Monday, December 13, 2010

Whale Win Again Behind Talbot, Weise, Zuccarello, Kolarik

Two games in two days and just another two wins for the red-hot Connecticut Whale as the New York Rangers were not the only ones rolling on Sunday.  The Whale with their current four game winning streak and longer 6-0-0-1 record since becoming the Whale have gone over .500 (12-11-4) for the first time since late October.  Saturday was about Mats Zuccarello, Evgeny Grachev and Ryan McDonagh stepping up from the prospects down there and Sunday saw Zuccarello again with Chad Kolarik and Dale Weise doing the lion’s share of the damage in the 4-3 win over the Flyers affiliate, Adirondack Phantoms.

In the first period the Phantoms carried the majority of the play and if not for some excellent goaltending by Cam Talbot they would have seen their work pay off a couple of times in the period.  After being dominated the majority of the period the Whale would create a few chances late in period one, but not score.  In all Talbot would turn aside 15 chances in the first to keep his team in the game while they got their own game going against the woeful Phantoms.

The second was not much better at the outset of the second as the Whale were outplayed by the Phantoms again only to rely on Talbot to bail them out and he continued to do so make a few excellent saves early in the period.  Finally the Phantoms would stike when up 5-on-3 when they would play low to high from Holmstrom to Syvret and he would finally get one to beat Talbot high glove 6:14 into the second.

Finally the offense for the Whale would wake up when Kris Newbury, Mats Zuccarello and Chad Kolarik ran a pretty passing as Newbury would find Zuccarello in the offensive zone and despite falling down Zuke would fight back in the play and make the clear tough on the Phantom defender.  The ensuing clear attempt would fail as Kolarik would keep the puck in at the point, play it back to Zuccarello who would disply great patience on the puck and feed Kolarik who had moved to the high slot for a one time wrister that would beat Riopel high glove at 9:14 of the second and make it 1-1.                                                                                                

Just over three minutes late the Phantoms would gain the advantage again when Bordson would beat Bickel in a battle behind the net, cycle the puck to Holmstrom who would fend off a Grachev check as he played the puck back to the point for Bourdon who would fire a one timer through Talbot low glove side.  I do not know if Talbot was screened by the movement in front, but it looked like he might have had a chance to see it and was just expecting the shot to come to the other side.  At 12:39 of the second the Phantoms were not up again; 2-1.

The Whale would finally get their first power play opportunity of the game late in the second period when Phantoms defender Kevin Marshall was called for interference at 14:13 of the period.  53 seconds into the man advantage the Whale would cash in as once again the passing of Mats Zuccarello would play a big role in a goal.  Zuccarello holding camp along the right wing boards would take a feed from Jeremy Williams and work a give-in-go with him as he would give it back to Williams, now at the left faceoff circle, who would beat the goaltender up high to tie the game at 2-2 15:06 into the second.  The goal was number 15 for Williams on the season and gave Zuccarello a pretty 2G, 2A weekend in the two games. 

The Phantoms would threaten a few times late in the second but not be able to score and then in the third and the line of Kolarik, Tessier and Weise would dominate for the Whale offensively.  On the first goal they would combine for Dale Weise made a beautiful toe drag move to get free for a shot, but it would be stopped and go behind the net where Tessier would give way to Kolarik who would circle to the corner from behind the net and find Weise open for a wrist shot from the faceoff circle which he would deposit high glove at 2:48 of the final period. 

The fourth goal for the Whale was started in the defensive zone with a huge hit by Ryan McDonagh along the boards that would spring that line again and Tessier would cross the blue line give the puck to Kolarik on the left side, Kolarik would drive hard to the middle and leave a drop pass for Weise who had circled in behind him and then Weise would drive the net hard and try to play the puck back to the goal mouth and it would ping-pong in the net at 11:36 of the final period.  Luke Pither would score for the Phantoms 90 seconds later to cut it to 1, but Talbot and company would make it stand up.

  • This team which spent a month finding any possible way to lose games, especially one goal games is now finding different ways to win them and that says a lot about the character in that room and the dysfunction that was there is fading into the background; winning always helps that.  The moves for Kolarik, Bickel and Eizenman have certainly played a role in the turnaround, especially offensively with the spark that Kolarik has been able to give.  
  • Good to see Dale Weise with all his injuries this year get a couple goals as he is probably the most NHL ready of the guys down there, especially for a bottom six type role, though Kolarik is showing he doesn’t just want to be an AHL guy either.  Great to see Zuccarello continue to get better and do it on back-to-back nights this weekend as he is making it tough to hold him down there much longer as well.  
  • Nice to see the goaltenders pushing each other as well with a strong performance for both Chad Johnson and Cam Talbot on the weekend.
  • With the win the Whale moved into 4th in their division and 8th in the conference