What a difference a week makes! Just as things were looking up in terms of getting some bodies back - the Gulls have inexplicably lost yet more.
Currently mired in a 3 game losing streak that has been capped by a very disappointing second showing against the Texas Stars our Baby Ducks down the highway need the bad news coming out of Anaheim to please stop.
Where we last left off the Gulls had finished a feisty 3 game series against the Heat, culminating in a 4-3 shootout win at home.
In the weeks since they have ventured East to Texas, lost a frantic and unexpectedly violent affair in OT to the Stars but then prevailed in a convincing win over the then-Pacific division leading San Antonio Rampage. During the Stars loss Dallas prospect Curtis McKenzie lay a controversial hit on Gulls defenceman Andy Welinski. Scott Sabourin challenged McKenzie to answer for the hit but was declined. As Sabourin wailed on the turtling Stars winger, Stu Bickel also wanted a piece of the action and started his own fight with another unwilling combatant. This needless act put the Gulls on a 5 minute 5 on 3 whilst both majors were served. Sabourin was given a 10 minute misconduct and Bickel ejected with a 5 game suspension handed down a few days later. I do not condone their play but can understand Sabourin forfilling the role of requesting McKenzie answer for the hit; Bickel on the other hand - that was off the deep end.
Lost among all of this - the Gulls killed that 5 on 3 for the full 5 minutes. Julius Nattinen got his first pro goal early in the first, Dostie is 2nd and Hults his 4th. The following night in San Anontio the rookie-powered offence continued as Nattinen again opened the scoring and Deven Sideroff got his first with a minute left in the first. Carrick, Roy and Welinksi had the other goals in the 5-3 win, Roy had 3 points on the night.
A home and home with the Reign to start November saw the Gulls trade a shutout loss at home for a shootout win in the unkind confines of Citizens Business Bank Arena. The Reign were coming off their first victory of the season and were hungry for more - they frustrated and wore the Gulls down with neutral trap hockey in San Deigo before the Gulls were able to emerge victorious in the shootout behind Reto Berra and some standout saves. Roy again carried the bulk of the offence in the absence of Kossila with another 3 point night whilst Deven Sideroff got his 2nd of the year and veteran Jeff Schultz notched his first as a Gull.
That @yogi20bear shootout save though #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/eoiSaL4R0v— San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) November 5, 2017
Leading us to tonight's tough loss to the Stars in which the Gulls were essentially caught flat and depleted, blown out in a 6-2 loss in which the villain of the recent visit to Texas was this time answering on the scoresheet, McKenzie took great pleasure in scoring a hat trick past the despondent Kevin Boyle while the Gulls could only muster any form of offense via the Powerplay on goals by Andy Welinski and Giovanni Fiore.
Notes & Observations
San Diego sits 6th in the 8-team Pacific Division, with an even record. Only the Barracuda and Reign are worse.
Its Not All Bad News
The injured Jacob Larsson made a return to the lineup tonight but could not help in the Gulls demoralizing losss. Still it was good to see the injury was not something long term. It is difficult to get any info or updates on the team injury situation at the best of times. Which leads me to...
Where In The IR Is Nic Kerdiles and Corey Tropp
Given Kerdiles suffered a nasty head injury I am assuming he is out for Kariya-like time but I am still not entirely sure what is ailing Tropp, hopefully he comes back soon.
Ok Maybe It Is All Bad News
Marlies loan Eric Fehr to the San Diego Gulls. Anaheim org decimated by injury so he'll play more there.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) November 7, 2017
Fehr didnt play in tonight's game however - he possibly has not arrived yet. Instead the recalled from Utah - Gregor Hanson slotted in on the fourth line with JST and Sabourin.
Splitting Up The Sophmores
I noted in the last MOTF update that Welinski and Thompson were a team worst -6 and -5 respectively, suggesting that Dallas Eakins should perhaps split them up and pair them with veterans when the lineup allowed it. Not to toot my own horn but uh.
The D-Pairs for tonight's game featured Pettersson with Oleskey, Thompson with Larsson and Schultz with Welinski. Not that the result of tonights game helps my arguement much but I am confident these pairings will serve the San Diego D-core better moving forward.
Good News Coming?
After reading this morning that both Gibson and Kase passed concussion protocol I am tentatively hoping that means Berra gets returned before this weekend and possibly Roy also. Berra would not have to pass through waivers this time given the 10 game/30 day rule would be in place.
Trade Winds Blowing
With the Ducks injury situation the rumour mill has started up again. Where the Ducks can traditionally deal from in strength is their deep prospect pool. Whether or not that affects the Gulls will have to be seen but on twitter I am seeing rival teams fans throwing Larssons name around in connection with potential Evander Kane or Vrbata deals. We know Bob is generally pretty safe with prospects and picks - historically he has never been our blockbuster trade GM; his specialty is the draft. Which is why I think that if he does make a trade - it will either involve a piece that he knows there is an incoming replacement for next year. Or he does his usual Bargain Bob attempt at a reclamation project. So who do the Ducks-Gulls have incoming next year?
Take your pick. All of Max Jones, Sam Steel, Josh Mahura and Jack Kopacka are all pro eligible next year. That is not to mention Tyler Soy who is putting up an almost 2 PPG pace as an overager in the WHL. So that’s one power forward left winger with speed, one playmaking center with leadership qualities, yet another smooth puck moving defender (who could be better than Montour) and a grinding left winger that had a strong showing goal-scoring wise in camp. It has been said already that Jones makes Ritchie expendable - he is pretty much a faster, better skating version of him but I don’t see Bob pulling a trigger on a deal there. He will likely deal from the blueline - Vatanen, Montour and now Mahura are probably the most offensive defenders in the system right now. It would suck to see one of them go but you have got to give to get. Larsson and Pettersson both fit the Lindholm mold, so one of them could likely go also however I feel Pettersson has the better upside. Room will need to be made for Steel on the Gulls next year and the log jam down the middle includes Carrick, Nattinen, Hults & Dostie. Carrick is on a 2 year deal so he could see himself packaged and given the impressive showing of all 3 of the other first year Gulls - you would have to think Bob would want to hold onto at least two of them. But I digress - I will focus more on futures and what that means for potential trade bait this year in another stand-alone piece. Watch this space.
The Gulls have a home-stand this weekend facing the rival Stockton Heat and Ontario Reign on Friday and Saturday night. Here is hoping they get some troops back for those two tilts because they desperately need the points.