The All Star week is over and the Boys return to action with a home and home against Kalamazoo which begins tonight in Kalamazoo. The Cyclones will play 3 games in 4 nights to kick off a 9 day stretch that sees them play 6 games; trips to Kalamazoo bookends the stretch. I hope the week off allowed everyone to heal up and get rested.
-Speaking of the All Star Game, Matt Pierce and Jeremy Smith represented the club well on the ice and I’m sure Bob did a great job as well.
Now I’m gonna take my own advice and get to the point of today’s blog.
One thing jumps out at me when I look at the standings for the Division and Conference; the Cyclones rarely take games to overtime. Toledo has 4 points from getting games to overtime and then losing, Kalamazoo has 5 points, South Carolina has 6 and Reading has 4. The Cyclones have managed just 1 point from an overtime loss.
Now there are a couple ways to look at this. First off, the Boys have gone to OT or shootouts 5 times this season and have won 4 of them so in that regard, the lack of OT loses is not a concern. However, if I look at it from the loss column perspective, it’s a different story. As I pointed out in my last entry the Cyclones have been involved in a number of close games that were loses; of Their 14 regulation loses, 9 have been by 1 goal or 2 goals (with the extra goal being of the late empty net variety). That, in my opinion is leaving points on the table.
During the 2007-2008 season, the Cyclones went down to the very last game in a battle with Texas Wildcatters for the Brabham Cup. That season the Cyclones finished tied with Texas in points and won the Cup based on having 3 more wins than Texas. The difference, and the reason Texas was even in the running for the Brabham Cup, was in the loss column. That season the Cyclones lost 12 games in regulation, and 5 in OT or shoot outs. Texas on the other hand only lost 9 games in regulation and took 11 to OT or shoot outs before losing. Yes, the Cyclones, went on to win the Kelly Cup that season and Texas was bounced my South Carolina, but this year making the playoffs will be more difficult, with more teams competing for the same 8 spots, not to mention the advantage of home ice for a round or two that comes with being a Division winner.
The standings right now are tight. In the North Division there is only a 5 point difference between the 1st and last place teams. In the Conference, South Carolina has jumped out to a sizable lead, but there is just a 5 point difference between the 2nd and 8th place teams. If the Cyclones had been able to take half of their 14 regulation loses to OT before losing they could be sitting on top of the Division with 56 points and trailing South Carolina by 8 points with 4 games in hand.
Unfortunately all of that is in the past. Going forward it will become increasingly more important to take points at every opportunity. If the Cyclones can manage to keep to Their winning ways but also turn regulation loses into OTL’s or SOL’s, there is no reason to think they can’t make a run at not only the top of the Division and Conference, but the League as well.