By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
WEEK IN REVIEW:
FLOUNDERING RIVERMEN MANAGE TO STAY AFLOAT IN ULTRA-COMPETITIVE WEST:
The Peoria Rivermen played five games in the last seven days, and the fatigue showed by the end of the tough stretch.
The Rivermen sandwiched losses to Grand Rapids, last-place Rockford, and nemesis Chicago around back-to-back wins over Rickford and Texas early in the week, limping to a 2-3-0 record for the week ending Feb. 26, 2011 and a sub-.500 record overall since the turn of the calendar year.
Since New Year's Day, the Rivermen have a 12-13-2 mark, and this in a division where back-to-back losses can drop you from two to four places in the standings quicker than an Al Macinnis slapper from the point. In 27 games since Jan. 1, the Rivermen have been outscored 72-83, and have not been able to string together more than two consecutive victories since opening the calendar year with four straight wins over Grand Rapids, San Antonio, and back-to-back nights in Oklahoma City.
Despite the extended stretch of mediocrity, however, the Rivermen have managed to keep themselves right in the thick of the AHL West Division and Western Conference race. Peoria is ten games over .500 with a 33-23-2-3 record so far, good for 71 points, fourth place in the West and five points behind division leader Milwaukee at 33-16-3-7. The Texas Stars, 5-3-1-1 in their last ten games, have moved one point ahead of Peoria in the division race with a game in hand, and the Rivermen would face Texas -- with the Stars having home-ice advantage -- if the AHL playoffs were to begin today.
All-Star rookie goaltender Jake "The Snake" Allen has come crashing down to Earth after a stellar beginning to his pro career. In his last 15 starts, Allen is a mere 3-10-2 with a 3.05 goals-against average and 90.1% save percentage in that span. His two wins this week were his first since a 24-save 5-1 win in Abbotsford, BC on Jan. 13.
The road ahead doesn't get any easier for Jared Bednar's charges, either. The Rivermen play two games this week against arch-rival Chicago, and entertain North Division contender Manitoba on Friday night. All of Peoria's games this week are in the "friendly" confines of Carver Arena, where the Rivermen are just 14-11-2-1 in 28 games this year.
Peoria 2 at Grand Rapids 4, Sun., Feb. 20, 2011.
Peoria 6 at Rockford 3, Mon., Feb 21, 2011.
Peoria 5 vs Texas 2, Wed., Feb. 23, 2011.
Peoria 2 vs Rockford 4, Fri., Feb. 25, 2011.
Peoria 2 at Chicago 5, Sat., Feb. 26, 2011.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
Tuesday, March 1, 2011 ... Game Time 7:05 PM at Carver Arena, Peoria, Illinois. NHL Affiliate: Atlanta Thrashers.
Saturday, March 5, 2011 ... Game Time 7:05 PM at Carver Arena, Peoria, Illinois. NHL Affiliate: Atlanta Thrashers.
Friday, March 4, 2011 ... Game Time 7:05 PM at Carver Arena, Peoria, Illinois. NHL Affiliate: Vancouver Canucks.
RIVERMEN NEWS LINKS:
02/20/11 -- Rivermen keep sinking with 4-2 loss to Griffins (Peoria Journal-Star).
02/21/11 -- Rivermen get Strachan back from Blues (Peoria Journal-Star).
02/22/10 -- Mink notches 4 goals to carry Rivermen past Hogs (Peoria Journal-Star).
02/22/11 -- Rivermen roster still fluid situation (Peoria Journal-Star).
02/24/11 -- Evans' hat trick stuns teammates, Stars in Rivermen win (Peoria Journal-Star).
02/25/11 -- Rivermen lose another one to last-place IceHogs (Peoria Journal-Star).
02/26/11 -- Rivermen put points in Wolves hands at Allstate (Peoria Journal-Star).