After tonight's game against the Peterborough Petes, the Ottawa 67's have 29 games left in the 68 regular-game season.
Going into tonight's game, the 67's are second in the conference with a record of 25-11-1-1 for 52 points, 7 behind the OHL leading Mississauga St. Mike's Majors (who have 2 games in hand), and 2 points ahead of the Niagara IceDogs (who have one game in hand).
Of the remaining 29 games, 12 are on the road with February being the hardest road-game month with 8 road games. They get a break in March with 6 home games including the last four games.
19 games are within the conference, 16 of which are are against conference rivals who are currently in playoff positions including 3 against Mississauga. All 10 games against Western Conference teams are against teams that are currently in playoff positions including 2 against the Western Conference leading Saginaw Spirit.
What does all this mean? Well, every point counts but certainly points against conference rivals are critical in that they are effectively 4-point games. With only 4 points separating Ottawa, Niagara and Oshawa (currently sitting in positions 2, 3 and 4 respectively) and Oshawa and Niagara having games in hand (2 and 1 respectively), Ottawa cannot afford to take any games off if they want to hang on to second spot in the Conference. They play Niagara once and Oshawa twice.
With losses in the their last game of 2010 and the first game of 2011 Ottawa will need to re-group and get back to what made them successful in the first half of the season. Other teams in the conference are gaining strength (Peterborough in particular) and are battling for playoff positions. Ottawa will have to improve their defensive play and not rely on Mrazek to bail them out as much as they did in the first half.
As the trade deadline looms, it will be interesting to see if Kilrea and Byrne make any roster changes. Welcome to the interesting part of the season.