Hockey

The Rockford IceHogs ran out of steam in their latest three-game weekend, falling to the Texas Stars Sunday afternoon. The 3-2 loss comes after the Hogs dropped a 4-3 decision in Iowa Friday. Between the two setbacks, Rockford used a four-goal first to subdue the Stars 7-4 Saturday night.

I’m setting the timer for one-hour; here are some thoughts on the weekend.

 

Thoughts On The Weekend

  • The Hogs penalty kill continues to impress. Despite problems staying out of the box against Texas, Rockford gave up a single goal (Saturday) in 15 chances in the three games. The IceHogs PK is now operating at an 86.4 kill rate. That’s in the top five of the league. The credit goes to assistant coach Jared Nightengale, who is in charge of that unit. Rockford has a lot of aggressive skaters who have proven adept at denying easy entry into the zone. Strong play in goal by Collin Delia and Arvid Soderblom completes the package.
  • Rockford has four goalies on the roster. The work is being handled primarily by Delia and Soderblom. Cale Morris has two starts for the IceHogs this month; Tom Aubrun’s last game action came with the Indy Fuel on December 12.
  • Lukas Reichel was reassigned to the IceHogs Saturday, totaling two points (1 G, 1 A) in his two games this weekend. Reichel is clearly the most dynamic offensive player on the roster. Interim coach Anders Sorensen has used Reichel and Brett Connolly on different lines in order to spread out the Hogs scoring potential. However, the two are together on the power play and were paired together fairly often in the two games with Texas.
  • The IceHogs led 2-1 after 40 minutes Sunday but just ran out of steam in the latter stages of the game. Before Texas tied the game with 5:42 remaining, Rockford had just been trying to absorb the Stars big push. It was only a matter of time before they gave up the lead.
  • The BMO faithful was quite vocal about a near-goal by Evan Barratt with four minutes left. The puck slid along the goal line and was close to crossing before the Stars broke up the potential equalizer. The officials used the next stoppage to review the play before maintaining the call on the ice, which was no goal. The masses booed even after getting a look at the replay, which clearly showed that the puck did not cross the line.
  • Of course, Texas got the eventual game-winner seconds after the subsequent faceoff. Which brought more boos and claims that the officials had stolen the game from the piglets. Not true, but a tough loss to stomach nonetheless.
  • Former IceHogs forwards Tanner Kero and Anthony Louis both made an impact this weekend. Louis, who is on a six-game point streak, had goals in both games for Texas. Kero assisted on Louis’ goal on Sunday. Louis also picked up an assist in the Stars win. In 41 games with Texas this season, Louis has 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points.
  • Mike Hardman had himself a solid weekend, with a pair of goals in Saturday’s win to go with a goal Sunday. He now has eleven on the season, second on the team to Reichel’s 15, and he’s done it in just 19 games.
  • Since returning to the Rockford lineup, Connolly has six points (2 G, 4 A) and is on a four-game point streak.
  • Dylan McLaughlin, second on the team in scoring (6 G, 19 A) missed this weekend with a concussion.
  • Rockford maintains its position in fourth place in the Central Division standings with a .522 points percentage, just ahead of Grand Rapids. The five teams behind Chicago and Manitoba will be battling for position for most of the remainder of the schedule. The IceHogs are more than capable of qualifying for the postseason if they can continue to get the defense and goaltending they have over the past six weeks.
  • The IceHogs will spend the first half of March on the road. The five-game jaunt begins on Thursday, when Rockford travels to Manitoba for the first of two games with the Moose. The rematch will be played on Saturday.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for news and thoughts on the IceHogs throughout the season.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, used an offensive explosion to sweep Grand Rapids this weekend. The ‘Bago County Piglets have been filling the net, with and without Vinnie Hinostroza.

The IceHogs currently sit behind Manitoba in the division standings with a 15-9-1 record. Rockford has won its last four games heading into this week’s action. If the season would happen to end today, the Hogs are a playoff team. Not that the season shows any signs of stopping, but winning is definitely better than the alternative.

 

Berube Injured

Much of the credit for Rockford’s lofty position in the Central Division standings has to be directed at the goal tending.It’s been a two-man effort in goal so far this year, with J.F. Berube and Jeff Glass both providing solid play. Of late, Glass has been the man for Rockford with Berube up in Chicago before being reassigned this past Friday.

Glass had backstopped the IceHogs last four games before Berube took the BMO Harris Bank Center ice for his first action since coming back down to Rockford. He made it though half the game before some unfortunate luck.

With the Hogs on a second-period power play, Rockford’s Carl Dahlstrom and the Griffins Colin Campbell were chasing down a loose puck that was headed the way of Berube. The IceHogs goalie had just knocked the puck into the corner when the two players passed.

As they came by, Dahlstrom’s left leg swept Berube’s right leg out from under him. Berube’s left leg then buckled beneath him. The Rockford net-minder was attended to by the medical staff and was taken to the locker room. All the while, no weight was put on the injured left leg.

If Berube is to miss any significant time, the pair in Rockford will be what is has been since December 1; Glass and Colin Delia, who has not played in his most recent stint with the team. Its unfortunate that Berube may have gone down with a leg injury. However, the veteran Glass has shown that he is more than capable of shouldering the load in net.

Rockford does have three games this week. None are back-to-back, though. Glass could easily get all three starts for the Hogs. Delia has not played since November 25 with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel. Possibly he gets a start down in Texas to get him some action.

Glass’s numbers have inflated to a 2.89 GAA and a .907 save percentage, but that includes the eight goals Glass gave up November 28 to Manitoba (who have been running roughshod through everyone recently). His last three starts, all IceHogs wins, have been excellent. Excluding that blip when the Moose ran loose at the BMO, Glass is 8-0-1 with a 2.17 GAA and a .929 save percentage in his last nine starts.

The piglets tend to leave their goalies some messes to deal with while pushing the tempo the way they do. Berube and Glass have done a fine job keeping the bulk of Rockford’s mistakes out of its net. Glass may have to go it alone until Berube returns, whenever that may be. Based on his play the last few months, he’s up to the task.

By the way…Matt Tomkins, who is on an AHL deal with Rockford, might be worth keeping an eye on. Tomkins was playing well when he was injured early in his second start for Indy back on October 25. He returned this past weekend and stopped 88 of 91 shots in two starts (both wins) for the Fuel.

 

Roster Moves

The big news out here in Rockford, of course, was Vinnie Hinostroza’s recall to the Blackhawks on Friday. Tanner Kero, having passed safely through waivers, was assigned to the IceHogs on the same day. Kero got his first action with Rockford this season on Saturday, picking up an assist on the Hogs power play goal in a 7-2 victory.

On Sunday, Rockford recalled AHL defenseman Brandon Anselmini, who has a goal and five assists in 11 games with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. This is only my speculation, but it would appear that another Hogs defeseman is banged up. It could possibly be Luc Snuggerud, who sat out Saturday’s game.

 

Picking Up The Scoring Slack

Hinostroza’s departure leaves a potential void in the Rockford offense. This weekend was a chance for the Hogs to respond to concerns for replacing Hinostroza’s scoring punch. They did so with 11 goals in the two games with Grand Rapids.

Of course, Kero is likely to pick up some of the workload for Rockford. He has shown a goal-scoring knack in both his previous seasons with the Hogs. He had an apple in his first game back with Rockford Saturday.

Tomas Jurco (9 G, 9 A) had two goals and an assist this weekend and is currently riding a four-game goal streak. Jurco’s 85 shots on goal lead the club; he definitely has the puck skills to carry Rockford for a stretch.

Hinostroza is an excellent distributor of the puck and that will be sorely missed. The player I see filling that role is David Kampf. The rookie from the Czech Republic broke an eight-game scoreless streak in a big way this weekend, with a helper Friday and a goal and two assists Saturday.

Even through the eight-game drought, Kampf has been active both with and without the puck. He is centering Anthony Louis and Jurco at the moment. This would be an opportune stretch for him to start impacting the game on the scoreboard.

Also posting a three-point weekend was Matheson Iacopelli, whose strong shot is starting to see some time on the IceHogs power play. Louis, who has earned time in the top six, has a three game point streak going.

Andreas Martinsen had goals in each of the weekend wins and has three in his last four games. Martinsen has four goals and five assists on the season; as I’ve mentioned before in my posts, he is one of a few IceHogs skaters who can bring the physical element on a nightly basis.

Martinsen forced a turnover in the corner Saturday that resulted in an IceHogs goal. The big Norwegian has been getting to the net and showed some skill in a key goal against Grand Rapids Friday night.

Stepping up on the defensive side is Carl Dahlstrom, who has eight points in his last four games. Dahlstrom was especially effective Saturday, pinching in for his first goal since Halloween and adding a pair of assists.

 

Where’s TooToo?

Veteran forward Jordin Tootoo was assigned to Rockford back on November 30. He hasn’t appeared in a game for Rockford. The way things sound, it doesn’t look that that will happen for a while.

After Saturday’s game, Chris Block of thethirdmanin.com asked IceHogs coach Jeremy Colliton about Tootoo. Here was the coach’s response, per the team website:

Right now, he hasn’t played in a long time. He hasn’t skated in a long time. (We’re) trying to get him back up to speed. We’ll see…I don’t know. We don’t have a timeline.

 

Pushing A Broom: Four Points From The Griffins

Friday, December 8-Rockford 4, Grand Rapids 1

The IceHogs won their third straight game and remained undefeated against Grand Rapids this season thanks to timely scoring and great play in net by Jeff Glass.

The Griffins went up 1-0 at the 12:45 mark on a power play goal by Matt Puempel. Rockford evened the game just over three minutes later.

Carl Dahlstrom got the scoring play started from his own end, sending a pass to David Kampf along the left boards on the Grand Rapids side of the red line. Kampf hit Tomas Jurco coming into the Griffins zone. Splitting the defense, Jurco skated to the top of the left circle and fired to the short side. The puck beat Grand Rapids goalie Jared Coreau at 15:38 for the equalizer.

Rockford picked up its second goal of the contest near the end of the middle frame. It came via the nimble stick of Andreas Martinsen, who picked up a loose puck along the left half boards and skated into the Grand Rapids zone.

Flipping the biscuit past Griffins defenseman Robbie Russo, Martinsen regained possession, skated to the bottom of the left circle and sent a shot high over Coreau’s right shoulder and into cage at 17:20. The IceHogs went into the second intermission up 2-1.

Jeff Glass proved to be the difference for Rockford, making 33 stops on the night, including a spectacular denial of a 2-on-1 Griffins rush late in the second. His play in the third period kept a desperate Grand Rapids squad at bay until some insurance could be had.

That insurance came from Robin Norell, who took a feed from Anthony Louis at the top of the left circle and slapped one toward the Griffins net. The shot glanced off the stick of Colin Campbell and got by Coreau for a 3-1 Hogs advantage with just 1:39 left in the game. Luke Johnson added an empty netter in the final minute to complete the scoring.

Glass was rightfully tabbed the game’s first star, followed by Martinsen and Puempel.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Anthony Louis-David Kampf-Tomas Jurco

Alexandrea Fortin-Matthew Highmore-Luke Johnson

Matheson Iacopelli-Tyler Sikura-Andreas Martinsen (A)

Graham Knott-Laurent Dauphin-William Pelletier

Carl Dahlstrom-Viktor Svedberg

Luc Snuggerud-Ville Pokka

Darren Raddysh-Robin Norell

Jeff Glass

Scratches-Tanner Kero, Robin Press, Erik Gustafsson, Jordin Tootoo

Power Play (0-1)

Highmore-Louis-Johnson-Raddysh-Pokka

Kampf-Jurco-Fortin-Iacopelli-Snuggerud

Pentalty Kill (Griffins were 1-4)

Knott-Dauphin-Svedberg-Dahlstrom

Sikura-Martinsen-Smuggerud-Pokka

Highmore-Johnson-Raddysh-Norell

 

Saturday, December 9-Rockford 7, Grand Rapids 2

The Hogs returned to the BMO and delivered a whipping to Grand Rapids, winning for the fourth straight game.

Rockford struck first at 6:41 of the opening frame. Carl Dahlstrom took a cross-ice pass from Matheson Iacopelli and skated to the bottom of the left circle. His centering pass caught the skate of Andreas Martinsen and banked into the Griffins net.

The IceHogs took full control of the contest in the second period with a pair of goals. The first occurred shortly after Rockford had shut down a Grand Rapids four-on-three power play. Laurent Dauphin received a pass from Ville Pokka as he entered the Griffins zone.

Tomas Jurco skated into the slot to take Dauphin’s offering to the crease. Deking goalie Tom McCollom, Jurco backhanded the puck into happy land at the 6:01 mark for a 2-0 Rockford lead.

About four minutes later, Viktor Svedberg hit Graham Knott with an entry pass. Knott skated into the high slot before finding Darren Raddysh with all kinds of room coming down the right side of the slot. A quick pass afforded Raddysh the scoring chance and he buried it at 9:58 to put the Hogs up 3-0.

Midway through the period, J.F. Berube got tangled up with Dahlstrom and the Griffins Colin Campbell and went down favoring his left knee. The medical staff was brought out and the injured goalie was helped from the ice. Jeff Glass took over for the remainder of the game.

Rockford was able to double its three-goal advantage in the first 3:18 of the final period. Matthew Highmore carried David Kampf’s feed to the bottom of the left circle and burned McCollom 1:19 into the third. Dahlstrom banged home a power play slapper from the point at 2:03.

Shortly thereafter, Martinsen forced a turnover in the corner of the Grand Rapids zone. Tyler Sikura gained control of the puck and centered to Matheson Iacopelli in front of the cage. The shot was high to McCollom’s stick side; he never had a chance.

Up 6-0, Rockford surrendered a pair of Griffins goals before closing out the scoring via a David Kampf backhander from the slot. The primary assist on the play came from the stick of Anthony Louis.

Lines (Starters in italics)

Matthew Highmore-Tanner Kero-Luke Johnson (A)

Anthony Louis-David Kampf-Tomas Jurco

Matheson Iacopelli-Tyler Sikura-Andreas Martinsen

Graham Knott-Laurent Dauphin (A)-William Pelletier

Robin Norell-Ville Pokka (A)

Viktor Svedberg-Darren Raddysh

Carl Dahlstrom-Robin Press

Jean Francois Berube

Jeff Glass

Scratches-Luc Snuggerud, Erik Gustafsson, Jordin Tootoo, Alexandre Fortin

Power Play (1-5)

Iacopelli-Kampf-Jurco-Kero-Dahlstrom

Louis-Highmore-Johnson-Raddysh-Pokka

Penalty Kill (Grand Rapids was 0-6)

Dauphin-Highmore-Dahlstrom-Norell

Knott-Johnson-Svedberg-Pokka

Sikura-Martinsen-Press-Raddysh

 

What Lies Ahead-A Look At The San Antonio Rampage

Rockford hosts Chicago Tuesday night. The IceHogs hold a 2-1 advantage in the season series; both those wins came at the BMO. The Wolves are coming off a Micheal Leighton shutout of Cleveland Saturday night but still are in the Central Division basement with a 7-12-4-1 mark.

Following that game, the IceHogs travel to the Lone Star State for a pair of games with the San Antonio Rampage. Rockford has Friday and Sunday dates with Colorado’s AHL affiliate.

San Antonio spanked the piglets 6-0 at the BMO November 10. The Rampage drew cord on their first three power play opportunities and wound up with four tallies with the man advantage.

A parade to the Rockford penalty box was a big part of that loss. On the other hand, goalie Spencer Martin stopped 39 shots to blank the Hogs. Ville Husso faced the Hogs three times last season when he was with the Wolves. Husso won two of those matchups, but is currently up with St. Louis, who has been loaning him to the Rampage.

Another pair of former Wolves lead the Rampage (13-10-2, fourth in the AHL’s Pacific Division) in scoring. Forward Andrew Agozzino is a familiar face to Hogs fans, having played in Lake Erie as well as Chicago. In his second stint with San Antonio, Agozzino has 19 points (7 G, 12 A). He is currently on a nine-game goal drought. Defenseman Jordan Schmaltz, another former Wolves skater, also has 19 points (5 G, 14 A) and is a plus-ten on the campaign.

Rocco Grimaldi is smallish forward who can really light it up; he had 31 goals for the Rampage a year ago. He started slow this fall but recorded a hat trick this weekend against Bakersfield. Rookie center Tage Thompson has seven goals and seven assists for San Antonio, but just one assist in his last five games.

Another offensive force is former Milwaukee Admiral Vladislav Kamenev, who had three apples in the Rampage win over Rockford November 10. He hasn’t been in the San Antonio lineup since mid-November, however. He was recalled by the Avs and injured in his first game with Colorado.

Follow me @JonFromi on twitter for thoughts on the IceHogs all season long.

 

 

 

 

 

Everything Else

You know, I never joined a sorority partly because I think that trials of loyalty and the concomitant proof of conformity are stupid. And yet here I am, with this fucking cabal, saddled with all the Red Wings games. You believe this shit? Anyway, let’s get on with it. (And fraternity/sorority people, don’t come at me, I’m only generalizing about my thoughts, not demeaning yours.)

Everything Else

I miss Marcus Kruger already, don’t you? There was a level of trust there after years of reliability that I just don’t have yet with the newer centers. But what’s done is done, and with the merry-go-round of forwards the law of averages would say that there has to be a suitable replacement among them, right? Well, there just might be one in our very own Working Class Kero.

Everything Else

Anyone who’s had the pleasure of watching the last decade of Hawks hockey is familiar with the salary cap shuffle the Hawks have to do every so often (and yes, it’ll be 10 years this year since Patrick Timothy Kane II took his first shift with the Hawks). Like a teary-eyed Lisa watching Mr. Bergstrom chug off into the distance, we’ve waved goodbye to a bevy of talented players either in or just approaching their primes. And so it goes this year, with the losses of defensive unicorn Marcus Kruger and a serviceable lower-line defensive forward in Dr. Rasmussen. One of the answers to the question, “How do we replace the defensive depth in our bottom half,” is former Flame Lance Bouma.

2016–17 Stats

61 GP – 3 G, 4 A, 7 P

45.9 CF%, 32.4 oZS%, 67.6 dZS%

ATOI: 11:21

A Look Back: The former 3rd round pick did yeoman’s work last year, with a paltry 7 points over 61 games. His ice-time average and CF% imply that he was an energy guy, somewhere between late-career ruptured hemorrhoid Raffi Torres and off-the-ice-good-guy Danny Carcillo. In fact, his CF% last year looks bad not only on its own but also relatively, with an abysmal -5.8 CF% Rel.

But there’s a massive rub in those stats: Unlike your typical energy guys, Bouma has ALWAYS lived in the defensive zone.

Last year saw him in his own zone more than two-thirds of the time, which is approximately the amount of time one would spend on the toilet after having a $5 Box and a Crave Case for lunch. And that’s what Calgary often asked him to do: consume garbage zone starts and evacuate the puck from the bowels of his own zone.

Even more interesting are Bouma’s career zone-start stats: Over 304 career games, Bouma has started in his own zone 61.8% of the time. The only year in which he had more offensive zone starts was his rookie year, and he only played 16 games that year. Compare that to Kruger’s 368-game, 70.5 dZS% clip. None of this is to say that Bouma is a one-to-one replacement for Kruger, because the comparative career CF% Rels are canyons apart (Bouma’s at -4.8, Kruger’s at -1.7), but given that Bouma was on some bad Flames teams, even those comparisons aren’t entirely square.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to look at with Bouma is a stat called Corsi Rel QoC, which, in short, ranks Corsi in terms of the quality of the guys a player was up against (negative numbers meaning he was sheltered, higher and positive numbers meaning he faced stiffer competition). From 2013–2016, which is both as current as I could find and reflective of years in which Bouma played at least half of the Flames’s games, Bouma had the following Corsi Rel QoC ratings:

Year

Games Played

Corsi Rel QoC

Points

2013–14

78

0.453

15

2014–15

78

0.838

34

2015–16

43*

-0.065

7

*The site I used only tracked him through 43 games. Bouma played 44 that year.

Looking at the table, in years in which Bouma played an assload, he spent a lot of time against his opponents’ better lines (save 15–16, where he played against essentially average guys). And 2014–15 should make the ol’ crotchal region tighter, moister, or some combination thereof for all Hawks fans. In 2014–15, Bouma not only faced higher-tier opposition but also scored 34 points (16 G, 18A) while averaging about 14 minutes a game. (While that year may be an outlier, hope springs eternal.)

Compare that to comparable Kruger years:

Year

Games Played

Corsi Rel QoC

Points

2013–14

81

1.114

28

2014–15

81

0.902

17

2015–16

39*

0.550

4

*The site I used only tracked him through 39 games. Kruger played 41 that year.

But what kind of Internet writer would I be if I didn’t come stomping and shitting all over the newfound optimism I’d set you up for? Because there’s a catch to all of this, and we can find it in another advanced stat that lives in the dungeon called Corsi Rel QoT, which is a measure of the quality of teammates a given player had while on the ice (higher numbers representing stronger teammates, lower numbers representing beer rats who “deked Montoya dat one time”).

Have a look at Bouma . . .

Year

Off. Zone Start %

Off. Zone End %

Corsi Rel QoT

2013–14

39

44.2

-0.028

2014–15

34.6

44.3

-0.745

2015–16

46.9

51.1

-0.173

. . .who did a good job of flipping the ice with teammates who weren’t world beaters.

And Kruger . . .

Year

Off. Zone Start %

Off. Zone End %

Corsi Rel QoT

2013–14

20.9

45.1

-4.824

2014–15

25

43.7

-3.425

2015–16

19

40.2

-1.044

. . . who not only turned the ice at obscene rates but also did it while skating with actual Shoot the Puck contestants.

A Look Ahead: So what does it all mean, Basil? Aside from expending over 1,000 words on a guy who might only play handful of games, it means that Bouma could be a decent turning-the-ice sieve if necessary. Yes, we had to go back a few years to find evidence, and yes, he was kind of a pit last year, but what’s the point of being a fan if you can’t be optimistic? Bouma’s underlying numbers and past performance could let slip the hogs of war (or whatever farm animal of war, Lana, shut up) on the Hawks’s lower half.

I suspect that Bouma will get a shot on the 4th line to start, albeit from a wing if we assume that Schmaltz and Working Class Kero are going to line up down the middle. It’s plausible to find him on the PK as the 2b option, behind the likes of Toews, Saad, and Kero, given that he averaged 1:36 there in Calgary last year, but that would likely speak to a supreme lack of trust and depth for the PK, since most Calgary followers say Bouma sucked at it.

It’d be silly to expect Bouma to replicate 2014–15, since he hasn’t since. But there is precedent for success there, and if he can come anywhere near it, his $1 million cap hit will look like a steal.

He may not pass the eye test, and he may be on a decline, but I’m a sucker for guys people doubt. I’ll be the first to say it: I believe in Bouma.

Unlinked stats retrieved from hockey-reference.com

Special thanks to Behind the Net. Hopefully they all pick up tracking again soon.

Photo credit to Jeff McIntosh, via sportsnet.ca.

Previous Player Previews

Corey Crawford

Anton Forsberg

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Michal Kempný

Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling

The 6th D-Man

Artem Anisimov 

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

There’s a line I like to use, I wish it was mine. Most of the shit I say isn’t mine. Anyway, I took it from something someone said about the first era of Mourinho’s Chelsea. It was, “The way to beat them is the same way you get flattened by them.” It works for this Hawks team.

I don’t think the Penguins had the wrong plan, even though they have maybe half of their strongest roster right now. You can’t beat the Hawks trying to be conservative, or trapping, or toeing carefully in the offensive zone. Give the Hawks too much space, doesn’t press their weak points.

You do beat them by going right at them. Trying to get speed to the outside, which the slower-than-accustomed Hawks defense can’t really deal with. You get your defense involved, ahead of forwards the Hawks might have left too high. You make the same, short passes at your line that the Hawks do at theirs to bypass the third forward and possibly a pinching d-man.

The problem though, is that if you don’t take the chances that creates, or the Hawks are at the absolute top of their game, or your goalie isn’t anywhere near his, or you go just a touch overboard, or some combination thereof, you’re going to turn the neutral zone into a runway for the Hawks. While they may not have the wheels out of the back they used to, they have more than enough d-men who can pass their way out of trouble if you give them the space.

Everything Else

Box Score

Natural Stat Trick

I suppose if the Hawks wanted to throw a scare into their fans, giving up 17 real goals (not ones in OT) over the past four games would be a good way to do it. I still have a hard time believing this is anything other than boredom. The Hawks have the division salted away, thanks the Sharks completely going backwards they have the Conference sewn up, and though I suppose they have an outside shot at the Presidents’ Trophy I don’t think that’s something that concerns them. When you take any stakes out of these games, any urgency, you’re going to get a few efforts that look pretty lifeless.

If you want to get into structural things… well, Johnny Oduya’s 32% Corsi might be a place to start.

Everything Else

The Rockford IceHogs got a boost from Vinnie Hinostroza this past week. It doesn’t show much on the score sheet; Hinostroza was credited with a single assist in the three games he played while he and several Blackhawks teammates were sent to Rockford this past week.

The Hogs had won three straight before Vinnie came to town, extending that streak to a season-high five games before being shut out by Charlotte Saturday night. How can I point to him as making such a big difference? Simple. Speed.

Everything Else

 

The Rockford IceHogs won three of four games this past week, winning three in a row for just the third time this season. The Hogs also got the overtime monkey off their backs.

Rockford won in overtime for the first time this year in Milwaukee Friday night, then prevailed in a shootout the next evening over San Antonio at the BMO. In all, the IceHogs played five straight games that went past regulation before Sunday’s win over the Admirals.

A couple of Hogs have been stepping up as the team snapped an eight-game losing streak this weekend. Let’s take a look at some of the players who made an impact.

Everything Else

Here’s hoping that 2017 is kinder to the Rockford IceHogs then the previous three months. To put it plainly, the 2016 part of this year’s campaign flat out sucked.

Through 32 games, the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks has been struggling to stay out of the cellar of the Western Conference. Only the Charlotte Checkers have fared worse than the BMO boys heading into this week’s action.

How bad has it been? Hold your nose. I’m throwing out some numbers; they aren’t lemony fresh.