As the race to the playoffs heats up for the Kansas City Mavericks, it’s time to open up the ol’ Mavs Insiders mailbag one final time this season. Joe Rozycki (@MavsInsidersJoe) and Adam Twenter (@MavsInsidersAdam) of the Mavs Insiders answer all the burning Kansas City Mavericks questions posed on Twitter over the last week.
Why do the Mavericks struggle on the road?
Twenter: The Mavs road weariness has been well-documented on the Mavs Insiders Pregame Show throughout this season. From what I’ve seen of the road games, it comes down to momentary lapses in the defensive zone either by forwards not getting back on the backcheck quickly enough or the defensive players being out of position and caught flat-footed. If I had a dollar for every time JSD has mentioned flat-footed defensemen over the past couple of seasons, I’d be ready for retirement at age 37. It’s not that the team plays a different scheme on the road, they just seem to feed off the energy that the Orange Army brings to the arena when they’re at home. Regardless, they’re going to have to win road games to be successful in the playoffs and it is all individual accountability at this point.
Rozycki: Agreed. It comes down to two things, defensive zone lapses and not moving their feet. The latter only exasperates the former. When the Mavericks aren’t moving their feet, literally every part of their gameplan on both sides of the puck are rendered useless.
Thoughts on the new video replay system implemented league-wide for next season? Is it a step in the right direction, or not enough?
Twenter: It’s definitely a step in the right direction to continue to improve a league that wants to be a destination spot for minor league hockey. The ECHL wants to relevant in the broad international landscape of minor league hockey and this will definitely help. I think we all know what the next step should be for the league, a two referee system. There are simply too many calls missed when one referee has to try to patrol the entire ice. I try not to give the officials too much grief because that is a thankless job to do and with that much ice to watch, you’re not going to catch everything. Same thing with the goals; it takes a lot of the burden off the officials on and off the ice to have that option to look at it from a few different angles. It’s a lot to expect your officials to watch 12 players on the ice and also be in good position for calls around the net. I always remind folks that 10,000 eyeballs in the stands will catch a lot more than two eyes on the ice, so it’s nice to see the league using a resource in Sporfie that was already in use in most arenas across the league.
Rozycki: It’s a start but far from what it needs to be. That being said, I applaud the league for taking a big step in the right direction. This is just scratching the surface, and I hope that the league has concrete plans in place to broaden the scope of the replay review in the years to come. A lot will be learned in the 2019-20 season with the implementation of the video replay system, but I’m equally as interested to see what the next step is in this process.
What are the chances that Jared VanWormer and Mark Cooper get AHL deals next season?
Twenter: Both players have definitely made the most of their opportunities at the AHL level this season. I think it’s safe to say that both will definitely have a chance to attend AHL camps heading into next season and get a fair shot at an AHL deal. Both of their games play well at the next level; Worms brings that hard-nosed PK and a willingness to get beat on in front of the net to score dirty goals. Cooper has a silky scoring touch if he gets the puck in the slot and his scrap in his first week or so with the Rampage will also make him a hit in the locker room. Both guys bring leadership and the willingness to do whatever it takes to make it at the next level and there are definitely less talented players making a nice living in the AHL. On a side note, I don’t expect to see Cliff Watson back in the ECHL next year, as I feel he has definitely earned an AHL deal.
Rozycki: They will both get a shot in camp next season, but time is certainly not on their side. They both will be 27 when camp breaks, and with the ever-changing landscape of minor pro hockey, an AHL camp at 27 years old might be their last legitimate shot. We all know how talented Cooper and VanWormer are, but more importantly, they both have tremendous work ethic. If given that opportunity in camp next season, they will certainly leave everything out on the ice, just like they have every time they’ve pulled on a Mavs sweater. If there is an AHL team that is willing to give either of these guys a chance, and significant playing time, they won’t be sorry by any means.
Who wins a game of Connect 4 between Bob Rennison and Ryan Gibson?
Twenter: Probably the toughest question posed this time around, but I’ve got to give the nod to Rennison. Bob is a philosophical soul and I think he will pose a deep question to Gibby to get him off his game before going in for the kill shot. And let’s be honest, Gibby is terrible at games, in general, if you’ve listened to our Pick to Click game on the Mavs Insiders Pregame Show. Bobby for the win.
Rozycki: I’ll repeat what I said on Twitter: make this happen, live stream it, and I’ll be the first to throw down $9.99 to watch this potential slugfest unfold. I still think Rennison takes down Gibby. He’s a crafty veteran and can throw Gibby off his game with his tremendous stories of life on the road of a minor league broadcaster, mixed in with the origin story of Connect 4, and tantalizing anecdotes of the history of hockey in the Kansas City metro area. Gibby gets distracted, makes one ill-advised play, and Rennison pounces like a jungle cat and watches Gibby crash and burn.