WINNIPEG, MB – The Manitoba Moose were the better team in all three games this week, but costly mistakes cost them two of three.
In Milwaukee, the opening game of the weekend was about as exciting as a 2-1 overtime loss can be. The Admirals opened the scoring on the rush a mere four minutes into the game. Unfortunately, this kind of goal against would become very familiar to Moose fans this weekend. After giving up the early goal, the Moose applied tons of pressure, but they couldn’t solve Connor Ingram. It took Manitoba a total of 22 shots before Johnathan Kovacevic finally got one past Ingram. The goal was a bomb from the point after a sweet feed from Ville Heinola, who was all over Milwaukee in his first game back from injury. However, that was the last time Manitoba would manage to get a puck past Ingram. There were chances, but an abysmal 0-for-7 on the power play and a costly penalty shot in overtime sunk the Moose.
Yet, like Marvel’s Avengers, the Moose can’t undo a loss, but they can avenge it. Seemingly frustrated by their loss the night before, Manitoba looked like they were shot out of a cannon in Saturday night’s game. The Moose buried the Chicago Wolves early and didn’t let up with three goals from three different players. Although Chicago did shrink the lead to 3-1 early in the second, there was never any inkling that a comeback was coming. Manitoba restored their three-goal lead in the final moments of the second and added another in the third. The 5-1 drubbing was all the more impressive since it was a team effort, and no player had more than one point.
However, this is where the superhero comparisons end, as the Moose didn’t finish on a strong suit. The final game was against the 2-5 Rockford IceHogs, and it was not pretty. Did the Moose dominate in shots and scoring opportunities? Yes, they did! Did the Moose also lose 4-3? Yep, they did that too! This was another example of Manitoba getting frustrated when they can’t score and giving up easy goals the other way. Rockford scored three straight goals where they had a player alone in front of the Manitoba net. Hopefully, that is a trend we can see put to rest soon. On a positive note, the two goals to pull within one was an exciting end to the third.
Ville Heinola is back, and he looks great! With the four points, 11 shots, and a plus-four in the three games this weekend, he looks every bit the number one defenseman he is. If Heinola can continue this level of play, he has a great shot at winning the Eddie Shore Award or making the Jets. We can only hope it’s the first one for the sake of the Moose!
Goaltending has been giving the Moose a chance to win despite defensive deficiencies. With the number of giveaways and odd-man rushes that Manitoba surrenders in a game, they only allowed seven goals in three games this week. On top of that, those numbers are without number one goaltender Mikhail Berdin. Now, I know that Arvid Holm has let in 6 goals in two games and has only faced 50 shots, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. Two of the goals came on breakaways, Two came from guys alone in front of the net after making the first save, and one came on a penalty shot. In other words, he’s pretty good if the Moose play actual defense. Of course, we also have to mention Philippe Desrosiers and how great he looked in the game against the Chicago Wolves, where he only allowed one goal on 23 shots!
The Not So Good
Odd man rushes and missing open players in the defensive zone. As stated above, the Manitoba goaltenders have faced too many “grade A” scoring chances. If they are going to be a winning hockey team, they have to limit their giveaways in the offensive zone and cover their man. There are too many examples of extended shifts in the offensive zone that end up in the Moose net. It seems like this team gets frustrated when the scoring chances don’t come easy, and then they start forcing pucks through, resulting in turnovers and scoring chances for the opposition. Yet, as shown in the game against Rockford, if they keep pushing, they will score. Unfortunately, they lost that game due to sloppy defense and giveaways. If they had just played their game and limited their dumb mistakes, they would have not only one that game but the Milwaukee one as well.
What’s Coming Up?
Manitoba will look to end this road trip on a high note with one game against The 3-5 Milwaukee Admirals and two games against the 4-4 Grand Rapids Griffins.
The first game is a Wednesday affair against a Milwaukee Admirals team who handed the Moose their first overtime loss of the season. Hopefully, Manitoba’s ability to bounce back remains, and they can pick up a win over a team they should have beat on Friday. This game starts at 7 pm CST this Wednesday!
The final two games of the road trip will take place in Grand Rapids Friday and Saturday nights, both starting at 7 pm EST. The Moose have swept the season series so far and will look to add another two wins to their record. However, this isn’t the same team Manitoba played last time. The Griffins have won their last two games and are now only two points back of the Moose.
Here we have another week where the Moose should go 3-0. Yet, as I warned last week, Manitoba can not take these teams lightly. Will the Moose get their revenge on the Admirals? Will they sweep the Griffins? Let me know what you think, Moose fans! You can find me on Twitter @FPHMoose.
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