Friday, March 28, 2014

Denver vs Allen Preview, Coach of the Year, CHL Memes, & Did You Know

- The final weekend of the regular season has arrived and despite all of the ups and downs and many injuries the season has really gone by fast. When the schedule was first announced many thought the last two games of the season against Denver would be meaningful and has that proven to be the truth. Two games between the second and third place teams to determine who will end up in second place in the standings. The task for Allen to finish in second place is easier said than done. Win both games this weekend and win both in regulation time. There is a scenario where Allen could win one game in regulation and one in overtime and still finish in second place but that would require Denver to lose their final game of the season on Sunday in regulation to Tulsa so let's stick with win the two games with Denver in regulation time and second place belongs to Allen.

- Winning two games against Denver in regulation is a tall task as these teams have played five times this year and Denver has won three of the five. Interestingly, three of the five games have gone to overtime or shootout.
 PAST RESULTS                         
     11/01/13    Denver 2 at Allen  3 SO  
     01/10/14    Denver 4 at Allen  3 OT  
     01/11/14    Denver 0 at Allen  5     
     02/17/14    Allen  3 at Denver 5     
     03/16/14    Allen  3 at Denver 4 SO 

-Both teams come into the game tonight having lost their last game but Denver has not played since last Saturday (4-2 loss in Arizona) while Allen played on Wednesday (2-1 loss at home to Quad City). Here are the team comparisons:
                                  Allen Americans            Denver Cutthroats  
RESULT OF LAST GAME               LOSS  1-2 vs QDC           LOSS  2-4 vs ARZ   
GAMES PLAYED                      64                         63                 
RECORD                            38-21-5                    36-16-11           
POINTS                            81                         83                 
HOME RECORD                       19-9-3                     22-6-5             
AWAY RECORD                       19-12-2                    14-10-6            
SHO RECORD                        5-4                        4-7                
LAST 10 GAMES                     7-2-1                      8-1-1              
LAST 5 GAMES                      4-1-0                      3-1-1              
OCTOBER                           5-0-1                      5-0-0              
NOVEMBER                          7-6-0                      5-6-3              
DECEMBER                          5-4-1                      4-3-3              
JANUARY                           8-1-2                      6-3-3              
FEBRUARY                          5-7-0                      6-3-1              
MARCH                             8-3-1                      10-1-1                           
SCORING FIRST                     23-6-3                     28-5-8             
LEADING AFTER 1ST                 18-6-0                     24-2-6             
LEADING AFTER 2ND                 23-2-3                     24-0-2             
TIED AFTER 1ST                    10-5-3                     8-6-2              
TIED AFTER 2ND                    11-4-2                     7-6-7              
TRAILING AFTER 1ST                10-10-2                    4-8-3              
TRAILING AFTER 2ND                4-15-0                     5-10-2             
WHEN OUTSHOOTING OPPONENT         18-12-1                    15-14-3            
1 - GOAL GAMES                    15-4-5                     15-3-11            
GOALS FOR PER GAME                3.77                       3.30               
GOALS AGAINST PER GAME            3.28                       2.95               
SHOTS FOR PER GAME                33.58                      33.83              
SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME            32.75                      34.10              
POWER PLAY RECORD                 67 - 329   20.4%           64 - 307   20.8%   
PENALTY KILLING RECORD            60 - 334   82.0%           48 - 304   84.2%   
SH GOALS FOR                      10                         10                 
SH GOALS AGAINST                  9                          9                  
PIM AVERAGE                       22.13                      17.49 

- A couple of comparisons to note include the fact that both of these teams have been playing great hockey with similar records in their last 10 games as Denver is 8-1-1 and Allen is 7-2-1. They both have outstanding records when scoring the first goal (Denver 28-5-8 & Allen 23-6-3) and they are both almost unbeatable if they have a lead after the second period (Denver 24-0-2 and Allen 23-2-3).

- A player to keep an eye on tonight is Greger Hanson who is the top scorer for Allen against the Cutthroats. Despite only playing in three of the five previous games against Denver he leads the team in scoring with six points (4 goals 2 assists).

- Denver has the top two scorers in the league in Garett Bembridge (101 points) and Troy Schwab (94 points). In addition, AJ Gale will be back in the line up as he was just activated from injured reserve yesterday. Gale has thirty three points (14 goals 19 assists) in just twenty two games for Denver as he spent much of the season in the AHL. With the ability to have last change at home Allen will be able to match up against these top scorers the way they want and can hopefully stop them from controlling the game.

- As is usually the case special teams will be a key in the game. Denver has the statistical advantage on both the power play (Denver #2 & Allen #3) and the penalty kill (Denver #3 & Allen #7). The Allen penalty kill has been struggling lately (72%) and will have to improve if Allen is going to win.

- For those that like to follow such things the referee for the game tonight is scheduled to be Zak Blazic and the linesmen are Mike Sarter and Chase McGee.

-  Daniel Barnes was waived by the Americans yesterday but he lives in Allen so can be brought back on a moments notice if he is needed. Jon Zion has been out of the line up but may return tonight. A final decision won't be made if he is ready to go until after the pregame skate this morning.

- If the playoffs started today:
Missouri (1) vs Arizona (8)
Denver (2) vs Tulsa (7)
Allen (3) vs Brampton (6)
Rapid City (4) vs Quad City (5)

- Congratulations to Denver Cutthroat coach Derek Armstrong who was named CHL Coach of the Year yesterday. This is part of the end of year awards not to be confused with the "Best of the Best awards that were announced early which Quad City coach Terry Ruskowski won. Ruskowski finished second in the year end voting and Scott Hillman of Governor's Cup champ Missouri finished third in the voting.
Here is a recap on the other year-end awards announced so far:
Athletic Trainer of the Year went to Stuart Nichols of Tulsa and the Gunner Garrett Equipment Manager of the Year is Kacee Coberly of Allen.
Named to the All-Rookie Team were forwards Vincent Arseneau of Denver, Alex Lavoie of Allen, Adam Pleskach of Tulsa, defensemen Lee Moffie of Denver and Henrik Odegaard of Missouri, and goalie Ty Rimmer of Quad City.

Named to the All-CHL Team were forwards Garett Bembridge of Denver, Ben Gordon of Tulsa, Troy Schwab of Denver, defensemen Tyler Ludwig of Allen, Matt Stephenson of Missouri and goaltender Shane Owen of Missouri.

CHL Man of the Year (for off-ice community involvement) went to Brampton's Calin Wild.
Named Rookie of the Year was forward Alex Lavoie of Allen, while Americans teammate Tyler Ludwig was named Most Outstanding Defenseman.

Courtesy CHL Memes
Courtesy CHL Memes

DID YOU KNOW: The Allen Americans have more points than any other team in the CHL over the last five years, have won the Governor's Cup twice (regular season championship), won the Presidents' Cup last year and finished second in their first year and have never had a coach finish in the top three in the Coach of the Year balloting.

This afternoon I will be posting a story about the on-ice wedding that will take place at the game tomorrow (Saturday). It is called "A Hockey Love Story" so check back later today.

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