Monday, February 19, 2018

What's Wrong With the Allen Americans? The Stats and the Theories

The question I get asked more than any other these days and I am sure the one fans are asking themselves and each other is, what is wrong with the Allen Americans this season? My reply to that question is usually based on stats but maybe, just maybe the answer to that question isn't in the statistics. In the past the team was always greater than the sum of the parts, a skilled group of guys willing to do what was necessary for the team to achieve a goal. So far this season the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

- Let me tackle the stats part first as that is always easier for me. Here is a comparison of some stats covering the four seasons Allen has been in the ECHL. The info for this season is projected over 72 games for goals scored, goals allowed, goal differential, assists, plus/minus and losses.

Games Lost (including OT & SO losses)
2017-18:   38  (actual is 28 losses after 53 games)
2016-17:   23
2015-16:   31
2014-15:   24

Goals Scored
2017-18:   235  (173 through 53 games)
2016-17:   294
2015-16:   222
2014-15:   292

Goals Allowed
2017-18:   230  (170 through 53 games)
2016-17:   203
2015-16:   204
2014-15:   203

Goal Differential (goals for minus goals against)
2017-18:   +5  (+3 through 53 games)
2016-17:   +91
2015-16:   +18
2014-15:   +89

Assists
2017-18:   404  (298 through 53 games)
2016-17:   502
2015-16:   402
2014-15:   507

Power Play %
2017-18:   17.5%
2016-17:   24.4%
2015-16:   21.1%
2014-15:   21.9%

Penalty Kill %
2017-18:   79.8%
2016-17:   84.4%
2015-16:   86.4%
2014-15:   86.3%

PP% + PK%  (the best teams achieve 105%)
2017-18:   97.3%
2016-17:   108.8%
2015-16:   107.5%
2014-15:   108.2%

Goals Against Average
2017-18:   3.14
2016-17:   2.76
2015-16:   2.75
2014-15:   2.73

Plus/Minus
2017-18:   +65  (+48 through 53 games)
2016-17:   +334
2015-16:   -11
2014-15:   +291      


-  It is easy to look at the stats above and conclude this is the worst team since Allen joined the ECHL. The worst power play and penalty kill makes for by far the worst special teams. The GAA is the highest since joining the ECHL which will lead to record losses this season. But also notice the Americans won the Kelly Cup in 2015-16 with a plus/minus rating of -11 and had a goal differential of only +22.


- So what could account for the performance this season? This is a very talented group of players. There are 11 players on the team that were drafted by the NHL and 15 who have played in the AHL. There are 900 games of AHL experience on this team.


- Spending a lot of time with coach Martinson over the past six years is like taking a Masters Program in how to win championships. He doesn't have a list of principles to winning but if you talk hockey with him enough there are themes you hear over and over again.


- It is clear to me there is something missing from this team other than raw talent. The results of four games one week apart this month says more than words can convey about the inconsistency of this team. Allen beat the #1 team in the ECHL twice by scores of 5-2 and 5-1 only to turn around one week later and lose twice to the #1 team in the ECHL by scores of 4-0 and 4-1.


-  I had a conversation with coach Martinson after the loss on Saturday and here are some of the issues he is looking at:


1. Championship experience helps build championship teams and while there are a lot of good leaders in the locker room there is a tremendous amount of championship experience leadership missing from last season. Riley Gill is the winningest playoff goalie in the history of the ECHL, has three Kelly Cups but has played only two games this season.  Others missing that have won multiple championships in Allen include Chad Costello, Gary Steffes, Dyson Stevenson,  Greger Hanson and Aaron Gens.

2. There are steps you have to take in order to win and I am not talking about stats. How do you carry yourself off the ice. Are you doing everything you can to help your team with your off ice conditioning and nutrition programs. Partying is part of life when you are young but when, where and how can impact the team.

3. There is a way to play to win. Skill and stats that come from teams that don't win can be suspect. Is scoring more important than winning and is shooting more important than a great pass? Is your focus on what you have to do to get to the next level or is your focus on what you can do to make this team better and if you do that getting to the next level will take care of itself. Are defensive responsibilities important or a necessary evil? Is everyone committed to getting the puck in and out of the zone the right way?

4. If the team comes first and you are willing to do whatever is best for the team it does not always serve your own best interest. If everyone buys in to this approach you have a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. That is when championship teams/contenders are born.


- Call ups and injuries have certainly been a factor this season but that happens every season. This team has the talent to win every night. There are steps you have to take to win and there is a way to play to win. It is in the players control to make it happen and time is running out to get back on the right path.


- You can be assured there will be changes over the next month as coach Martinson tries to improve the roster. It could be by means of trades, recruiting players just finishing college or players just completing their junior careers. Players on the Allen roster are literally playing for their jobs and recent performance would indicate jobs are in jeopardy.




DID YOU KNOW: Wouldn't you know the day I choose to talk about past championship leadership this photo shows up on Facebook. Chad Costello and Greger Hanson share the career goals scored record in Allen at 98. The have five championships between them and each was a playoff MVP. Chad has three scoring titles and three regular season MVP titles as well. In their three ECHL seasons with Allen they combined for over 500 points and averaged a goal and two assists per game. Chad and Greger are playing in the same league in Germany this season for different teams that aren't far apart. The league is on a break for the Olympics so the Hanson's and Costello's had the chance to catch up. Oh how the Americans could use these guys right now!

      
L to R Ashley & Chad Costello and Greger & Andrea Hanson


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Allen Loses 3-1 as Utah Sweeps the Americans, Game Recap, Video Highlights, Division Standings Tighten, Post Game Skate Photos & More

The expectation was for a big game from the Allen Americans last night. They were coming off a disappointing 5-4 loss to Utah on Friday night and that in and of itself was motivation enough. When you add in the enthusiasm of a big crowd (4811), Olympic (aka Winter Sports) night complete with Miracle on Ice clips and a sea of red jerseys in the crowd on youth jersey night there was great optimism the Americans would beat the Grizzlies.


- What the fans witnessed last night was a 3-1 Americans loss to the Grizzlies in a game that was eerily similar to the loss on Friday. Two former Allen Americans led the way again. Just like Friday night, Jake Marchment scored the first goal of the game. Jake scored at the 1:40 mark and the goal came on Utah's first shot of the game. Joel Rumpel, who was the winning goalie on Friday night, was in the net again for Utah. Joel stopped 32 of 33 Allen which computes to a .970 save percentage.


- Just like Friday night, Allen gave up the first goal of the game and was trailing after the first period. As a reminder Allen hasn't won a home game all season when trailing after the first. The shots on goal were close (35-33) but Utah had the edge. Allen scored their only goal of the game on the power play which was great since they were mired in a 1-28 (3.6%) slump. They are now in a 2-36 (5.9%) slump. However, Allen lost the special teams battle giving up power play goals on Utah's first two opportunities.


- Allen played without Bryan Moore who was serving a one game suspension for a slew foot that was not called during the game on Friday night. In addition, goalie Stephon Williams was injured when he was interfered with at the 15:48 mark of the first period. Williams finished the period but did not return to the the ice after the first intermission. Jeremy Brodeur took over the last two periods and saved 21 of 22 shots.


- Allen's lone goal came in the first period and tied the score 1-1. Casey Pierro-Zabotel scored his 15th goal of the season assisted by Vincent Arseneau and Spencer Asuchak. Notice all of the traffic around the net on Casey's goal. Here is the Sporfie highlight package which includes all of the goals and the goalie interference that caused the Williams injury.




- The highlight package at ECHL Rewind gives you a better view of the hit Williams took. It doesn't look that violent but if you watch closely you can see Stephon's head snap back. The player that hit him is a huge guy. https://www.echl.com/


- Here is the game recap issued by the Utah Grizzlies: http://www.utahgrizzlies.com/team-news/headline-news/?article_id=3468


- Steve Martinson's post game comments+ were pretty much of a repeat of his comments after the loss on Friday. I can say with some confidence Martinson is trying to improve the roster and the trade of Marcus Basara to Wheeling is just the beginning. Coach Martinson mentioned in his pregame interview with Kayla McLain (see below) that the future considerations he received in the Basara trade would be a player he will get before the trade deadline.





OTHER COMMENTS

- You could have made a lot of money betting the Allen Americans would lose two games against Utah this weekend and the Tulsa Oilers would beat the #1 team in the league (Florida Everblades) twice but that is exactly what happened. Tulsa not only beat Florida they did so handily winning  on Friday 3-1 and last night 3-0. Playing just one week apart Allen was outscored 8-1 in two loses to Florida while Tulsa outscored Florida 6-1 in two wins. The Americans are now in the unenviable position of being closer to fifth place and out of the playoffs than they are to third place in the Mountain Division. Tulsa is only three points behind Allen while third place Wichita has opened up a four point lead on the Americans.


- Tulsa and Wichita are both in action this afternoon while Allen is idle so things could get worse for the Americans. Wichita is at home against Rapid City and Tulsa is at home against Indy. By the end of the day Allen could be six points out of third place and one point out of fifth place. 


- Idaho beat Colorado 5-4 in a shootout last night. It was their sixth straight game against each other and contrary to conventional wisdom there were only five minor penalties called in the entire game. Idaho won five of the six games in this long series and has closed to within four points of division leading Colorado.


- With the two losses to Utah the Americans are officially a middle of the pack team or some might say a so-so team. With a .528 winning percentage there are 13 teams better than Allen and 13 teams worse than Allen. Is it just me or does it seem like with the winning tradition in Allen being in the middle of the pack feels like abject failure?


- Allen has lost five of their last six games and in those five losses has scored only eight goals averaging 1.6 goals per game. The Americans had four goals in a losing cause Friday night but in the other four losses the goals scored were 2,1,0,1.  


- As mentioned above the Allen power play has been in a free fall recently going 2-36 (5.9%) over the last seven games. The Americans power play started the season poorly. In early November the power play was ranked #24 at 11.9%. The power play was vastly improved in December and early January climbing to a ranking of #4 at 20.5%. In the last six weeks the power play has struggled again and currently ranks #12 in the ECHL at 17.5%.


- The Americans will be idle until they travel to Kansas City for two games on Friday and Saturday. Needless to say after dropping two home games to Utah it makes the games in Kansas City even more important for Allen.


POST GAME SKATE PHOTOS

- It has to be very difficult for the players to lose the way they did last night and have to stay after the game to skate with fans. I am always impressed with how great the guys are with the kids even in these trying situations. Here are a few photos from Lauren Lyssy that capture the joy of the kids meeting the players:

Mike Gunn chatting with  a future Allen American

Dalton Thrower signing this guy's new jersey

Zach Pochiro creating a great experience for two young boys and dad too

Jeremy Brodeur with an obviously pleased young scout

Love the look on this boys face as Josh Thrower signs his jersey

Post game skates can be a family affair - Big Zabby & Little Zabby




DID YOU KNOW: I frequently talk about the importance of scoring the first goal of the game. Did you know the Allen Americans are currently on a streak of 13 straight games where the team that scored first won the game. Unfortunately the Americans scored first in only five of the last 13 games.  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Allen Loses to Utah 5-4, Game Recap, Steve Martinson's Comments, Rematch Preview & Odd Stat of the Day

The Allen Americans have been plagued by inconsistent play all season and that inconsistency showed up again last night. The Americans fell to the Utah Grizzlies 5-4 before 3805 disappointed fans at the Allen Event Center (AEC) in a game that was not as close as the score indicates.


- Former Allen forward, Jake Marchment, playing his first game for Utah, scored the only goal of the first period and that was an ominous sign since the Americans have not shown the ability to come from behind. Their record when trailing after the first period now stands at  2-10-2-0.


- To the Americans credit they did manage to score two second period goals to tie the score 2-2 but then gave up three unanswered goals to Utah and the game was out of reach. After the Grizzlies had a 5-2 lead the Americans scored the final two goals of the game including one with the goalie pulled at the 19:19 mark.


- In addition to Marchment, another former Allen American played a big role in the victory. Goalie Joel Rumpel, who was just acquired by Utah in a trade, was starting his second game for the Grizzlies and came up with his first win.


- It was in many ways a new look for Utah last night. Rumpel was playing in his second game, Marchment was in a group of four players playing in their first game for the Grizzlies and they had two other players in the line up who have been out with injuries for over a month.


- The typical stats in a losing cause all showed up last night. Allen failed to score the first goal of the game, they trailed after the first period, they got out shot (36-29), they gave up a power play goal (1-6), they failed to score on the power play (0-4) and they allowed a shorthanded goal.


- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans with quotes from captain Joel Chouinard. https://allenamericans.com/americans-comeback-stalls/


- Here is the game recap issued by the Utah Grizzlies: http://www.utahgrizzlies.com/team-news/headline-news/?article_id=3467


- Goal scorers for Allen were David Makowski (9 & 10), Alex Guptill (20) and Zach Pochiro (12). There is a video highlight package at ECHL Rewind of the goals, the Moore vs Melindy scrum/fight and another monster Vincent Arseneau check.  https://www.echl.com/


- Here are the Sporfie highlights on three of Allen's goals:

Alex Guptill - Alex scored his team leading 20th goal of the season on a great individual effort using the defender as a screen. https://sporfie.app.link/GKc61rMaBK

 David Makowski - David gets his second goal of the game and 10th of the season. It was an unassisted goal but watch the job Bryan Moore does to screen the goalie. https://sporfie.app.link/ipub41MSBK

Zach Pochiro - With the goalie pulled and an extra attacker on the ice Zach scores his 12th goal of the season on a tip in. Makowski passes the puck to the point and Chouinard takes the shot. https://sporfie.app.link/3Z6VcK5fBK



STEVE MARTINSON'S COMMENTS

- Steve Martinson thought the team had a good week of practice and was ready for a good game against Utah. Here is his pregame interview with Kayla McLain:


Here are coach Martinson's post game comments. When I stopped by his office after the game, to no surprise, he was already in the process of reviewing video to see where the defensive breakdowns occurred on the goals allowed, taking a video clip of six men on the ice on one of the Utah goals and making plans for the rematch on Saturday. Sure he was frustrated and it was as he often says painful to watch some of the goals allowed but his focus was on what he can do to make the team better for the next game. His hatred of losing, passion for the game and attention to detail is always evident.   

"Too many soft plays that ended up giving them quality scoring chances."

"They didn't have to work too hard on the plays they scored on."

"We turned the puck over way too many times. On their fourth goal we had full possession of the puck, turned it over and they scored. The fifth goal we had full possession of the puck, turned it over and they scored."

"On their power play goal Utah brings the puck to the net and the next thing you know is we have all of our guys laying on the ice or at the side of the net. Marchment is all alone in front of the net and nobody takes him.

"It is most frustrating when we have full possession turnovers. We don't get a shot and it turns into a shot for them. That is why we are getting out shot. That seems to be our Achilles heel."



ALLEN VS UTAH REMATCH PREVIEW


- Allen has scored one power play goal in the last six games with a power play percentage of 3.6% (1-28). Add in the short handed goal the power play unit allowed last night and the group has given up as many goals as they have scored over six games. You are not going to win many games with a power play as anemic as that. Over the same six games the penalty kill is at 80.8% (5-26). A big key tonight for Allen is to stay away from stick penalties and they must score a power play goal if they expect to win.


-  Allen is ranked #23 in the ECHL allowing their opponents an average of almost 37 shots on goal per game. As coach Martinson mentioned in his post game comments when they give up full possession turnovers it is a lost shot opportunity for the Americans and additional shot opportunity for the opponent. Utah has out shot Allen 111-81 in three games this season. This by a team with a .451 winning percentage who had lost six of their last seven games prior to last night. It is obviously important to win puck battles but if Allen expects to win tonight they must cut down on the full possession turnovers.


- As for roster changes tonight coach Martinson made it clear with just six games in three weeks his only consideration on who plays is who gives the team the best chance of winning. It is not about rest, rotation or anything else.


- Despite their struggles this season, Allen is still a pretty good home team. It is hard to believe overall the Americans have lost more games (27) than they have won (21). However, if you look at just their home record since December 1st it is 9-5-2-0. Look for a big effort from the team tonight before a big crowd. It should be a big and enthusiastic crowd with free red Allen Americans youth jerseys going to the first 1500 children (12 and under) through the doors. 


- If you didn't like the officiating crew last night you won't like the one tonight because it is exactly the same. Officials scheduled for the game are referee Andrew Bruggeman (#25) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Aaron Schacht (#31).



OTHER COMMENTS

- Zach Pochiro scored his 12th goal of the season last night in just his 22nd game of the season for the Americans. Quite an improvement over last season when he had three goals in 42 games.


- All of the teams around Allen in the Mountain Division standings won last night. Tulsa beat Florida 3-1, Wichita beat Rapid City 3-1 and Idaho shutout Colorado 3-0. Allen is in sole possession of fourth in the division five points ahead of fifth place Tulsa, two points behind third place Wichita and eight points behind second place Idaho.


- The Americans will be wearing the "winter sports" specialty jersey tonight and it is a sharp looking jersey. Just a reminder if you are interested in owning one of these jerseys the online auction is currently underway and will end tomorrow (Sunday) at 9:00 pm. There are still eight jerseys with no starting bid ($249). Here is the website: https://one.bidpal.net/goamericans/browse/all


- I get asked almost every day when Olivier Archambault might return to Allen. While nobody knows with any certainty, the answer to that question is it won't be any time soon based on how Olivier has performed since joining the Syracuse Crunch. Archambault has played in nine games with Syracuse and has five points (3 goals 2 assists) and his plus/minus is +4. He has not had a minus game yet. The Crunch play at Charlotte tonight and again Sunday afternoon.  




DID YOU KNOW: Have to put this one in the odd stat of the day category. With his two goals and an assist last night David Makowski has tied Matt Register for the ECHL lead in points by defensemen with 44. They are not only tied in points (44), they are tied in goals (10), assists (34) and plus/minus (+24). They are not tied in games played however, Register has played in 50 games while Makowski has played in only 45.    

Friday, February 16, 2018

Allen vs Utah Game Preview, Allen's Leading Scorers in Last Ten Games, Toledo Still Upset About Klotz Suspension, Olympic Hockey & More

It has been two weeks since Allen played a game at home and after this weekend the Americans will play only two home games in the next month. The Utah Grizzlies are in town to take on the Americans tonight (7:05 pm) and Saturday night (7:05 pm).


- Tonight will be the third of six games (4 home 2 away) between these teams this season. The teams split two games earlier in the season. They were both in Allen. On November 1st Jeremy Brodeur was making his second start for Allen, stopped 42 of 44 shots and lost the game 2-1. Allen was out shot 44-24 in that game. On January 10 Allen beat Utah 6-3 led by Alex Guptill who had a hat trick and Olivier Archambault who had two goals.


- Allen has fared well against Utah since joining the ECHL with an overall record (regular season and playoffs) of 13-4-0-0. Last year Allen was 4-0-0-0 against the Grizzlies in the regular season and beat them 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.


- As for the Allen lineup tonight there are 11 healthy forwards with Zach Hall out and seven defensemen. One forward and one defenseman will be healthy scratches. I would expect Jeremy Brodeur to be in goal as he typically starts the first game in back to backs. Jeremy has had a save percentage above .929 in five of his last six starts including a .970 in Allen's win in Jacksonville on Sunday.


- Utah has lost three games in a row and six of their last seven. The Grizzlies are 12 points out of a playoff spot with little hope of making up that much ground. Utah has made numerous roster changes including four that were announced yesterday. The Grizzlies traded for former Allen goalie Joel Rumpel a week ago and former forward Jake Marchment  was one of the four players added yesterday. According to AHL transactions Marchment has been recalled by San Antonio so it is doubtful he will be in the line up tonight. Here is the Utah press release on the four the players they added yesterday. http://www.utahgrizzlies.com/team-news/headline-news/?article_id=3466


- Here is a comparison between Allen and Utah this season:

                                     ALLEN                              UTAH

Team Record              25-20-4-2 (56 points)         17-23-6-4 (44 points)
Division Ranking         4th - Mountain                    6th - Mountain
Conference Ranking  8th - Western                      12th - Western
League Ranking         14th                                     23rd
Last Game                  3-1 Win (Jacksonville)        2-1 Loss (Rapid City)
Goals For                    168                                     149
Goals Against             162                                     176
Power Play                 17.9% (40/224)                   15.7% (37/236)
Penalty Kill                  80.2% (45/227)                   81.9% (37/204)
Leading Scorer           Pierro-Zabotel  (14-40-54)   Walters (20-24-44)
Most PIM's                  Moore - 156                         Howe - 137


-  Here is how Allen and Utah rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (21.76) - Utah 10th (16.38)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 10th (3.29) - Utah 20th (2.98)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 12th (3.18) - Utah 23rd (3.52)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 16th (31.57) - Utah 13th (32.74)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (36.78) - Utah 7th (30.16)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 10th (17.9%) - Utah 21st (15.7%)
Home Power Play %: Allen 6th (20.2%) - Utah 16th (17.1%)
Road Power Play %: Allen 15th (15.7%) - Utah 19th (14.3%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 23rd (80.2%) - Utah 18th (81.9%)
Home Penalty Kill %: Allen 10th (85.6%) - Utah 25th (77.4%)
Road Penalty Kill %: Allen 27th (75.0%) - Utah 4th (85.6%)


- One stat that that stands out is goal differential. Allen is +6 (168 for & 162 against) while Utah is -27 (149 for & 176 against). Utah lost their last game 2-1 but has given up six goals in three of their last six games.


- Allen averages 3.29 goals per game but has not exceeded three goals in their last four games (2,0,1,3). 


 - If you look at season long special team stats Allen has an advanatge on the power play. The Americans power play percentage at home is 20.2% compared to Utah's road power play percentage of 14.3%. Their penalty kill percentages (home Allen, road Utah) are identical at 85.6%.  Allen has struggled on special teams the last five games (all road games). The Americans power play percentage over the last five games is a paltry 4.2% (1-24) and the power play percentage is 80% (4-20). Utah has lost four of their last five games. The Grizzlies power play percentage over the last five games is 14.8% (4-27) and their penalty kill is 83.3% (4-24).  


- Scoring the first goal of the game has not worked to Utah's advantage recently. The Grizzlies have lost four of  their last five games. In their lone win they didn't score first. In three of the four losses they managed to score first but still lost the game. Allen's record when scoring first is 20-4-2-0. Utah on the other hand has scored first 19 times this season but lost 10 of those games.


- Officials scheduled for the game are referee Andrew Bruggeman (#25) and linesmen Brian Bull (#95) and Aaron Schacht (#31).


OTHER COMMENTS

- I mentioned yesterday that this is the time of the season where teams become buyers or sellers when it comes to player personnel decisions depending whether they are playoff bound or not. The trade referenced above between Colorado and Utah could very well be one of those trades. Here is the press release issued by Colorado. Notice in addition to the players announced, Utah also got "future considerations" which most likely means another player will be sent to Utah after the season. Just my guess but it seems Colorado has gotten some pieces to help in their payoff run and Utah is already thinking about next season. http://coloradoeagles.com/echl-news/colorado-acquires-olsen-watson-in-trade-with-utah/


- Allen has been a team of streaks recently. They lost six games in a row, then won four in a row and then lost three in a row. With a win in their last game they have to opportunity to get back on a winning streak against Utah.


-  In other Mountain Division action tonight Rapid City is at Wichita, Colorado is at Idaho and the Tulsa Oilers are at home against the Florida Everblades.


- The Toledo Walleye are the only ECHL team not in action tonight and that is too bad since they can't seem to get beyond the fact the ECHL suspended Kansas City's Garrett Klotz for only eight games for the line brawl in Toledo last Saturday. Here is the latest from the Toledo Blade with the subtle headline, "ECHL shows true colors with spineless suspension."  http://www.toledoblade.com/DavidBriggs/2018/02/15/ECHL-shows-true-colors-with-spineless-suspension.html
 

- Here is the ECHL Today which gives you information on all 13 ECHL games on tap tonight. https://www.echl.com/echl-today-feb-16-2018


- San Jose Barracuda captain, John McCarthy, is currently is South Korea as a member of the USA  Men's Olympic hockey team. John has been sending back reports to the Barracuda sharing his thoughts about being an Olympic athlete. If you haven't had a chance to check it out here is the link. http://www.sjbarracuda.com/news/detail/the-olympic-report-with-john-mccarthy


- The USA men's hockey team defeated Slovakia 2-1 last night. Here are the details: http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/donato-scores-college-kids-power-us-slovakia-53133867 




DID YOU KNOW: Here are the leading scorers for Allen over the last 10 games.

10 points: Alex Guptill (6 goals, 4 assist, +2)
9 points:   Joel Chouinard (4 goals, 5 assists, +8)
7 points:   Casey Pierro-Zabotel (2 goals, 5 assists, +5)
7 points:   Vincent Arseneau (3 goals, 4 assists, +7)
6 points:   Colby McAuley (3 goals, 3 assists, +6)
5 points:   David Makowski (1 goal, 4 assists, even plus/minus)
5 points:   Bryan Moore (1 goal, 4 assists, +4)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Practice Update, Overseas Deadline Today, Expected Roster Moves by March 8, Final Chapter on Line Brawl, Jersey Auctions, Goal Scorer Extraordinaire & More

The Allen Americans continue to prepare for two important games against the Utah Grizzlies on Friday and Saturday. This late in the season you seldom get four or five days off between games but that is exactly the case for the Americans the last half of February. Between February 12 and 28 Allen plays just four games in 17 days. That equates to four days between games this week, five days next week and four the last week of the month. The last five weeks of the season Allen will have no more than three days off between games and that doesn't include travel. There will be very few practice days once March 1st rolls around.


- With plenty of practice time available it gives coach Martinson time to work on every thing from backchecking to conditioning to special teams to breakouts to odd man rushes to forechecking and also have a few fun scrimmages along the way. Bottom line is practice time this late in the season is both important and valuable.


- The opportunity for players to return to the ECHL from overseas closes today at 2:00 pm CST. I was asked if the deadline would be extended because most European leagues are on a several week break because of the Olympics. The answer to that question is no. So if you are an Allen fan that has been dreaming and hoping Chad Costello or any other player would return for the playoffs that dream officially ends today.


- The next big deadline typically creates a lot of activity and that is the ECHL trade deadline which is March 8 at 2:00 pm CST. As the playoff picture becomes clearer the teams not destined for the playoffs will become sellers trying to improve their roster for next season. The teams in the playoffs will become buyers to try and improve their rosters for the playoff run.


- The roster moves coach Martinson will make over the next month could take several different forms. There could be a player for player trade, a player for future considerations trade or a combination of both. Martinson could trade for the ECHL rights to a player currently in the AHL. Another option will be to sign players just finishing their college careers. For college teams that don't make the playoffs that time is just a couple of weeks away. Martinson could also get players assigned by San Jose since it appears the Barracuda will not make the playoffs. There is no doubt there will be roster moves over the next three weeks, the only question is how many and what type. Will Martinson sign or trade for a veteran, sign a college player or two, make a deal for a player with an AHL contract to get assigned to Allen, trade for a skilled forward or shutdown defenseman? It may be a light schedule for coach Martinson the next three weeks but General Manager Martinson will be very busy. Stay tuned!


- The ECHL issued a press release yesterday handing out discipline from the line brawl between Kansas City and Toledo on Saturday. Kansas City's Garrett Klotz received an eight game suspension and Eric Freschi was suspended for two games. There were no suspensions for any Toledo players. Here is the ECHL press release announcing the suspensions along with articles from the Kansas City Star and Toledo Blade with their take on the entire incident. I would say the phrase "where you sit is where you stand" is still appropriate for both teams.

ECHL press release: https://www.echl.com/echl-announces-fines-suspensions-81

The Kansas City Star's article on the suspensions: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/article200152294.html

The Toledo Blade's article on the suspensions: http://www.toledoblade.com/Pro/2018/02/14/ECHL-announces-suspensions-from-brawl-between-Toeldo-Walleye-Kansas-City-Mavericks.html


- If you are an Allen fan and read the ECHL press release on fines and suspensions yesterday it wasn't the two Kansas City suspensions that were most interesting. The third person suspended was Travis Howe who was suspended for three games as a result of an illegal check to the head. Howe plays for Utah and will be suspended for both games against Allen this weekend. Howe leads the Grizzlies in penalty minutes (137) and fighting majors (10). Not sure if it is good or bad he won't be playing this weekend. Howe is the type of player that can fight but not play. The 6'4" 215 pound forward has played in 26 games this season and has a total of one point. In the last two seasons for the Grizzlies he has played in 76 games and has a total of five points (2 goals 3 assists).


- The six game series between Colorado and Idaho continued last night. It has been a strange series thus far to say the least. Idaho won the first three games which were all played in Colorado. Last night was the first of three in Boise and Colorado won 4-2. Game five will be played Friday night. If you have been following along on the hypothetical over/under penalty minute bet, it is now four wins in a row. The teams had 63 penalty minutes in the last game in Colorado and with three days off between game three and four the bet for last night was under 63 minutes. Another winner as there were only 14 penalty minutes in the game. This is an easy call, take the over 14 PIMS for game six tomorrow night. 


- The Mountain Division standings now have Colorado in first place with 69 points, Idaho in second place with 62 points followed by Allen and Wichita tied for third place with 56 points.


- If you like jersey auctions there are two in progress.

The Marvel jerseys are still available at http://www.meigrayauctions.com/  - This auction goes through February 27. There are seven jerseys with no bid and another eight with just a single minimum bid. Most jerseys have a $200 minimum bid but a few started lower. The top bid is $320 for the Gary Steffes jersey.

The other jersey auction in progress is available at https://one.bidpal.net/goamericans/browse/all - This is the "Winter Sports" specialty jersey that Allen will be wearing Friday night as part of "Winter Sports Weekend." Something tells me the Americans can't use the term "Olympic Sports Weekend" which is more appropriate. This jersey auction is over Sunday (February 18) at 9:00 pm. This is a good looking jersey and fans have a great chance to win one at a reasonable price. There are 15 jerseys with no bids (starting bid is $249) and a few that had starting bids below $249 that are still in the $150-$200 range. The highest bid is $315 for Dalton Thrower's jersey. Here is the "Winter Sports" specialty jersey.


- Here are all of the details about Winter Sports weekend including free red Allen Americans youth jerseys for the first 1500 children (12 and under) through the doors on Saturday. https://allenamericans.com/olympic-weekend-friday-saturday-vs-utah/


 - Check out the Allen Americans Weekly which includes last week's results, this week's games, team stats leaders and other team and player facts: https://allenamericans.com/allen-americans-weekly-16/


- Congrats to Aaron and Kellie Gens who publicly announced yesterday that they are expecting their first child in August.




DID YOU KNOW: Colorado forward Michael Joly scored his 35th and 36th goal of the season in the Eagles 4-2 win over Idaho last night. Joly is on pace to be the first 50 goal scorer in the ECHL since the 2008-09 season. Joly has 36 goals in 41 games for a goals per game average of .88. At that pace he will total 56 goals if he plays in Colorado's remaining 23 games. Joly missed eight Colorado games this season when he was recalled by the San Antonio Rampage (AHL). To give you an idea of how amazing it is to average .88 goals per game, you have to go all the way back to the 1999-2000 ECHL season to find a player with a higher average. In that season, Andrew Williamson, playing for the Toledo Storm, averaged exactly 1.00 goal per game scoring 63 goals in 63 games. He is the last player with a 60+ goal season in the ECHL.    

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Practice Update, Olympic Hockey Guide, Aaron Dell's Thoughts on Free Agency, Klotz Fallout, ECHL Goalie of the Week and a Look at the Percent Goals Involved In Stat

It was the type of practice you might expect after playing three games in three days, traveling 1000 miles back home from Jacksonville and taking Monday off to recuperate. A lot of drills working on strategy with some skating drills at the end (without the puck) working on conditioning. You might think 50 games into the season everyone would be in peak condition but not the case according to coach Martinson and it isn't just what happens on the ice. For players to be in peak condition they need to combine hard work on the ice with an off ice strength and fitness program along with good nutritional habits.


- There are a few guys banged up and/or sick but everyone with the exception of Zach Hall should be ready to go for the games against Utah on Friday and Saturday.


- Wichita was in Cincinnati last night and beat the Cyclones 3-2 to move back in a tie with Allen for third place in the Mountain Division with 56 points. The Thunder still have two games in hand over the Americans. Wichita plays Rapid City at home three times this weekend.


- The men's Olympic hockey tournament got underway today with Slovenia upsetting the USA 3-2 in overtime. Here is the game recap: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/sports/Olympic-Men-Hockey-USA-Slovenia-474027103.html


- Here is the best article I have seen about the tournament, the history, the teams, the players and the rules that will get you all prepared for Olympic hockey that culminates in the gold medal game on February 25. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2755294-olympic-mens-hockey-2018-complete-guide-to-pyeongchang-winter-games


- Florida Everblades goalie Martin Ouellette was named Goalie of the Week by the ECHL yesterday. I am sure Allen would agree with this selection since Ouellette allowed the Americans just one goal in two games. In three appearances last week he was 3-0 with a GAA of 0.67 and save percentage of .975. Here is the press release with all of the details. https://www.echl.com/playeraward/ouellette-named-ccm-echl-goaltender-week-feb-13


- Here is a list of Allen's top 10 point scorers if you look at average points per game:

1.63 - Olivier Archambault
1.19 - Zach Pochiro
1.06 - Casey Pierro-Zabotel
1.00 - Bryan Moore
1.00 - Gary Steffes
0.93 - David Makowski
0.86 - Vincent Arseneau
0.78 - Alex Guptill (Allen games only)
0.75 - Joel Chouinard
0.63 - Colby McAuley


- The Allen Americans have used 31 different players so far this season which is a little on the low side compared to most ECHL teams. Colorado and Kalamazoo have used the fewest players (26). Norfolk (46) and Brampton (45) have used the most players.


- Aaron Dell is making $625,000 as the San Jose Sharks backup goalie this season but will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and will undoubtedly sign a multi year, multi million dollar contract with some NHL team. When you think it was just a few years ago Dell was playing in Allen making less per day than his meal money is in the NHL. Here is a story where Dell talks about how he tries not to think about the upcoming free agency and is living in the moment. https://www.nhl.com/news/aaron-dell-living-in-moment-with-sharks/c-295902414


- The conversation about the line brawl between Kansas City and Toledo over the weekend doesn't seem to be quieting down. Players, coaches and front offices  continue to share their points of view and as you might imagine they are very different. Joe Rozycki from Team Sin Bin, who covers the Mavericks, shared his thoughts on this incident but also shares his perspective more broadly related to fighting and violence in hockey. My view on this topic is the ECHL is moving away from fighters who can't play to players with skill that can fight. A good read on this topic from Joe. By the way the league has not handed out suspensions from this incident as of this morning:  http://thesinbin.net/klotz-the-fallout/  




DID YOU KNOW: I recently saw a NHL stat called "highest percentage of team goals involved in" which had Connor McDavid at the top with 43.8% followed by Jack Eichel with 42.7%. I decided to take a look at the top three scorers in the ECHL as of today and see what percent of their team's goals they have been involved in with either the goal or an assist. Here are the percentages:

60 points:  Shawn Szydlowski - Fort Wayne - 29.0%
58 points:  Justin Danforth - Cincinnati - 36.7%
54 points: Casey Pierro-Zabotel - Allen - 32.1%

Since Chad Costello was the most prolific scorer in the ECHL in the last 20 years I decided to look at his three seasons in Allen to see what percent of the goals he was involved in and saw numbers that rival the best in the NHL. Just another stat that shows how valuable Chad was in Allen. 

46.0% - 2015-16
42.8% - 2014-15
41.5% - 2016-17 


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To Win the Kelly Cup Why You Must Finish #1 or #2 in Your Division, In-Depth Look at Allen's Schedule Over Remaining 21 Games and More

The Allen Americans have just nine road games and 12 home games remaining in the season and the playoffs are right around the corner. I thought today would be a good time to take stock in what lies ahead for the Americans as they pursue their third Kelly Cup in four years.


- You often hear all you have to do is make the playoffs and then anything can happen. You also may have heard about the curse of being the best team during the regular season spelling doom in the playoffs. I decided to take a look at the last 10 years and see how the Kelly Cup champions fared in the regular season. Here is what I found.


- Winning the Brabham Cup (most points in the regular season) is not a good predictor of winning in the playoffs. Just three times in the last 10 years has the regular season champion gone on to win the Kelly Cup. It has only happened five times in the 29 year history of the league. So you can see why some say winning the regular season is a curse in the playoffs. Only 17% of the time has the best team during the regular season gone on to win the Kelly Cup.


- How does the theory that all you have to do is make the playoffs and then anything can happen hold up? Turns out not so good. In the last 10 years the Kelly Cup champion finished first or second in their division nine times. Florida was the lone exception when they won the Kelly Cup in 2012. They finished third in the division, fourth in the conference and had the seventh best record in the league during the regular season. Turns out Florida was a very good team in a tough South Division.


- When Allen won their first Kelly Cup in 2015 they were #1 in the Central Division, #1 in the Western Conference and #2 in the ECHL. They had 106 points in the regular season.


- When Allen won their second Kelly Cup in 2016 they had 89 points in the regular season which placed them #2 in the Central Division, #3 in the Western Conference and #5 in the ECHL.


- In the last 10 seasons no team has won the Kelly Cup from lower than fourth place in their conference. Here is how the last 10 champions finished the regular season in their conference.

1st place  - 5 times
2nd place - 1 time
3rd place - 2 times
4th place - 2 times


- In the last 10 seasons the Kelly Cup champion has finished no lower than seventh place in the overall regular season standings. Here is the breakdown:

1st place  -  3 times
2nd place -  2 times
3rd place -  1 time
4th place -  1 time
5th place -  2 times
7th place -  1 time


- The conclusion I draw from the info above is ECHL fans that are hoping that their favorite team just makes the playoffs need to reassess and hope they finish in the top two in their division if they stand any chance of winning the Kelly Cup.


- So what does this all mean for the Allen Americans? They have a record of 25-20-4-2 (56 points) with 21 games left in the regular season. They are currently #3 in the Mountain Division, #7 in the Western Conference and #13 in the ECHL.  When you remember no team in the last 10 years has won the Kelly Cup from lower than #4 in their conference and #7 overall in the ECHL, the Americans have some work to do over the next 21 games.


- Here is how the final 21 games of the season break down for Allen. There are 12 at home and nine on the road. Six of the nine road games are on the longest trip of the season for the Americans when they travel to Idaho, Utah, Rapid City and Colorado between March 7-18. Allen finishes the season with eight of their last nine games at home. Other than one game in Wichita on April 3, the Americans will be at home from March 19 until the end of the regular season on April 7.


- Allen plays 17 of their last 21 games against Mountain Division opponents. The four games out of the division are all against Kansas City. Here are the final 21 games by opponent showing home and away games.

4 games - Colorado (2 home 2 away)
4 games - Utah (2 home 2 away)
4 games - Kansas City (2 home 2 away)
3 games - Idaho (2 home 1 away)
3 games - Rapid City (2 home 1 away)
2 games - Wichita (1 home 1 away)
1 game   - Tulsa (1 home 0 away)


- If you combine the records of the seven teams Allen must play in the last 21 games of the season the total is 164-143-23-14 and their winning percentage is .531. Here are the winning percentages for each team.

.698 - Colorado
.633 - Idaho
.563 - Wichita
.549 - ALLEN
.510 - Kansas City
.480 - Tulsa
.440 - Utah
.396 - Rapid City


- Allen is currently in third place in the Mountain Division, two points ahead of Wichita and six points behind Idaho. The gaps are misleading because the Americans have played 51 games, Wichita 48 and Idaho 49.


- In order to have a realistic chance to win the Kelly Cup the Americans need to finish no lower than second place in the Mountain Division. Their record over these last 21 games doesn't have to be as dramatic as last season when Allen was 8-11 going into December and went 41-6-4-2 the rest of the way. The Americans finished the season on a streak of 15-0-1-0 to overtake Colorado and earn the top seed in the division. What Allen does need to do is play more consistent hockey down the stretch and start piling up wins.


- There are four teams  vying for the top two spots in the Division and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Based on history the teams that finish third and fourth have virtually no chance of winning the Kelly Cup. Here are the games remaining for the four teams that will battle it out for the top two spots. Colorado and Idaho have a leg up at this point but there is still time for Allen and Wichita to make up ground. Here are the games remaining  for all four teams:

24 games - Colorado (10 home 14 away)
24 games - Wichita (11 home 13 away)
23 games - Idaho (11 home 12 away)
21 games - Allen (12 home 9 away)


- If Allen is going to make a run at second place they need to get the vast majority of  points over the next three weekends when they play six games against teams that are outside of the playoffs and have a combined winning percentage of .449. Next weekend the Americans are at home against Utah, the following weekend (February 23 & 24) they are in Kansas City and the next weekend (March 2 & 3) they are at home against Rapid City.


- The last two weekends of the season Allen plays Colorado (March 30 & 31) and Idaho (April 6 & 7) at home. Wouldn't it be nice if first and second place in the division was still in play at that time. 





DID YOU KNOW: Here are the regular season points for the Kelly Cup champions over the last 10 years and where they ranked in the ECHL in points.

2017 - Colorado           99 points -    3rd
2016 - Allen                  89 points -   5th
2015 - Allen                  106 points - 2nd
2014 - Alaska                97 points -   1st
2013 - Reading             99 points -   2nd
2012 - Florida               85 points -   7th
2011 - Alaska                97 points -   1st
2010 - Cincinnati           91 points -   5th
2009 - South Carolina   90 points -   4th
2008 - Cincinnati           115 points -  1st