Posts Tagged ‘Maury Edwards’

The holiday break has come and gone. We hope you had happy holiday, merry Christmas (or whatever suits your fancy), and a safe and happy New Year. If you didn’t, watch this little nugget from the Belfast Giants. Yes, it’s old and we’ve posted it before, but it never gets old. It never fails to make us laugh, even in the middle of July when the ice has long melted.

Now that the holiday well wishing is out of the way, let’s get on to more important business. As the ball dropped in New York City, the Cyclones found themselves sitting atop the North Division. The Toledo Walleye trailed the ‘Clones by 2 points and the Fort Wayne Komets trailed by 6. The Cyclones have 2 games in hand on Toledo and 1 on Fort Wayne. The Cyclones have amassed a 19-10-2 record and, according to this weeks press release, if they manage to win Their next game before February 3rd, it will be the fastest They’ve reached the 20 win mark since the 09-10 season and 3rd fastest in club history (we’ll give you one guess which year’s team did it the fastest).

The ‘Clones have to look no further than Their improved performance on the road. Last year’s Squad faltered to a 9-21-6 (24pts) on the road while this year’s Team already sits on 18pts and looks to notch Their 9th win this Friday in Fort Wayne. In fact, the 2012-2013 Cyclones have practically the same winning percentage on the road as they do at home. The overall improvement in Team defense has to play a large role in the consistency we’re seeing from the Cyclones this season.

The Cyclones are in an interesting situation, carrying 3 goalies on the roster; 1 journeyman and 2 prospects. All 3 are affiliated making it an interesting dilemma for Coach Skalde to balance the playing time. The journeyman Brian Foster (13-4-2, 2.39gaa, .914sv%) has proven to a more than capable workhorse and is clearly the go to guy for Coach Skalde. The kids have to play as they say and both Zoltan Hetenyi (3-4-0, 2.83gaa, .887sz%) and Michael Houser (2-1-0, 3.33gaa .907sv%) will need to get more than 1 game a month to stay in game shape. Luckily, the Cyclones schedule is back loaded and with the games stacking up it shouldn’t be too difficult to get to get all of them some games. If the Boys play as They’re capable we’re comfortable with any of the 3 in the pipes. At the end of the day though, it’s about winning games and Foster has the favor of Coach Skalde, so look for him to continue to carry the load.

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The last time the Cyclones skated on the ice US Bank arena They faced the Elmira Jackals. It was a game that, by the box score, looked rather close. The ‘Clones lead 1-0 to end the 1st period but the 2nd saw the Jackals take control of the middle of the ice, they scored 3 times, seizing momentum, and the Cyclones lost control of the game. It seemed like a script, the Cyclones lead early but the game slips away in the 2nd period, sometimes they manage to come back, some times the make it close but fall short. It made us want to take a look at 2nd periods to this point in the season to see if there’s something to it or if it’s all in our heads.

The key stat we took into account was 2nd period goal differential. We also looked at 2nd period shot differential. Shot totals can sometimes indicate the amount of puck possession a team has, but shot total accuracy varies from building to building around the league so take it for what it’s worth. What we found was an interesting trend. Over 31 games the ‘Clones are +2 during the 2nd period and are -12 on shots. However, in the losses the Cyclones are -13 in goal differential and -24 in shots.  So it does seem to be some substance to the thought that the 2nd period is where the game can slip away from the ‘Clones.

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The Cyclones have played in an abundance of close games this season so it’s natural we keep looking at the special teams play. The ‘Clones power play has crept up to 15.3 percent and while that’s not great it’s quite the improvement from where it was a few weeks prior. The power play has been steady as of late in the low 80’s. It’s currently at 82.9%, which ranks 10th in the League. It’s hard to find much to criticize about a team on top of Their division and winning 64.5% of Their games, but with the number of close games they’ve been involved in, it’s hard to think of where they’d be if the special teams (especially the power play) were even a few points more efficient.

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Coach Skalde has made a couple of player transactions of late. The 1st of which was cashing in the “future considerations” owed the Cyclones by Wheeling in return for Andrew Hotham. It was a 3 team deal that saw the ‘Clones acquire Andrew Conboy from Trenton. Yes, the same Andrew Conboy that earned a game misconduct for jumping Mathieu Aubin a frew months back. He’s always been a physical player, one could argue he borders on being a goon. He’s a big kid and needs to be physical to be effective. He certainly adds a physical element to the the Cyclones that is lacking with Mattias Lindstrom on reserve, and let’s face it, with the defensive roster looking a little thin right now the Boys can’t afford to lose David MacDonald for a 5 minute stretch and while we love seeing Garret Wilson throw his weight around we’d rather have him on the ice as well. Conboy is more than just a fighter and while he may not be a game changer offensively, he certainly isn’t a liability either. He’s a big body the ‘Clones can throw in front of the net; a game plan that already yielded a game wining goal for the Team in his debut. The question is can he keep is cool and avoid the “bad” penalties he’s been known for over the years.

The Cyclones will have a new face on the blueline tonight when they take the ice in Fort Wayne after sending Maury Edwards to Florida in return for Taylor Ellington. On paper it looks like the Cyclones got the better end of the deal swapping the undrafted Edwards for Ellington, Vancouver’s 2nd round pick in the 2007 draft. However, the 33rd over all pick in the 2007 draft has spent the bulk of his career in the ECHL, logging games for Victoria, Kalamazoo, Chicago and Florida; that’s not something you typically see from a player drafted in the 2nd round. He’s got good size for a defenseman at any level as well, so what’s the catch? His write up on hockeysfuture.com might help shed some light on it:

A reliable defender, Ellington has tremendous reach and begun to develop a mean streak in the defensive end of the rink. Ellington cites his strengths as: his first pass on breakouts and his decision-making in the defending zone. His puck skills have improved but still need some work, as does his skating.

Overall, we think Ellington will be an upgrade for the ‘Clones blueline. While Edwards had shown improvement over last season he was still mistake prone; and his mistakes weren’t typically small ones, they usually lead to the red light turning on behind a Cyclones goalie.

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Finally, it’s do or die time for the NHL. We’re not going to post link after link to what’s going between the League and Players Association. If you’re a reader of this blog you probably have an idea of where things stand and know next week is the deadline for getting a deal done and starting an abbreviated season on January 19th according to Commissioner Gary Bettman. If an 11th hour deal gets done expect some changes in the Cyclones roster. On the flipside, the Cyclones could see some new faces should the NHL season get cancelled. We aren’t going to speculate on who, but listen to the Coach’s Show from 12/17/12 and you’ll hear Coach Skalde mention that he’s had contact with a few NHL players about playing in Cincinnati during the lockout. However, with so many affiliated players and so few roster spots available for free agents, signing any would have been a risky move should the lockout end. However, with the cancellation of the NHL season a very real possibility, could Skalde pull the trigger and bring in some NHL talent?

You smell that? Fall is in the air and that means hockey. The players have reported and Cyclone’s training camp has begun.  We’ll be getting our first look at the Squad on Sunday, but in the meantime here’s a look at those the ‘Clones have in attendance:

Forwards (13): Mathieu Aubin, Byron Elliott, Alex Penner, Mike Embach, Alex Bourret, Dan Eves, Jordan Ethier, Cory McGillis, Jared Gomes, Blake Gallagher, Matt Sisca, Mike Pelech, Koba Jass

Defense (10): Andrew Hotham, David MacDonald, Mike Liambas, Maury Edwards, Chris Reed, Justin Sawyer, Kenny Bradford, Mike MacIntyre, Mike Noyes, Daniel Spivak

Goalies (2): Brett Bennett, Stephan Cesar

Kenny Bradford, Mike MacIntyre, Mike Noyes, Daniel Spivak, Jordan Ethier, Cory McGillis, Brett Bennett, and Stephan Cesar are all on try-out agreements. The rest of them are under contract with the ‘Clones. Odds are the opening night roster won’t be the same as the list you see above but it’s always nice to know where the Team is starting. We’ll be checking out camp starting Sunday and weigh in mid week with our thoughts on how things are shaping up.

Training camp rosters for the rest of the ECHL can be found here.

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The AHL opens camp this weekend as well. The San Antonio Rampage have 20 forwards, 11 defensemen and 4 goalies in camp. There are some familiar names in camp with Coach Weber and it would surprise us to see 1 or 2 of them make their way back to the Queen City along with a few new faces. Odds are we’ll see a goalie from the Rampage as well, but don’t get your hopes up, it’s not going to Jacob Markstrom.

Things are a little lighter up in Milwaukee where the Admirals have 27 in camp (15 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goalies). We aren’t expecting too much help at forward from the Admirals based on this list, but we think a defenseman or 2 will float our way with the names Foss or Aronson topping the list. The Ads are likely to send us a goalie as well and we’re looking forward to seeing wither of their Euro prospects, but let’s be honest we really want to see Zoltan Hetenyi, because let’s face it, his name is ZOLTAN.

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Here’s one last little bit of League news for you. The ECHL Board of Governors approved two proposals recently. Firstly, the Kelly Cup playoffs will take on a new format. Things will remain the same for the Eastern Conference but out West 8 of the 9 teams get in with the Division winners taking the 1st and 2nd seeding. While we think it’s still a bit lopsided to only have to beat out 1 other team to get in we like this better than the old system in which the best regular season team got a 1st round bye. Additionally, all playoff rounds will be best of 7, so no more arguing whether 2-3 format where the higher seed starts on the road is fair or not.

Also, the 3-day and 7-day injured reserve has been replaced by a reserve list. The reserve can have up to 2 players on it at any one time. There is no minimum duration for the list. We think this will give coaches greater roster flexibility than ever before. The rules governing the 21-day injured reserve remain unchanged.

As I write this up the Cyclones will be finishing up their morning skate and getting ready to hop on the bus for Johnstown, Pa for the 1st of 3 preseason games with the Wheeling Nailers. I had a chance to take in most of the on-ice training camp sessions and as of Wednesday morning the roster stood at 23.

Forwards (14):

Mathieu Aubin, Matt McIlvane, Garrett Wilson, Daniel Koger, Neil Trimm, Dan Eves, Josh Boyd, Vinny Scarsella, Mike Liambus, Bendan Hull, Shea Carey, Joe Devin, Erik Boisvert, Justin Vaive.

Defense (7):

Ryan Annesley, Ryan Blair, Maury Edwards, David Leaderer, Brian O’Hanley, Chris Reed, Garrett Suter

Goalies (2):

Mike Battaglia, Bryan Hince

The League allows an active roster of 20, however, with use of the IR teams can carry 22 or 23. In the ECHL, rosters are ever changing so the more the merrier and former head coach Chuck Weber was a master of rotating people on an off of IR. Using the 3 and 7 day IR 22 is a manageable roster number. Should someone become more seriously injured in the preseason the team could carry 23 using the long term IR.

Assuming there aren’t any additional additions (which might not be a reasonable assumption) I would expect 1 or 2 of the listed players to be cut.

There are some questions about who will be patrolling the crease for the ‘Clones this season. All indications are that either Chet Pickard or Atte Engren will be assigned by Nashville. On the  Florida/San Antonio side things are a little dicey. The Panthers have lost Scott Clemmensen for a few months so it’s not a question of who, but if the Cyclones will receive someone to start the season. Hince and Battaglia have performed well for training camp goalies, but I’d be surprised if both are still here once the season starts.

My other impressions from training camp, which the rest of you can see 1st hand on Saturday, is the size. There is no question Skalde brought in a group of big, physical guys. On Tuesday and Wednesday Skalde put together a line of Aubin (6’3″ 204lbs) – Matt McIlvane (6’ 207) – Garrett Wilson (6’3″ 206), that’s big, heavy top line. He followed that line up with Koger (6’2″ 195) – Neil Trimm (6’2″ 200) – Dan Eves (6’1″ 210). Also in the mix if former Miami forward Justin Vaive, who tips the scales at 6’6″ 225 and defenseman Ryan Blair at 6’4″ 210. There is no question this is the biggest Cyclones squad in we’ve seen in years. The Koger/Trimm/Eves line really stood out.

In addition to being big, it’s a strong skating squad. The quickness and tempo of practice was impressive.

There are still some a few issues I have with some of Skalde’s systems, long diagonal passes from the defense to a forward through the neutral zone for example, but there were some things that which looked promising. There is only so much one can tell from watching things play out without defensive pressure.

The only downside I can see with this potential line up is that some of these guys might not be around long. Several guys on the roster are on multi-way deals from the affiliates and several others spent time in AHL camps. If they start the season strong they might not stick around in Cincinnati very long as injuries mount up the food chain. Brian O’Hanley and Daniel Koger are already on Chuck Weber’s radar after having strong showing in San Antonio’s training camp.

Unfortunately there won’t be any audio or video for the 2 preseason games on the road against Wheeling so our first real look at the 2011-2012 Cyclones will come on Saturday. If anything jumps out from the scoresheet, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

 

-Mike-