And here we are again! Another week of us stat geeks coming together to look at a bunch of numbers. What could be more exciting? Well, lots of things. But for the purposes of this blog, let's all pretend that isn't true. Before getting into this week's updated numbers, I wanted to make a couple points. When you see these times and the way they have played out, please remember that all of these stats are essentially an archive of what has already happened. In the USHL, there is no guarantee of what will happen in a given weekend. Unannounced injuries, suspensions, and slapjack refereeing can have major effects on a weekend series. While it seems that I have made predictions in past blogs, I can promise you that it’s wishful thinking more than anything. When the team you root for is halfway through the season and only has 6 wins, you’ll grasp for any straws within reach, or not within reach. Just blindly grasping for anything resembling a straw…. Sorry, I drifted off there. Anyway, let’s get into it.
The game against Muskegon on Saturday marked the 3rd longest time the Phantoms held a lead in a game this season. But unlike the two games in which they held a lead longer, they did not get a win in this one. Yes, they did get a point with a Shootout loss (their only point in 3 games last week) but was yet another frustrating loss among many this season. While the Phantoms played marginally better than they did on Friday, and Muskegon was severely off their game, a win remained elusive for the 7th straight game.
Last Wednesday, the Phantoms traveled to Iowa for a make-up game with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. This was a total “grasping at straws” game, as the Saints were the only team the Phantoms have had success against this season. But as I pointed out last week, Dubuque is a much improved team from earlier in the season, and that showed in this game. In the 3 previous games, the Saints only managed 8:33 of lead time. This last game blew that clear out of the water. Dubuque returns to the Covelli Centre next week, and don’t forget that there are still 2 games in their barn that have to be made up, so we could be in store for more last-minute scheduling in the middle of a week to make those up.
This weekend, the Phantoms head to the land of cheese and foam hats made to look like cheese, because...you know...cheese, to take on the Green Bay Gamblers in a 3 game series. The Gamblers are on a two game losing streak after winning 6 of their last 7. They have scored first in 21 of their 31 games played, which leads the Eastern Conference, going 15-5-0-1 in those games. They are
currently 3rd in the EC in time led, and 2nd in time trailed. They have been dueling with Chicago for those top spots for about a month now. The Phantoms have not registered a single point against the Gamblers this season, the only team in the East they’ve yet to earn a point against. The Phantoms have only earned 1 point in each of the last two weeks’ 3 game sets. So while one point this weekend would be par for the course the last few weeks, it would be an improvement in their season series with Green Bay. Again, straws.
With the team charts, I made several improvements before this blog was even an idea. So I am happy with how those look. The Gametime % Leaders chart is a newer thing, and has had several overhauls the past few weeks as I tweek it to my liking. The 2 major changes that I have included this week are an extra column to show what the team’s percentages were last week to give a better visual of the week to week changes. Also, the numbers and colors in the Time Trailed category have been inverted as it is the one category that a lower number is a good thing, and a number increasing is a bad thing. I will point out that while the U18s have had a good season, only playing half a USHL schedule allows them to bounce around the leaderboard more so than other teams. But, since these numbers are percentages and not averages, I think it allows them and the U17s to exist in these rankings with the rest of the conference.
So that’s all for this week. Keep an eye out next week for updated numbers and analysis!