It's Crunch Time for the Wranglers
It's crunch time in Calgary.
There are just 10 games remaining in the regular season and the league-leading Wranglers (43-15-3) are locked in a tight race to maintain top spot in the AHL standings.
Of those final 10 games, the next four will be on home ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome before the Wranglers embark on a six-game road-swing to wrap up things up.
Better make some hay on home ice.
UPCOMING HOME GAMES:
March 24 vs San Diego Gulls (GET TICKETS)
March 26 vs San Diego Gulls (GET TICKETS)
March 29 vs Henderson Silver Knights (GET TICKETS)
March 31 vs Henderson Silver Knights (GET TICKETS)
Calgary has won all four meetings against San Diego, but they have had a tough time picking up points against Henderson, with a 1-4-1 record against the Silver Knights this season. That will need to change during this upcoming homestand, because points are at a premium and a first-round bye in the postseason is what's at stake.
However, Wranglers head coach Mitch Love isn't looking too far ahead.
"I think when the puck drops on game one of the season, any team's goal is to make the playoffs. We don't spend a lot of time talking about that around here - you know - were we effective that day as a team?" explained Love. "But the next point will be to try and maintain that and win our division with good teams right below us in the standings."
You don't have to look too far down the standings to see what team, in particular, Love is referring to.
The Coachella Valley Firebirds are hot on the Wranglers' heels, sitting just two points back of Calgary (88) with four games in hand (14 games remaining). Still, the Wranglers can only focus on what they can control - playing the 'right way' and winning hockey games. They've done a good job of that lately, with a record of 6-0-1 in their last seven contests.
The coaching staff deserves a lot of credit - Love, Don Nachbaur, Joe Cirella, as well as Mackenzie Skapski, Daniel Johnston, and Gord Farnell - who, as a group, have had to be flexible and at times rather creative to try and adapt and adjust to the ever-changing AHL landscape. The trade deadline meant new roster additions (Dryden Hunt and Kristians Rubins), and with injures and call-ups, it's been a season of constant adjustments.
It's still the 'Next Man Up' mentality, as it has been all year.
"It's the American Hockey League, there's lots of turnover with recalls and injuries and what not," explained Love. "So, when guys slide into the lineup, they've got to get up to speed quickly and adapt to what we're doing here and be a contributor in some facet and we've gotten that from guys that have been in our lineup as of late."
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