St. John’s looks to end its scoring woes against Manchester tonight
St. John’s IceCaps forward Derek Whitmore is shown in AHL action against the Portland Pirates at Mile One Centre last month. Whitmore has only played three games for the IceCaps this season, but with St. John’s struggling to score, Whitmore, who has a total of 55 goals in the last two AHL seasons, would seem to be a definite lineup option heading into tonight’s road game in Manchester. However, the league’ veteran rules have to be deal with first. — IceCaps photo/Jeff Parsons
He scored 28 goals in the American Hockey League last year, 27 the years before that, 18 in 2009-10 and 11 as a rookie four years ago.
Derek Whitmore knows how to the find the back of the net, yet the 27-year-old winger has appeared in only three St. John’s IceCaps games this season.
It’s not know if that will change tonight when the IceCaps’ five-game road swing continues in Manchester, N.H. , against the Monarchs – coach Keith McCambridge was typically tight-lipped Tuesday afternoon — but the struggling team could sure use Whitmore’s goal-scoring prowess right about now.
Entering tonight’s contest (8:30 p.m. NL time, 930AM, stjohnsicecaps.com), the IceCaps have been challenged to score goals. St. John’s has been shut out in four of its past six games, including a 3-0 goose egg against the Providence Bruins Sunday in Rhode Island.
In 11 games this season, the IceCaps have managed more than three goals in a game once and their power play is a woeful one-for-33 entering tonight’s game at the Verizon Wireless Centre.
Whitmore, who appeared in two NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres last season, was signed to a professional tryout contract by the Winnipeg Jets this summer.
“We know about his résumé,” McCambridge said. “We know he’s a guy who can put the puck in the net. We’re aware of that.
“We have a number of high-quality veterans so it’s a matter of finding the balance when he get in.”
And therein lies one problem. Whitmore, besides being on a tryout, is one of eight AHL veterans on the IceCaps, players who have appeared in 260 or more NHL, AHL or European Elite league games.
AHL teams are only permitted to dress up to six veterans, and besides Whitmore, IceCaps forwards Jason Jaffray, Jason King, Aaron Gagnon, Ben Maxwell and Spencer Machacek, along with defencemen Derek Meech and Dean Arsene fall into that category.
McCambridge said he’s uncertain if forward John Albert will be ready tonight after suffering a hit from behind Friday night in Portland, Me.
Albert was hit by the Pirates’ Phil Lane at 3:25 of the second period in what turned out to be a 3-0 Portland win (Lane was suspended for one game by the league after the IceCaps submitted video review of the play).
Albert played the next night in Worcester, Mass., and had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 St. John’s win over the Sharks. As a result, however, Albert’s injury from the Friday hit flared up and the second-year forward from Ohio sat Sunday’s game.
“I can’t tell at this time if he’s ready to go or not,” McCambridge said.
“There’s no confirmation.”
McCambridge’s said his team worked on its even-strength and special-teams play in practice Monday and Tuesday, keeping in mind, he said, the IceCaps were getting over a three-games-in-three-days stretch, including a 3 p.m. game Sunday.
“We’ve had some good, upbeat practices, working on the areas we needed to touch on,” he said, no doubt meaning the power play.
With the annual Downtown Santa Claus Parade set for Sunday, Nov. 25, the IceCaps have switched their start time for a game that day against the Providence Bruins from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The change will allow fans to attend both the parade and game, not to mention ease what would surely be a huge traffic snarl downtown … For what it’s worth, the IceCaps’ power play also sputtered to open the 2011-12 season, going 1-for-29. St. John’s ended the season third overall in power-play proficiency (20.6 per cent) …