After finishing up an eight-game homestand, the St. John’s IceCaps are starting February on the road. They’ll play three games in three nights, a gruelling schedule that is the hallmark of the American Hockey League.
Thankfully, the IceCaps will be heading into these games with a healthy roster that includes 16 forwards and eight defenceman, so the team will be able to distribute the workload over the three-game weekend.
With the Montreal Canadiens returning to full health, Daniel Carr and Zach Redmond have been re-assigned to the IceCaps, which will help to bolster the team. This meant a surplus of forwards, therefore earlier on Friday the Canadiens released John McCarron from his PTO.
The top two lines for the IceCaps will consist of Carr, Michael McCarron, Chris Terry, Nikita Scherbak, Daniel Audette, and Charles Hudon. This should count as the most offensively-gifted line-up for the IceCaps so far this season, perhaps just missing Sven Andrighetto from achieving transcendence in the form of goals.
On defence, Redmond will be a massive boost for the team. It’s unfortunate, however, that Mark Barberio was claimed off of waivers on his way back to St. John’s, because the team could have really used their all-star defenceman.
Goaltender Charlie Lindgren will have to shake off a troubling couple of months, and find the form that previously allowed him to steal victories for his club. In the meantime, Yann Danis has done everything he could to lighten Lindgren’s load by playing his best hockey of the season.
The IceCaps currently sit in third place in the North Division, but after a terrible January, they have seen the cushion they built up in December erode.
Friday, February 3rd - @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
On Friday the IceCaps play against the powerful Penguins squad that sits atop the AHL standings, and have only lost four out of 21 games played at home this season.
The team is captained by former Montreal Canadiens Tom Kostopoulos, and is solid from the net out. Tristan Jarry has a save percentage of 0.921 in 27 starts, and the team has the top penalty kill in the League, sitting at 87.1%. This will be the third meeting between the two teams, with the first two being split, after the IceCaps eeked out an overtime win on a goal by Chris Terry, his second goal and third point of the game. Yann Danis faced 52 shots that game, saving all but two of them in the win. The IceCaps should be happy however that Jake Guentzel will still be on recall with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The forward is third in the AHL in scoring, and clearly headed towards a rookie of the year honour.
Saturday, February 4th & Sunday, February 5th - @ Hershey Bears
The IceCaps will face the Bears twice, for the first of four meetings this season. The Bears are not doing particularly well in the Atlantic Division, sitting in fifth place. With 52 points they still have a better record than the IceCaps, they just happen to play in a much stronger division.
The Bears will be able to count on two of the top scorers in the AHL, Travis Boyd, with 28 points, and Chris Bourque, 36 points. Both were part of the Atlantic team in the All-Star Classic this past weekend. In addition, the Bears have a very promising rookie goaltender in Vitek Vanecek, who already has three shutouts on the season.
Last season the Penguins swept the season series against the IceCaps, taking the final game by a score of 3-2.
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