Mallards forward Alex Petan (8) has one goal and three assists in his first four games with the team.

Andy Abeyta

The Quad-City Mallards put a little bit of worry to rest last weekend with a sweep on the road against Rapid City.

The Mallards played much better hockey than they did against Fort Wayne, outscoring the Rush 7-3 after getting outscored 9-3 in their first two games.

Is this the start of something good for the Mallards? There are certainly positives from last weekend -- the goaltending was improved, the defense was improved, and offensively, Alex Petan, Justin Kovacs and Sam Warning continue to look like bonafide scoring threats for the team.

Another pleasant surprise is the team's power play success. It's only four games, but the team is second in the league with a 28.6 percent success rate. It's early, and that number will undoubtedly drop, but it's good to see the Mallards capitalizing on their opportunities early, because that hasn't always been the case.

Now the team returns home, hopefully more cohesive than it was in the home-opening debacle to Fort Wayne, and looking to put together a nice winning streak to start moving up the standings.

Here are a few things to watch for in each game.

Missouri (1-3-0, 2 points, T-5th place Mountain Division) at Quad-City (2-2-0, 4 points, T-5th place Central Division)

When: Wednesday, 6:35 p.m.

Where: iWireless Center

Season series: First meeting

The Mallards get to start putting last year's futility against the Mavericks behind them Wednesday when they host Missouri. The Mallards didn't beat Missouri last year, a common theme as the Mavericks rolled to the best regular season record.

So far, this Missouri team is not the same as last year. The Mavericks are 25th in the league in scoring and 23rd in the league in goals against. They're dead last in the league on the power play, having not converted yet despite having a league-leading 25 chances.

The defensive statistics for the Mavericks are surprising considering they return Josh Robinson in net, who was the goaltender of the year last season. Robinson is just 1-1-0 with a 3.51 goals against average and a .901 save percentage this year. It's also worth noting that the Mavericks don't have Parker Milner anymore, and that lethal goaltending duo the Mavericks had last season is no more.

Another glimpse at the Missouri roster shows a lot of turnover, just like the Mallards. The Mavericks return just six players from last year's team, and no longer have their two top scorers from last year's team. That is obviously leading to some adjustment from the players, but I expect as the season progresses, they'll improve and start playing more like Missouri.

This is an opportunity for the Mallards need to take advantage of, if nothing else, to try and start getting over the playoff sweep last year.

Tulsa (4-0-0, 8 points, T-1st place Central Division) at Quad-City (2-2-0, 4 points, T-5th place Central Division)

When: Saturday, 7:05 p.m.

Where: iWireless Center

Season series: First meeting

The Oilers have been impressive to start the season. They're the only unbeaten team in the league, and are second in the league scoring 4.75 goals per game. Adam Pleskach is back again, and has already scored four goals and added an assist in four games.

The Oilers could be a team that has some firepower, but early indications are they're not as strong in net as years prior. Kevin Carr has gone to Alaska, and the Oilers are starting rookie Jamie Phillips in net. Phillips has gone 4-0-0 and allowed 2.66 goals per game, but his save percentage is .894. The Mallards need to shoot the puck early and often to test the rookie and see if he can withstand the pressure.

This will be a good test to see how much improved the Mallards defense and goaltending has become. Rapid City is 20th in the league in scoring, so it's hard to gauge how good the wins over the weekend were. If the Mallards can limit Missouri and Tulsa, it could be safe to think the Mallards have started to right the ship defensively, and could be putting together a pretty strong team.

This is definitely an early test for the Mallards and it will be interesting to see how they perform.


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times