antonio Rampage for the feature photo and the AHL for stats