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Time to Start Talking Playoffs

03/29/2010 3:28 PM - Chris Etheridge
The 2009-10 regular season is getting down to the end so it's time to take a quick look at some playoff scenarios.  The IceHogs are so close to a berth they can almost reach out and touch it.  To get in, the IceHogs magic number is five, meaning any combination of Peoria losses and Rockford points that add up to five will get them in.  San Antonio factors in too.  If they lose or Rockford wins one game, the best they can finish is fourth.

Here's how close the team is to clinching:  If the IceHogs finish the season 1-4-0-0, Peoria would need to go 5-1-1 or better to overtake them.  If Rockford went 2-3-0-0 and Peoria was 6-1-0-0, they would also have to make up a -10 goal differential to take the tiebreaker.

Milwaukee then would also have to finish with ten points in their final six games to keep Rockford out.  The only way San Antonio can pass Rockford is if the Hogs go 0-5-0-0 and San Antonio wins all six of their remaining games.  There is no crossover team this year, so it's the four best teams that get in.

The magic number to tie for the fourth spot in the West is four points, but with one more win or one more Peoria loss, the IceHogs will hold the tiebreaker.  They already have it over San Antonio and Houston.  The easiest way to hold off the Milwaukee Admirals is just to win games.

To secure the third spot, the magic number is 10 points.  If the team's record over the last 10 is any indication of their record over the next 10, they'll have a pretty good idea of where they might get seeded by the time they leave for Houston a week from today.

There are a lot of words like "likely" and "could" and "might" in the above paragraphs because so much of what will happen in two weeks hasn't been decided for sure yet.  The reality is that if the playoffs started today, Rockford would hold the third seed and play Texas in the Divisional Semifinals of the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs.  That's likely how this whole thing is going to play out unless something dramatic happens.

The earliest the IceHogs will know if they're in the playoffs is Friday night, so there's a lot of waiting at this point.  The schedule could actually prove to be a factor come up.  Most teams have a good balace to their games, though Rockford has only two home games remaining and Milwaukee has only two road games left on their slate.

There is some good news for Rockford on Peoria's schedule.  The Rivermen only play two more division games this season and they are both in Milwaukee where the squad is 6-12-2-0 over the last five years.  They also have to travel to Manitoba and have a long overnight back from one of those Milwaukee games to play Lake Erie on a third-in-three game.  The Monsters have a shorter trip; they come from Peoria to Rockford and then go back to play their third in three.

The IceHogs have historically not done well at home against Lake Erie, but the Monsters come to the Midwest with a 2-5-1-2 record in their last 10 and are behind a surging Toronto marlies team and the Manitoba Moose.  Looking at Rockford's final road trip, the team has historically done well in Texas so that could also bode well for the team.

Now all that is left is to play the final two weeks of the season.

Game Notes for 3/26/10

03/26/2010 12:21 PM - Chris Etheridge
Here are a few thoughts on the goalie match-up tonight.  Corey Crawford is 4-1-1 against Peoria in 2009-10.  Joe Fallon has started seven of Peoria's last nine games.  I would expect those two to see action tonight.

The key tonight is getting the offense rolling.  Hopefully Mark Cullen's return can spark the team a bit.  The IceHogs haven't lost three in a row since early November.

More notes for tonight:

Offense Sputtering: The IceHogs have scored three or more goals in regulation in just one of their last six games.  The IceHogs have been outscored 21-13 since March 7 at San Antonio.

Doughnuts Anyone?: Rockford was shut out for the fourth time this season and second by the Texas Stars.  The other two shutouts in 2009-10 came at the hands of the Hamilton Bulldogs.  Despite being tied for the fifth-best home record in the American Hockey League, three of Rockford’s four shutouts came at home.

Speaking of the Home Record: The IceHogs dropped back-to-back home games last weekend for the first time in 2009-10.  With their 2-0 loss on Saturday, Rockford finished the season 0-3-1-0 against Texas at the MetroCentre but are 24-6-0-1 against the rest of the league at home.

Cullen Is Back: Center Mark Cullen returns to the ice tonight after an 18-game hiatus as he recovered from an upper-body injury.  The veteran center led the IceHogs in assists and points when he left the line-up.

Holding On To The Top Spot: Defenseman Richard Petiot can set the IceHogs AHL plus/minus record for a single season if he is able to stay above +18, which was set by Danny Groulx in 2008-09.  Petiot currently leads the team with a +20.

Penalty Kill Still Climbing: The penalty kill unit has moved into the eighth spot in the AHL after not allowing a goal in the team’s last three games (7-for-7).  Rockford’s penalty kill (257-for-306, 84.0 percent) is ranked the highest it has been all season.