The old adage ‘In like a lion, out like a lamb’ applied to the Chicago Wolves venture through March, but a but differently. A slow start to the month turned into a scoring outage, followed by a five-game winning streak against conference opponents. Chicago enters the final stretch of the regular season in the seventh spot of the Western Conference standings.
Sunday’s victory over the Iowa Wild capped off the odd month. The Wolves were in 10th place just two weeks ago before finishing the month tied for 7th. If the playoffs were to start today, the Wolves would face the Utica Comets.
“We needed it, we were floundering,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “I’m gad we got a streak going. We really needed it at this point. We’re peaking at the right time.”
A key factor in the abrupt turnaround for Chicago included a healthy Matt Climie and a scoring surge that plagued the team for much of March. Climie has been able to give his rookie counterpart Jordan Binnington a much-needed break after starting 18 consecutive games while Climie sat out with an injury. Climie has started 8 of Chicago’s last 13 games. Pat Cannone, Magnus Paajarvi, Ty Rattie, Jeremy Welsh and Adam Cracknell have contributed multi-point games during their current five-game winning streak. All of those players contribute top-six forward minutes, as well.
Paajarvi’s hat-trick Friday night was the first of his professional career and his first tallies since February 13 against Oklahoma City. The power play has also come to life recently. All three markers against Iowa were on the man advantage. “I’ve liked our power play the last couple weeks because we’re really generating chances,” said Anderson. “When the pucks are starting to bounce for you; see you what happens when one bounces right back to [Ty] Rattie and it goes in…sometimes it’s just the bounces.”
Ty Rattie has found his scoring touch of late. Between a brief stint with the St. Louis Blues and a few games missed with an injury, it had been exactly two months since Rattie had scored for Chicago. His goal on March 21 was the first of four in five games for the Alberta native. “That’s a thing that I wanted to fix, my inconsistency,” said Rattie. “To have a couple good weekends like this and the boys are winning, it feels good and now we just gotta keep going and make that playoff push.”
The Chicago Wolves have 11 games remaining in the regular season and if Anderson is correct, they’re appear to be peaking at the right time.
Jeff is a production assistant @120Sports and contributor to hockey, football, and baseball for The Sports Bank and writes about hockey for www.numberFire.com. Follow him on Twitter @skcih_ffej.
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