Thursday, November 21, 2013

Goalie Coach, Roster Moves, Goal Drought, & Rankings

This has been another long week for the Allen Americans. Anytime there is a week between games it makes for some tough practices. The guys did get a couple of days off over the weekend but have been hard at it since Monday. Everyone is ready for Friday to be here to play a game. Things will be hectic this weekend with three games in three days against Tulsa. The team will travel to Tulsa on Sunday to play and then return to Allen right after the game. Monday they leave for Arizona where they play three games (Wednesday, Friday & Saturday) over Thanksgiving.

- Something new at practice yesterday was the presence of a goalie coach. Thomas Speer, who is a master coach with Elite Goalies, a company owned my Dallas Stars goalie coach Mike Valley, will be working with the Allen goalies. Speer has worked with Mike Valley for five years and is considered a excellent young goalie coach.

- With Greger Hanson moving into the lineup on Friday it is very likely a roster move will have to be made today. The team will probably not carry 21 players on the roster. This is always a difficult time for the coaching staff and you just hope if they need to reduce the roster they can accomplish it through a trade or a player being claimed on waivers rather than an outright release. However, if you have been following the transactions around the league you will notice very few trades or waiver claims but lots of outright releases. I know this is part of playing a professional sport but as a fan it is always difficult to see players move on. And if they have a family it is even more heart wrenching.  

- Coach Martinson talks a lot about how important it is to get a second line scoring consistently and it made me think about last year and all the players that have moved on. Decided to take a look at some of the players from last year and see how many goals they have scored this year. It would be hard to believe if you said at the end of last year that the combined total of goals from Maiani, Deitsch, Pineault, Howes, McMillin, Skinner, Daniels, and Grantham a week before Thanksgiving this year would be three but that is the case.  To be fair, Maiani and Deitsch are not playing hockey and some of the other guys are having good years but are just not scoring goals. Who would have guessed Garrett Clarke with two goals would out score the list above. The leading goal scorers from last years group that have moved on are Jim McKenzie with five and Todd Robinson with four.

 Each week (on Sunday) I am included in a group of writers/bloggers from around the league who submit their rankings of  CHL teams to Minor League Hockey Report who combines the input and publishes what is called their "Power Ranking." The CHL also has a coaches poll that gets published each week and then of course you have the actual team standings which is another ranking. When I look at all of these rankings and include my own input there are many similarities. Here are my thoughts on the rankings.

-Rapid & Missouri are the two best teams in the league right now but Rapid is #1 based on their record (10-1) and the shots on goal for the two game split with Missouri last weekend which favored the Rush (92-64).  Missouri is #2 as they split with the Rush in Rapid City but followed that up with a loss in Denver. They now have a 9-2 record but have still only had two games at home.

- Tulsa moved up in all polls this week based on the fact that after starting the season 0-7 they are 7-1 in their last eight games. They have three games with Allen this weekend to prove they belong even higher in the polls.

- Quad City is flying under the radar a little bit. Their last four games have been against Denver and they won three of them. While they are 7th in the standings they have five games in hand over Brampton and six games in hand over Tulsa, the two teams  just ahead of them in the standings. They deserve a higher ranking in all of the polls despite their low point total (11).

- Brampton is on that long road trip which I am afraid will get worse the longer it goes. They did win last night in St. Charles but still have eight more road games before they get their next home game on December 12th. They have not had a home game since November 10th.

- After a great start to the season (5-0) Denver struggled on the road but had a great home win against Missouri on Tuesday. While they have two games at home this weekend against Brampton they then travel to Rapid City for three games over Thanksgiving. A tough stretch for the Cutthroats. Denver is the team that has the most variance in the various pools ranging from #3 to #7.

- Arizona maybe deserves a higher ranking (they are #8 in all polls)  based on three road game victories last week. Their next five games are at home versus Quad City (2) and Allen (3) so they have a chance to turn around their poor home record (0-4-1) and move up.

- St. Charles has lost five games in a row (three at home) and waived Chad Costello & Kyle Kraemer last week. They may be at #10 for a while.

DID YOU KNOW: Four years ago today, led by goalie Chris Whitley, the Americans shutout the Corpus Christi IceRays 4-0 at the Allen Event Center. It was a memorable game with four goals by Bruce Graham (2), Nathan O'Nabigon, and Tobias Whelan and four fights by O'Nabigon, Britt Dougherty, Liam Huculak and Christian Gaudet.

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