Wolves braintrust promoting internal competition as team prepares for March and beyond

Having celebrated victories in four of its last five games, Chicago is riding high and currently occupies second place in the AHL’s central division.

Image taken from the http://www.chicagowolves.com

While the Wolves remain idle until Friday, thanks to a fortuitous break in their schedule, they will jump back into the fire this weekend for two road games in two consecutive nights. First, they will visit the San Antonio for a meet up with the Rampage, and they will then quickly turn their attention to Texas for a date on Saturday with the Stars in the lone star state.

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The AHL’s western conference standings

There has been a fair bit of news since my previous post, and not every development is of the on-ice variety. February was a particularly busy month for the executives who make up the Wolves hockey operations department, as well as the management team for the Vegas Golden Knights led by general manager George McPhee.

The balance of today’s post will offer links to pertinent Chicago Wolves news from the past few days or so that I believe will have implications on this season moving forward.

George McPhee
This photo of Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee belongs to NHL.com

More often than not, the best players on a good team seem to rise to the occasion in a close game. At home on Tuesday against the Stars, the Wolves two most prolific offensive players came through when they were needed most. Chicago has struggled all season in the shootout, but T.J. Tynan and Brandon Pirri took matters into their own hands last knight, by getting the Wolves over the hump with a thrilling 4-3 shootout victory. It cannot be understated how important that was for Chicago, especially heading into the season’s final month. That it was the team’s two leading point getters who managed to come through in the shootout, should accentuate the confidence and trust that the Wolves feel about their offensive studs.

Having already bolstered the Wolves depth on defense with the addition of Zac Leslie from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 5, the Golden Knights management team decided it wanted to ameliorate an already solid group of rearguards in Chicago, and groom another defenseman who has the ability to provide some emergency minutes in the NHL if the injury bug were to strike. By acquiring 26-year-old Philip Holm from the Vancouver Canucks, Vegas continues to improve its organizational depth on D,  which cultivates more internal competition on the Wolves blue line, too.

On Feb. 25, the Wolves signed forward Brandon McNally to a professional tryout contract. Since then, he has played in two games for Chicago, after previously playing in 52 games for the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. McNally has size at 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, and he has registered 137 penalty minutes already this season. McNally’s addition to the Wolves will definitely give them another element for teams to think about if respect isn’t shown to some of Chicago’s players who are smaller in stature.

Although this is already a few days old, I feel it is worth noting how important Chicago’s Feb. 25 road victory in Manitoba was versus the central division leading Moose. At this juncture in the season, games like this are measuring stick type games, and the Wolves sent a message to the western conference that they can go into any building and beat any team on any night. I’ve identified this 2-0 victory at the Moose as a character building game for the Wolves, with the final stretch now upon us.

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