Friday, May 1, 2015

Allen vs Rapid City Series Preview, Schedule Revision, 10 Day Layoff Not the Longest, Daniels Brothers

It is finally game day in Allen after a very long ten day layoff. The top two seeds in the Central Division (Allen #1 & Rapid City #2) meet in the playoffs for the first time since they met in the Central Hockey League Finals five years ago when Rapid City defeated Allen for the Championship. To get to this point Allen defeated Tulsa 4-1 in the first round and Rapid City defeated Quad City 4-3.

Both teams come into the series playing great hockey with Allen winning four of five games from Tulsa and Rapid City winning two pressure packed games at home after trailing in their series with Quad City 3-2.

The schedule for the 2-3-2 series has been revised as the dates for the games in Rapid City have been changed. Here is the revised schedule. The dates in Rapid City were originally Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday but have been revised to a more favorable Thursday, Saturday, Sunday.

Central Division Finals
Game 1 - Fri May 1 7:05 PM Rapid City at Allen
Game 2 - Sat May 2 7:05 PM Rapid City at Allen
Game 3 - Thu May 7 6:35 PM Allen at Rapid City
Game 4 - Sat May 9 8:05 PM Allen at Rapid City
Game 5 - Sun May 10 5:05 PM * Allen at Rapid City
Game 6 - Tue May 12 7:05 PM * Rapid City at Allen
Game 7 - Wed May 13 7:05 PM * Rapid City at Allen
*if necessary

- Allen and Rapid City are very familiar with each other having played twelve times during the regular season. Allen was 8-4 against the Rush going 6-1 at home and 2-3 in Rapid City. Playoff hockey is different than the regular season so lets take a look at how these teams did overall in the regular season, how they did head to head and finally how they have done in the playoffs.

- Here is an overall regular season statistical comparison:
Team Record: Allen (48-14-6-4) - Rapid City (37-28-2-5)
Points: Allen (106) - Rapid City (81)
League Rank: Allen (2nd) - Rapid City (13th)
Goals For: Allen (292) - Rapid City (218)
Goals Against: Allen (203) - Rapid City (206)
Goal Differential: Allen (+89) - Rapid City (+12)
Team Plus/minus: Allen (+291) - Rapid City (+10)
Team PIM's Per Game: Allen (22.8) - Rapid City (17.1)
Win % When Scoring First: Allen (85%) - Rapid City (75%)

- Special teams are always critical in the playoffs and overall Allen has one of the best special teams in the ECHL but if you look at head to head stats and playoff stats the picture looks a little different.

OVERALL (72 games)
Power Play (overall):  Allen 21.9% - Rapid City 16.8%
Power Play (home): Allen 21.0% - Rapid City 17.5%
Power Play (away): Allen 22.6% - Rapid City 16.1%
Penalty Kill (overall): Allen 86.3% - Rapid City 83.8%
Penalty Kill (home): Allen 86.6% - Rapid City 81.3%
Penalty Kill (away): Allen 86.0% - Rapid City 86.1%

HEAD TO HEAD (12 games)
Power Play: Allen 22.0% - Rapid City 20.3%
Penalty Kill: Allen 79.7% - Rapid City 78.0%

PLAYOFFS (Allen 3 games - Rapid City  7 games)
Power Play: Allen 16% - Rapid City 10.3%
Penalty Kill: Allen 81.5% - Rapid City 80.8%

The bottom line is special teams will be a key to victory in this series and avoiding penalties that result in power play opportunities will be critical. Allen has reduced overall penalty minutes in the playoffs because they are the only team in the playoffs that has not taken a major penalty or a misconduct penalty. If you look strictly at minor penalties Allen averaged 8.0 per game in the first round of the playoffs compared to 6.6 during the regular season. Rapid City averaged 4.6 minor penalties during the regular season and 4.4 in the playoffs.

- Here is a statistical comparison of the twelve head to head games between the Americans and Rush:
Goals Scored: Allen (42) - Rapid City (32)
Shots: Allen (385) - Rapid City (337)
Power Play: Allen (9-41) - Rapid City (12-59)
Penalty Minutes: Allen (285) - Rapid City (206)

- A statistical comparison of how Allen and Rapid City performed in the first round of the playoffs shows the Americans better in the offensive end and the Rush better in the defensive end. Allen is ranked #2 of the sixteen playoff teams scoring an average of 3.60 goals per game while Rapid City is last (#16) averaging just 1.86 goals per game. However, if you look at goals allowed in the playoffs the Rush are #2 (2.14) while the Americans are #10 (2.80).  Allen has scored 18 goals in five playoff games with the second period being the most productive. Goals by period for Allen are 2-11-4 with one in overtime. Rapid City has scored 13 goals in seven playoff games with the first period being the most productive.  Goals by period for the Rush are 6-2-4 with one in overtime.

-  The key to this series for Allen will be to play the style of hockey that earned them back to back championships in the Central Hockey League. Be aggressive offensively but don't cheat, be difficult to play against by finishing checks, avoid odd man rushes, get guys and pucks to the net and play great special teams. With the addition of players like Spencer Asuchak, Gary Steffes, Ian Schultz, Vincent Arseneau, and Chris Crane, who all spent time in the AHL, the Americans are much better equipped to play the style of hockey it takes to be successful. What distinguishes Allen is the number of players that have a gritty game but also are very skilled.

- Allen has four players scoring at a point per game clip in the playoffs. In five games Spencer Asuchak has eight points (3 goals 5 assists), Chad Costello has six points (2 goals 4 assists), Gary Steffes has five points (4 goals 1 assist) and Konrad Abeltshauser has five points (2 goals 3 assists). Rapid City has no point per game players but the Rush have been led by two rookies in the playoffs as Cody Ferriero has five points and Micheal Young has four points.


- Two other second round series get underway tonight with Florida hosting South Carolina in the East Division finals and Toledo hosting Fort Wayne in the North Division finals. The Pacific Divsion finals between Utah and Ontario won't get underway until Sunday afternoon in Ontario.

- Worcester plays tonight (7:00 EDT) in Hershey and must win to stay alive in their best of five series.

- Rapid City did not arrive in Allen until last evening after finishing the grueling seven game series with Quad City on Wednesday night. Meanwhile Allen is tired of practicing and chomping at the bit to play a game. Look for Allen to hit the ice with a lot of energy and play a very physical game from the first puck drop. Allen will want to set the tone and finishing every check will be the best way to do that against a team that has to be tired.

- Hopefully all of the former Allen players (Ehrhardt, Kerbashian & Tetrault) will be in the line up tonight. Kerbashian and Tetrault did not play in game seven on Wednesday. Kerbashian was injured in game six with an upper body injury and is not expected to play.

DID YOU KNOW: Twin brothers Drew & Justin Daniels will face each other in the playoffs tonight as Justin plays for Toledo and Drew for Fort Wayne. Can you imagine having the same skating partner from the first time you stepped on the ice at age eight, through youth hockey, high school hockey, prep school hockey, junior hockey, NHL prospects camp (they were both drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 2008), college hockey and with the CHL Allen Americans.  That is exactly what happened to Drew Daniels and his younger brother Justin. I say younger as Drew always made it clear he is the older of the twin brothers by three minutes. Justin played one game for the Americans in 2012 before being waived. When Justin was waived by the Americans it was the first time Drew and Justin were not on the same team ever, a time span of 15 years.  Since 2012 Justin has spent time in Elmira and Reading before joining Toledo in March. After winning a championship with Allen in 2012-2013 Drew played for Cincinnati and Utah last year before signing with Fort Wayne this year.
Justin (left) when he was in Reading & Drew Daniels go head to head tonight

DID YOU KNOW EXTRA: Last night I spent an hour chatting with Tommy Daniels on his playoff preview radio show and he gave me an assignment of finding out if the 10 day layoff the Allen Americans had between games was the longest in ECHL history. Thanks to ECHL Director of Communications, Joe Babik, who knows everything, we have an answer. Joe shares, "10 days is not the longest. Several years back, the number one finisher in the Western Conference received a bye in the first round, leading to a 13-day break between the end of the regular season and the first playoff game for Idaho (2010) and Alaska (2011 and 2012). There also was an 11-day break between the end of round one and the start of round two for Las Vegas in 2012."

No comments:

Post a Comment