INDEPENDENCE, MO – It has been an up and down season so far for the Kansas City Mavericks. That usually creates quite a few questions throughout the fanbase. That’s why I’m here folks. I may not know everything, but I’ll at least pretend to know what I’m talking about. Here goes nothing:

Q: With Maxime Lagace getting his first NHL action and Ville Husso getting called up, who do you suppose could be the next former Mavericks to make an NHL roster? – Elliot

My money is on Carter Verhaeghe. He’s too good to not get there, and with the way he’s playing, it might not take very long. Since coming back from an injury, Verhaeghe has six points in seven games with the Syracuse Crunch. He keeps that near point-per-game production, he’ll be skating with the Tampa Bay Lightning before we know it.

Q: With Rocco Carzo out for the year, who do you think needs to step up so that this team can see success down the road? – Steve

That is a question that is on the minds of just about everyone. The loss of RC4 on the ice is palpable. The line of Jordan Kwas, Shawn Pauly, and Justin Breton has been the best line for the Mavericks since Carzo went down, but that level of production can’t be expected to be maintained. It wouldn’t be fair to expect one player to fill the void left by Carzo’s injury so I’ll give you three: Darren Nowick, Dan Correale, and Mike McMurtry. Those are the three most offensively-talented players on the roster. While McMurtry has been putting up numbers all season, we’ve yet to see Correale and Nowick hit their stride. Now that Nowick is injured, it may take him even longer to do so. It is impossible to replace a Rocco Carzo, but the Mavericks need someone to step up and put up at least 75% of his production.

Q: Is there anyone on the team that has surprised you with their play and why? – Angie

Pauly. He has been incredible. We all knew he was a solid two-way player, but his offensive production and clutch goals have been something to watch. Here’s a little something I wrote about Pauly. The progress that he has made from year one to year two has been monumental. If he keeps playing like this, he’ll start turning some heads at the AHL level.

Shawn Pauly is having a breakout year for the Mavericks. (Photo: John Howe/The Sin Bin)

Q: Who is in charge of scheduling and why is it so heavily loaded with games against Wichita to start the season? Four of the five first home games versus the same team seems odd especially since they are a non-division opponent. – Tyler

The ECHL league office puts the schedule together, and that’s a process that seems like an absolute nightmare. I agree that there are many flaws in the schedule. The league has many factors to consider and sometimes they don’t do such a bang-up job, but that’s a job that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. The frequency of games against Wichita has multiple factors: their proximity, attempting to keep travel costs low, and the history the teams have against each other. I’m ok with playing more non-divisional opponents as long as the match-ups are entertaining and the travel is moderate. Wichita fits that bill. However, I agree that it has gotten a little redundant seeing home game after home game against the same opponent.

Q: Why don’t the Mavericks win when I come to the game? 0-5 on the season. – Jeff

You and me both buddy. In the five home games that I’ve been to this season, the Mavericks have dropped all five. In the two home games that I wasn’t in attendance for, they have won both. I’m starting to take it personally and it sounds like Jeff is too. Friday night will be the true test as I will not be in attendance. If they win, I may not be allowed into the arena for Saturday night’s game. If that happens, at least I know Jeff and I can go grab a beer somewhere.

Q: How does this team compare with last year’s? What are the biggest improvements JSD has made? – Rhonda

I think this year’s team is very similar to last season’s. JSD wants smart, two-way players that are going to work hard on both ends of the ice. The roster is littered with those types of players. The biggest improvements that he has made have been on the defensive side of the puck. He re-tooled his blue line. He brought back some key cogs in Tyler Elbrecht, Bryce Aneloski, Alex Brooks, and Patch Alber. He brought in Nate Widman who has a great hockey IQ and Troy Donnay who is a mammoth of a human being to fill out his defensive unit. If Donnay can figure out a way to better use his size to his advantage, that’s a pretty solid defensive unit from top to bottom.

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