It’s time to put up or shut up for the Cincinnati Cyclones. The ‘Clones are currently 6-7-0-3 for 15pts, which puts them squarely at the bottom of the North Division, not to mention the Eastern Conference as a whole. Sure, the Boys have played the fewest games in the League, but even in a perfect world where they win the 10 games in hand, they still won’t have as many points as Division leader Chicago with 26 games played.

The remainder of December will see the Cyclones play 9 games, all against North Division opponents; facing Chicago twice, Toledo 3 times and Kalamazoo 4 times. Given the current record against the North Division it’s a scary stretch for the squad. The Cyclones have played well, often carrying the tempo of the game, but it hasn’t translated to wins and while the ‘Clones might be a better team than say Toledo, Chicago and perhaps even Kalamazoo, those teams hold a key advantage over the Cyclones right now. They believe they are going to win when the puck drops. The next 9 games gives the Boys a chance to turn that around and climb up the standings. In our eyes anything less than 6-3 over the next nine games has to be considered a disappointment. It’s time to put the all the excuses about being a young team and roster moves in the past and put 60 minute efforts together.

While the next 9 games aren’t going to put the Cyclones in the playoffs,¬† but they could make it very hard for the ‘Clones to battle for playoff position down the stretch.

***

Defensive question marks…

The Cyclones have been doing a great job of keeping Their opponents shot totals down. However, as we’ve had a chance to watch more games we’ve come to the conclusion that is has less to do with the D-zone play as it does Their offensive zone game and forecheck. The Boys are doing an excellent job of keeping the puck deep in the opposition’s end of the ice and even when not in possession of the puck the forecheck has been clogging the neutral zone and creating turnovers to get the Boys back on the puck. It’s when the opposition gets offensive zone possession that things get scary; the Cyclones have a hard time regaining puck control and breaking out. Whenever the opposition makes their way into the Cyclones’ zone it usually ends up as a quality scoring chance.

Turning on the offense…

The offense has starting coming together but there are still some things we don’t like. The transition play is great, at least from the neutral zone forward, and the offensive zone sets are starting to mix the point shots¬† through traffic with working the puck from the corners to the front of the net but everything comes off the left side. If we had a $5 bill for every shot taken from the left faceoff circle we’d be very close to retiring. We’ve always like the “overload” system but the Cyclones but at some point the puck needs to get reversed. Reversing the puck from one side to the other makes the goalie move and oftentimes causes an offensive player to get lost by the defensive coverage.

Specialty slump…

Since out last post the special teams have slipped a bit. Both power play and penalty kill units are ranked middle of the pack. The power play has dropped to 19% and the penalty kill has dipped to 81%. Those are respectable but they aren’t going to win you a lot of games. In out last post we brought back Chuck Weber’s special teams formula and since that post the total has dropped to an even 100%, which as described last post, probably isn’t going to win very many games but probably shouldn’t lose too many either.

Koger gets his shot…

The Cyclones resident Hungarian got a call to the AHL where he’ll join the St. John’s Ice Caps. Daniel was a player we had earmarked as a game changer early on. It was just a matter of him getting used to the smaller North American rinks. He got off to a slow start but over the last few weeks he gave Cyclones’ fans a look at what he has to offer. He’s got good size and has proven he can play the more physical North American game. So far he’s logged one game with the Ice Caps with no points to show for it, but if he can play with similar form to what he had the last few games with the ‘Clones there’s no reason to think he won’t be there awhile.

Have we seen this before…

In 2007-2008 the Cyclones had a wee fellow by the name of David Desharnais. The year the Cyclones find themselves with a player of similar stature, Anthony Luciani. We’re not going to say that Anthony is the 2nd coming of the Wee Wonder, but we see some similarities in their games. Anthony has some solid puck skills, as we saw illustrated by his backhand, top shelf game winner the other night against Greenville. The question is if Anthony can develop the body control and vision to excel the way David did.

Calling in the Cavalry…

Over the past few weeks the Cyclones have had to deal with a very thing roster. We’ve seen Mike Liambas play defense, and perform well we might add, and well as numerous FNGs from the SPHL and FHL. While not being game breakers, Jeremy Klaver, Tyler Fletcher, Justin Barr, Berkley Scott and Kevin Swider performed suitably in their call ups. As the Cyclones head into this rough North Division stretch reinforcements from San Antonio in the form of Joe Devin, Garrett Wilson and, for the first time this season, Angelo Esposito. The three should provide some extra offensive punch over a stretch of games when goal scoring will be needed.

And then there were two…

After an what seemed like an eternity of waiting the Cyclones finally have 2 affiliated net minders which can be utilized. Chet Pickard has played well to start the season and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue but let’s face it, he was going to need some rest at some point. Enter Brian Foster. The fans pick as 2010-2011 MVP made his was to Cincinnati from San Antonio and got his first start last Saturday against Dean Stork’s Road Warriors. We’ll be honest, perhaps it was the travel, but Foster didn’t look sharp in the 6-5 victory. We’ll be keeping an eye on how Skalde utilizes the two net minders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s