Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Get Away Day for Allen, Martinson Working on Playoff Roster, Costello Honored, Playoff Race Details

- It is get away day for the Allen Americans as they will leave tonight on the first leg of a twelve day, two city, five game road trip. Unless bad weather changes the plan, the team will practice this morning (10:00 am) and depart on the 790 mile trip to Quad City around 8:00 pm. tonight. If the trip goes as planned the team will arrive in Quad City mid morning on Thursday and will have a short practice in preparation for the Friday and Saturday games with the Mallards.

- There will be a full game preview tomorrow but one of the most interesting facts about Allen and Quad City is their struggles at home and success on the road. Allen has lost six games in a row at home and won five in a row on the road. Quad City has played better on the road than at home all year as reflected in their losing home record (12-11-2-1) and winning road record (16-10-2-2).  The Mallards have lost their last three home games and have won back to back home games only once since before Christmas.

- Garrett Clarke is expected to go on the trip and is hoping to be in the line up in Quad City but that is yet to be determined. Tyler Ludwig will not be on the bus tonight as he and his wife Taylor will welcome their second daughter (Hayden) into the world this morning.

- This week and next will be very busy for Steve Martinson as it is the time of year coaches need to start making decisions on rosters for the playoffs. With the AHL trade deadline March 9 and ECHL trade deadline March 12 lots of conversations will take place with other teams, agents and the Allen affiliates ( San Jose & Worcester). One of the issues for Allen with expanded rosters for the playoffs is the salary cap. During the regular season the roster limit is 20 active players and two on reserve. In order to live within the salary cap Allen has had only 18 players on the active roster for most of the year. In order to have the playoff limit of 24 players (20 active 4 reserve) the salary cap has to be divided between the 20 active players. Coach Martinson has to decide the best approach for success. His options are to go into the playoffs with less than 20 active players, trade a high cost player or players to reduce salary, or ask players to take a small pay cut knowing they will make alot more money if the team is stronger and makes a deep playoff run. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

- Sometimes it seems like a better title for the blog this year would have been the Chad Costello Blog as every day there is something new to report on Chad's great season. Chad was named the ECHL Sher-Wood Player of the Week yesterday for the week of February 23-March 1. It was the second time this season Chad has been selected as player of the week and to be honest there were a couple of other weeks he had the best week but was not selected. He is the first repeat winner all year. Congratulations to Kale Kerbashian who was one of the runners up to Costello for player of the week.

Chad Costello named ECHL Player of the Week for second time - photo by Lauren Lyssy

- It was a quiet night around the ECHL last night with just four games on tap but the outcomes were interesting. In all four games the team that had the fewer points in the standings won the game and in three of the four there were shutouts. Here are the results.
Wheeling beat Elmira 5-0
Cincinnati beat Orlando 3-0
Alaska beat Ontario 3-0
Missouri beat Tulsa 6-3

- The Missouri win over Tulsa once again gave Mavericks fans hope for a playoff spot. It is a real long shot as Missouri would have to jump over two teams to get to the playoffs and make up nine points in 17 games. Not impossible but highly unlikely.

- The race for a playoff spot is between Quad City, Tulsa, Rapid City and Wichita as three of the four will make the playoffs. Which teams make it most likely won't be decided until the last game of the season. Tulsa and Quad City go head to head in Quad City on April 11. Rapid City finishes their season on April 10 in Allen and Wichita finishes the season at home against Allen on April 11.

- Other factors that might determine who makes the playoffs include:
Wichita plays their last six games at home including three games against Tulsa and two against Allen.
Rapid City plays Quad City four times and Brampton three in their last ten games of the season.
Quad City plays six of their last nine games on the road including four in Rapid City.
Tulsa finishes the season with three road games, two in Wichita and one in Quad City.

- Another way to look at who makes the playoffs is strength of schedule based on who these teams play for the remaining of the season. Here is the combined winning percentage of the opponents for the four teams:
.527 - Quad City
.550 - Wichita
.557 - Rapid City
.560 - Tulsa

DID YOU KNOW: One way to look at the different style of play between the ECHL Eastern Conference and Western Conference is by comparing penalty minutes. The Western Conference has seven teams with over 1000 penalty minutes while the Eastern Conference has just two. The Eastern Conference has seven team with less than 800 penalty minutes while the Western Conference has none.

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