Having family located in many different places around North America, I for one know all about spending the holidays on the road. While sometimes it is nice to get away and have someone else host the festivities, there is nothing like being home for the holidays. Maybe it's the home cooking, maybe it's sleeping in your own bed or maybe it's the fact that you don't spend half of your vacation in airports or on airplanes. Whatever the reason, being home for the holidays just feels right. And judging by the recent results, I'm thinking that the Moose brass would agree with me.
The last Moose Report was a bit of a downer, as I was searching for bright spots during a pretty nasty losing streak plus the fact that both Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder went down to injuries. However, it looks like the home cooking here in Winnipeg has cured what was ailing the Moose.
The Moose have started their holiday 6-game home-stand 4-0 and have looked very solid in doing so. They have outscored their opponents 15-6 over this span, and combined with how they finished their last road-trip they have won 5 straight and have earned points in their last 6. The only person who may love the holidays more then the Moose right now is Clark Griswold.
First of all, here are the stats for the Moose from the past 4 home games, followed up by some thoughts after watching 2 of these games (hey, it's the holidays - I was busy!):
- First of all, Eddie Lack looks fantastic in net. He started all 4 games, and earned his first shutout as well. His 6-5 frame makes him look large in net, but he is also very quick, is sound positionally and has a very calm demeanor in the crease. It looks like the Canucks have a keeper here.
- Very interesting to see Mark Flood of all people lead the Moose in scoring the past 4 games. He is signed to an AHL deal with the Moose but did get some time with the Islanders last year. He looks very good, and I'll be curious to see if the Canucks decide to ink him at any point.
- Nice to see Shirokov scoring some goals. He has major league hands and can obviously put the puck in the net, but he wasn't always noticeable out there and seemed to disappear for stretches. However, the talent is there and he continues to lead the team in scoring.
- The two players who really impressed me? Jonas Andersson and Joel Perrault. No wonder they each got a call-up to the show earlier this year, though neither seemed comfortable playing on the 4th-line with the 'Nucks. However, they sure look solid down here when put in offensive roles.
- The most noticeable player on the ice both games I saw? Guillaume Desbiens. He was a wrecking ball out there and was very willing to go to the dirty areas. No wonder AV thinks so highly of him. It's too bad he broke his hand earlier this year.
- Bill Sweatt is lightning fast. He is also putting up good numbers and looks like a solid prospect. What's interesting about him is that I only noticed him a few times last game yet he ended up with 2 assists and was the 1st star. Go figure.
- Victor Oreskovich is definitely a big body out there, but I was looking for more from him. He didn't play terribly, he just wasn't overly impressive. I still have high hopes for him though.
- Mario Bliznak is another guy that was solid and was always stirring up trouble around the net. I like his game a lot.
- I'm very happy with the defense down here. Lee Sweatt may be a little guy but he plays big and I like his skill set. Chris Tanev is very steady. Kevin Connauton also looks like a solid prospect, but he came out last game for Evan Oberg and I hope that both continue to get ice-time and grow.
- Nolan Baumgartner is a great captain for this team. He looked very solid, made smart plays and never got into trouble. It's great that the Moose have him to teach the young kids (much like Mike Keane in previous years). However, it's unfortunate for him that the Canucks have such depth at defense that he will likely never get back up to the Show. When you look at some other blue-lines around the league (cough... Islanders... cough...) you can't help but wonder if he'd be in an NHL lineup for another franchise.
- Garth Murray played very physical, and it's surprising that with over 100 NHL games on his resume that he had to sign in the ECHL before the Moose brought him up. I'm not sure if the Canucks will ever have interest, but he provides some muscle and veteran leadership down here on the farm at the very least.