WHEELING - Through 37 games the Wheeling Nailers have managed 18 victories, but that only tells half the story. Of that total, two have come away from WesBanco Arena where the team will be this weekend, flying into Orlando for a three-game set that begins tonight against the expansion Solar Bears.
It had all the makings of a get-well trip with Orlando decimated with call-ups and toiling in 12th - of 14 teams - in the Eastern Conference.
That was until Chris Barton and Paul Crowder went to Wilkes-Barre. Before Andrew Hotham was signed by Oklahoma City and Luke Pither was traded by the Philadelphia organization to Carolina, where he reported to Charlotte. In the last two days, Carl Sneep, Cody Wild and Adam Payerl also got the call by the Baby Penguins.
Oh, and forward Keven Veilleux is suspended for the use of a racial slur in last Sunday's victory against South Carolina. The Nailers signed defenseman Tim Corcoran as well as forwards Jordy Trottier and Dave Schultz, all of whom were with the club in training camp.
However, that leaves Wheeling with four defensemen (Corcoran, Zach Hansen, Reid McNeill and Peter Child, who was just signed last week).
The Nailers have 10 forwards available.
''I know teams don't like to come into Wheeling because it's a tough place to play and we make it hard on them, but we've got to take this show on the road,'' Nailers coach Clark Donatelli said. ''We've got to keep playing the way we're playing.
''We're looking forward to getting down to Orlando and taking care of business our first game in Orlando.''
Wheeling's last road game was a 3-1 loss to Atlantic Division-leading Reading in a game that was 2-1 before an empty-net goal. The Nailers have been playing better on the road, lacking only the desired result.
''We go in each night knowing two points are on the line,'' Hansen said. ''No matter who the team is we've got to work hard, battle hard.
''I think this weekend will be a good test for us to see how we can really play on the road.''
It starts on special teams, which again have been night and day depending on the building. The Nailers are ranked second at home in both power play and penalty killing, but those numbers plummet to 21 and 22 on the road.
Furthermore, the Nailers have held the lead after the first period just twice this season on the road.
''I think the personnel's changed here in the last couple weeks (and) we're playing a little different style,'' Donatelli said. ''We're not going to change anything. We don't have a good road record and everyone knows that.
''We've got to play the same way on the road that we do at home.''