MOLINE, IL — The Quad City Mallards won two out of three games this weekend, continuing an early season trend of winning at home and losing on the road.
On Friday, the Mallards defeated the Alaska Aces 4-2 at the i wireless Center. The Aces controlled play early on. After about halfway through the first period, the Mallards took control and maintained it most of the rest of the game. Despite that, they trailed 2-1 at the second intermission. The Mallards got three unanswered goals in the third period to earn the win.
On Saturday, the Mallards traveled to Indianapolis to play the Indy Fuel for the second time at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Mallards did out-shoot the Fuel 32-22, but still lost 3-2. The game wasn’t even really that close, as the Mallards’ second goal was not scored until there were 4 seconds left in the game with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker. Despite the shot total, the Mallards just did not create many good scoring chances in that game.
Today the Fuel and Mallards traveled back to the Quad Cities for their third game between the two teams, and first at the i wireless Center. Steve Michalek was the story in this game. Michalek stopped 40 out of 41 shots to earn a 2-1 win. He was spectacular in net and was inches from a shutout. The Mallards’ goals were scored by Raphael Bussieres and Sam Warning. This was Warning’s first professional goal, and it was the game-winner.
The Mallards home record is now 7-1-1-0 and their road record is 1-5-0-2. Why is there such a huge difference?
Their biggest problem is scoring goals on the road. At home they are scoring 3.56 goals per game. On the road they are only scoring 2.00 goals per game.
Their defense has a similar story. They are allowing just 2.22 goals per game at home and 3.38 goals per game on the road.
The Mallards’ power play conversion has been good both at home and on the road, but they have drawn nearly twice as many penalties at home. They are 10 for 41 at home, which is the fifth best home power play conversion in the league. The ten goals puts them in a tie for first in number of home power play goals. On the road they are 4 for 21 on the power play, which is eleventh in the league as a percentage.
Penalty killing also has a huge difference. At home, they have killed 87.9% of all penalties, which is seventh best in the league. On the road, their have only killed 76.9% of penalties. Their road penalty kill is only 23rd best in the league.
Add it all up and it is plain to see why their home record is so much better than their road record.
You expect to get better results at home. The team might be a little more rested, might draw on the energy of the crowd, or might get a call or two to go their way. However, this split is so big that it goes beyond the normal home ice advantage, or road ice disadvantage.
Another reason this is strange is because last year the Mallards were actually a better road team. Last year they went 20-12-2-2 on the road and 17-16-2-1 at home. The other stats (goals for, goals against, and special teams) were also reversed last year.
So what is causing this huge split? Most likely, this is the a sign of having such a young team. The Mallards have ten rookies and another four players in their second year. Until the recent signing of Kevin Henderson, they only had two veterans on the roster (Darren McMillan and Vladimir Nikiforov).
It will be interesting to see if the Mallards can overcome their road woes as the season continues as these players gain some experience. They have the talent to be an excellent team, as we’ve seen in their home games.