By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
BISHOP, RIVERMEN GO SOUTH THIS WEEK... IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE:
Two blowout losses deep in the heart o' Texas leave Bednar's boys on shaky ground.
168 hours ago, Ben Bishop and the Peoria Rivermen were sailing along with a full head of steam. The Rivs had won six of their previous eight games, and Bishop had been between the pipes for five of those wins. The Chaminade alumnus had been named AHL Player Of The Week for the week ending Jan. 15, on the strength of a 2-0-0 record, a miserly 0.50 goals-against average (one goal allowed in 71 shots) and a 98.6% save percentage.
The boat, however, has hit a sandbar.
Bishop, who has been the focus of much trade speculation here at Game Time, and in other Blues' media outlets, surrendered ten goals on 64 shots in two games (plus an empty-netter last night) this weekend against the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage, who had previously been among the Western Conference's least-productive offenses until meeting the Rivermen.
Texas had scored just 115 goals in 39 games before laying the smack down on the Rivermen on Friday night by a 6-2 score, and the Rampage had just 92 goals in 40 games before reeling off five unanswered goals last night to take a 5-1 decision at the AT&T Center in downtown San Antonio.
Looking at the big picture, 11 goals against on 135 shots in four games is still not too shabby (2.76 GAA, 91.9% save percentage). But a 2-2-0 record in those games is bad news for a team that needs every point they can get in order to stay afloat in the ultra-competitive AHL Western Conference playoff race.
The win by San Antonio last night, for example, vaulted the Rampage over the Rivermen, the Stars and the Rochester Americans for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot at 21-18-2-0 and 44 points in 41 games. At 20-19-2-1 (43 points) in 42 games, the Rivermen are still just one point out of a playoff position, and just ten points out of fourth place in the conference and home ice in the opening round. But they will have to be better than .500 down the stretch in order to achieve those goals.
The Rivs return to Peoria this week for some home cookin' (10-8-1-0 on Carver Arena ice this year) against division foe Milwaukee on Tuesday morning in a "Faceoff Field Trip" game for students in Peoria area schools, and back-to-back contests against Detroit's farmhands, the Grand Rapids Griffins, on Friday and Saturday.
BISHOP TO ALL-STAR GAME:
According to Dave Eminian in the Peoria Journal-Star, Ben Bishop has been named to the AHL All-Star lineup.
LINK to PJStar story.
The AHL has not yet announced the addition of Bishop to the All-Star festivities, and it's unclear if he will be playing in the All-Star Game itself, or just standing in as a target during the Skills Competition.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW:
Peoria 2 at Texas 6, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012.
Peoria 1 at San Antonio 5, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 ... Game Time 10:00 AM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria, IL. NHL Affiliate: Nashville Predators.
Friday, January 27, 2012 ... Game Time 7:00 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria IL. NHL Affiliate: Detroit Red Wings.
Saturday, January 28, 2012 ... Game Time 7:00 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria IL. NHL Affiliate: Detroit Red Wings.
RIVERMEN NEWS LINKS:
01/20/12 -- Rivermen outshined by Stars (Peoria Journal Star).
01/21/12 -- Rivermen lose to Rampage 5-1; Bishop wins All-Star berth (Peoria Journal-Star).