By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
"OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN..."
Despite the loss of their starting goaltender to NHL callup, and despite a tough loss on home ice to in-state rivals the Rockford IceHogs, the Peoria Rivermen remain one of the hottest clubs in the AHL as the league gears up for the home stretch.
BREAKING: Jake Allen is being returned to Peoria.
Blues have sent goaltender Jake Allen back down to Rivermen on Sunday #blues— Dave Eminian (@icetimecleve) February 10, 2013
As Rivs' beat writer Dave Eminian points out in THIS recent article in the Peoria Journal Star, the Rivermen are "on the move" with 14 points in their last 11 games (6-3-2-0), including Friday's loss to the IceHogs. The Rivs take on another Midwest Division rival in Milwaukee today, and the only other road game in their next nine contests is a return engagement with Rockford on March 1.
Seven of the Rivs' next nine games will be at the friendly confines of Carver Arena, and six games in that stretch will be "four-point games" vs. Midwest Division rivals -- Rockford three times; Milwaukee, Chicago and Grand Rapids once each.
The next nine games will be absolutely key to the Rivs' chances of making the playoffs this season; at 20-20-4-2 for 46 points, Peoria currently sits in 11th place in the Western Conference, seven points behind Rochester for the last playoff spot in the conference. It's a tall order, but bench boss Dave Allison has confidence in his charges.
"I have every expectation of getting to the playoffs. The players expect to get there. The organization expects to get there. My teams have a history of finishing strong, and I believe this one will be the same." -- Peoria head coach Dave Allison
THE WEEK IN REVIEW, PEORIA EDITION:
Peoria 3 at Chicago 4(OT), Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2013.
LINK to AHL game sheet.
"Rivermen rally to force OT before falling, 4-3, to Wolves." LINK to article at the Peoria Journal-Star website.
Peoria 2 vs Rockford 4, Friday, Feb. 8, 2013.
LINK to AHL game sheet.
"Rivermen can't hold off IceHogs' rally, lose 4-2." LINK to article at the Peoria Journal-Star website.
THE WEEK AHEAD, PEORIA EDITION:
Sunday, February 10, 2013 ... Game Time 3:00 PM CST at BMO Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI. NHL Affiliate: Nashville Predators.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 ... Game Time 7:05 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria, IL. NHL Affiliate: Chicago Blackhawks.
Friday, February 15, 2013 ... Game Time 7:05 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria, IL. NHL Affiliate: Calgary Flames.
Saturday, February 16, 2013 ... Game Time 7:35 PM CST at Carver Arena, Peoria, IL. NHL Affiliate: Florida Panthers.
"ALL HANDS ON DECK..."
The Evansville IceMen have been primarily a place for the Blues and Peoria to stash "extra" players when there is no roster room in Peoria. In recent weeks, with defections, injuries and callups, the number of Blues' prospects in Evansville has steadily been reduced until the only prospect in Evansville right now is Stefan Della Rovere.
That will change, probably as soon as today, when Peoria sends Paul Karpowich back to Evansville in advance of Jake Allen being returned to Peoria from his emergency callup to the Blues.
THE WEEK IN REVIEW, EVANSVILLE EDITION:
Evansville 4 at Kalamazoo 5 (OT),Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
Evansville 2 at South Carolina 5, Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
Evansville 5 at Gwinnett 6, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. LINK to ECHL game sheet.
THE WEEK AHEAD, EVANSVILLE EDITION:
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 ... Game Time 7:15 PM CST at Ford Center, Evansville, IN. NHL Affiliates: Detroit / Chicago.
Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 ... Game Time 7:15 PM CST at Ford Center, Evansville, IN. NHL Affiliate: Anaheim Ducks.
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 ... Game Time 7:30 PM EST at Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, IN. NHL Affiliate: Anaheim Ducks.