Rampage: Scouting the Enemy

STE-Rasko-SA
The last time the San Antonio Rampage entered our barn – Joonas Rask thought he would intimidate them by doing this. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The San Antonio Rampage enter today’s game with a record of 25-26-3-6 (59 points). That puts them at the bottom of the West Division and a distant 12th place in the Western Conference playoff picture.

This will be the final meeting of the season with the Rampage. The Admirals have taken a point in each game this season but have also lost out on an extra two from shootout defeats:

Nov. 10 @San Antonio: L, 3-2 (SO)
Dec. 20 vs. San Antonio: W, 4-0
Jan. 16 @ San Antonio: L, 5-4 (SO)

The previous three contests were fairly high-octane affairs. The Rampage have outshot the Admirals in all three of the previous games: 46-33, 34-33, and 40-37. The man in net for the bulk of those shots was Magnus Hellberg – who last played against these same Rampage. The other man in net for the Admirals, Scott Darling, earned a 34-save shutout as he powered along his CCM/AHL award winning month of December.

No matter who the man in net will be for the Admirals, Marek Mazanec or Darling, there is a great chance he’s going to get a work out. In the month of March so far, 5 games, the Rampage have averaged 36.8 shots on goal per game.

The Rampage are led in scoring by Vincent Trocheck 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists). Luckily, he’s up with the Florida Panthers so the Admirals will be up against a Rampage side who have been without their top scorer for over a week.

That means your top two scorers on the team in Trocheck’s absence are Bobby Butler and Admiral pest Mark Mancari. Butler this season has 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists). Mancari, who was acquired by the Rampage from the Chicago Wolves for Eric Selleck, has scored a total of 33 points (9 goals, 24 assists). Since joining the Rampage he has played in 4 games and has just 2 assists. Yet, with the Wolves this season, Mancari scored 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 7 games. He’s the man you’ll want to see neutralized tonight.

The current goaltending duo for the Rampage features Michael Houser and Scott Clemmensen. Considering the NHL time for Clemmensen this season, playing in 16 games with the Florida Panthers, you’d have expected the veteran netminder to have come down and tightened the lid for the Rampage. Not true at all. Clemmensen has played in 4 AHL games this season, lost 3 of them, and has a 4.01 GAA to go with an 0.874 SV%.

I would anticipate the man in net to be the younger alternative, Houser. The 21-year old has played in 19 games this season for the Rampage, has 10 wins, 2.67 GAA, and a 0.912 SV%. In the last game for San Antonio he was in net as they won, in a shootout, 2-1 over the Grand Rapids Griffins – making 26 saves and stopping all 3 Griffins shootout attempts.

The Admirals enter tonight’s game with a record of 28-20-6-6 (68 points). They remain in 4th place of the Midwest Division and in 8th place of the Western Conference. With last night’s shootout victory in the bag – they now trail the Rockford IceHogs by a single point in the divisional standings. They also still have 3 games at hand over the IceHogs. Something that comes in handy tonight because the IceHogs don’t play again until next Friday – so, with a win, the Ads can leap Rockford tonight and keep raining down the misery on them.

By scoring a goal last night, Calle Jarnkrok jumped Colton Sissons as the Admirals top scorer on the season. Jarnkrok has 42 points (17 goals, 25 assists) on the season. Since joining the Admirals after the NHL Trade Deadline – he has played in 4 games with the Admirals and scored 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists). For those who caught last night’s Chatterbox – this is what the head coach had to say about him:

“I don’t know if I can like him anymore than I like him now because, boy, he’s a hockey player. He just does everything well. He’s just a pro. When we first got him we thought maybe his size – strength – is gonna hurt him and maybe he’s got to get that to get to the next level, a little bit, maybe. But, he is so crafty and so intelligent. Plays both ends of the rink. Plays all three zones extremely well. We won’t have him here too long.” Dean Evason on Calle Jarnkrok

High praise – and certainly deserved. For those that watched his effort on the Admirals power-play last night you’ll have spotted the #19 darting all over the zone. Jarkrok would be at the point supporting Bryan Rodney, something I’ve wanted to see a lot out of the power-play set up, and basically quarterbacked from the point and right wing faceoff circle. When he was off the puck – he was very static and kept moving – he forced the IceHogs penalty kill to take stock of where he was and lose space on other available passing targets. As Evason said – he won’t be here for too long. It’s something as simple as intelligent off-puck movement and creativity on it that has put Sissons to the NHL. Jarnkrok probably isn’t far behind.

Barring anything wild happening with the Admirals lines from last night – I expect the exact same line combos and defensive pairings from the shootout victory over Rockford:

Forsberg-Jarnkrok-Cehlin
Saponari-Salomaki-Beck
Wathier-Van Guilder-Watson
Liambas-Tousignant-Rask

Bitetto-Piskula
Valentine-Ford
Rodney-Roussel

There seemed to be a good chemistry and balance from this mix in last night’s game. It seemed like all had moments where they shined together – especially those top two forward lines. I’m also a massive fan of that third forward line. It felt like a work-in-progress a bit last night but, with time, that’s a perfect combination of size, strength, and two-way players that sets the table for the skill lines to play their game.

What should we expect tonight from the San Antonio Rampage? Can the Admirals leap the IceHogs tonight? Who should start in net, Marek Mazanec or Scott Darling? Would you like to see any changes in the line combos or defensive pairings?

6 thoughts on “Rampage: Scouting the Enemy”

  1. I think Darling should be playing a lot more than he has been lately. He’s played very well this season and Maz hasn’t exactly been spectacular lately. I really hope Darling gets to start tonight and I really hope he sticks around next season.

  2. keep the lines the same unless somebody has an injury darling should be in net mazanec was good last night not great

  3. Ryan: Which came from a fortunate bounce to Wathier after MVG/Broadhurst popped up the puck. Beyond that, Watson and Wathier still aren’t on the same page. I see them talk a lot on the bench after shifts. I think things can only get smoother moving forward.

  4. Play Darling. Mazanec looked shaky last night. He should have stopped 2 of the goals he allowed. He was much better in the shoot out.

    The only guy from SA that concerns me is ManCow. Stop him on offense and the Ads probably win. He is their Wathier.

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