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Views From The Press Box, Volume Two

Putting together in no particular order a list of things to be thankful for as a Rampage fan as the Silver and Black hit the Thanksgiving week and the quarter pole of the 2010-11 season…

A 14-4-1 record, 29 points, and a first place standing in the American Hockey League. San Antonio has never led the league in points this late into the season in their nine-year history. The closest they’ve been was the 2007-08 club that posted a 10-5-4 record and 24 points through 19 games. In case you’ve forgotten, that was the last Rampage team to advance to the Calder Cup Playoffs…

A November to finally remember. Rampage fans don’t need to be reminded again how recent fast starts have usually been extinguished by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. However, doesn’t this 7-2 November kind of feel like the demons have finally been exorcised?

A dynamic duo in between the pipes. Matt Climie is 8-1 in his last nine starts and has surrendered just 15 goals in the last 550 minutes, which translates to a 1.63 goals against average and a .947% save percentage. Al Montoya is 3-0 in his last three starts and has allowed six goals in 180 minutes while facing 35-plus shots per outing, which equates to a 2.00 goals against average and a .944% save percentage. Enough said…

Organizational depth. The Rampage have already lost nearly 100 man games to injury so far and we’re only 19 games into the season. Matt Watkins, Alex Picard, David Brine, Ryan Weston, Eric Neilson, Garrett Stafford, Nolan Yonkman, Jonas Ahnelov, Peter MacArthur, Jeff May, Bracken Kearns, Josh Lunden, and Andrew Ebbett have all missed time due to injuries. And while injuries are a part of the game, teams that have lost 13 players to injury usually aren’t 10 games above .500 less than 20 games into the year…

Four very solid lines. Every time I bring up a line with Coach Ray Edwards and refer to them as either the “first”, “second”, “third”, or “fourth” line, he usually gives me a menacing stare and proceeds to tell me that “we have four solid lines”. Quite frankly, it’s hard to argue with him. While the lines may have differing roles, the offense certainly hasn’t been isolated to one group. Ryan Hollweg, David Brine, and Bracken Kearns have all been big point producers over the past week…

Team defense. The Rampage gave up 17 goals in their first four games, which translated to a whopping 4.25 goals against average per game. Since then, a big reason why San Antonio is 13-2 in their last 15 outings is the fact that they’ve limited their opposition to just 30 goals, or exactly 2.00 goals against per game…

A true home-ice advantage. The Rampage have been respectable at home over the last couple of seasons (41-33-2-4), but they haven’t really inspired fear for any team coming into the AT&T Center. This season, they’re 10-3 inside the friendly confines while outscoring their opponents 40-32…

Some road games finally. While the Rodeo Road Trip always means a front-loaded schedule of home games and this season has been no different (13 of the first 19 at home), the Rampage finally will get a chance to get out of San Antonio as they play six out of their next seven on the road. Being at home too long becomes stale and teams can get too comfortable, not to mention the fact that the road is usually reserved for some of the best team building that will take place during the year.

The real Mikkel Boedker. Boedker was the eighth overall selection at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft for a reason, and his line of 11-27-38 in 64 games last season with the Rampage couldn’t have been what the Coyotes brass was expecting when they re-assigned him to San Antonio. This season, Boedker has been dominant on the ice and it’s reflected in more than just his five goals and 18 points through the first 19 games. His back-checking and commitment to team defense has greatly improved for a year ago, and he plays critical minutes now in all facets of the game…

AND FINALLY...

Rookies who play like poised veterans. A couple of weeks ago when the Rampage were without Nolan Yonkman and Garrett Stafford, rookie defensemen Chris Summers and Michael Stone played more than 30 minutes each and played exceptionally well in a win over Rockford. Summers leads the Rampage with a plus-eight rating, while Stone has been a contributor on the power play and is also a plus-three. Not to be left out, Maxim Goncharov has steadily improved with each game and tallied his first career game-winning goal in the win at Peoria last Wednesday…

…Good test coming up Friday as the Rampage meet the Houston Aeros at Toyota Center. While San Antonio has hardly been tested by their I-10 rivals this season, the Aeros have won eight out of their last 12 since dropping a 5-2 decision Oct. 29 at the AT&T Center outscoring their opponents 37-27. Rookie Jarod Palmer has 11 points (4G-7A) in his last 13 games…

Upset of the Week: More like the upset of the year so far, but through Monday’s action, AHL teams overall are better on the road (142-109-8-23, .559 points percentage) than at home (140-110-16-16, .553) this season…

…Did you know that the Rampage have recorded two winning streaks of six games or longer in the same season only twice in franchise history (2008-09, 2010-11)?

…Bring on those questions! Send your questions and comments to dweiss@attcenter.com. Be sure to follow “Views from the Press Box” on Twitter all season at “SARampage_Voice”.

CLICK HERE to read Views From The Press Box, Volume One.


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