Friday, April 18, 2014

Get Ready for "Duck" Humor, Series Preview, Tarasuk & Kerbashian Out for Weekend, Allen Playoff Success

- It is game day in Allen as the Americans start the second round of the playoffs against the Quad City Mallards tonight with a 7:05 puck drop. With both the Dallas Stars and Allen Americans playing "duck" teams get used to lots of references to "DUCK HUNTING" and duck related humor in the next couple of weeks.

- As the second round of the playoffs gets underway thought it would be a good time to reflect on how successful the Americans have been in their five years of existence. Most points of any team in the league, most playoff wins, two Governor's Cups, Presidents' Cup, championship final in first year, and making the playoffs all five years. Allen fans should consider themselves fortunate to have a a great facility to watch hockey, great ownership, great front office, great coaches and great players.

- Found the article below written by Bobby Metcalf (@bobbymetcalf88)of the Quad City Times which is an excellent preview of this series. You might want to bookmark this site ( to follow their coverage during the playoffs as they do some great work. If you are on twitter you can get their hockey coverage by following them (@QCThockey). Here is their Allen vs Quad City playoff preview:

No. 5 Quad-City (33-23-10, 76 pts) vs. No. 3 Allen (39-22-5, 83 pts)

Game Schedule

all times local
Game 1 — Fri., Apr. 18 — Quad-City at Allen, 7:05 PM
Game 2 — Sun., Apr. 20 — Quad-City at Allen, 5:05 PM
Game 3 — Wed., Apr. 23 — Allen at Quad-City, 7:05 PM
Game 4 — Fri., Apr. 25 — Allen at Quad-City, 7:05 PM
*Game 5 — Sat., Apr. 26 — Allen at Quad-City, 7:05 PM
*Game 6 — Tue., Apr. 29 — Quad-City at Allen, 7:05 PM
*Game 7 — Wed., Apr. 30 — Quad-City at Allen, 7:05 PM
* — if necessary

Season series

The two teams didn't play until the second half of the season and only played four times, splitting the series 2-2-0, with both teams winning a game at home and on the road.
The Americans outscored the Mallards 14-11 in the series thanks to a 6-2 win over Quad-City on Feb. 23, the "Terry Ruskowski ejection game" that snowballed out of control for the Mallards. The closest game of the series was a 2-1 victory for the Mallards on March 26, the first of their final four regular-season victories.
Matt Duffy and Vladimir Nikiforov led the Mallards in the series with 4 points each while Jamie Schaafsma and Alex Lavoie had 6 points each.
In net, Heemskerk and Rimmer split time again but were both with the team at the same time only once as callups took both players to the AHL. The one time they were with the Mallards, they both saw the ice in the 6-2 loss.
Rimmer went 1-1-0 and had a 3.60 goals against average and a .873 save percentage. Heemskerk also went 1-1-0 with a 3.33 GAA and a .896 sv%.
The Americans used three goaltenders, Bryan Pitton, Mark Guggenberger and Willie Yanakeff. Pitton went 1-1-0 with a 3.00 GAA and a .906 sv%.. Guggenberger went 1-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .952 sv%. Yanakeff, a rookie making his first start, went 0-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .917 sv%.

Team breakdown

Offense -- The Americans finished the regular season with significantly better offensive stats. Allen finished with 249 goals and 696 points to the Mallards' 219 goals and 600 points. The playoffs haven't been much different with the Americans scoring 22 goals and 60 points in just five games compared to the Mallards' 17 goals and 46 points in seven.
In the regular season, rookie of the year Alex Lavoie carried much of the offensive load, scoring 25 goals and finishing with 76 points, but he definitely had help. seven Americans finished with over 50 points. Comparatively, the Mallards had just two players finish with 50+ points.
In the playoffs, Greger Hanson (4 goals, 5 assists) has led the way for Allen but again, he has had help as six players have at least 5 points in the playoffs. Again, keep in mind, that's only through five games.
The Mallards didn't have a top-line scoring threat in the regular season. Their top rookie, Thomas Frazee (24 goals, 23 assists) had a great season, but nothing like what Lavoie did. As I've noted before, the Mallards have relied on their balance as 10 players finished the season with over 30 points.
In the playoffs, the Mallards have seemed to move away from their balanced attack slightly. Frazee and Vladimir Nikiforov have carried the offensive load, combining for 16 points. Frazee leads the team with 4 goals and rookie Jordan Mayer has been a pleasant surprise, scoring 3. Nikiforov has emerged as the team's playmaker, notching 6 assists. But again, those stats are through seven games.
There's no way around it, the Americans boast a much more dangerous offense. They destroyed Brampton with relative ease while the Mallards struggled for every goal in their series with Rapid City. Allen's balanced attack is like the Mallards, only more experienced. The Mallards will need every line to step up and score this series if they want to advance.
Defense -- The Americans allowed 214 goals this season and have a +/- rating of +98. They have the defensive player of the year in Tyler Ludwig, who finished with 20 goals and was third on the team with a +13 rating. The Mallards allowed 198 goals and were a +101 on the season. Their defensive player of the year finalist, Nicholas Rioux, finished with 5 goals and was +16.
In the playoffs, the Americans allowed 11 goals and are +44 while the Mallards allowed 15 goals and are -7.
Defensive-zone coverage has been a problem with the Mallards all year and it reared it's ugly head again in the playoffs, yielding breakaways, odd-man rushes and backdoor passing lanes against the Rush, who capitalized quite often. When the defense played poorly, the Mallards struggled. When the defense played well, they dominated. Allen's stats are courtesy of beating a team in five games, outscoring the Beast by 11.
As I said, when the Mallards defense comes to play, they are capable of helping pitch shutouts every night. When they don't, it's very noticeable and usually doesn't end well. That said, I give the edge to the Mallards. They did not match up well with Rapid City, hence the terrible rating in the playoffs. But with Allen, they have shown they can be capable of shutting down the attack. That said, the Mallards CANNOT come out to play like they did in Games 1, 4 and 6, or they will be toast.
Goaltending -- Pitton has won 27 games, allowed 110 goals and has a 2.75 GAA and .916 sv%. Yanakeff, who was added late after finishing at Michigan State University, went 0-1-0 with a 1.88 GAA and .920 sv%. American goalies as a whole have allowed 214 goals with a 3.24 GAA and .900 sv%.
In the playoffs, Pitton has played all five games, going 4-1 with a 2.01 GAA and .938 sv%.
The Mallards split time between Rimmer and Heemskerk all year. Rimmer won 18 games, allowed 106 goals and has a 2.84 GAA and .906 sv%. Heemskerk won 15 games, allowed 79 goals and has a 2.73 GAA and .907 sv%. As a whole, Mallard goalies allowed 198 goals with a 3.00 GAA and a .901 sv%.
In the playoffs Rimmer and Heemskerk again split time, operating under the "win and stay in" philosophy. Rimmer went 1-2 with a 2.69 GAA and .902 sv%. Heemskerk went 3-1 with a 1.76 GAA and .937 sv%.
While the regular season stats might have suggested a slight edge to Allen, the postseason stats clearly favor Quad-City. Rimmer played well despite just the one win, undone by poor team efforts in Games 1 and 6. If not for a missed goaltender interference penalty he would have had a shutout in Game 5.
Heemskerk has been nothing short of spectacular in net. Games 2 and 7 he carried the team on his back and was rewarded with good performances in Game 3. Again, his lone loss was more because of a poor team effort than anything he did wrong in net.
Pitton allowed 11 goals in 5 games. The Mallards unit allowed 15 in seven. That's the telling stat right there. If the Mallards goaltending continues to play at this playoff-caliber level, the team has a chance to win every night, provided they help out their goalies with some offense.
Special teams -- Allen boasted the second-best power play unit on the regular season, scoring a league-high 70 goals on the man advantage at a 20.65% success rate. They also drew the most penalties with a league-high 339 opportunities. On the penalty kill, the Americans were seventh, killing of 82.06% of the league-high 340 shorthanded opportunities they faced, adding 11 shorthanded goals.
In the playoffs, Allen has the best power play unit, scoring five goals at a 27.78% success rate. On the penalty kill they rank third, killing off 87.50 percent of their league-high 24 opportunities.
The Mallards, as we all know (and believe me, I'm sick of typing) had trouble on the power play all year with a 14.29% success rate and scoring 45 goals. On the penalty kill, they ranked fourth at 83.73% and had a league-high 12 shorthanded goals.
In the playoffs, the Mallards scored five goals at a 16.67 percent success rate, fourth-best in the playoffs. They also had the most opportunities with 30. The penalty kill was fantastic, killing off 91.30% of shorthanded opportunities, tied with Denver for the league-best. They also scored a shorthanded goal in Game 2.
There's no denying the Mallards' special teams won their series with Rapid City. Every game they won, they scored a power play goal and they kept the Rush from scoring a power play goal until Game 5. Nagy's shorthanded goal in Game 2 may have been the pivotal goal of the series as it tied the game and allowed the Mallards to win to even up the series.
There are still things to work on as far as the power play is concerned. At times it looked terrible and Quad-City had trouble getting the puck in the zone, much less get a shot on net. While the penalty kill seems to be working just fine, the Mallards need to shore up their power play, because it clearly is going to be what gives them an edge in the playoffs.
Coach -- This matchup again features two good coaches. Allen coach Steve Martinson has 814 career wins in 18 years, 78 in two years in the CHL and a championship last year with the Americans, as well as six other championships in the WCHL and UH. Terry Ruskowski has 718 wins in 21 years, 442 in 12 years in the CHL and two championships.
These two coaches are the cream of the crop of the CHL but the edge goes to Martinson. Defending champion and has six other titles in other leagues. That's impressive.

Series outlook

There's an old saying, "if you want to be the champs you've got to beat the champs." Well, the Mallards now have that opportunity. The key to this series will be emotions. The Americans have been here before, they know how to win. The Mallards are young and for many, this is the biggest stage so far in their professional careers. If the Mallards fall behind early, in the game or the series, they have to keep their emotions in check or the series will snowball out of control, like it did for Brampton. That's where Jim McKenzie comes in. Darren McMillan is a great captain but this is the first time he has seen the second round with the Mallards. McKenzie went through all of this last year and knows how to deal with the heightened emotions. He'll have to try to pass that experience onto his teammates. If the Mallards want to win, they have to find their balanced attack again. Their goaltenders are clearly locked in, so they don't need to score four or five goals. If they can average three goals a game, that should be enough for Heemskerk or Rimmer to keep the door shut, but they need everyone to pitch in, because the Lee/Frazee/whoever line should expect to be taken away. This is where the Boyd/Nagy/whoever line or the McKenzie/Stinziani/whoever line needs to step up.
The Mallards will also have to try and play more consistent hockey. Last series, they dominated Games 3 and 5 only to look terrible in Games 4 and 6. As one fan pointed out to me, they are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Well it's time to stop taking the potion and see what team emerges on the other end. If a fatigued Mallards team can grab game one or two on the road, they will give themselves a good chance, but I feel, just like the Rapid City series, that the Mallards will have to win two games at some point in Allen if they want to advance in a series that I believe could either be done in five games, or again go the distance.

- One issue that needs to be resolved today is which player will be put on injured reserve for the second round playoff series. Coach Martinson told the audience at his radio show yesterday (their was an equipment breakdown if you tried to tune in on line) that neither Kale Kerbashain or Steve Tarasuk would play in the games this weekend. Doesn't mean Kale or Steve will be placed in the IR slot as that would mean they would be lost for the entire series. UPDATE: Per coach Steve Martinson, "Garrett Klotz placed on IR and will not play in the second round playoffs as he has been dealing with a groin injury."

- For those interested, according to the the CHL pregame information the referee scheduled to work the game tonight is Tudor Floru. Linesmen are Kevin Cassidy and Mitch MacPherson.

Courtesy CHL Memes

Courtesy CHL Memes

DID YOU KNOW: Since Allen joined the CHL five years ago they have more playoff wins than any other team. Here are the total playoff game wins for the teams in the CHL the last five years.
35 - Allen
28 - Rapid City
22 - Wichita
22 - Missouri
8  - Arizona
7  - Tulsa

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great article by Bobby, and it is in the newspaper? Why, oh why isn't Allen stuff in the Dallas Morning News??? Oh no, Tudor!!! Well, strange things can happen, maybe he will call a fair game. Hope runs eternal.