About a month ago I suggested the Cyclones would need to win about 60% of Their games from here on out and getting to .500 by the All Star break would be a good start. Well, the All Star break has come and gone, the Cyclones sit at .500 (17-17-7, 41pts) which is good enough for 8th in the Conference. The downside is that They are in a playoff position technically but are really on the outside looking in. The 2 teams chasing the Cyclones are the Kalamazoo Wings (40pts) and the Toledo Walleye (39pts), both of which have 2 games in hand on the Cyclones.
To make matters worse, it wasn’t that long ago when the Cyclones had 3 game series with Division leading Wheeling which could have flipped the standings. Instead the Cyclones won just 1 of the 3 games getting out scored 15 to 7 in the process.
The Cyclones have 31 games remaining, in order to reach the 75+ points which will probably be required to make the playoffs They will have to earn roughly 40pts. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.
It wouldn’t be a season…if the Cyclones didn’t play the South Carolina Stingrays at some point. That’s exactly what the Cyclones will get this weekend as the ‘Rays come to town for a 3 game series. The rivalry, which dates back to the 07-08 season, usually takes place in the post season but with the post season in question for the Cyclones, the series will be a good test for the Cyclones moxie. The Sting Rays currently sit in 5th place in the Conference, 11 points clear of the Cyclones.
Lip Service…If you attend the Cyclones Coach’s Show or listen to Nick Brunker’s pregame segments you’ve heard things like “we’re built to win close games,” and “when we come out strong and make things difficult…” come from the Coach’s and players’ mouths. The problem is, all to often the Cyclones give up early goals and play soft in Their own zone and the game is out of reach. Until there is a hard effort on a consistent basis for 60 minutes They will continue to struggle.
Roster Changes…Over the past few games the Cyclones have seen a few new faces join the line up. First, Chase Watson came over in a trade from Trenton. Then David Sloane finally rejoined the team after spending the bulk of the season on IR. Also, in the midst of call ups and suspensions Jon Higgins and Tyler Fletcher joined the squad.
Watson, who was acquired from Trenton for the dreaded future consideration has performed admirably in his 1st 3 games with the Club posting 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points.
Sloane, who spent most of the season on IR was a guy that CycWords had high hopes for. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to expectations and has since been released.
Speaking of call ups…Dylan Hunter has been up in Milwaukee for some time and I don’t think he’ll be back anytime soon. With Jamie Lundmark leaving the Nashville organization for Europe there should be a semi permanent spot in the Admirals line up for Hunter.
Former Cyclone Chris Mueller made his NHL debut shortly after we put him on out Christmas list. He tallied his 1st NHL point January 16th against the Chicago Blackhawks. He notched 2 more on the 18th in helping JP Dumont log a hat trick.
Catching up the success of current and former Cyclones wouldn’t be complete with mentioning David Desharnais and Cedrick Desjardins. Desharnais tallied his 1st NHL goal on January 12th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Desjardins was called up to Tampa Bay over Christmas, mostly to get some NHL level practice in. When Tampa’s back up goalie was injured it opened the door for Cedrick to dress for the Lightning. Ceddy would ultimately play in back to back games, winning them both. His 1st NHL win came against the Montreal Canadiens.
2 Return…When the Cyclones take the ice tonight against the Sting Rays They will have the services of Ryan Del Monte and Adam Comrie. Del Monte returns after playing 15 games with Worchester. His grittiness is something the Cyclones could really use right now. Adam Comrie, returns from a brief call up to Rochester.
There could be more help on the way…Nashville has reassigned Chris Muller and Matt Halischuk to Milwaukee. The Preds are inactive until after the NHL All Star break so this is most likely a short term assignment. However, if it is long term it could send someone out way. We’ll keep and eye on it and report if we hear anything further.