INDEPENDENCE, MO – The Kansas City Mavericks are eight games into their 2017-18 campaign and so far they have been, well by definition, average. Their record currently stands at 4-4-0, exactly at the .500 mark. They in fourth place out of seven teams in the Central Division. Their goal differential is -8. They are an impressive fifth in the ECHL on the power play, balanced out by a frustrating 21st on the penalty kill. They have had moments of brilliance, and others of befuddlement. Yes, the start to the season has been exactly that: average.
While no team ever wants to be described as average, here’s why it is not such a bad thing for this team. Being average only eight games into the season is a lot better than them digging themselves an insurmountable hole in the standings (see: 2016-17 season). They have been average but have been able to snag a few wins against some very formidable opponents, doing so on the road for every game except one. Playing seven out of the opening eight games of the season away from the friendly confines of the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena is never easy. In fact, we have this same conversation every season because the Mavericks first month is always heavy with road games. So at this point in the season, we’ll take average, especially as a new team tries to find their footing and learn to play alongside one another.
Throughout the course of these eight games, I’ve made some observations, both good and bad that I would jot down. After looking at those, I figured I would share them with you all as I’m sure there are probably quite a few that we agree on. Here we go:
- The Mavericks have great team speed once again, and can really grind teams out in the third period. With every passing game, this becomes more and more important.
- With great speed comes great responsibility. Over-pursuit and broken transitions have been an issue at times.
- A goalie tandem this young and inexperienced is concerning, but there have been times when both Tyler Parsons and Mason McDonald have looked dominant.
- It’s easy to see why Parsons is the top prospect in the Calgary system. However, he is raw. He needs experience and playing time. His rebound control has been suspect at times.
- A line of Darren Nowick, Rocco Carzo, and Dan Correale looks almost unfair to the opposition on paper, but it hasn’t clicked. I wasn’t expecting that.
- Troy Donnay and Hunter Smith are monstrous men, but they are still figuring out how to use their size to the best of their abilities. If they can get that figured out, watch out.
- Matt Robertson is playing with a lot of confidence. You can see it just in his skating.
- Eric Freschi could be this year’s Correale.
- The power play is completely different with and without Bryce Aneloski.
- It’s good to have Patch Alber back. He’s so good with the puck on his stick and essentially becomes an extra forward on the rush.
- 15 of the 34 goals allowed have come in two games. That means that 19 have come in the other six games if my math is right. Is that right? Yeah, that’s right. That’s still too many.
- I’d like to see Mark Cooper get going. He can be a difference maker for this team.
- The balloon shaving promo game is only entertaining when one of the balloons pops.
- Mike McMurty could be this year’s Carter Verhaeghe.
- Wichita is not the Wichita of old. That’s a good Wichita team and they are proving it. Have I said Wichita enough? Wichita.
- John-Scott Dickson looks like a seasoned vet behind the bench this season. Early last year, his emotions got the best of him at times. He has really come a long way in such a short period of time.
- The Central Division is stacked. If the playoff system was traditional (two division winners then the next best six teams), this division could have five or six playoff teams that could make a legitimate run in the postseason.
- I don’t miss having Allen in the division.
- I don’t feel like this team has put together a solid 60 minutes of hockey yet. I want to see that.
- Through eight games, I’ll settle for a 4-4-0 start.
As you can see, the mind tends to wander a bit. The Mavericks aren’t off to the best of starts, but they are off to a manageable start to move forward. That all starts this weekend with the red-hot Thunder (just wanted to say Wichita again) come to town for a two-game set.
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