Posts Tagged ‘Gwinnett Gladiators’

If you’re a Cyclones’ fan the internet has been a place of doom and gloom over the past few weeks; player call ups and some lethargic play has had people thinking the worst. The last time we checked though, we saw the sky wasn’t falling, it was just rain, and as that little ginger orphan girl once sang, “the sun will come out tomorrow…” Well, it looks like the sun did come back out this past weekend as the Cyclones posted 2 big character building road wins against Greenville and Gwinnett. On paper things didn’t look good for the ‘Clones as they headed South without defensive anchor Chris Reed, and forwards Michael Pelech and Mathieu Aubin. Indeed, the Boys would fall behind but post 3rd period comebacks to pull 4 points out of the weekend. Here’s a quick side note regarding the Greenville game; Road Warriors head coach Dean Stork sent out his resident goon, Sean Berkstresser, as his final shooter in the shoot out, he does realize the shooter isn’t allowed to elbow the goalie in the head before shooting right?

The weekends’ wins keep the ‘Clones 4 points ahead of Toledo and 8 points clear of Fort Wayne in the North Division. They also, bring up and interesting talking point; the Team slumped coming out of the All Star break posting a 2-4 record despite having one of the most reinforced lineups they’ve had in some time. Fast forward to the trip South on the weekend and the Cyclones, with a roster weakened by call ups, play 2 very solid games. Did they coast through those games after the break thinking a talent filled lineup would see them through? Regardless of what the answer is, the results over the weekend, in the face of adversity, show the true character of this years team. In the ECHL, call ups happen and rosters change, but good teams find ways to win. That’s what the Boys did over the weekend.

***

We know you’ve been waiting for it and here it is, the Cyclones have a magic number of 33. If you’re not familiar with how magic numbers work, here’s the deal, the number will decrease by 2 every time the Cyclones win and/0r the 9th place team (based on maximum points available) loses, and by 1 if the ‘Clones lose in OT/SO and/or the 9th place team loses in OT/SO. When the number is 0, the ‘Clones are in.

Since, Reading is the only team in the Eastern Conference that’s managed to create any separation from the field and with just 9 points separating 4th place Greenville (which actually has more points than the ‘Clones) and 9th place South Carolina, staying on top of the North Division is key to avoiding the dog fight for a playoff position. The Cyclones’ magic number to clinch the North Division is 43. The same rules apply to this number except rather than decreasing when the 9th place team loses, it decreases when the 2nd place team loses, which is currently Toledo.

The Cyclones have 22 games remaining so they do hold Their playoff future in Their own hands, but let’s face it, those are big numbers for this point in the season, so there’s no time to take a night off. What will it take to get in? Based on history 80pts should be good enough to get in, 75pts is questionable, and less than 75pts and you get an early tee time. If the Cyclones can manage .500 over their remaining games, they should be safely playing in April. What will it take to win the North Division? It’s hard to put a point total on it but 14 wins over the last 22 will put the Boys at 90 points which should do it, and that means maintaining Their current .620 point percentage.

Looking at the rest of the Conference, Evansville and Trenton are all but dead in the water, but the Cyclones still have 3 games left against each and They can’t afford to be complacent in those match-ups. Orlando isn’t far from having their bubble burst, they need to string some wins together in a hurry if they want to battle for the 8th playoff position. Wheeling and Kalamazoo are in a similar situation, a few more losses and both will get some extra nights to spend at their local casinos. That leaves the South Carolina Stingrays, they’ve got the best chance of all the teams on the outside. They’re tied with 8th place Fort Wayne, have played 2 more games at this point. On a personal note, we’re pulling for South Carolina here at CycWords, simply because we’d love to see the fan and media backlash that would occur in Fort Wayne if the Komets didn’t make the playoffs.

***

So there you have it, the latest edition of CycWords. Teams slump sometimes, but it’s no reason to watch every episode of Doomsday Preppers on Netflix. it’s how they react in the face of adversity and the Cyclones have done just fine throughout the season. It will be a dog fight but there’s no reason to think the Boys won’t be playing hockey in April.

Advertisements

As we get ready to roll into March and the real push for the playoffs we thought it would be good to bring up the magic numbers that will give everyone an idea of where things stand. First and foremost the Eastern Conference standings currently look like this:

1 *Reading Royals 55 35 15 2 3 75 0.682 192 165 0-2-0-0 7-3-0-0 818
2 *Greenville Road Warriors 58 35 20 2 1 73 0.629 197 157 3-0-1-0 6-3-1-0 805
3 *Kalamazoo Wings 56 30 20 2 4 66 0.589 202 188 9-0-0-2 8-0-0-2 926
4 South Carolina Stingrays 57 32 21 2 2 68 0.596 163 163 3-0-1-0 6-2-1-1 771
5 Florida Everblades 59 30 25 1 3 64 0.542 200 185 0-1-1-0 4-4-1-1 1045
6 Wheeling Nailers 56 29 24 0 3 61 0.545 185 166 0-8-0-1 1-8-0-1 932
7 Elmira Jackals 55 25 23 6 1 57 0.518 200 200 3-0-0-0 5-3-1-1 1169
8 Cincinnati Cyclones 55 24 22 6 3 57 0.518 159 180 0-1-0-0 5-4-0-1 1020
9 Gwinnett Gladiators 57 25 25 2 5 57 0.500 167 198 3-0-0-0 5-5-0-0 1002
10 Toledo Walleye 55 25 26 3 1 54 0.491 179 206 0-3-0-0 4-6-0-0 956
11 Trenton Devils 57 21 31 1 4 47 0.412 179 208 0-3-0-1 4-5-0-1 995

 

With that out of the way, here’s how the “magic numbers” break down:

Reading – 14

Greenville – 16

Kalamazoo – 23

South Carolina – 21

Florida – 25

Wheeling – 28

Elmira – 32

Cincinnati – 32

The “magic number” represents the number of points needed to reach 89 points which is one more than Toledo (currently in 10th place but can potentially score more points than Gwinnett bases on 2 fewer games played). The number decreases by 2 each time the team wins or when Toledo (or whichever team is in 9th place based on total available points) loses. The number decreases by 1 when the team or 9th place team loses in OT/SO. When the “magic number” hits 0 the team can not finish lower than 8th and is in the playoffs.

There is also a “tragic number” for those teams on the outside looking in. The “tragic number” is essentially the number of points the team is away from being eliminated. They are as follows:

Trenton – 22

Gwinnett – 32

Toledo – 33

The “tragic number” reduces by 2 when the team loses or the 8th place (currently Cincinnati) wins in regulation and by 1 when the team loses in OT/SO or the 8th place team loses in OT/SO. When the “tragic number” hits 0 the team has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

For example, if the Cyclones beat Toledo in regulation, the ‘Clones “magic number” becomes 28 based on the Cincinnati win and Toledo loss. Toledo’s “tragic number” would become 18. That’s the proverbial 4 point game that we talk about at times.

It’s important to keep an eye on the standings to see where teams stand, as the 8th and 9th place teams will change and the “magic/tragic” numbers will then be effected by other teams.

Get it?

Here’s how the schedule breaks down for the battling for the last few playoff spots:

CIN TOL ELM GWT TRE
Games remaining 17 17 17 15 15
Games left with group 5 8 7 5 9
Games left with CIN X 4 0 1 0
Games left with TOL 4 X 1 0 3
Games left with ELM 0 1 X 2 4
Games left with GWT 1 0 2 X 2
Games left with TRE 0 3 4 2 X
Games left with REA, GRV, KAL 8 5 8 6 11

So what does it all mean?

For Cincinnati, while the Division isn’t mathematically out of reach the ‘Clones will need loads of help and is unlikely. The ‘Clones could climb as high as 5th but given the inconsistent play that has plagued Them throughout the season it is much more likely for them to hold onto 8th or perhaps climb to 6th or 7th. The 3 games with Toledo will be key and could determine whether the Fish or the ‘Clones make a run for the Cup. The way the schedule plays out, the Kalamazoo Wings are quite the allies of the Cyclones as just about any K-Wings win (provided they aren’t against the Cyclones) will benefit the ‘Clones’ playoff chances.

Toledo will get Trenton 3 more times before playing 5 of 7 against current Division leaders. It makes those 3 games must wins for the Fish. The 3 game series with Cincinnati at the end of March could be even more important for the Fish than the ‘Clones. Toledo may have to take 2 of 3 to get in.

Elmira has been on a roll since firing Malcolm Cameron (go figure!) and hold the tie breaker with the ‘Clones based on wins (25 to 24). The Jackals have 4 more games with Trenton which could go along way towards getting them into the post season. However, time will tell if the Jackals current form is just a surge as a result of Cameron’s firing as often happens after coaching changes or if they’re really making a run. If they really have found their stride, they should sneak in.

Gwinnett probably has the toughest road to the post season of the teams battling for the final few spots. The Gladiators have played 2 more games than all but Trenton. Also, 11 of their remaining 15 are either against teams fighting for their playoff lives (5) or division leaders (6). The 5 games with the teams in the playoff battle will be must wins, any points dropped here could seal their early tee times.

The Trenton Devils are all but dead in the water. While they are good against the teams in the playoff battle (10-8-1), 6 of their remaining games are against Division leaders. They have a mathematical chance of getting in but they have to turn it around now and have no room for error.

The Wheeling Nailers should make it in. However, if their current struggles continue, which is very possible, it could get dicey near the end. Wheeling’s success is tied directly to their roster and with so many guys being called up, and finding success in the AHL, even if they make it, they aren’t likely to hang around long unless they get those guys back.

Reading, Greenville, South Carolina, Kalamazoo and Florida are all in baring monumental collapses down the stretch.

So there you have it. We’ll be trying to update the Cyclones’ magic number for you as it changes. We’ll be back tomorrow to look back at February and weigh in the the trades and other personnel changes. We’ll also be bring you the first draft of our playoff predictions later in the week.

-Mike-

As we head into another busy week for the Cyclones here are a couple bits of information I learned at the Coach’s Show last night.

– Don’t get me wrong, I liked Justin Johnson last season, but I don’t think he compares to Hans Benson. Benson was a guest at the Coach’s Show and just after a few minutes of listening to him, it become apparent that he is the consummate teammate. I liked Justin on the ice, but there were times that it seemed that Justin was more about him than the team. Benson, on the other hand, when asked about his offensive production, which is better than any any of his previous seasons, he didn’t say more than a few words before thanking Chuck for giving him a chance to actually play hockey. He also spoke about how tight knit the team is. When asked about fighting he responded that while it’s a big part of his game to stick up for his teammates he gave a props to Chris Morehouse, who “brings it every night,” as well as Dustin Sproat and Brett Motherwell. Sometimes you hear players talk in a similar manner but you can tell it’s lipservce, but with Benson it seems truly sincere. I guess you had to be there; those that were know what I’m talking about.

– As has been reported, the Cyclones have officially completed the trade with Gwinnett, in return for Mike Mclean the Cyclones have received defenseman Scott Marchesi. Marchesi is a second year player who was solid enough to receive an emergency call up to the AHL last season. His numbers are decent for a d-man. He is -7 on the season, but on a team whose best active player is +2, that isn’t bad at all. Scott will be a welcome addition to the Team’s depleted D-core.

– Speaking of that depleted D-core, here is where it stands. The beaten and battered are Kevin Roeder, Doug Krantz and Dwayne Zinger. Jason Jozsa and Reid Cashman are on assignment in Milwaukee. The leaves the Team with Brett Motherwell, Brock Sheahan, Jamie Coghlan, Brian O’Hanely, Pratrik Prokop and Scott Marchesi. As far as the injuries go, Roeder is expected to be out until sometime in March, Krantz finally had surgery and will miss the next 6 to 8 weeks and Zinger, also underwent surgery and will miss the next 8 to 12 weeks. Cashman has played well enough in Milwaukee to earn a regular spot in the Admirals line up so I wouldn’t expect him back any time soon. Jason Jozsa did get to play over the weekend but for the most part has been McElroy’d as the Admirals 7th defenseman. According to Chuck, due to one of the Admirals’ D-men going to the Olympics for Germany, Jozsa will most likely remain in Milwaukee through the Olympics. The upside is the potential that Jason could pick up the 3 more games needed to make him playoff eligible for the Cyclones.

– Dwayne Zinger underwent surgery for an injury that has effected his play since sometime in November. I have loads of respect for guys that play through injuries so this is the time that I offer my apologies to Dwayne for being so critical and throwing him under the bus. Sorry Dwayne, I wish you a speedy recovery. Your knowledge and leadership is no doubt important and valued in the locker room. I hope this is not season ending and you can come back healthy and show us what you’re really capable of. Thank you for your efforts and again, sorry for all of my criticism.

– I asked Chuck about the status of Adam Henrich and he confirmed what has been reported on eliteprospects.com. Adam received and excepted an offer to play in Germany’s Elite League for the Hamburg Freezers. The League has many former NHLers and could be a solid resume builder for Adam, who was a 2nd round NHL draft pick but has struggled to stick at the AHL level.  According to Chuck, Adam received a pretty substantial contract. Henrich was suspended by the Team in December when he left the Squad to return home to deal with some personal issues. Chuck could have blocked Adam from the move, but instead allowed him to take the deal. It’s just another reason why players like to play for Chuck; he won’t stand in a players way as they try to advance their careers or do what is needed to support their families. I wish it had worked out differently here in Cincinnati for Adam, he’s a talented player and I wish him the best in Germany.

– When the Cyclones head to Kalamazoo this Friday the K-wings will be without the services for Daryl Bootland. Daryl was was suspended by the team and has hopped the pond to play for Austria’s Vienna Capitals.

-Mike-

The Cyclones season to this point has had it’s testing points and for the most part the team has passed. The 1st dates circled on the calendar were November 13th and 14th, the 1st meetings with Kalamazoo. That was a rocky weekend but after that the Boys found the K-wings number and have gone on to dominate the series at this point. Next up was a date with Toledo. Initially things looked well, but Cyclones can’t seem to get past the Walleye on a consistent basis.

With mid November in the past, the next dates I had circled were December 4th and 5th, when Malcolm Cameron’s Florida Everblades came to town. Coach Cameron has been known to put extremely talented teams together, but the Cyclones proved what they were made of taking both games from a team that was probably an early season pick to win their conference.  From there things would return to normal with the Boys getting a heavy dose of the North Division.

That brings us the next set of tests to challenge the Boys. On Wednesday night the Cyclones had a solid 4-1 win against the South Divisions Charlotte Checkers. The Boys got on the board early and often, eventually chasing Checker’s starting goalie Ryan Munce from the net. After the goalie switch the game tightened up a bit and the Cyclones could only manage 1 additional goal. Charlotte was missing some key players and played a fairly passive and soft game, which was most likely dictated by their short bench. While the Cyclones offense could only manage 1 goal in the last two periods the defense played well; limiting the the Charlotte scoring chances. I expect to see a different game out of Charlotte when they return in late February.

That leaves us with South Carolina, who the Cyclones will play twice within a week. The past two seasons the Cyclones and the Stingrays have met in the Conference Finals with the Winner going on to become the eventual Kelly Cup Champion. Last season the Stingrays ousted a beaten, battered and bruised Cyclones Squad from the 08-09 Kelly Cup Playoffs and have kept the momentum rolling into this season. They jumped out to an early season Division and Conference lead, but they had played many more games so it was hard to judge exactly how good they were. As the season progressed it became more apparent that South Carolina was setting themselves up to be the team to beat. They are currently on top of the Conference with Cyclones, who have 4 games in hand, trailing them by 13 points.  South Carolina brings in the Leagues 10th best Power Play at 17.5% and the Leagues 6th best Penalty Kill at 83.6%. Much like the Cyclones, the Stingrays play with in the rules and don’t take a lot of penalties; it will be very important for the boys to take advantage of any man adavantage opportunities they get. The Stingrays lead the League in the “goals for” category while the Cyclones are amongst the Leagues stingiest when it comes to giving up goals. There is little doubt the Stingrays can score in bunches looking at the teams individual stats. The Stingrays line up boasts 9 players with point totals of 20 or higher, with 5 of those players posting 30 or more points. The Cyclones by comparison have just 5 players topping 20 points. The Cyclones do top the Stingray in 40+ point scorers with 2 to South Carolina’s 1.  It sets up an interesting match up to see which trend will take charge.

In other news…

– Where in the world is Bryan Leitch? I thought Michael Busto was becoming well traveled, but Leitch has left Busto in he lurch, joining his 5 team of the season. Bryan started the season with the Cyclones, was sent to Alaska, was then reassigned to Florida, then Kalamazoo and now finds himself with Toledo.

– Chuck has been busy, working to complete a deal sending Mike McLean to Gwinnett. McLean, who is under contract with Milwaukee, was recalled by the Admirals and then immediately assigned to Gwinnett. In return, the Cyclones receive “future considerations.” In a possibly related move, Gwinnett’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch recalled Chris Higgins, could he be headed our way? It’s purely speculation, but if he is, I doubt it will be announced until the last minute. I can’t say I’m surprised to see McLean get relocated. I was expecting big things from him this year, especially after seeing him perform well last season on a bad Dayton Bomber team. He had some good games this season, and posted 21 points but he was also -13 on the season. Scoring is great but becomes obsolete if you don’t take care of your own end; Thomas Bearegard anyone?

– According to the AHL transaction page Jason Jozsa has been recalled to Milwaukee, but according to ECHL’s Leaguestat page, he is active for the Cyclones. Jason was absent in the game against Charlotte, which forced Dwayne Zinger back into action. If Jason is still on recall with the Admirals, let’s hope he gets some ice time.

-It looked like the rest did Dwayne Zinger some good. He had one horrendous clearinf attempt that appeared to be more like pass to a Charlotte forward, but other than that played well.

– According to my count the suspension to Adam Henrich expired last week. I haven’t seen any other news regarding him. If nothing surfaces, I’ll try to get some information at the Coach’s Show on Monday.

-Mike-