As we enter the first of two acknowledged breaks by the American Hockey League (Christmas Break), one thing is already guaranteed for the Rockford IceHogs, and that’s the team’s position is much better off compared to the last two seasons.
Heading into Christmas in both 2011 and 2010, Rockford was pretty buried in the standings due to subpar starts. The “start” to the 2012-13 season hasn’t been great from a record standpoint, but the Hogs entering the weekend are tied for first place in the Midwest Division.
But what a back-and-forth season so far for Rockford. Here is a breakdown of Rockford’s first 27 games before Wednesday’s 3-1 win in Milwaukee:
Streak Overall Record
-Lost four straight (0-3-0-1): 0-3-0-1
-Won five of six (4-1-0-0): 5-4-0-1
-Lost four of five (1-4-0-0): 6-8-0-1
-Won seven of eight (7-1-0-0): 13-9-0-1
-Lost four straight (0-3-1-0): 13-12-1-1
Hopefully this means the IceHogs will rip off a nice winning stretch starting with Wednesday’s victory in Milwaukee.
After Saturday’s game against Abbotsford, Rockford will head into the Christmas break with a nice round number of games played at 30. If you like to break the season down in 10 game increments, Rockford was 5-4-0-1 through the first 10 games, 5-5-0-0 in the second 10 and 4-3-1-0 through eight contests of the next 10.
So from that perspective, the team has been pretty consistent so far this season. After a very slow start offensively, the IceHogs have been one of the top goal scoring teams in the AHL and currently rank sixth in the league with 3.25 goals per contest.
Since scoring just five goals in their first four games, the IceHogs have averaged 3.58 goals per outing over the club’s last 24 games, which would put them second in the AHL, behind only Syracuse (3.65). Rockford’s AHL record for goals in a season is 247 (2007-08) and right now the club is on track to match that with a schedule that features four fewer games than it did in ’07-08.
And for the first time since 2007-08, the IceHogs are fielding a formidable power play unit. Rockford’s man advantage is converting on 20.6% of their power plays, third in the league heading into Friday’s game. Rockford’s power play in ’07-08 converted 18.6% of their chances and to put in perspective compared to last season, the IceHogs have already scored half (26) of the power-play goals that they did all of last season (52) through just 28 games.
The team will get some time off after Saturday’s game against Abbotsford with three days off before returning for practice on Dec. 26 in preparation for next Thursday’s game against Chicago.
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a safe holiday!