In the two weeks since we last checked in with the Wolves, the Wolves have lost five of their last six games. One lone win for the Wolves on February 23rd is keeping the Wolves in the playoff hunt, which has become incredibly tight between the 3–6 seeds in the Central Division.
Unlike normal Wolves pieces here at The-Rink, this piece is a little more primed toward the playoffs. As the AHL schedule approaches the month of March, teams are starting to settle into their respective playoff spots. However, the middle of the Central Division is tighter than a parking spot in the city of Chicago. As of March 2nd, the San Antonio Rampage, Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Rockford IceHogs are all within one point of each other, with games played being the major differentiator.
This further emphasizes how bad the Wolves five losses in six games was at the end of February and very beginning of March. These games are critical, especially with how often the Wolves play their own division, so every game matters, especially with the season beginning to whine down.
An argument for the Wolves struggles could be their lack of roster depth. With players such as Nicholas Roy and Zach Whitecloud bouncing between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Wolves, it is tough for the Wolves to ice a fully healthy squad on a nightly basis.
The Wolves have received some reinforcements from the Golden Knights. Cody Glass and Nic Hague are both on the roster after seeing significant time with the parent club this season. Both players will be keys in the playoff run the Wolves are about to endure.
Despite Glass being returned to the Wolves, he was injured and has not played since February 20th. The Wolves are also without Keegan Kolesar, who was hurt against Milwaukee on January 31st. The Wolves have lacked health lately and that is starting to pile up on the Wolves’ game results as the season wears on.
Another noted problem for the Wolves this season has been scoring. As the team stands now, Tye McGinn leads the team in goals with 17. Other players over ten goals for the season include rookie Lucas Elvenes, Brandon Pirri, Curtis McKenzie, Gage Quinney, and Dylan Coghlan. Aside from those six players, the Wolves do not have anyone else on the roster with more than ten goals. The lack of depth scoring has been an issue.
From a total points perspective, the Wolves have four players above 30 total points so far this season. Those players include Elvenes, Pirri, McKenzie, and Quinney. Unfortunately, the Wolves have not been able to get a lot of scoring, and in games when the offense isn’t clicking, the Wolves tend to fall on the wrong side of the game outcome.
In net, the Wolves have had good goaltending this season. Both goaltenders have a save percentage equal to or better than 0.905 and a goal against average lower than 2.80. However, in games when the offense cannot get going, a two-goal game from either Garett Sparks or Oscar Dansk results in a loss rather than a win.
As the season begins to come to a close, the Wolves are in a position to control their own destiny as they look to make the playoffs. The Wolves will play six games in a row at home, starting on Thursday, March 5. The Wolves only have one more trip of any major distance left on the schedule when they visit the Texas Stars for two games in mid-to-late March.
Aside from those games, trips to Milwaukee, Grand Rapids and Rockford highlight the schedule for the rest of March and April. The Wolves can take advantage of a home-heavy schedule and short trips against their own division to further solidify their position in the Calder Cup Playoffs picture.