The Chicago Wolves have a winning record when scoring first in games. The only problem? More often than not, the team is digging itself out of a hole.
The Wolves have played 21 games as of early Wednesday and managed to score first in eight of those contests. Of their five wins, four have come after an early lead. But Chicago hasn’t lit the lamp first since its last win on Nov. 25.
“It’s a key … it’s been a key in the last number of games because we know we’ve been outscored in the first period,” coach Rocky Thompson said. “We find ourselves behind the 8-ball consistently, and it’s something that’s acknowledged within our group and within our staff. It’s a big difference for us.”
The Wolves have been outscored by 12 goals in the first period – the largest margin of any team in the league.
The team has fared better in the second period, making it the only period where Chicago has the upper hand on opponents.
The Golden Knights had a similar start to the season as far as second periods go, outscoring opponents by 11 through 10 games. They’ve hit a skid in their last 10 and have been edged in second period goals by nine.
Vegas has found ways to crawl back, but Chicago is still searching for quicker starts that translate to wins.
“We haven’t been terrible in the first period, we’ve outshot teams in the first, but we haven’t scored the goals that we needed, and we seem to give up the most in the first,” Rocky Thompson said. “But the guys are good, they battle and they want to come back, that’s why our games are so close … they don’t quit, we are getting better as a team, and we are improving.”
Paul Thompson a positive force
Paul Thompson, a free agent pick-up for the Golden Knights, was named team captain Nov. 19 and has been a key player on the ice and dressing room.
He has eight points in the last 10 games, including two power play goals and the team’s only shorthanded goal thus far. Thompson also leads Chicago with 76 shots.
“Paul Thompson is a good leader. You can see his competitiveness and it’s contagious,” coach Rocky Thompson said. “He’s constantly encouraging his teammates on the bench. A few of those guys have to do what he’s doing. I don’t mean the physicality or any of that stuff, but his competitiveness and his want to win the game.”
Thompson has been an AHL regular since 2011 and racked up 216 points in 401 games. He’s had many team stops, but he’s only worn the “C” in Chicago.
“I need to be doing the right things: playing hard, getting pucks to the net, and playing my game. The things that make me effective,” Thompson said. “If I’m not doing that and I’m not working my absolute hardest, I can’t hold guys accountable.”
Matteau heads west
Center Stefan Matteau became the fifth Chicago player recalled by the Golden Knights on Nov. 25. Since he arrived in Las Vegas, Matteau has played in five games and tallied his first Golden Knights point, an assist, on Nov. 30.
Prior to his call-up, Matteau had four goals and one assist in 19 games in Chicago.
Contact Emily Polglaze at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @enpolglaze on Twitter.