When we last checked on the Rockford IceHogs, they had 22 games left in the regular season. They were in 14th place in the AHL Western Conference and 8 points behind the Iowa Wild for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
The IceHogs have played four games since then, going 2-2. They started strong by winning two against the Moose in Manitoba. Unfortunately, the road trip turned sour as they lost to the San Diego Gulls and the Ontario Reign. Still, a split on a long-distance road trip isn’t really disappointing.
The news gets even better when you look at the overall picture. At 21-26-8-3 with 53 points, the IceHogs are now in 10th place, just 2 points behind the Cleveland Monsters for the last playoff spot. The other side of that coin though is that only 8 points separate all 8 teams currently out of the playoff race. Everyone really does have a chance, but the IceHogs are near the top of that list right now.
There is more good news when you look at the last 10 games of all the teams. The IceHogs at 7-3 have the best record among the 8 teams currently out of the playoff race. In fact, only 3 teams in the Western Conference have a better record over the last 10 games.
Previously, I wrote that the IceHogs needed to win 4 of the 6 remaining games with the Moose. By winning the first 2, they now need to split the remaining 4. Of course, taking 3 of those 4 would be even better.
Over the last 4 games, the IceHogs have a 2.75 goals against average. The average was helped by a marvelous shutout courtesy of Lars Johansson. In the other 3 games, Jeff Glass gave up an average of 3.66 goals. In 30 games this season, Johansson has a 2.66 gaa, while Glass has a 2.58 gaa in 14 games. The IceHogs will need those type of numbers over the next 18 games. Unfortunately, Johanson was just recalled by the Chicago Blackhawks. I believe Glass is poised for a hot streak.
One other statistic really sticks out. For the season, the IceHogs have scored 137 goals (12th place), while giving up 183 (16th place). In the last 10 games, the IceHogs have outscored their opponents 26-20. If this continues, things look bright for the IceHogs.
Like the situation of my last report, the IceHogs start this stretch with 2 games against the Moose, but this time they are in Rockford. With 2 more games later against the Moose in Manitoba, it would be huge to win these 2 home games. The last game of the 3 game homestand is against the 7th place Iowa Wild. A win would give the IceHogs a perfect homestand and close the gap with Iowa.
The next stretch starts tomorrow night at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford. I’m sure the IceHogs’ fans will be out in full force. I’ll be checking out the game from Spring Training in Florida, but my heart will be in Rockford.