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  • The Wild head on Texas road trip, starting in San Antonio tonight


    It’s the first of three games in Texas over the next few days, and right now the Central Division is still taking shape just past the quarter mark of the season. Only five points separate spots two through six on the table; many teams with games in hand.

    Despite their loss on Tuesday, Iowa is playing some really good hockey as of late. They’ve won seven of their last ten, the each line is contributing, and their special teams has found some legs on the offensive side. Hopefully the momentum they build up will keep a San Antonio (Colorado/St. Louis) team down, as they closed out November on a three game slide.

    Niklas Svedberg is still out for a bit, so Steve Michalek will have a chance to atone for the goalie sins committed on Tuesday. Adam Vay will also be back on the bench as Iowa and Rapid City (ECHL) are on the road in Texas as well.

    Top Performers

    San Antonio - Points

    Playing San Antonio provides a weird squad with St. Louis sharing two different affiliates with two separate NHL franchises. Even though Colorado has the final say in development, San Antonio’s top five is mostly prospects for the Blues, and two are AHL rookies.

    Vladislav Kamenev is listed on AHL.com as the team’s fourth leading scorer with 12 points (3G/9A), but it currently out with a broken arm suffered during a call-up with the Avs - he’d been a part of the Matt Duchene trade.

    Schmaltz and Thompson are two first rounders from the Blues that have really contributed as of late. Despite the Rampage going 4-6-0 in their last ten games, Thompson has contributed a point in eight of them (5G/5A). Schmaltz has put up eight of his own (1G/7A), though just one point during their slide.

    Kostin is still on the top five, but by virtue of a hot start to the season. Lately, he’s hit a bit of a slide, having not tallied a point in any of his last five games.

    Iowa - Points

    With Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin down in Iowa, the lines have changed up again. Beck is back to playing center, and Kloos has moved out to the left side to provide the opposite wing to Kunin with JEE in the middle.

    Eriksson Ek has provided a steady scoring presence since the send down, though Kunin took a few of his OZ draws against Milwaukee.

    In sixteen games played for Iowa, Rau has provided an interesting scoring pattern, having been held scoreless in more back-to-back games than having produced in them. However, he’s contributed nearly half of his points over Iowa’s last five games. has been held scoreless in more back-to-back games than he has contributed in back-to-back games

    Kloos is still hanging around the top five, though he hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 15th at the “School Day Game” in Rockford. His most recent point was a 5-on-5 secondary assist, but it was against an empty net.

    San Antonio - Goalies

    Martin has been the go-to guy this season as Husso hasn’t made a start since Nov. 8th. His last appearance was in relief of Martin back on Nov. 15th. With goalies needing minutes in order to gauge development, and with the Avs holding the cards, their boy is going to get the minutes over the St. Louis prospect.

    If it weren’t for that, maybe Husso would be a good player to see in net, as Martin has given up 3.40 goals per-game in his last five starts with a save percentage of .871; including a performance against Bakersfield (Edmonton) where he gave up 6 goals on 24 shots.

    Iowa - Goalies

    With Svedberg out at the moment, it’s Michalek’s net for the next few days. There were some costly mental errors against Milwaukee on Tuesday, but he’s had a few days to work on the things that lead to such a hot start to the season.

    Head Coach, Derek Lalonde, made it very clear that he’s expecting a lot from Michalek, but as of right now that there are some kinks to be straightened out before the former sixth rounder is considered to be a solid No. 3 in the system.

    Hopefully the development staff can start to think of Tuesday night as just an isolated incident for a goalie that made 30 starts last season for the Wild.

    Game Plan

    Iowa had just played one of their hardest parts of the schedule and have been resilient in picking up points and tying the franchise record for the most wins in a month (8). Both Iowa and San Antonio are coming off of multiple days rest, so it would be nice to see a little bit of what happened on Tuesday happen tonight - great possession and widening the gap of chances for vs. given up.

    A sluggish start from Iowa might just be what the Rampage need, as they seemed to just barely escape November with three losses that included 15 goals against.

    As always, special teams will have the opportunity to play difference maker. San Antonio currently holds a better power play efficiency, 16.1 percent, than Iowa, 15.9 percent, though with five more opportunities on the man advantage.

    However, Iowa’s power play will get the opportunity to get something going, as the Rampage are in the “good enough” category when playing a man down this season. They may have the third best penalty kill efficiency in the Pacific Division at 82.0 percent, but that’s only good enough 19th league-wide (fifth amongst teams with at least 100 PKs).

    It’s a 7:30 CST scheduled puck drop from the AT&T Center on San Antonio’s east side.



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