CINCINNATI, OH – It has been a rough winter for Cincinnati Cyclones fans. Since Thanksgiving, the Cyclones have gone 7-10-3 in their last 20 games. In their most recent five-game road trip thru South Carolina/Atlanta/Norfolk, the Cyclones went 1-3-1, and only scored more than two goals once.
Grab a pen and notebook, because some serious math is about take place…
Cincinnati held a record of 8-3-2 at Thanksgiving. They led the Midwest Division and were in the Top 3 of the Western Conference. Heading into mid-January, they now sit at 15-13-5, 3rd place in the Division, and 9th in the Conference.
The main question on Cincinnati’s mind is pretty much… what happened? This team was one of the best in the league, how did the wheels fall off so hard and so sudden? Many factors have contributed to the Cyclones’ plummet.
Most notably of those issues, is their road woes. Through 18 road games, Cincinnati has gone 5-11-3 away from U.S. Bank Arena, which is the 5th worst road record in the entire ECHL. During this 20-game streak, 14 of those games were played on the road. The ‘Clones only came out with a win in 4 of those road games.
On the other side of the coin, this team has proved to have two personalities. At home, the Cyclones have gone 10-2-3, which is the 2nd best home record in the ECHL. Only the Missouri Mavericks are better on home ice than Cincinnati.
Defensive struggles have been another big struggle. Through that 20-game span, the Cyclones have been out-shot by a total of 601-544. On average, they’re allowing around 32 shots a game, and only getting about 29 shots themselves. Of those 20, they’ve been out-shot in nine of those contests. When they’re out-shot, the Cyclones have only pulled out a win three times.
It hasn’t been just the defense though, the forwards have been in a bit of a slump, too. Cincinnati’s top guns like Nick Huard; only has four points in his past nine games. Jack Downing only has five points in his past ten games. Andrew Yogan and Zach Budish have seemed to be the most consistent up front, and if guys like Huard and Downing can snap out of the funk a bit, things could start to pick up a bit. Downing just had a 2-goal night in Norfolk Saturday, so hopefully he has come back to life a bit.
Call-ups and injuries have destroyed this team as well. Forward Joe Pendenza, defensemen Jonathan Diaby, Garrett Noonan, and netminder Brad Thiessen are all currently in the AHL. Until a couple of days ago, forward Peter Quenneville and defenseman Steve Weinstein were up there as well.
On the injured side, forwards Garrick Perry, Eric Robinson, Jaynen Rissling, and defenseman Brett Wysopal have all battled injuries over the season, as well as losing goalie Neil Conway to a team in Italy. In Robinson’s case, he’s done for the season. Robinson and Pendenza were two of Cincinnati’s top scorers; Noonan – Cincinnati’s second best defenseman; Thiessen – top 5 goaltender in the ECHL; none of them available to the Cyclones right now.
The biggest of those losses is goaltender Brad Thiessen, who was undoubtedly Cincinnati’s saving grace. The more interesting stat I found was: when Thiessen is in the lineup, Cincinnati has gone 8-3-3, without Thiessen, they’re 5-10-2. Unfortunately, he will not be back with the Cyclones for quite some time, because, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltenders Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney are down with injuries for an undetermined amount of time.
Special teams are struggling too. The ‘Clones penalty is kill is currently 23rd in the league, running at 78.8%, while their power play is currently 9th in the league, running at 18.9%. The PK has struggled all season, but the PP is what has taken the biggest tumble. At one point, the Cyclones had the best power play unit in the league. Over the course of these last 20 games, the power play has gone 13-for-80, running at around 16.3% efficiency.
Going back to that recent five-game southern swing the team just completed. The power play had 22 attempts over those five games, and only converted once.
Looking ahead, there is good news for the Cyclones, 14 of the next 23 games will be played on home ice. So, they’ll have a chance to kind of right the ship a bit and hopefully, find a way to crawl back up the standings before falling too far behind.