Friday, February 28, 2014

Possible Line Combos, Adam's B-day, Leap Year & Hockey, Game Preview

- Stopped by practice yesterday and saw the biggest crowd to watch practice since training camp. Unfortunately most of the spectators were injured players. Hobbling and wobbling between the stands and getting treatment in the locker room. I counted 16 players on the ice, 7 in the stands, plus Trevor Hendrikx on bereavement leave for a total of 24 players. There will definitely have to be some roster moves as players get healthy and by roster moves that means players released. And there is still the possibility of players returning from Europe being added to the roster.

- Have had a lot of questions asking who will be paired with Bruce Graham this weekend. I will make the assumption coach Martinson will be switching up lines this weekend  to see how the new players fit in but at practice yesterday Graham was working with Greger Hanson and Anthony Maiani. Alex Lavoie was with Brian McMillin and Jamie Schaafsma. The third line combination was Spencer Asuchak, Garrett Klotz, and Ben Power. In addition to the nine forwards on the ice yesterday you can expect one of the forwards sitting out of practice will also play with my guess being Jonathan Lessard. Have not heard when Trevor Hendrikx will return but if he is not back for the game tonight there will only be five healthy defensemen available.

- Arizona is already in Allen and practiced after the Americans  yesterday. They are also struggling with injuries to some of their key guys. Arizona is a streaky team having had losing streaks of 4, 5, & 7 games this season and winning streaks of 4, 5, & 6 games. The Sundogs have a winning road record (13-10-4) and a losing home record (11-12-2). They always play Allen tough so expect tight, hard fought games this weekend with overtime a distinct possibility.

Here is the team by team comparison:
                                  Allen Americans            Arizona Sundogs   
RESULT OF LAST GAME               WIN  4-1 vs MIZ            OTL  3-4 vs WIC   
GAMES PLAYED                      51                         52                
RECORD                            29-18-4                    24-22-6           
POINTS                            62                         54                
HOME RECORD                       14-8-3                     11-12-2           
AWAY RECORD                       15-10-1                    13-10-4           
SHO RECORD                        4-3                        3-4               
LAST 10 GAMES                     4-6-0                      4-3-3             
LAST 5 GAMES                      3-2-0                      0-2-3             
OCTOBER                           5-0-1                      1-4-1             
NOVEMBER                          7-6-0                      6-6-0             
DECEMBER                          5-4-1                      3-8-0             
JANUARY                           8-1-2                      9-0-2             
FEBRUARY                          4-7-0                      5-4-3                         
SCORING FIRST                     17-6-3                     15-11-4           
LEADING AFTER 1ST                 12-6-0                     11-4-3            
LEADING AFTER 2ND                 18-2-3                     12-0-1            
TIED AFTER 1ST                    10-4-3                     9-7-3             
TIED AFTER 2ND                    9-4-1                      8-4-4             
TRAILING AFTER 1ST                7-8-1                      4-11-0            
TRAILING AFTER 2ND                2-12-0                     4-18-1            
WHEN OUTSHOOTING OPPONENT         14-10-1                    11-16-1           
1 - GOAL GAMES                    13-3-4                     13-9-6            
GOALS FOR PER GAME                3.57                       2.79              
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME            3.24                       3.10              
SHOTS FOR PER GAME                33.27                      31.60             
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME            32.67                      30.27             
POWER PLAY RECORD                 47 - 254   18.5%           50 - 254   19.7%  
PENALTY KILLING RECORD            49 - 274   82.1%           39 - 244   84.0%  
SH GOALS FOR                      9                          4                 
SH GOALS AGAINST                  7                          9                 
PIM AVERAGE                       23.04                      21.37  

- For those that like to track the referee for the games, as of this morning Tudor Floru is assigned to work both games this weekend. And for those that have become Jake Brenk fans he is scheduled to work what is the best series this weekend when Denver takes on Rapid City in Rapid City.

- Despite being in eighth place in the standings Arizona has higher rated special teams than Allen. The Sundogs power play is #4 while Allen is #6. On the penalty kill Arizona is ranked #3 while Allen is #6. Look for a power play unit of Graham, Lavoie and Maiani upfront with Zion & Ludwig at the points in the game tonight.

- Allen and Arizona have played seven times this year with three of the games going to overtime. Allen leads the series 4-3. Here are the results of the games played this year:
PAST RESULTS                          
     11/27/13    Allen  3 at Arizona 5     
     11/29/13    Allen  5 at Arizona 3     
     11/30/13    Allen  4 at Arizona 1     
     01/17/14    Allen  3 at Arizona 4 SO  
     01/18/14    Allen  4 at Arizona 3 SO  
     01/20/14    Arizona 2 at Allen  3 OT  
     02/13/14    Arizona 4 at Allen  2 

- The top scorers for Allen against Arizona are Alex Lavoie with eleven points (7 goals 4 assists), Jonathan Lessard with eight points (6 goals 2 assists) and Greger Hanson with seven points (4 goals 3 assists).

- Former Allen Americans defenseman Garrett Clarke has had an interesting week. He was forced to miss the Sundogs game against Rapid City on Saturday as he was serving a one game suspension for slew footing a Rush player in the game on Friday. Then this past Tuesday he had a rare shootout opportunity in Wichita as the shootout went extra frames. Garret got his chance in the sixth frame and missed and then Tomas Klempa scored to win the game for the Thunder.

- Happy birthday to former player and go to front office employee Erik Adams who is the only leap year (1980) baby I know but shares the distinction with some other NHL hockey players including Henri "The Pocket Rocket" Richard (1936), Kari Eloranta (1956),  Dan Daoust (1960), Lyndon Byers (1964),  Simon Gagne (1980), Cam Ward (1984), and Bobby Sanguinetti (1988). Make sure to say happy birthday to Erik at the game tonight as he has only had the chance to celebrate his birthday on the right day (February 29) eight times in his life and it won't happen until 2016.

Erik's birthday (February 29, 1980) was a historic day for two famous hockey families, the Howe's and Christian's. In Hartford, Gordie Howe scored the 800th goal of his legendary career during the Whalers' 3-0 victory against St. Louis. The 51-year-old took a feed from Greg Carroll and beat Mike Liut for the milestone goal, the next-to-last of his career. "That was great," he told the media after the game. "I was especially glad it happened at home."

In Winnipeg, "Miracle on Ice" team member Dave Christian from Warroad, Minnesota, made an instant impact in his first NHL game. Christian, whose father and uncle were members of the 1960 gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team, scored seven seconds into his first NHL game for the Winnipeg Jets -- 34 years later, it's still the fastest goal ever by a player in his NHL debut. It was the first of his 340 goals during an NHL career that saw him play for five NHL teams.

DID YOU KNOW: One year ago today the Allen Americans shut out the Wichita Thunder 4-0 at the Allen Event Center on goals by Jarret Lukin, Brian McMillin and two by Anthony Maiani.

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