Fluke /flo͞ok/ noun 1. an unlikely chance occurrence, especially a surprising piece of luck.
A fluke. That’s what Muskegon coach Mike Hamilton called Friday’s loss to Youngstown, a fluke. I am well aware that this is a down season for the Phantoms. Thankfully, it’s not the worst in recent memory. Doing a little research, I found that the 2016-17 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders finished the season with a .233 win percentage. The 2010-2011 Chicago Steel finished with a .217 win%. The Phantoms currently sit with a .300 win%. So, not the worst. But back to the Jacks.
Long term success is by no means guaranteed in this league. A 75% player turnover from season to season. And if you hit a multi-season stretch with incredible results, someone is going to come along and offer that Coach/GM/Team President 3-4 times the money they are currently making to be great for their franchise. The Jacks have been good, if not great, the past handful of seasons. History says that their downtime is coming due. And when they have that season where nothing goes right, and they manage to win a game against a revamped and rising Youngstown Phantom team, best believe I will be shouting that f-word to anyone within earshot. I know we’re not exactly the league darlings, but this “kick ‘em when they’re down” mentality the Eastern Conference has for us this season is a little pathetic. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at where the season series with Muskegon stands after last weekend.
This season, Muskegon has been the textbook definition of “playing to your opponents”. They raise their game against the better teams, and they play down to the lesser teams. They don’t put teams away, but they don’t get blown out. Their percentages have been the closest to even of any EC team this season. And after 10 games with the Phantoms, the series numbers have borne that out. If you take out the first 3 games when Youngstown was flat out terrible, the next 7 tell a different story. The Phantoms have scored first in 5 of those 7 games, and have only had one game where they did not hold a lead, but had 2 games where the Jacks did not hold a lead. And the Phantoms have succeeded in keeping Danil Gushchin in check. In 6 games the Russian forward has played against Youngstown this season, he has 4 goals and 2 assists. 6 points in 6 games. The other 30 he has played this season, he has 22 goals, 25 assists and 47 points. 1.00 points per game against the Phantoms, 1.56ppg against the rest of the conference. Not too shabby. With that being said, let’s look at how the Phantoms numbers have fared as of late.
Last weekend I talked about the benchmark I set for this team based on how the percentages have looked this season. Having a Lead Time number above 20% and a Trail Time below 50%is somethings I would consider decent. They were floating dangerously close to the wrong side of those numbers, but a strong weekend in Michigan gave them a little bit of breathing room. If you ignore the blowout in Plymouth, this has actually been a decent stretch of games for the Phantoms. The season is winding down, and we can all hope for a good showing in this cluster of home games that will fill the month of April. So now, let’s take a look at our opponents this weekend, *sigh* the Green Bay Gamblers.
Pretty, isn’t it? Thankfully, this will be the last time we see the Gamblers this season. We’ve accounted for 27% of their wins this season. And only held a lead in 2 of the 7 games against them. Yep, we’ve been taken to the woodshed by this team. But Green Bay has been reeling as of late. They followed a 4 game losing streak by getting wins against the U17s and Waterloo. The U17s are, like, one tick better than us. And Waterloo is in a fierce battle with Lincoln for the 2nd overall pick in June’s Phase I & II Draft. The Gamblers are currently 2 points back of Muskegon for the #2 seed, so the Phantoms playing the role of spoiler this weekend would certainly make me forget all about the first 7 games of this series. If the Phantoms can make Mason Lohrei a non-factor, Green Bay will struggle. To finish this up, let’s look at the Eastern Conference Standings.
As I’ve pointed out before, we’ve reached the point of the season where everyone has settled into their rankings. There’s not a lot of movement to write about. At this point I’m watching the U17s numbers as they inch closer to Youngstown’s numbers. The Phantoms have been dead last in Time Leading and Time Trailing since I started making these charts. If they can bump up one spot in either, or both, categories, it will be the happiest edit I’ve made since I started this little venture.
So that’s all for this week. Thanks for reading along, and keep an eye out for a special surprise on the Dump & Chase Podcast later this week!