It's hard to believe but the Broncos are already 1/9th done the season and have yet to step on home ice. The team arrived back late Monday after the 3-2 shoot-out loss to Edmonton and unloaded at the newly named I-Plex for the first time.
The guys were excited to get back into their dressing room even though it
remains a construction zone inside the building. The team will hold practice inside the rink tomorrow as they attempt to get comfortable with their surroundings before Friday's home opener against Edmonton.
The team has to be happy with their start 5-2-0-1 on the road to begin the season and a spot in first place in the east division. They couldn't have asked for much more - first place and they`ve yet to play at home.
With that in mind I thought I would compile a 1/9th of the season report card covering all facets of the game.
Both Travis Yonkman and Ian Curtis have provided eight solid starts in goal for this team. There hasn't been one goal that I thought has been soft or they should have had. Of course these two can be hard on themselves and feel as if they could have made some of those saves but all in all. Goaltending has been excellent. Here are the combined numbers:
GAA: 2.36 Save % .916 W/L 5-2-0-1
The group lost a little of its depth when Paul Postma was traded away but they have a very capable group of seven. Aside from a few mental errors, the defense has been outstanding both in their own end helping out offensively.
The seven rear-guards are led by Mike Wilson's 1-11-12 and +8 rating, Eric Doyle's 2-5-7 and key defensive work from Derek Claffey, Spencer McAvoy, Ryan Molle, R.J. Larochelle and Joel Rogers (used sparingly).
So far this season the Broncos are averaging 3.25 goals per game. Over one goal more than last year at this time. The forwards have been good most of the time but a couple of inconsistent performances keep them from getting an A.
Dale Wiese and Erik Felde were amongst the best forwards on the recent five game road trip. They still have to sort a few things out with line combinations and I think will only get stronger as the season progresses.
The group of youngsters have received praise from the coaching staff including Cody Eakin, Mike Brown, Justin Dowling and Brad Hoban. Rookie import Jan Dalecky has played well and will only get better as the season progresses much like David Steiler did last season.
It seems there is a trend developing here. Either the PP is really good or really bad. Regardless of that the numbers don`t lie. 22.0% is a solid number and they have yet to allow a shorthanded goal. Any powerplay clicking over 20% deserves an A.
Stability on the point has been the key to it`s success. With capable PP quarterbacks like Eric Doyle, Mike Wilson, and Erik Felde, the team is in good hands but may live of die with how the qb`s perform.
PENALTY KILL: C
The PK has yet to find it`s groove in the early season. It`s struggling but slowly getting better. At 79.2% and ranked 17th out of 22 teams, it`s the only area of concern for me. The answer to the PK getting better will be a little but more tenacity and fight to win battles for loose pucks.
The PK unit it doing a great job of taking away shooting lanes and that`s been the strength.
There has also been too many failed clearing attempts in the early going. If you have room and space you have to make sure you get the puck out of your zone.
This includes things like chemistry, attitude and making sure you are prepared to play every night. With a couple of trades early in the season this team still has to come together as a group. That will take time and it`s up to the leaders of the team to make the effort to bring it all together. The eight straight games on the road has helped.
The Broncos have announced their capacity for the home opener will be limited because of the on-going renovation and construction process. Including standing room, only 2025 tickets will be sold. Get your tickets quick. Call the Broncos office at 773-1509.