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River City Moose Report (2-21-2011)

Chris Tanev has been a pleasant surprise in his time up with the Canucks, but the Moose could sure use him too.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Chris Tanev has been a pleasant surprise in his time up with the Canucks, but the Moose could sure use him too. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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One of the major things that Mike Gillis set out to do this past summer was to stock the talent pool within the the entire organization.  It looks like he was able to accomplish that, especially on the back end.  Good thing too, as this ridiculous injury bug that has absolutely decimated the Canucks blueline hasn't hurt the Canucks as bad as it may have in the past thanks to some solid prospects down on the farm.  However, these call-up have had a major effect on the Manitoba Moose and their ability to ice a competive lineup of late and this has been reflected in their recent results.  Such is life for a minor-league affiliate, I suppose, as the baby Canucks have had to endure a never-ending game of musical chairs when it comes to roster moves.
Alexander Edler (back), Kevin Bieksa (foot), Keith Ballard (knee), Dan Hamhuis (concussion) and Lee Sweatt (foot) are all hurt at the same time, and so is Moose defender Nolan Baumgartner (lower body).  Good thing that Gillis was able to call up Chris Tanev, Yann Sauve and Evan Oberg to help.  However, this past Saturday while the 3 aforementioned kids played incredibly well for the Canucks, the Moose were featuring a back end that was anchored by the dynamic duo of Ryan McGillis and Geoff Waugh.  Who?  Exactly.  They joined a defensive group featuring Ryan Parent, Mark Flood, Travis Ramsey and Kevin Connauton.  Yikes.  It's a good thing that Parent is stuck down here thanks to recall waivers, because the Moose really need a veteran body here.
So it wasn't entirely surprising that the Moose finished their most recent 6-game homestand with a disappointing 2-4 record.  They were outscored 16-15 over that span but that looks much more respectable because of a 5-0 victory over the San Antonio Rampage.  The Moose were held to 2 goals or less in 4 of the 6 games as the offense seemed to dry up, but that is to be expected when literally 4 of your best defenders are out of your lineup.  However, they still remain tied atop the North Division with 66 points (30-20-1-5) and as soon as the Canucks defenders get healthy then the Moose will start getting their players back.
And reinforcements are on the way, sort of.  The return of a healthy Dan Hamhuis to the Canucks lineup means that Evan Oberg is on his way back down to Manitoba, but it is at the expense of one Cody Hodgson who returns to the Canucks after a seven-game stint down in the minors.  Gain a defender, lose a foward.  The game of musical chairs continues. 

  • Sergei Shirokov continues to sizzle at AHL level.  In the past 6 games, Shirokov scored 1 goal, added 7 assists and was a plus 4.  He was in on over 50% of the Moose goals during the homestand.  Not too shabby.
  • Cody Hodgson, Bill Sweatt and Jordan Schroeder however didn't fare as well.  Sweatt contributed one assist, Schroeder added two assists and Hodgson scored twice, but the trio combined for a minus 14.  Ouch.
  • As for some of the guys that saw some playing time with the Canucks this year, Alex Bolduc, Mario Bliznak, Aaron Volpatti and Guillaume Desbiens were solid during the homestand.  Bolduc added 2 goals and 2 assists, Bliznak added two goals and an assist, and Desbiens scored 3 times and added 2 helpers.  Volpatti was held off the board but was up with the Canucks for a 3 of those games.
  • Eddie Lack was 2-2 with a shutout in his 4 games, and continues to impress.
  • Going into the final game of the homestand, the Moose had put up a 1-4 record up until that point.  How did the fans of Winnipeg reward them?  By nearly filling the MTS Centre, as 14,775 took in the 4-2 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters.  And those seats were filled, and those tickets were paid for.  What a concept!
  • The Moose are about to embark on an 11-game road trip that won't see them return to the MTS Centre until March 15.  Hopefully some healthy bodies can return to both Vancouver and Manitoba soon so that both squads can be ready and raring to go by playoff time.  With Hamhuis returning tomorrow and Ballard hopefully soon after, it looks like both squads will benefit from some good health.