Bulldogs Report - Mar. 23, 2011
With only the top three seeds in the North Division being guaranteed entrance into the playoffs, the Bulldogs are currently sitting just out of contention in fourth place – only a single point out of third. If they hope to make a splash in the AHL’s second season, they’ll first need to make the most out of the opportunities they have left.
Out of the Dogs’ 11 remaining games, only three of them are to be played at home. Statistically, that could work to Hamilton’s advantage seeing as they’ve enjoyed a 53% win-record on the road compared to 51% at Copps Coliseum.
After a promising start to their current six-game road-trip that saw recent acquisition Drew MacIntyre notch a 2-0 shutout over the Rochester Americans, the Bulldogs went on to drop their next two contests, both against the Abbotsford Heat.
MacIntyre posted a 41 save performance in what would ultimately be a 3-2 loss to the Heat before going on to turn away 25 out of 26 shots in the Bulldogs’ second loss to Abbotsford in as many days, with the Heat’s second goal in their 2-0 shutout victory being scored into an empty net.
With a lineup already decimated by a slew of call-ups that saw key players Yannick Weber, David Desharnais, Ryan White, Nigel Dawes, Max Pacioretty and Andreas Engqvist joining the Canadiens in Montreal, the Bulldogs will now also need to cope with the recent suspension of two players.
Gabriel Dumont, in the midst of a 10-game suspension, has already been absent from the Hamilton lineup for two games and will soon be joined for two more by forward Andrew Conboy who was assessed a two-game suspension for his actions in Saturday’s game against Abbotsford.
Adding some backup with the signing of 6-foot-3, 211lbs defenseman Joe Stejskal to a two-year contact, the Bulldogs will be gunning for a strong finish to their current road-trip as the 22-year-old will join the Hamilton squad for games in Rockford, Chicago and Peoria before returning home with the ‘Dogs to face the Heat on Mar. 29.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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