The Quad-City Mallards have lost their pop.
Since scoring a season-high four goals against the Toledo Walleye on Nov. 11, the Mallards offense has gone into a slump, averaging 1.75 goals over their last four games, over which the Mallards have gone 1-3-0.
“I think right now we might be gripping our sticks too tight but I don’t think we’re a team that has one line that will score every night,” forward Sam Warning said. “I think we’re going to be winning games 3-2, 3-1. We’ve got to regroup.”
Warning scored a goal Sunday against Wheeling, snapping a seven-game goal-less streak. Warning and his linemates of Alex Petan and Justin Kovacs started the season strong, with nine goals and 13 assists in the first six games of the season, but in the seven games since, have scored six goals and five assists for 11 points.
As a whole, the Mallards offense has struggled all season. Despite a strong start to the season, the Mallards are scoring just 2.35 goals per season. That ranks 24th in the league, and is the worst among teams with a winning record.
There shouldn’t be a reason for the offensive woes. Forward Chris Francis has started producing, with four goals and three assists in 11 games. Michael Parks has put up three points in three games since returning from a lower body injury. Brady Brassart had a two-goal night four games ago from the team’s checking line.
Still, the Mallards struggle to score, and a big problem comes from a lack of decisiveness in the offensive zone.
“We have to work harder for it, we have to get in position to score, win the one-on-one battles to make that pass and score,” head coach Terry Ruskowski said. “We get the puck and the guy’s open, we hang onto it until he’s not and then we make the play. Early in the season we got the puck and as soon as the guy was open, boom, it’s right on his stick. Now we hold onto it. Why? I have no idea.”
If the Mallards want to snap their first three-game losing streak of the season tonight against Cincinnati, they’ll need to attack early and often and get back to the basics.
“Right now we just need to get pucks to the net, get guys in front and get second and third chances,” Warning said. “The good teams find ways to win. We’ll regroup, come into next week with a fresh attitude.”
The Mallards can’t afford to let this slide last much longer, not when they are in the only division that has six teams currently over .500. With the Central Division looking like it might be the toughest division in the league, if the Mallards don’t start producing again, they might dig themselves a hole too big to climb out of as the playoff chase intensifies.
“We’re at the point where we’re not scoring pretty goals, so let’s get the goals ugly and score, for heaven’s sakes,” Ruskowski said.
Labbe reassigned: Defenseman Dylan Labbe was reassigned from the Iowa Wild to the Quad-City Mallards Tuesday and the Mallards placed defenseman Donnie Harris on 21-day injured reserve.
Labbe, 21, has not played for Iowa this season after undergoing knee surgery in April. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound St. Benjamin, Quebec native scored four goals and added two assists in 54 games in his rookie season with the Wild last year. Labbe was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL entry draft.
Harris was placed on injured reserve after suffering an upper body injury in the Mallards’ game Sunday against the Wheeling Nailers.
Players of the week: Indy Fuel forward Alex Wideman was named the Sher-Wood Hockey ECHL player of the week after scoring four goals and adding three assists last week. Rapid City Rush goaltender and former Quad-City Mallard Adam Morrison was named the CCM ECHL goaltender of the week, the third time in his career he’s earned the honor. Morrison went 2-0-0 with one shutout, a 1.00 goals against average and a .973 save percentage in two appearances last week.
Mallards books on sale: The Quad-City Mallards unveiled a commemorative publication as part of their celebration of 20 seasons, recognizing 20 players of special significance in team history over the weekend.
The magazine features 20 players chosen for their significance in Mallards history selected by a panel of journalists including sportswriters who have covered the team at every point since its inception since 1995.
The magazine is available for $10 at Mallards home games while supplies last.
This week: The Mallards travel to face the Cincinnati Cyclones today at 6:35 p.m. The Mallards are 0-1-1 this season against the Cyclones.
The Mallards return home to host the Indy Fuel on Friday at 7:05 p.m. The Mallards are 1-0-0 this season against the Fuel.
Saturday, the Mallards travel to Fort Wayne to face the Komets at 6:30 p.m. The Mallards are 0-3-0 this season against the Komets.