Not content to sit and watch their parent-club dominate the NHL (last night's disgrace in Minnesota notwithstanding), the Manitoba Moose have quietly enjoyed quite the run of their own. With only two regulation losses in their last 14, the baby-Canucks have begun their ascent up the AHL standings, and have done so while being decimated by injuries to their forwards. Below is a glance of what the Moose have done in the past few weeks, as well as a look ahead in their quest for the Calder Cup:
- Sergei Shirokov has been incredible of late. The lone Moose representative at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross now holds the team record for consecutive games with a point with 12 after adding a goal and an assist on Saturday night. In these dozen games, Shirokov has potted 10 goals (including 3 game winners), 5 assists and has directed 41 shots on goal, all while earning the trust of his teammates and coaches by improving his defensive play. Shirokov remains one of our brighter prospects and is well on his way to proving that making the Canucks out of training camp last year was no fluke.
**Update #1 - As per @Jay_Grossman on Twitter, Sergei was called up by the Canucks late last night. While still awaiting official confirmation, this would make sense as he's been the best forward on the farm lately and this would reward him for his recent excellent play, and Grossman is his agent so perhaps he'd know before anybody else.**
**Update #2 - Looks like the report is true, as Shirokov is officially recalled this morning. **
- After taking 3 of 4 points from the visiting Milwaukee Admirals, the Moose are now 10-2-1-1 in their past 14 games. This surge has moved them up into 8th spot in the Western Conference Standings, but they are only 5 points behind 1st place Milwaukee with multiple games in hand on everyone in front of them.
- The Moose have a great chance to move up in the standings over the next week as well. They still have 4 games remaining on their current homestand and they will play host to the Toronto Marlies and the Abbortsford Heat. Both teams are currently below the Moose in the standings.
- Injury Update! Both Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder have returned to the ice but are still not quite ready to return. However, Schroeder is the closer of the two and could be ready to go sometime next week.
- Jonas Andersson bolts to KHL. Big whoop. If he doesn't want to be here than good riddance. This will open a roster spot up front for some of the injured forwards when they return.
- Chris Tanev gets called up due to the injury to Aaron Rome, and may now get into some games with the injury to Andrew Alberts. I really like what he has done with the Moose this year. For a first year pro, he looks really steady back there, and I really noticed him and Oberg as a pairing last Thursday. He may not bring lots of offensive upside, but he is very dependable in his own end and should benefit from this experience.
- The Moose have been hammered by injuries to their forwards, but it's been a different story on defense where the team has been rotating 9 healthy defensemen recently. Nolan Baumgartner, Mark Flood, Lee Sweatt, Kevin Connauton, Evan Oberg, the aforementioned Chris Tanev, Ryan Parent, Yann Sauve and Travis Ramsey have all seen action in the past 6 games, and only Baumgartner, Flood, Parent and Tanev have played in all of them. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Rome and Alberts now out for the big club, and the potential return of Sami Salo.
- Speaking of Ryan Parent, I haven't been very impressed with his play at all. He hasn't looked very comfortable out there and I've noticed some pretty sketchy play out of him. However, he is still getting his feet under him following his extended time in the Canucks pressbox, so I'm willing to give him the benifit of the doubt. The coaches must like him though, as they've played him in every game since he's been here while sitting the likes of Connauton and Oberg.
- Prediction time, so feel free to write this down somewhere. D-man Mark Flood will be signed by the Canucks within the next year. He has been unreal for the Moose. Signed to an AHL contract on Sept. 8, he has put up 18 points in only 22 games played, is playing important minutes in all situations and is also wearing an 'A' on his chest. Flood was drafted in the 6th round of the 2003 Entry Draft (188th by Montreal) and enjoyed a cup of coffee with the Islanders in 09-10, but he's only 26 and could prove to be a late bloomer and a great find. I'm very impressed with what he has to offer and I would bet that Canucks management have noticed as well.
- Eddie Lack was presented with the award for Reebok/AHL Goalie of the Month (December) this past Thursday night, and promptly responded with his second shutout of the season. Lack is 14-9-2-2 on the year, with a GAA of 2.03 and a Save Percentage of 0.927. He is big, quick and poised in the crease, and in my opinion he is the real deal.
- Next up for the Moose is a visit from the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday and Wednesday. They will look to keep their hot streak alive without Tanev in the lineup, but healthy bodies may start to return soon. Go Moose Go!
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