Bulls Return To Action in Showdown Against Las Vegas: Game Preview


San Francisco Bulls v Las Vegas Wranglers, December 28, 2012 – Photos Courtesy of Mike Tkacheff via SF Bulls Homepage

The Bulls are back in action tonight as they take on the Las Vegas Wranglers. The Bulls at 17-22-6 are in a constant battle for seventh place with the Utah Grizzlies, while the Wranglers at 22-19-5 are in fifth place just two points ahead of Colorado.

The Bulls are stumbling a bit as they have dropped two in a row against Stockton and Ontario, but the Bulls bolster their line up as forward Marek Viedensky returns from his call up to Worcester and goalie Thomas Heemskerk returns from the injured reserved. The Wranglers come in riding a four game winning streak, including a weekend sweep of Alaska.

San Francisco and Las Vegas have only met twice before this season with Las Vegas taking game one in overtime and San Francisco taking game two in December.

The Bulls are stumbling in off back to back losses in which the offense has performed poorly. The return of Marek Viedensky from Worcester should provide the Bulls offense with some much needed life as he was a point a game player before his promotion.

All-Star Dean Ouellet has been heating back up as he has six points in his last three games and he has retaken the team lead in goals with 22. Taylor Nelson, who has been solid recently, had a rough game against Ontario as he only stopped 24 of 28 shots he faced on the night. It will be interesting to see what Coach Curcio does with his goalie situation as Thomas Heemskerk returns from injury.

Prior to the last game, Nelson was a major driving force for the success the Bulls faced, but Heemskerk was the number one goalie before his injury. Heemskerk also leads all qualifying goalies on the team in wins, goals against average, and save percentage. I would probably like to see Heemskerk get the nod as he would provide the more steady hand at goal than Nelson would, but the Bulls will stick with Nelson due to his recent play and letting Heemskerk getting back to game shape.

Las Vegas is a defensive team at its core as they only allow an average of 2.9 goals per game. They are led by goalie Joe Fallon with a 2.45 goals against average and .914 save percentage.

The Las Vegas penalty kill ranks sixth in the ECHL as they kill of the power play 84.2 percent of the time. The Wranglers do not possess an overly powerful offense on the season as they actually have less goals scored than goals allowed. The offense averages only 2.8 points, which is tied for second worst in the league.

This mainly due to a pathetic power play unit that ranks last in the league as they only convert 12.3 percent of the time with the man advantage. They are lead on offense by Eric Lampe, who is tied for the team in goals with 17 and leads the team in points with 35.

Look for the Bulls to bounce back in tonight’s contest as they should have fresh legs with their extended time off. The Bulls’ special teams should be the difference in tonight’s contest. Also, look for Nelson to bounce back as he faces a Wranglers team that does not feature an overly strong offensive unit.