Five games into the season and Toledo has jumped out to their best franchise start at 4-1-0-0! After losing their first game of the year to the Atlanta Gladiators Toledo stormed back to win four straight against Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Brampton in back-to-back games. Early in the season Toledo’s has the second best record in the league, trailing fellow Central Division opponent Tulsa Oilers who are undefeated at 5-0-0-0. Let’s take a look at the Walleye offense, defense, and goaltending to see where we compare with the rest of the league.
Toledo’s offense has been firing on all cylinders since losing 4-1 against Atlanta, when Alden Hirschfeld was the lone goal scorer that night. Since that game Toledo has averaged 6 goals a game, with both Kyle Bonis and Tyson Spink scoring hat tricks during that span. Of the top 20 point producers in the league there are six Walleye players: Tylor and Tyson Spink, A.J. Jenks, Alden Hirschfeld, Tyler Sikura, and the league leader with eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) Kyle Bonis. All of Toledo’s forwards have scored a point except for Matthew Santos and Alex Globke, who have only played 2 and 1 game respectively. As of now the Walleye have also scored the most goals in the league with 25 goals, with Tulsa second in the league at 22 goals. Our offense is our strongest asset, and is the primary reason we have found early season success.
Now from our strongest asset to our weakest, Toledo’s defensive core is in need of a swift overhaul. Through the first five games of the year our defense has allowed 3.4 goals per game with 36.2 shots on goal allowed per game. Granted we shut out the Cincinnati Cyclones in our third game of the year, but that was because Jake Paterson turned in a masterful performance stopping all 39 shots faced. Our defensive pairings have been shuffled significantly since the start of the season to no avail, and it doesn’t help that Derek Docken was recently placed on injured reserve. Coach Delmore has some serious work to do as we continue forward, as it my prove to be a scheme issue if improvement doesn’t show over time.
Finally, how about goaltending and special teams. Jake Paterson and Cal Heeter have been overworked to begin the year, with 96 and 85 shots faced respectively. Each goalie has allowed nine goals off of those shots faced, so the save percentages are at .906 for Paterson and 0.894 for Heeter with a goals allowed average of 3.00 and 4.32 respectively. I truly don’t believe our netminders have done anything wrong, they have just been put under a barrage of shots thanks to defensive lapses. Toledo special teams are in need of improvement as well. Out of 23 power play opportunities the Walleye have only cashed in three times, giving a measly 13.0%. The three players who have netted power goals are Dane Walters, A.J. Jenks, and Tyson Spink. Our penalty kill comes in at 78.3% off of 23 penalty kill attempts, only the Atlanta Gladiators have more at 27. As of now though, we are in the bottom half of the league for penalty kill. Our percentage isn’t where I’d like to see it, but with the time spent shorthanded being so varied throughout the league I willing to pass judgement for now. We do however have three shorthanded goals, which leads the league.
Toledo has a lot to improve on if they want to continue their four game win streak. You simply cannot allow your opponents to get 30 plus shots on goal and expect to keep outscoring them. Goaltending is strong, but Paterson and Heeter will tire out if they don’t get the heat taken off of them. As long as our offense keeps the pace then we will be able to iron out the rest. The Walleye will get to put their adjustments to the test on Friday as they take on Norfolk Admirals!
Featured image was taken by Jarrod Maneval, all others are my own.