Monday, December 9, 2013

Funk Month Examined, Ice Storm Metaphor, Enjoy Players While You Can!

I was doing my input for the CHL power rankings this morning and was reflecting on a comment coach Martinson made at the season ticket holder press conference after the game on Saturday when he said, "The team has been in a funk for a month now." Here are some of the facts that back up what he said.

- Allen started the season going 7-1 and established themselves as a contender. They were in first  place early in the season.

- Once November hit the team started to struggle. Since early November their record is 5-8 and they are now tied with Denver for fourth and fifth place in the standings. While the Americans are still in the thick of the CHL race they have fallen six points behind league leading Rapid City.

- During the "funk month" special teams have also taken a hit. While still a strength of the team as the penalty kill is #2 in the league and the power play #3 both have declined by over 5% in the last month.

- Defense wins championships and when you compare Allen to the two teams that are acknowledged as the best in the league right now (Rapid City & Missouri) you see a big difference. The team GAA is:

2.11 - Rapid City
2.74 - Missouri
3.19 - Allen
Rapid City and Missouri are the only teams under 3.00 in the league.

- Here is how Allen stacks up on plus/minus, a rough indication of even strength play:
+144 - Rapid City
+57 - Missouri
- 8 - Allen

- Does Allen have the talent to turn this around? Absolutely they do. If you look at the number of players with American Hockey League (AHL) experience on these teams the picture is reversed.

15 - Allen
7 - Missouri
4 - Rapid City
So as Coach Martinson likes to say, "As the Allen general manger I like our team but as the Allen coach I am not happy." Concentrate more on being a better defensive team and less on scoring, make better decisions and be the hardest working team and Allen will be back in the hunt for first place.

- Things don't get any easier this weekend with home and home games with the Missouri Mavericks. The Mavericks have caught a little bit of the funk lately themselves as they have lost three of their last four games.


- The team with the best record in the past week in the CHL was the Tulsa Oilers who were 3-0. With a win yesterday over Arizona, Tulsa moved into sole possession of second place in the standings.

- Tulsa heads to Brampton for three games this week. Brampton just finished a long road trip and their game with Tulsa on Thursday (December 12) will be their first home game since November 10.

- It's hard to think of guys like Bruce Graham, Nino Musitelli, and Anthony Maiani no longer playing hockey and a guy like CHL playoff MVP, Brian McMillin looking for a job (still hoping there is a way for him to return to the Americans). And guys like Adam Pineault and Scott Howes dealing with injuries. What a difference a year makes. As a fan it teaches you to enjoy players while you can because things change fast in minor pro hockey.

- Mike Heika wrote a great story about the icy weekend and the Dallas Stars which has some parallels to the Allen games this weekend. I thought some of Mike's words were perfect for the Americans as the difficulty navigating the roads, relying on others to drive safely and do their job is similar to the team trying to work together for success. Here are few of Mike's words with my changes in parentheses:
That’s sort of where you are with the (Allen Americans) Stars. You have been tossed into the middle of the movie, into the middle of an ice storm. Some people have a better idea of the plot than others, but the bottom line is we’re all sliding around a little here.
We’re all curious how this is going to work out.
It was sort of like your drive to (Allen Event Center) American Airlines Center Saturday. You didn’t know what you would encounter on the way. You didn’t know what you would encounter when you got there. You didn’t know if it would be worth it.
But it was.
You’re not always sure why this weather blows in, but you are sometimes amused by the fun you have. It’s not natural, it’s not what you’re used to, but it is different.
And when you put the effort into enjoying it, it can be pretty entertaining.
A lot like dealing with this hockey team.

If you haven't read Mike's story it is a good read. You can find it at, "Observations on an icy weekend and what it means to a game actually played on ice."

DID YOU KNOW: When your team is going through rough times like the Americans are now it is only relative. Going 5-8 over the past month is bad only in reference to what Allen fans have come to expect from the team. If you want real futility think of the longest losing streaks in NHL history:

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