Even if you don't follow minor league hockey you’ve likely heard of the rough schedule these teams have to play. That doesn't change in the post season, not by a long shot. For the Chicago Wolves game two was played Friday and game three followed the next night Saturday. The pair of games was a true tale of two completely different stories. Just when you think you have a feeling of how a playoff series is going to play out things end up getting flipped on a dime.
Game two was the second contest held at the Allstate Arena in front of a announced attendance of 6,314. For the home fans this was a true treat as the Wolves thrashed the Griffins 7-3. Among the players joining the goal party was 2016 first round pick Tage Thompson, who had a multi point game, having being held pointless all post season. Michigan State graduate Mackenzie MacEachern also knocked in a goal and assist of his own while being named the first star of the game. Finnish prospect Ville Husso put up 28 saves on 31 shots as the Wolves looked to have all the momentum heading into Grand Rapids.
Remember how I said that the Wolves had all the momentum? Yea that didn't translate to game three, their first game on the road this series.
The Griffins and Wolves are not known as teams to play an overly physical game. At the end of the AHL regular season Chicago and Grand Rapids were ranked 25th and 28th respectively on the fighting major chart. But that doesn't mean the bad blood didn't begin to build as the two teams have (to this point) faced each other 13 times in 2016-17. A true lack of composure was on display the entire game as both sides tried to take hold of the battle. Surprisingly despite there being 18 minor penalties called in the game, it resulted in just one power play goal, coming from the Griffins.
The Wolves ended up falling 4-2 in the end. A game that the young side will want to learn from. Husso was chased early on, just ten minutes in after allowing three goals on nine shots though the blame really shouldn't fall on the goalie. This actually gave Jordan Binnington his first taste of playoff hockey this year making 30 saves on 31 shots. MacEachern continued added to this goal total from the night before after a beautiful feed from Bryce Gervais.
Possibly more alarming than the score line was the reckless play of rookies Vince Dunn and Samual Blais. Both players were looking to make an impact the wrong way far too often Saturday night. Dunn took a minor penalty at the end of the second period which resulted the Wolves having to play down a man kicking off the final frame of the game. Blais also found himself in trouble with the officials by getting tossed the final few minutes of the game. Both players have been incredibly valuable pieces to head coach Craig Berube. Neither of Dunn or Blais can make a positive contribution while sitting in the penalty box or even worse, watching from the locker room. One has to also remember that the St. Louis Blues staff are well aware of what happens in these games. Reckless play doesn't earn you a call up, no matter how many players are out of the lineup.
Despite the Wolves being down a game in the series this Central Division dog fight still is one impossible to predict. One thing is for sure, the goals will keep pouring in as we have already seen 21 goals in just three games. The sides face each other Monday night before having a few days off and meeting again next Saturday. The added rest should give the likes of Wade Megan and Adam Musil whose rumored to be hurt as well, more time to rest and possibly make their way into the lineup.