You must admit, the 2013 season has been full of surprises, and very exciting no matter who is your favorite team. Edmonton’s Mark Matthews seems to be locking up the Rookie of the Year, and is only two goals away from tying John Grant Jr rookie goal scoring record. Matthews currently has 36, the record is 38 and he has two games left to do it. Garrett Billings is only 2 pts away from another 100pt season, and looks to be the leader in the MVP race that we thought Shawn Evans was going to run away with earlier in the season. Goaltender Nick Rose has continued his unbelievable goaltending. Since being acquired by Toronto last season from Calgary, Rose is 15-5 (5-1 last season) add to that last summer with the Coquitlam Adanacs were he was 10-7 with a 7.53 GAA, and you have one of the hottest goaltender in the past twelve months.
We have seen the defending champion Knighthawks shake off the early season hangover that saw them out of the playoff picture, to being right in the thick of things as they are starting to fire on all cylinders. We seen the young Edmonton Rush show that last season Champions Cup appearance was no fluke as they are currently tied for first in the West, and they boast the best road record at 7-1. In Colorado we seen a goalie turnstile.. Levis & Lewis, to Lewis & Roik (released from Toronto) to Lewis & Belanger. After that go around Tye Belanger has shown he is THE MAN in Colorado between the pipes, remember he is only 22. Add Casey Powell in the offensive mix and Colorado can be a team to look out for.
We have the Minnesota Swarm draft 4 first rounders who have proven their worth. Shayne Jackson and Kiel Matisz have played outstanding on offense and Brock Sorensen and Alex Crepinsek have bolstered the defense/transition. After losing captain Andrew Suitor to an ACL/MCL tear, the Swarm had a three game losing streak, but since have started to click again. As they always say….fear the hot team
Then we go to the American part of the game… Philadelphia Wings Head Coach/GM Johnny Mouradian wanted to go with a majority of American athletic players. When you look at the Wings 6-8 record, (win 2…lose 3…win 3…lose 6) and ending that losing strak this past weekend, six of the losses range from 5-10 goals you would say “it doesn’t work” But look at it where the Wings went without Brendan Mundorf the first 10 games as he recovered from ankle surgery, Transition Max Seibald broken foot (out season). Then for 3-4 games being without Brodie Merrill, Brett Manney and Jeff Reynolds due to injuries and you will see a team getting beat on a two to one ratio. Wings have also gone the season without a semi-solid back-up goalie. Kevin Croswell was not the answer as it was obvious the coaches had zero confidence in him as in a normal blowout, you would put the back-up in. Well, not in Philly. Croswell was so bad, Miller was left in. Am I using this as an excuse to say the American style can work, NO. Could a healthy Mundorf all season along with Seibald and a half decent back-up made a difference? Maybe. Only way we will know is if this core stays together next season. Right now the Wings are marching towards the playoffs, and if the Americans can start gelling who knows.
Now we get to the reason for this story…Is home floor really an advantage? Not in 2013. Look at the chart below. Teams are 38-25 when playing on the road. Only two teams have a record at home over .500 Toronto 5-3 and Washington 4-2 (last 2 games at home). Meanwhile on the road there are four teams with 5+ wins, one team at 4-4, three teams at 3-4, and another at 3-2 with there final three games on the road. So you need to ask yourself… DO you really want a home game in the playoffs? Last season in the playoffs the Rush were on the road, winning in Calgary a team that dominated them in the regular season. Then going to Minnesota and going through them like a hot knife through butter, and coming within 30 minutes of the cup in Rochester (up 5-1 at half, lost 9-6)
The overall standings below have the teams seeded 1-9. this will drastically change. Colorado and Minnesota play each other the final two games of the season. Rochester finishes on the road with 3 games. S0 as I said before….. HANG ON! Its going to be a wild finish!