The most important stretch of the 2019-20 American Hockey League season is upon us. For the Manitoba Moose, the period of time from February 6-17 following the AHL All-Star Weekend features six-straight home games, giving the Moose a chance to pile together some home cooking at Bell MTS Place.
With Manitoba’s parent club also experiencing a home-heavy February schedule that sees nine games played in Winnipeg, Bell MTS Place will be central hub for activity throughout the month.
The Moose – much like the Jets – currently sit outside the playoff picture and are looking in. A tight Central Division race sees Milwaukee and Iowa a head and shoulders above the pack, while positions three through eight are up for the taking.
The Chicago Wolves (22-20-3-2) currently sit in third place with 49 points, while the Texas Stars (21-20-2-2) and Grand Rapids Griffins (20-21-2-4) are tied for fourth place with 46 points apiece. Next, the San Antonio Rampage (16-18-6-5) and Rockford IceHogs (20-24-1-2) sit sixth and seventh with 43 points each.
Manitoba (21-27-0-0) is one point back of the pack through 48 games – the most of any Central Division team. Despite owning more wins than Grand Rapids, San Antonio and Rockford, the Moose have significantly more regulation losses than any other team within the division. Manitoba continues to lead the league with zero combined overtime or shootout losses this season.
Following a four-game, Central Division road trip through Iowa, Rockford and Chicago, in which the Moose earned just one win (by way of shootout), Manitoba has returned home for three-straight back-to-backs against division rival Wolves, IceHogs and Admirals.
At this point in the season, with the standings as tight as they are, the Moose cannot afford to lose ground in their catchup game. With their next six coming within the friendly confines of Bell MTS Place, the team is at a point in which failure to produce wins very well may cost the Moose a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Over the past four seasons of four-division play, the final Central Division playoff team required an average of 87 points to find a spot in the postseason. The lowest point total required was 86 points, while the most was 90. Through 48 of the 2019-20 season’s 76 games, the Moose are on pace for just 58 points.
Manitoba must find a way to take advantage of its home crowd on this upcoming homestand to give it a much needed boost heading into the final third of the season schedule. Manitoba is currently the third-most penalized team in the league, while its 151 goals against is fifth-worst in the league. Its 129 goals for is ranked 23rd. These numbers will need to improve should the team hope to make a playoff push.
The Moose host Chicago on Thursday and Friday, before the Rockford IceHogs make their way to Winnipeg for back-to-back Wednesday/Thursday contests the following week. The Milwaukee Admirals will visit Bell MTS Place on Saturday, February 15 and Monday, February 17. Tickets to all upcoming home games are available for purchase, while the games can be viewed live on AHLTV.