PREVIEW: Last Dance with the Wolves
The Manitoba Moose (41-26-4-4) play the Chicago Wolves (42-22-7-4) this afternoon, in the final game of the regular season for both clubs. For the Moose, today’s contest is a chance to leave an impression on the Central Divison leading Wolves before the playoffs start. Much of the story for Manitoba the last few weeks has been Sami Niku and Mason Appleton’s impressive season, and the accolades they’ve received. The final feather in the caps of the two high profile rookies is that they’re the only players on the Moose roster who’ve played every game this season. Today’s 4 p.m. (CT) puck drop is available on moosehockey.com/listenlive/.
JUST AROUND THE CORNER
Game 76 is finally here as the Moose and Wolves wrap up their regular seasons today. For the first time since returning to Winnipeg, the Moose will move on to the post-season to faceoff against the Grand Rapids Griffins. That series will begin on Saturday, April 21 in Winnipeg for a 2 p.m. CT puck drop. It will be the fourth time the Moose and Griffins meet in the playoffs.
TALE OF TWO SEASONS
The Moose and Wolves have experienced the 2017-18 regular season in a near mirror-image of each other. The Moose held the league’s best mark at the halfway point of the season with a 25-8-3-2 record. The Wolves sat 16th in the league at that point with a 19-14-5-2 record. Since then, the Moose have a 16-18-1-2 record and hold the 10th spot in the league, while Chicago went 23-8-2-2 to win the Central Division regular season crown for the second straight season.
UP TO 40
Mike Sgarbossa scored for the second straight game in Friday’s tilt against the Monsters. That goal brought the Campbellville, Ont. native to the 40-point (16G, 24A) plateau for the third time in his sixth pro season. Sgarbossa also needs just one more point to reach 200 for his career. Sgarbossa is the seventh player on the Moose roster to reach 40 points this season.
Sticking with Sgarbossa, he and linemates Buddy Robinson and Chase De Leo found some scoring touch the past few games. A player on the line has scored in each of the last three outings. The trio of the forwards come into today’s matchup with points in consecutive contests. De Leo is riding a five-game point streak, while Sgarbossa has points in three straight and Robinson has helpers in back-to-back games.
SHUTTING THINGS DOWN
The Moose haven’t given up much in the way of shots in their past 20 games. Manitoba has surrendered more than 30 shots just four times since Feb. 25, and the last time the Moose allowed 30+ shots in back-to-back games was Feb. 24/25 against the Wolves. Over that stretch, the Moose have averaged 26.05 shots per game. For context, Tucson owns the best full season average for shots against at 26.82.
The Moose are headed to the playoffs for the first time since they returned to Winnipeg in 2015. Head to moosehockey.com/tickets/ and get ready for the Calder Cup chase. It all begins with back-to-back games (April 21/22) at Bell MTS Place against the reigning champs, the Grand Rapids Griffins.