The Otters (6-12-1-2), who won just 10 games all of last season, are still in last place in the west this time around, but are far from the farce they were last year.
And, as pointed out yesterday, the Rangers haven't really excelled against the OHL's weaker teams this season.
Radek Faksa (throat/fatigue) and Tobias Rieder (back) should be back in the lineup. Both were back at practice yesterday. Overage winger Nick Czinder could return as well. The big man has been out two weeks with a concussion but says he's feeling better.
Coach/GM Steve Spott could also be a game-time decision. The bench boss was in Victoria last night to catch the final game of the Subway Super Series. The Russians defeated the WHL all-stars 5-2.
Some returning faces rejoin the lineup for tonight's game against the Erie Otters.
Matt Puempel-Radek Faksa-Eric Ming
Ben Thomson-Matia Marcantuoni-Tobias Rieder
Brent Pedersen-Josh Sterk-Justin Bailey
Domenic Alberga-Curtis Meighan-Nick Czinder
Ryan Murphy-Ben Fanelli
Max Iafrate-Evan McEneny
Cory Genovese-Owen Stewart
Franky Palazzese (2-2-1-1) goes in goal.
J.P. Labardo-Connor McDavid-Connor Brown
Connor Crisp-Luke Cairns-Anthony Cortellessa
Travis Wood-Jake Evans-Hayden Hodgson
Justing Felker-Kyle Pettit-Johnny McGuire
Adam Pelech-Nathan Glass
Spencer Abraham-Jimmy McDowell
Artem Kuleshov-Troy Donnay
Oscar Dansk (6-10-0-2) was supposed to start, but he's been sick lately so it's Devin Williams (0-2-1-0) between the pipes.
Overheard while standing outside the Erie Otters dressing room whiled waiting for an interview. One Otter asks another: "So where would you rather play, Kitchener or London."
- Glad to see Erie goalie Devin Williams get a star. The kid stopped 53 shots. Not bad, considering he was a last minute replacement for the ailing Oscar Dansk.
- Looks like Radek Faksa is just fine. He played with good energy and had three assists tonight. That time off has worked wonders.
- Franky Palazzese owes Ben Thomson a soda pop after he rescued the trickling puck from crossing the goal line behind the Rangers' netminder in the first period.
- Some wonky shot clocking going on tonight. Erie had 20 shots after two periods, scored a goal and didn't get credit for the shot. Otters folks were upset at the inconsistencies all night.
- A big smile on Evan McEneny's face after the game. And why not? First goal in three seasons and 64 games. Long overdue. Funny how he got to experience the milestone twice as he thought he potted the opening goal. Turns out it was tipped by Matt Puempel. Give him 17 on the year.
- Impressed with Connor McDavid. Remember he's only 15. Small guy but plays with strength. He blew by the Rangers' defence a few times.
- Nick Czinder delivered a memorable trio of hits late in the game. His first contest in two weeks since suffering a concussion.
- One of the best games I've seen Cory Genovese play this year as well. He made some nice stand up checks.
JB's top three Rangers: Evan McEneny, Radek Faksa, Tobias Rieder