The annual trip around the Western Conference in February is in the books for the beloved Rampage, they take on Chicago tonight at the AT&T Center. It wasn’t a very good road trip but considering the past couple of years it actually turned out well with 10 points in 12 games. Usually the Rodeo Road trip buries this team, this year it just made playing meaningful games in April extremely difficult.
Record: 3-5-4, 10 points
Goals For: 25 (2.08 per game)
Goals Against: 37 (3.08 per game)
Shots For: 324 (27 per game)
Shots Against: 397 (33.1 per game)
Power Play: 17%
Penalty Kill: 83%
Special Teams Combined: 100
Scoring was a huge problem on the trip obviously. They only scored more than 2 goals 4 out of the 12 games and even then they were 1-1-2. They only won a single game in regulation, in Chicago 2-1. Even strength scoring was brutal with only 15 goals over the entire trip and they went 17 periods from Valentines Day until the final game without scoring 5v5.
I can appreciate that the lineup was in constant flux thanks to tons of injuries for the Avs and Blues but that is when you rely on your system to get it done. It’s not like every player was different every night and it’s also not like every opposing coach had the magic formula for shutting down the Rampage every game. Coach Veilleux’s offensive tactics are ineffective, and this goes back several months now. The only high-danger chances I’m seeing now are created off transition. Once the offense sets up in the zone it becomes a low-percentage perimeter shooting game which relies on goalie errors to work. I wish we had heat maps for AHL games, by my eye they get between 0 and 2 shots from the slot in an average game outside of odd-man rushes. That’s not good enough and it’s not rational to blame this on the talent or will of players on the ice. This is being coached into them and there have been no adjustments despite the lack of success. Taking low-quality shots also has the side effect of making the puck easy to clear for the opponent so that possession time suffers.
Even with lots of transitional players, the Rampage are a better team than their record indicates. They do many things well like enter the offensive zone and suppress quality scoring chances that should set them up to be a playoff team but it’s just not going to happen unless they have some help from the staff in setting up better scoring opportunities. The main characteristics of this team are undisciplined and passive and that comes directly from improper or non-usage of tactics and personnel. The one thing the staff seems to have a knack for is getting very little out of an adequate lineup and that’s a shame for both the players and fans.
There have been a million transactions, I’ll stick to the big stuff
– Andrei Mironov will reportedly be waived unconditionally and bought out by the Avalanche. I think after the show he put on in San Diego it’s best for everyone if he pursues other avenues in his career.
– David Warsofsky was re-assigned to the Rampage on Thursday. He, Toninato and Hammond are the only Avs players that are eligible to play for SA for the rest of the season. The Blues have Jordan Schmaltz and Tage Thompson in the same situation.
– Speaking of Hammond he got a concussion while sitting on the bench in an Avs game so Spencer Martin and his racy black pads are in Colorado for a little while. Jonathan Bernier is getting close to returning so it won’t be long. Joe Cannata was called up from the Eagles to back up Husso in the meantime.
– Speaking of concussions, Sam Blais (probably) had one, got called up to STL and either had another one or just got diagnosed then was sent back to San Antonio. Nice optics.
– Avs 2014 1st round pick Conner Bleackly was called up from Tulsa and played vs the Reign on Wednesday. He’s also a 5th round pick of the Blues in 2016.
– Chris Bigras was traded to the Rangers at the deadline for defenseman Ryan Graves. He played in both California games and looks decent so far but I don’t have a handle on exactly what he is yet. BR’s own Rudo3 made a shift-by-shift of his first game if you’d like to take a look.
Friday – Rampage vs Wolves, 8:30pm ET
Sunday – Rampage vs Stars, 4pm ET
Tuesday – Rampage vs Wolves, 8pm ET
Also, the AHL trading/movement deadline is Monday. Rampage GM Craig Billington said that he doesn’t expect any moves but as the deadline approaches options always come up.
Thanks to the San Antonio Rampage for the feature photo and to the AHL for statistics