Game 56 Preview: Tucson at Chicago
Game #56 - Tucson (34-18-1-2) at Chicago (26-26-5-2)
6 PM MST, Allstate Arena, Chicago, CA
LISTEN LIVE Fox Sports 1450, iHeart Radio app
WATCH LIVE AHL TV
Referees: Dan Kelly (#45), Lucas Martin (#1)
Linesmen: Julien Fournier (#56), Riley Bowles (#86)
After a rare idle Friday evening the Roadrunners wrap up a four-game road trip and two-game set against the Chicago Wolves tonight in Rosemont.
Tucson earned a 4-2 victory to kick off the series Thursday, furthering the distance between themselves and the chasing Colorado Eagles.
Tonight all seven Pacific Division teams are slated to play games, thus making tonight's two points just as imperative.
1) Discipline, discipline, discipline. It feels so odd that this has led to some issues for Tucson because really prior to the Gem Show Trip it hadn't caused much of a stir. However, over the course of the last month the Roadrunners have taken more trips than desired to the penalty box, thus resulting in some special teams woes. The only goals Chicago scored on Thursday night were by way of the power play and it isn't much of a stretch to say that the Roadrunners were the better team at even strength. It seems like such simple logic, stay out of the box and at minimum half the battle is won. Easier said than done though.
2) So the Wolves know that they can strike on the man advantage against Tucson but with no five-on-five goals in the series opener, one would have to presume that Rocky Thompson went to the drawing board to address this ahead of tonight's game. Something else to watch for is to see if Chicago cracks down on the amount of shots that they let through from the point. Kevin Hancock's goal was a tuck-in immediately after a shot from the point; Jalen Smereck's tally came from just inside the blue line and Tyler Steenbergen's game-winner was a result of a rebound via a Cam Dineen point blast. Again, just something worth noting.
3) Enough can't be said about Adin Hill's play since his return to Tucson last week. Another NHL-caliber performance Thursday improved his output to three wins in three starts, stopping over 94% of shots he's seen against San Diego, Bakersfield and Chicago. With just a practice day Friday, the goaltender's work as of late is enough to warrant the question, is it his net again tonight? Ivan Prosvetov is well rested and it's not a knock on him by any means, however, when you have someone who is red hot, sometimes coaches tend to stick with them. However, the counterargument is that you don't want to burn that hot hand out so fast. Regardless, a good problem to have, only a few hours separate us from finding out who of the two it will be.
What's The Word?
Roadrunners defenseman Jalen Smereck on Thursday night's win and the contributions from all over the lineup...
"It was huge. We played a full game and everyone on the team played their role. It felt like playoff hockey."
Roadrunners defenseman Jalen Smereck's description of the game heading down to the wire and the immediate response after Chicago's late game-tying goal in the series opener...
"It's playoff hockey, anything can happen, especially in those one-goal, two-goal games. We gave up a couple power play goals but we kept fighting at five-on-five and we got one back right away."
Roadrunners defenseman Jalen Smereck on the team attempting to string together some wins with a chance to wrap up a three-of-four trip and four-of-five run...
"That's the message, everything matters. We want to try and get as many points as we can here to get our playoff push going. We want to keep playing that playoff-style hockey."
Number to Know
34.. Thursday night's win gave Tucson their 34th win of the season, matching their total from the entire 2018-19 campaign. Yes, there have been highs and there and have been low's this season, however, a 35th win tonight with a dozen games still remaining would all but seal the deal on declaring this year a "more successful" one than the last. Let's see if the guys can do it before they return home.
We're Doing It Live
Catch tonight's active LIVE on AHLTV or join Roadrunners play-by-play voice Adrian Denny on Fox Sports 1450 AM and iHeart Radio as he calls the game from the Roadrunners' flagship radio station, beginning at 5:45 PM.
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