Moose Moment: Examining the Central Division

After completing a 6-game road trip, the Manitoba Moose are ready to come home for 6-game homestand around the holiday break.  With the Moose having completed the first third of their season, this week we take a look around the Central Division and evaluate the opening two months of the season for each team.

AHL Central Division Standings

As of December 10th, 2018 

Iowa Wild (14-5-6, 1st in Division)

Top Scorer: C Cal O’Reilly – 5 G, 18 A, 23 PTS
Top Goalie: G Kaapo Kahkonen – 6-2-4, 1.94 GAA, .933 SV%

The Wild are the only Central Division team in the top 10 in the AHL in Goals For per game, Goals Against per game, Power Play %, and Penalty Kill %.  The Wild have the longest points streak in the Western Conference this season (10), and are currently riding the longest road points streak in the AHL (9).  Rookie goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen leads the AHL in GAA and SV%. However, 4 of their 14 wins are shootout wins, which is tied for the most in the AHL.  12 of their next 14 games are inside the Central Division.

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Milwaukee Admirals (14-9-4, 2nd in Division)

Top Scorer: D Matt Donovan – 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS
Top Goalie: G Troy Grosenick – 8-5-1, 2.47 GAA, .920 SV%

The Admirals have the 3rd best goals against per game average in the AHL, and the league’s 2nd best penalty kill (87.5%).  Their team defense has been important, as they are tied for 25th in goals for per game.  Milwaukee has the Central Division’s best point percentage when they score the opening goal of the game (.864).  Milwaukee has a 9 game homestand between Jan 22 and Feb 11, of which 8 of those games are against Central Division opponents.

Grand Rapids Griffins (14-8-3, 3rd in Division)

Top Scorer: LW Chris Terry – 16 G, 10 A, 26 PTS
Top Goalie: G Patrik Rybar – 6-3-2, 2.52 GAA, .902 SV%

The Griffins have the best home record in the Central Division (9-2-2) this season.  Veteran Chris Terry has been superb this season, leading the league with 16 goals in 25 games played.  The Griffins have the longest winning streak in the Western Conference this season (6 games), and the 2nd longest points streak in the West (9 games).  The biggest concern for the Griffins is that their penalty kill sits last in the AHL at 12.6% (13 goals on 103 attempts).  9 of their 12 games left in 2018 are against Central Division teams.

Chicago Wolves (13-9-3, 4th in Division)

Top Scorer: C Brandon Pirri – 13 G, 21 A, 34 PTS
Top Goalie: G Max Lagace – 6-5-1, 3.20 GAA, .885 SV%

The Wolves have had an interesting season.  The Wolves are one of only two teams currently in a playoff spot (Stockton) who have a home record below .500 this season.  Chicago has 2 of the top 4 scorers in the league, including the league’s leading scorer Brandon Pirri.  12 of the Wolves’ final 14 games of the season will be against the Central Division.

Rockford IceHogs (11-10-5, 5th in Division)

Top Scorer: RW Dylan Sikura – 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS
Top Goalie: G Collin Delia – 5-5-4, 2.46 GAA, .930 SV%

The IceHogs are about to start a stretch of 22 consecutive games inside of the Central Division.  The IceHogs record against the Central is currently 9-7-4, only Manitoba and San Antonio have worse records inside the division.  The IceHogs have the league’s worst home powerplay, scoring on just 5 of 51 attempts (9.8%), but have the league’s third best penalty kill (87.0%).

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Texas Stars (12-9-2, 6th in Division)

Top Scorer: RW Erik Condra – 11 G, 17 A, 28 PTS
Top Goalie: G Landon Bow – 9-4-1, 2.66 GAA, .904 SV%

The Stars have been a dynamic offensive team so far this season.  The Stars lead the league in goals for per game (3.91).  Unlike their parent club, the Stars have been an excellent shot suppression team this year, allowing 26.9 shots on goal per game, which is good for 4th in the AHL and best in the Western Conference.  The Stars are 2-4-2 in 1 goal games this season, which is the worst record in the league in that situation.

Manitoba Moose (11-12-2, 7th in Division)

Top Scorer: RW Mason Appleton – 8 G, 10 A, 18 PTS
Top Goalie: G Mikhail Berdin – 3-1-1, 2.32 GAA, .936 SV%

The Moose will play 12 of their next 15 games inside Bell MTS Place, where the Moose have a 6-4-0 record this season.  Their 10 home games played are tied for the fewest played in the Western Conference.  The Achilles heel of the Moose is that they average the most penalty minutes in the Central Division, and have conceded 20 power play goals against, only Chicago and San Antonio have given up more.

San Antonio Rampage (10-15-1, 8th in Division)

Top Scorer: LW Jordan Nolan – 7 G, 8 A, 15 PTS
Top Goalie: G Jordan Binnington – 8-4-0, 2.34 GAA, .914 SV%

After winning their opening game of the season, the Rampage followed that up with an 8-game losing streak, which is the longest losing streak in the league this season.  Since then, they have a record of 9-7-1 in their last 17 games.  Jordan Binnington has been an important piece of this run, with a record of 8-2-0 over his last 11 appearances.  Binnington was recalled to the Blues yesterday.  The overall problem for the Rampage has been that they have struggled to score goals, sitting 30th in the AHL in goals per game (2.46).

Up Next For The Moose…

The Moose begin a 6-game homestand with a pair of games against the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies this weekend.  The games are on Friday at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 6:00 PM.  Both games can be heard on moosehockey.com, or can be watched on AHL.TV.