Hutton Settling In At Home
12/19/2011 1:58 PM - Mike Peck
Believe it or not, the IceHogs have been playing some better hockey on home ice. The team’s 6-10-0-0 still isn’t acceptable, but the club has won three of their last five and after beginning 1-5-0-0 at the BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford is 5-5-0-0.
A big factor lately has been the play of Carter Hutton. Hutton has appeared in five games overall at the BMO and is 3-1-0-0 with a .936 save percentage and a 2.06 goals against average.
The biggest difference right now with Hutton is that he’s making the big bailout save for the IceHogs. A perfect example came on Saturday against Milwaukee. With Rockford leading 3-1 in the second period, a flukey bounce had Admirals winger Taylor Beck one-on-one with Hutton in front of the Rockford goal with not a player within 20 feet.
Hutton made a huge save to keep the game on Rockford’s side and eventually to a 4-2 IceHogs win. Think how much that game changes if Hutton doesn’t make that save. It would have been a one-goal game and Milwaukee would have had new life with all the momentum.
Here is a comparison of all three of Rockford’s goalies numbers on home ice:
Hutton: 3-1-0-0 2.06 .936
Richards: 1-5-0-0 4.44 .860
Salak: 2-4-0-0 3.16 .880
Here is a comparison of all three of Rockford’s goalies numbers on the road:
Hutton: 0-1-0-1 4.37 .870
Richards: 4-2-0-1 3.54 .904
Salak: 1-1-1-0 2.81 .921
Wednesday’s game against Toronto ends a stretch of 10 of 13 games at the BMO Harris Bank center for the IceHogs and through nine games, Rockford is 5-4-0-0. So a win gives the IceHogs a .600 winning percentage (tough math, I know!) which would be pretty solid.
After Wednesday, nine of the team’s next 10 games are on the road, and it’s not going to be easy. Road games include stops in Milwaukee, Peoria, Chicago (2), Houston, Texas (2), Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Milwaukee, Houston and Oklahoma City are three of the top four teams in the Western Conference right now.
With the Christmas break upon us, the team is pretty split between guys going home and others staying in the area. Not that I’m complaining about a long weekend, but it would be different if we had Boxing Day off (Dec. 26 in case you’re wondering). Travel on Christmas Day just isn’t a great option if you’re living in rural Canada.
The break, however, is much needed. The team is playing better and really not in a horrible spot. Before you jump on me and remind me that the team has the second fewest points in the AHL, I will remind you that the IceHogs are only five points out of the final playoff spot.
Yes, I dropped the “p” word, but I believe that this team will only get better (ala last season) as they are the youngest team in the AHL. We’re already seeing rookies like Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw really step up. The ceiling always seems to be a lot higher for improvement with younger teams compared to older teams in the AHL.
After the Christmas break, we’ll have a couple of weeks before we enter into the “Dog Days” of the hockey season. That’s the time of year when the rookies seem to hit a low and teams in general are stuck in the middle of the newness of the season and the playoff push.
I hope to see you out at the BMO Wednesday. If not, Merry Christmas!
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