INDIANAPOLIS – Things are not going as planned in Indianapolis. At the beginning of the season, the Indy Fuel preached the fact that the team has not made the playoffs yet as a franchise and they expect to do nothing less than make the playoffs this season. Those expectations are looking to be decreasing as the season goes on. The Fuel currently sits at 8-10-1-1 on the season and in sixth place in a very difficult ECHL Central Division.
Indy has not won a game since November 23rd and is riding a five-game losing streak heading into an away weekend against the Reading Royals. After the two games in Reading on Friday and Saturday, Indy will continue their road games with two games against Cincinnati.
The Royals come into this weekend with six straight wins while Indy will be looking to snap a four-game skid. The two teams have not faced each other this season but Reading holds the lead in head-to-head matchups with a 7-1 record.
Indy’s special teams have been fairly good throughout the season, their penalty kill is ranked 8th in the league. In 66 times shorthanded, the Fuel have only given up nine power play goals. Along with that, Indy is also one of the least penalized teams in the league. The Allen Americans lead that category, being shorthanded 106 times. When it comes to the power play team, Indy’s fortunes have not been as great. Indy has only scored seven times and has given up four shorthanded goals on 48 power play opportunities, good for 18th in the ECHL.
The Fuel are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league. They currently sit at 24th in the league in goals-for with 52, an average of 2.6 goals per game. They have also given up 70 goals in their 20 games played this season, an average of 3.5 goals per game. Obviously, stats aren’t everything, but they are a large indication of what is happening on the ice.
The hopes of playoffs are growing slim for Fuel fans. Head Coach Bernie John wants to play a speed game and pressure the opposing team with their speed and quick breakout. Indy gives up over 35 shots per game and only averages 30 of their own. Indy’s leading scorer, Alex Wideman leads the team with 71 shots of his own, just over 3.5 per game. Behind him is Kevin Lynch with only 55 shots in 20 games. One indication why Wideman averages a point per game this season.
Indy opened up Wednesday afternoon’s game with three goals in the first period but was shut out in the final two periods while giving up five from Brampton. If they want to change their fortunes, the team needs to continue their first period pressure for an entire game. Putting up less than 10 shots in the final period is easy for any goaltender. In the first period of Wednesday’s game against Brampton, Indy put up 16 shots. If they continued that trend for three straight periods, that is nearly 50 shots in a game.
Putting shots on net is the key to scoring goals. The more shots Indy puts on net, the better. Any shot can be a good shot, a bad angle shot can sometimes be better than one from point blank. You never know when a shot will bounce off of a stray body. Indy sits in the bottom third of the league in shots per game and if they want to start winning games, they’ve got to put more pucks on net.