With the Chicago Wolves ending their season on a high note with a 3-2 win over the Riverman, the Calder Cup Playoffs being Thursday. There was a lot of speculation on who the Wolves would have played as the 5th through 8th spots was undecided to the final games were finished. San Antonio defeated Oklahoma City 1-0 and earned the 6th spot in the Western Conference. Below is the schedule for the upcoming 5 game series:
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 19 – Chicago at San Antonio, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 21 – Chicago at San Antonio, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 24 – San Antonio at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 25 – San Antonio at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 27 – San Antonio at Chicago, 8:30
Now with this series it was changed from 7 to 5 games this year. The Wolves took the higher seed in the conference, so they had the choice of choosing the first 2 games or last 3 at home. As shown above the Wolves decided to start the series on the road and come back home next week.
The regular season games against the Rampage are broken down below and how the Wolves faired.
October 8th, 2011 at San Antonio: L 3-2 Shootout
November 19th, 2011 versus San Antonio: L 4-3
February 29th, 2012 versus San Antonio: L 2-1
April 4th, 2012 at San Antonio: L 2-1
So the Wolves lost all 4 regular season match ups to the Rampage but nothing that could be considered a blowout. So I think you can throw out the regular season games information for this playoff series. This will be the first playoff appearance for the Rampage in 3 years. Their last appearance was a 7 games series lost to Toronto in 2008. Consequently, the Chicago Wolves won the Calder Cup that year.
Eddie lack played all 4 games against the Rampage and came out with pretty decent stats:
Save Percentage: .91735
The Rampage does have a few players that might be familiar to Wolves fans.
Yonkman has been a thorn in the side of the Wolves organization since he debuted with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2006. He has been known to pick on shorter opponents and he isn’t afraid to throw his weight around. He was named Captain to the Rampage this year but I’m sure he still will be looking to agitate others on the ice as he has done through-out the regular season. The Wolves need to avoid his actions as best as possible, because he has in the past taken stupid penalties.
Rallo who is from the surrounding Chicagoland area in Gurnee, has shown time and time again he loves playing against the Wolves. He has been a player on the top line for the Rampage as well as the 1st power play unit. He accumulated 22 goals to go along with 22 assists for 42 points. He isn’t afraid to battle along the boards and loves to set up shop in front during the man advantage.
Keys to Victory
The Wolves after a slow start this season had the early prediction of great goaltending hold true. The power play did struggle for the majority of the season but found some life in the last 10 games or so. Penalties normally decrease during the playoffs so if the Wolves go to the man advantage they need to convert.
The Rampage does like to shoot a lot from the point and have had moderate success. They do have a few big roster members at the blue line and if they will join the play at any time. Wolves will need to cover their gaps and block shots more than usual.
The first series is always tough and with this new format the Wolves need to at least split the series to come home with some momentum. With the Wolves fully healthy this team can go deep into the playoffs and have a great chance at the Calder Cup.
It all starts Thursday in Texas.