St. John's well-positioned if it can can keep up its current pace
The St. John’s IceCaps don’t actually reach the halfway point of their 2015-16 American Hockey League schedule until a week from this coming Saturday, when they play Game No. 38 against the Toronto Marlies at Mile One Centre.
Nevertheless, with the IceCaps’ Christmas break over and the team about to play its first home games of 2016, this could qualify as an unofficial midway point, making it a good time to take stock of St. John’s performance to date.
© St. John's IceCaps photo/Colin Peddle
Rookie forward Jeremy Gregoire (left), shown in action against Yanni Gourde (37) and the Syracuse Crunch in a Nov. 20 AHL game at Mile One Centre, is one of three players on the St. John’s IceCaps who have appeared in all 33 of the team’s games so far this season. The IceCaps, who play their first home contests of 2016 this weekend, are 16-9-8 in those 33 games
Through 33 games, the IceCaps have a 16-9-8 record which has produced 40 points, good enough for third place in the AHL’s North Division, fourth in the Eastern Conference and ninth overall in a league where points percentage (St. John’s is .606) now determines placement in the standings.
Pro-rated over a 76-game schedule, that would provide the IceCaps with 92 points, which would easily put them in a post-season berth. Last season, 87 points was the minimum amount needed to make the playoffs, while the requirement was even less in the other three seasons since 2011, when the league reduced its schedule from 80 games.
In 2011-12, it took 84 points to get into the post-season party, while the cut-off line was at 81 in 2012-13 and 83 in 2013-14.
St. John’s record so far this season also compares favourably with the team’s previous campaigns.
In 2011-12, when the IceCaps went to the conference final, they were 19-9-5 after 33 games. In 2012-13, a non-playoff season, they were 15-16-2. In 2013-14, when St. John’s went all the way to the Calder Cup final, the team was 17-13-3 at this point. Last season, which turned out to be the club’s worst, the 33-game record was 12-15-6.
Of course, with 43 games remaining, much can happen to change the outlook, either positively or negatively. However, it has to be noted the IceCaps have survived a fairly tumultuous trip so far, having employed 35 different players; been subject to over 60 players transactions; have endured their share of injuries, including one that’s sidelined highly-touted rookie forward Nikita Scherbak for the majority of the season; and have had nine different players recalled to the parent Montreal Canadiens, with forwards Sven Andrighetto and Daniel Carr and defenceman Mark Barberio still with the big club as of Monday.
And St. John’s also should benefit from a schedule that has the team playing 24 of its remaining 43 games at home, beginning with Friday and Saturday matchups against the Portland Pirates, now the farm team of the Florida Panthers.
The IceCaps are 8-1-5 at Mile One so far this season.