ORLANDO, Fla. – The holiday season is a time for reflecting and dreaming. The generous souls at The Sin Bin want to help the sometimes battered and bruised squads get into the Christmas spirit, and we are doing so by putting together our third annual special wish lists for Santa. If that North Pole miracle-worker can bring at least some of these treats in his sleigh, it will make the New Year bright. We started with the South, North and Mountain Divisions, and this installment finishes things off with the Central.
Make All the Special Teams Special
When it comes to the penalty kill, Cincinnati has few that can compare. Their overall penalty kill percentage is a whopping 88.7%, which is the top of the league. Unfortunately, their power play has sputtered, with a measly 13.1% conversion rate, making it 23rd in the league. There can be little doubt that Cincinnati will be in the playoff mix, and they will be in the running for the Brabham Cup. But if they want to make a deep playoff drive, they need Santa to sprinkle some of that special reindeer dust on their power play unit to give it some extra lift.
Fewer PIMs, More SOGs
The Fort Wayne Komets are currently sixth in the league when it comes to penalty minutes. They are averaging over 16 minutes a game in that category. Needless to say, it’s hard to muster an effective offense when you are constantly playing down a man. The team could also use another nimble scorer who can put more shots on the net. They are 21st in the league when it comes to the Shots For average, and they are 26th in the league when it comes to total shots on the net. Those numbers need to improve if the Komets want to make a serious run for the postseason.
Reliable Engines Performing at Full Capacity
The Fuel would like some consistency. They win one, then lose one, and are having a hard time putting everything together across multiple games. The Central Division is so good, and if the Fuel continues the Jekyll and Hyde performances, they are going to have a hell of a fight to make the playoffs. The Fuel would like Santa to bring one good win streak to give this team the confidence it needs to get into the postseason.
More Mojo on the Home Power Play
The Kalamazoo Wings are surging, so they would obviously like some help from Santa to keep up that trend in 2019. To do that, the K-Wings could use some extra juice on the power play, especially when playing up a man on home ice. They are 26th in the league on the home power play, averaging a woeful 9.2%. On the road, that average goes up to 21.7%, which is fifth in the league. Clearly, there is some kind of bad magic at work here. If the Wings could shake that home-ice power play curse, that could give them the boost they need to keep the winning ways going into the new year.
Toledo has once again fielded a team with offensive firepower in spades. TJ Hensick and Shane Berschbach are third and fourth in the league respectively when it comes to scoring. Matt Register is second in the league among defensemen in the scoring department and he leads all league blueliners when it comes to assists. It is almost a given that Toledo will once again find itself in the postseason dance. The key for them will be to find that physicality and grit that will take them to the finals. Maybe Santa can send Toledo some polar bears for the Walleye to wrestle. That should get them toughened up for the grueling final stretch.
More Fans in the Stands
The Wheeling Nailers are holding a solid third place in the Central Division. Considering that they are only surpassed by the mighty teams from Cincinnati and Toledo, they should be feeling good about their chances as they head into 2019. The team would like the city of Wheeling to show more love by getting its citizens to show their support for the home team. The Nailers are last in the league in average attendance, which is surprising given the renovations to the Wesbanco Arena and the strength of the squad they have on the ice. The Nailers will keep that ho-ho-ho spirit cooking for the fans going into the spring if those attendance numbers will improve.
I would like to thank Samantha Hoffman and Mark Grainda for their contributions to this article.
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