It was just a taste--maybe more like a sip--but Wolves rookie Ty Rattie is grateful for his first NHL experience. Rattie made his Blues debut in Dallas last Friday, and played again in the Blues' season-finale Sunday against Detroit before rejoining the Wolves on Monday.
Rattie's performance in the two games was rather nondescript--no points, four shots, minus-2, average 11 minutes TOI--but just experiencing the game at that level is something that should benefit him in the long run.
"Just to soak it all in and get to know their knowledge and what they want at the NHL level," Rattie said after Tuesday's Wolves practice at Allstate Arena. "It’s not a whole lot different than down here, but at the same time you want to learn as much as you can and apply it to your game right away."
The Wolves (42-21-5-5) would certainly love to see an even more-improved Ty Rattie, but the one they had last week will do just fine, as well. With forwards Keith Aucoin and Adam Cracknell still with the Blues for the time being, Chicago can't afford to be without another of its best players.
Rattie leads the team in goals (29) and points (46) despite being a first-year pro. His call to the Blues came after a rash of injuries struck the parent club. Although he didn't get on the scoresheet, and the Blues lost both games as they limped toward the playoffs, Rattie said it was more about getting his feet wet and playing a "team game."
"If they wanted me to play fourth line, two minutes a night, I’d be absolutely fine with that," said Rattie, who played as a top-six forward with the Blues. "Just go in there and fit in well with the team, and try to contribute as much as you can."
While he now returns his focus to the Wolves and winning a Calder Cup championship, he's relishing his few days with St. Louis.
"I’m lucky enough to say I played in the NHL, and hopefully I can get back there sooner than later," he said.
CUNDARI RETURNS FROM STINT WITH FLAMES
Defenseman Mark Cundari also rejoined the Wolves this week after spending two weeks with the Calgary Flames. Cundari didn't pick up any points in four games with the Flames, but like Rattie, he thought the experience will help him in the long run.
Unlike Rattie, Cundari's future is a bit cloudy. He signed a one-year deal with the Flames, and is set to become a restricted free agent. Reports out of Calgary indicated Cundari fell out of favor with Flames coach Bob Hartley in training camp, so Cundari knew the importance of his call-up.
"Obviously it’s been a crazy season for me," said Cundari, whose AHL rights were transferred to the Wolves on Jan. 23 as compensation in the Corey Locke trade. "I’m really not sure what it is they want to do. They’re going to be busy in the offseason. For me going forward I’m just looking to stay positive, work my hardest over the summer. I really do want to have an exceptional camp next year no matter where I am."
Cundari returned to Chicago on Monday night, but didn't travel to Des Moines for Wednesday's game against the Iowa Wild. Chicago coach John Anderson said he wanted to give Cundari some rest after all his recent travel. Anderson said he expected to have Cundari in the lineup for Friday's game at Rockford and the regular-season finale Saturday against Milwaukee at Allstate Arena.
Cundari said he's gearing up for the playoffs. His only professional postseason experience came as a rookie in 2010-11 with Peoria, but the Rivermen were swept in the first round.
"I haven’t been involved in playoffs in what seems like forever," he said. "The best players really shine in the playoffs, and I’m hoping to help this team win a championship. That’s my goal here. No matter who we play, if it’s Abbotsford or whoever it may be, I’m looking forward to playing in the playoffs, and playing that gritty, nasty style of hockey that comes with it."
CHELIOS IMPRESSES ANDERSON IN FIRST AHL ACTION
On the day he signed with the Wolves, Jake Chelios said he would only be with the team for the weekend and then head back to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL. That wasn't exactly what the Wolves ended up doing with Chelios.
"Even though that first weekend I didn’t get in a game, they told me after the second game to pack my stuff up and move here for the rest of the year," Chelios said. "So it was really exciting. Obviously being in a city like Chicago is awesome, but just being part of a team like this that’s going to the playoffs, it’s a very exciting time."
Chelios played all three games last weekend before being held out of the lineup for Wednesday's game against the Wild. He made his AHL debut in Friday's game at Iowa, putting two shots on goal. The next night he fired a team-high five shots on Milwaukee goalie Marek Mazanec, but was kept off the scoreboard.
He was a minus-2 with one shot in the weekend finale against Rockford on Sunday.
Anderson said he was impressed with Chelios in all three games.
"He was very confident out there," Anderson said. "He’s got a great stick. Made some really good plays. He fit right in like a glove. It was awesome. He’s a guy, now that we’ve seen him play, we have confidence in putting him right back in the lineup if we need him."
Because of his name and who is father is, Chelios has already received more media attention than many of his Wolves teammates have had all season.
"Yeah, I kinda expected that coming to Chicago," he said. "It’s probably one of the … I don’t want to say the worst places, but I wasn’t surprised by some of the things that have happened."