Saturday October 24, 2015
Ford Center, Evansville, IN
Toledo – There are high expectations of the Walleye this year. Looking at the preseason predictions, much of The Sin Bin writing team anticipates Toledo to make a deep run into the playoffs. Based on those expectations alone, Toledo stumbled out of the gate. They started their season 0-1-1 last weekend.
Toledo wasted no time in changing up their team after a winless opening weekend. The Walleye traded Stephan Vigier to South Carolina and J.P. LaFontaine to Allen. The two roster spots that opened up are accommodating Marek Tvrdon and Dane Walters. Both Tvrdon and Walters are coming to Toledo from the AHL and add offensive skill. In addition, players like Josh Shalla and Kyle Bonis have historically shown they won’t be kept off the stat sheets for long.
The Toledo defense is anchored by Scott Czarnowczan and Kyle Bushee. Both defensemen tallied over 20 assists last season and are positive +/- players.
Evansville – It’s the first time in five years that Evansville did not win their opener. As I noted in the recap of the 3-1 loss against Indy, there were many positives that the IceMen can take away from that game. The team had an entire week to practice and prepare for the upcoming game against Toledo. Evansville is off again until next Saturday. The time off between games allows Evansville to focus on a singular game plan against Toledo and have much fresher legs against the Walleye.
Toledo did not click offensively in either of their first two games last weekend, scoring two goals in Indy and only one in Cincinnati. Evansville played solid and consistent defense against Indy last Saturday and should have the ability to limit the scoring chances of the Walleye. In speaking with Coach Sims, he was happy with last week’s defensive effort and feels as long as the IceMen continue to limit teams to two goals or fewer they will continue to put themselves in opportunities to win games.
The IceMen have only played one game so not much stock should be given to the team only scoring one goal. I asked Coach Sims about offensive production and he shared he was happy with the opportunities the team created. He felt that easily four of five scoring chances were high quality, they just didn’t end up in the net. He specifically mentioned expecting Hussey and Leveille as threats to get going and put up strong offensive numbers this year.
What to Watch For Toledo will be playing its second game in two cities in two nights on Saturday. Since Toledo is playing back to back games, it’s highly possible Jeff Lerg will not start both games in net. If he starts Friday night, that puts backup Jake Paterson as the starter on Saturday night. Paterson allowed four goals on 30 shots against Cincinnati. Paterson would be an easier road for Evansville to get their offense on track than facing Lerg would be. I feel Toledo has a better chance of winning both games this weekend if they start Paterson in Kalamazoo and Lerg in Evansville, but the Walleye may go with Lerg first to try to get the first team win.
Evansville used defenseman Chris Carlisle to jump into the offensive play repeatedly last Saturday. Coach Sims confirmed that if there are fresh defensemen on the ice he encourages them to jump into the play. There’s a confidence that Sims has in their skating and puck handling. Keep an eye on Evansville’s defense to see if that adds to scoring chances for the IceMen.
In addition, it’s Back to the Future Night and the IceMen will be wearing these jerseys during the game. A post game auction of the jerseys will take place with proceeds going to the Riley Hospital for Children.