By Todd Reicher
Rockford’s road skid, and overall recent record struggles, couldn’t have come at a worse time. As the season draws to a close, Rockford continues to fall in the standings after holding the top spot for multiple weeks. After losing both games to the Lake Erie Monsters this past weekend, Rockford’s winless streak on the road has now hit seven games, with Rockford going 0-4-3 in those past seven contests.
Percentage-wise, Rockford still clings to third in the Division, but point-wise, they are sitting in fourth place, which may potentially be the last playoff spot.
Rockford’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is 12, meaning Rockford will need to win six of their 10 remaining contests, however, that number will change if lower-seeded teams lose additional games.
The IceHogs recent struggles seem to be coming from the defensive side of the ice. In the past 10 games Rockford has lost, they have given up a total of 37 goals while scoring only 18. And of Rockford’s seven recent wins, only three of them have come by more than one goal.
Ville Pokka, who has normally been a strong force on the back end for Rockford, had a very unlucky series, notching zero points and finishing a -6, a team-worst for the series. He, and Cameron Schilling, were on the ice for each of the four goals given up during Thursday’s game.
On the bright side, defenseman David Rundblad notched his first goal in an IceHogs jersey and finished a +2 with one goal, which is not bad considering Rockford gave up nine goals while only scoring three.
The second period was the killer for Rockford in the series, as the Monsters outscored Rockford 5-0 over the course of the two games.
With the two losses to Lake Erie, Rockford has dropped to under .500 in their past 10 games, showing a record of 4-5-1. In those 10 games, Rockford has only scored 21 goals for an average of just over two per game.
In addition to the scoring drought, Rockford will be short a few players for the Chicago game on Wednesday. P.C. Labrie was suspended for one game due to an incident which occurred late in the third period of Friday’s Lake Erie game. Also, Ryan Hartman appears to be out of the lineup due to an injury. He did not dress for Friday’s game, and will the recent callup of Daniel Ciampini, all signs point to Hartman missing at least Wednesday’s game. Also, after being out of the lineup for a few months, Kyle Cumiskey returned to action for a few games, but has now been absent for another four games since his return, including the two games this past weekend.
In addition, Viktor Svedberg has been recalled to the Chicago Blackhawks, so Rockford’s once strong defense has been decimated once again by call-ups and penalties.
Rockford plays three games in Week 27 – A Wednesday meeting against the Chicago Wolves for the final time this season, Friday at home against the San Antonio Rampage followed by a Saturday evening meeting with the Iowa Wild at the BMO Harris Bank Center. Not that records mean anything, but with all three of these teams at or below .500, Rockford should be able to pick up at least four of six points, putting them a step closer to clinching a playoff spot.