Monday, April 29, 2013

Allen vs Wichita - Finals Preview

I know there have been a lot of previews on the CHL site as well as many others places. At the risk of being repetitive I thought my two cents worth might be a little different. I had a chance to go to practice the last three days and the team has looked good in preparation for this big series. There hasn't been any changes this week on who is practicing so I assume the lineup will not change for the game tomorrow (Tuesday). It seems like the Americans established three balanced lines in the last series against Missouri that worked well at both ends of the rink. My prediction on line combinations is McKenzie, Kerbashian & Lukin - Bootland, Maiani & Robinson - Schaafsma, Deitsch & McMillin. On defense the pairings should be Ludwig-Ludwig, Hendrikx-Berube, & Montgomery-Baldwin.

- We have played Wichita nine times this year and Allen has won five times. Here are the results of the nine head to head games:

PAST RESULTS                          
     12/08/12    Wichita 2 at Allen  3     
     12/22/12    Wichita 2 at Allen  3 OT  
     02/09/13    Allen  3 at Wichita 5     
     02/17/13    Allen  1 at Wichita 4     
     02/19/13    Allen  1 at Wichita 5     
     02/22/13    Wichita 1 at Allen  2     
     03/01/13    Wichita 0 at Allen  4     
     03/19/13    Wichita 4 at Allen  3     
     03/22/13    Allen  6 at Wichita 2  
Can't tell too much from these results other than these are two evenly matched teams.

- The Wichita defense is stronger than what he have seen in the first two rounds of the playoffs and they like to be aggressive in the offensive zone. Kevin Young was voted best defenseman in the league but watch out for Andrew Martens and Dave Inman as all three of them finished in the top six in scoring in the league for defensemen.

- Ian Lowe and Chad Painchaud led the Thunder in scoring in the games played during the season. In the playoffs Wichita has had balanced scoring. In the eight games they have played thus far no player has more than four goals but they have six players with three or four goals.

- Special teams as always will be a key in the series. The playoff stats are very similar with the power play percentage being 21.64% for Wichita and 20.53% for Allen. On the penalty kill Allen is at 85.67% and Wichita is at  85.56%.

- If you want to pick out someone to have a good series it might be Anthony Maiani. Wichita likes to play man coverage which might be an advantage for a guy as slippery as Maiani. He was Allen's leading scorer against Wichita this year with eleven points in seven games played.

- In the nine head to head games the goals scored are very close (Allen 26 & Wichita 25) but shots on goal told a little different story. If you combine total shots on goal for the nine head to head games you get the following results:

First Period -      Allen - 70    Wichita - 74
Second Period -  Allen - 112  Wichita - 77
Third Period -     Allen - 98    Wichita - 83
TOTAL               Allen - 280  Wichita - 234

- If you compare goalies (Aaron Dell and Torrie Jung) Wichita has an edge in the playoff stats:

Dell - 2.56 GAA & 91.0% Save Percentage
Jung - 1.47 GAA & 94.7% Save Percentage

Head to head this year Dell leads with a  2.42 GAA while Jung has a 2.92 GAA. They both have identical 91.0% save percentages in head to head games.

- The leading scorer for Wichita in the playoffs is defenseman Kevin Young who has three goals and nine assists in eight games. For Allen Todd Robinson (3 goals, 11 assists) and Brian McMillin (8 goals, 6 assists) share the points lead with 14 each in 12 games.

- Last year Fort Wayne jumped on Wichita early winning the first two games in Wichita on the way to a 4-1 series win. You know the Thunder are a hungry team after the disappointing loss in the finals last year. That is why the first game is so important. I know Allen lost the first game in both series this year and went on to win the series but I would not count on that if they lose the first game against Wichita. Since Wichita had not lost in the playoffs I think it is important to send a message that this series is going to be different and a first game victory is essential in sending that message.

-What role will scheduling play in the finals? It is unfortunate the "The Peddler Show," which had disappointing crowds from my observation and according to the vendors I talked to, had the Allen Event Center booked all weekend. This scheduling conflict prevented the Americans from having the prime weekend dates that would normally go to the number one seed. Here is an excerpt of an article that appeared in the Wichita Eagle:

They’re supposed to be enemies this week, when they meet in the best-of-seven Central Hockey League finals, but Allen has been friendly to the Thunder recently. Or at least to Wichita’s previously maddening playoffs schedule.
A prior booking at the Allen Events Center prevented the series from beginning this weekend, keeping the Americans from prime Friday and Saturday dates that bring in bigger crowds.
So Wichita gets the weekend dates with Games 3 and 4 scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at Intrust Bank Arena. The Americans also did the Thunder a favor by beating Missouri in the semifinals, creating a nine-day break for Wichita between games after it swept Fort Worth in the semifinals. While such a long layoff isn’t ideal, it gave the Thunder extra time to sell tickets; if Missouri had won, the finals would have begun in Wichita this weekend, giving the front-office staff far less time to prepare and promote.

- I look for Wichita, with more favorable dates, to have larger crowds than Allen.

Finally, I will attend the pregame skate tomorrow and post after that. I have also heard from a couple of former players about their finals experience in 2010 and will post their comments tomorrow.

Read more here:


1 comment:

  1. There is an article out that says that Mike Berube is no longer with the team. I'm assuming it's incorrect, but I would like to hear from you!

    Here is the website, the line is found under the Defense category in the article: