Sara D. Davis
With one fifth of the AHL season in the books the Ice Caps have some work to do. The powerplay is struggling, the goalies are struggling and the team can't catch a break offensively.
With the lockout in full effect many Winnipeg Jets fans have turned their focus to the farm. Unfortunately for Winnipegers, most St. John’s Ice Caps games aren’t readily available in the Jets’ home market, but don’t worry; we’ve got your back. To complement Ryan Fancey’s updates from out East, we will try to provide la Jets’ perspective on Caps’ happenings with a major focus on the prospects.
First thing’s first, the team is struggling. Through 15 games (about 20% of the season) the Caps have amassed a 7-8-0 record and finding goals has become an everyday struggle. The Ice Caps 34 goals rank them 13th out of the 15 teams in the AHL’s Eastern Conference as a result, the players aren’t exactly lighting up the score sheet.
Alexander Bumistrov, Eric O`Dell and Derek Meech are tied for the team scoring lead with 7 points each. Seven points leaves these Caps leaders tied for 156th in AHL scoring. That is not so hot. For some more perspective, Oilers prospect defender Justin Schultz has 8 goals and 21 points in 15 games.
As a team the Ice Caps are scoring on 7% of their shots on goal. The team scored on 10% of their shots last year, which is a huge swing. If they were converting on shots at last year’s rate the Caps would have 45 goals, good 5th best total in their conference. Did the team take a substantial hit to their shooting skill, or will the goals return and move the crowd.
As mentioned above, this team has been very unlucky, but it is the top of the roster that has taken the biggest hit. The Ice Caps top shottas - Burmi, Ben Maxwell and Spencer Machacek have combined for 106 of the team’s 457 shots on goal, but they only have 6 goals to show for it. That is an ugly number, but based on their career shooting percentages I am comfortable predicting this will improve.
Zach Redmond is the Ice Caps leading shooter. He has 43 shots on the season and is averaging almost 3 shots on goal per game. That is a very impressive pace it will be interesting to see if he can maintain it.
Eric O`Dell, Carl Klingberg and Ivan Telegin have been spending substantial time together and the results have been positive. The trio youngsters have been flashing all sorts of potential and have been the team’s most productive line as of late. Telegin is expected to do big things, but projecting O`Dell and Klingberg is a bit more hazy. Hopefully they can keep it up and put a dent the Jets’ NHL roster someday.
On the backend - Neither Julian Melchiori or Ben Chiarot has made a major impact thus far, but Chiarot has been the far more active player. This roster battle will be one to watch. Paul Postma is still getting back into a groove after his injury and Will O`Neill has produced some offence, but is his minus is well into the minus. All in all, things have not been steady on the backend.
Patrice Cormier has been out with an injury for most of the season. The absence of his reliable two-way game has definitely hurt the Caps, but on the bright side it has given others a chance to shine. O`Dell probably wouldn’t have been as active if Cormier was healthy. It is nice to them put it on the youngsters to make an impact.
The goalies haven’t been immune to the Ice Caps slow start. Neither goaltender has put up great numbers. Interestingly Pasquale has posted a slightly better save percentage and goals against average, but he has struggled to win games. Once again, this should normalize over time.
What stands out to you about the Ice Caps early season struggle?