Gamblers Pregame Primer: Chicago Steel, Jan. 24

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The Gamblers will kick off arguably their most important weekend of the regular season to date Friday night in Chicago, as they take on the Steel before returning home for their 15th annual “Teddy Bear Toss” game Saturday night at the Resch Center against Team USA. Green Bay has won 18 of its 22 matchups with Chicago since Derek Lalonde arrived in 2011, but is 0-3-0 in its last three meetings with the Steel.

“It’s frustrating,” Lalonde said about his team’s current three-game losing streak, “because in all three games we’re either tied or we lead in the third period. We haven’t been awful, but there’s a sense of urgency to win. We talked about having a little more attention to detail in certain areas, so I think this has been a focused week in that we need to turn this around.

“Chicago has been a hard matchup for us the last couple times out because they play fast,” Lalonde said. “We pride ourselves for playing with pace and playing fast…but this is Chicago now. It’s not easy playing teams that come at you hard — and that’s what Chicago does.”

Let’s get an in-depth look at Friday night’s matchup.

Season Series: Green Bay 3-3-0, Chicago 3-3-0
2012-2013 Season Series: 
Green Bay 7-0-1, Chicago 1-7-0
Record vs. Chicago under Derek Lalonde: 18-3-1
Record @ Chicago since 2011: 7-3-1
Average score over 22 games since 2011: Green Bay 4.46, Chicago 2.59

overall

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Team Season Stats
Green Bay: 16-12-5 record (.561 WPCT) | 37 team PTS (fifth in Eastern Conference)
Chicago: 16-17-2 record (.486 WPCT) | 34 team PTS (sixth in Eastern Conference)

Individual Season Leaders
Points:
GB Nick Schmaltz (32), CHI John Ernsting (24)
Goals: GB Kevin Irwin (14), CHI  CJ Smith (15)
Assists:
GB Nick Schmaltz (22), CHI John Ernsting (15)

Goaltender Comparison
Jared Rutledge (GB): 16-9-3 record | 2.87 GAA | 90.9% save rate | 29 SV/G
Cam Hackett (GB): 0-3-2 record | 3.15 GAA | 88.9% save rate | 43.6 SV/G
Chris Nell (CHI): 11-15-2 record | 2.91 GAA | 91.8% save rate | 32.1 SV/G
Cale Morris (CHI): 5-2-0  record | 3.16 GAA | 90.1% save rate | 25.2 SV/G

Storylines to Watch For

  • Surging Steel: After starting the year 9-15-1, Chicago has rebounded to post a 7-2-1 record over its last 10 games. A big reason for its recent surge has been its improved play in between the pipes, posting a 92.7% save rate and 2.60 goals allowed per game in those contests.
  • Weis for the Win: Gamblers forward Matt Weis has become the team’s primary facilitator of late, leading Green Bay with 11 points and eight assists over his last 10 games. He’s also notched three goals in that span, giving him 29 points this season, which is second only to Nick Schmaltz’s 32 points to lead the roster this season.

Game Briefs

9/21/13 — Green Bay 5, Chicago 1 — Green Bay goaltender Jared Rutledge allowed just one goal into the net in the contest, saving 39 of Chicago’s 40 shots. Evan Tironese scored the season-opening goal five minutes in, while Ryan Lough, Sebastian Weberg, Brent Gates Jr. and Fredrik Olofsson contributed with goals of their own in the season-opening victory.

10/5/13 — Green Bay 3, Chicago 1 — While the Gamblers defense held Chicago to just 19 shots in the contest, Derek Lalonde’s offense scored three times (once in each period) on 37 attempts, with forward Kevin Irwin accounting for two of the scores and Lough distributing two assists.

10/26/13 — Green Bay 5, Chicago 2 — Nick Schmaltz put Green Bay up early with a breakaway goal 1:48 into the game, establishing a lead the Gamblers would not relinquish. Rutledge played all 60 minutes between the pipes for Lalonde and company, tallying 27 saves in 29 attempts en route to his team’s third victory over Chicago this season.

11/8/13 — Chicago 6, Green Bay 3 — Sprinting out to a 2-0 by the end of the first period, John Ernsting added three more goals to Chicago’s total in the game’s final period to give the Steel its first victory over Green Bay in 2013-2014. The 6-3 regulation loss was the Gamblers’ first to Chicago under Lalonde.

12/10/13 — Chicago 6, Green Bay 3 — Leading 1-0 after one period, the Gamblers ceded three consecutive goals to the Steel to open the game’s second frame, giving Chicago a 4-3 lead heading into the third period. Unable to score from that point on, Green Bay came out on the losing end of a 6-3 affair — marking the lone instance this season in which the Gamblers have lost despite scoring the first goal of a game.

1/5/13 — Chicago 4, Green Bay 3 — In his first game back from injury, Gamblers goaltender Cam Hackett allowed four of Chicago’s 37 shots to sail into the net. Green Bay’s offense overcame a quick 0-2 deficit to tie the game late in the second period, but the Steel took advantage of a power play by scoring in the final period, eventually ending in a 4-3 victory.

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