BY SCOTT HADDOW
After a less than stellar performance in their final regular season home game (a 2-0 loss to Mississauga), the Sudbury Wolves are looking to set a more assertive tone in their final two games of the year for the playoff drive.
The Wolves hit the road to play Kingston tonight (game time is 7:30 pm and can be heard on 790 CIGM) and end the 2005-06 campaign with a tilt against Ottawa on Sunday at 2 pm.
"We want to finish the season off strong," said Wolves head coach and GM Mike Foligno. "The key for us is to play well so we have momentum going our way heading into the playoffs. That would be a nice way to start the playoffs."
At this critical time of the year, injuries are, with out a doubt, the gravest concern of any club.
"The most important thing is for us to stay healthy," said Foligno. "This is the time of the year you want the healthiest line up possible because don't want to go into the playoffs short-handed. The guys have worked hard to get this opportunity and hopefully they stay healthy and see what we can do in the playoffs."
Foligno is looking for some refinements to parts of the Wolves' overall game in the final games.
"Penalty killing...We're strong, probably one of the stronger teams in the league," said the bench boss. "Our power play has dipped a bit...the last few eeks our power play has struggled. Not for the fact of getting chances, but finishing chances and that's where we have to work harder. The power play is something you need to have success in the playoffs and we need a goal a game from our power play."
As with any season, there has been plenty of surprises for the Wolves. A few rookies, goalie Kevin Beech and the play of forwards Kevin Baker and Nick Foligno jump instantly out of the GM's mind.
"The play of Anton Hedman and Matt Dias...has been solid," said Foligno. "Beech has been solid as well. He's been a real good performer for us and he's played a lot of games. Baker's goal scoring potential and abilities has been surprising. He's really matured as a player and taking the responsibility to be a factor in every game. Nick's play has surprised many...He's leading our team in scoring in only his second year and taken on more of a leadership role and done a good job offensively and defensively."
The Wolves have the playoffs on the front burner.
"The players are well aware of what's at stake and what we're here for,"said Foligno.
"There's good parity in this league. We can be as good as any team. That's where our mentality and game has to be at."
Hedman could be back in the line up this weekend. Justin Allen is getting his knee evaluated and probably will not be back unless the Wolves get to the second round.