Friday, January 29, 2016

Allen vs Tulsa Game Preview, Roster Changes Include Nikita Jevpalovs, Halabi Plays Hurt Story & More

It is game day in Allen as the Americans start a three games in three days series for the third straight weekend. This weekend you can throw in a little travel to go along with the three games. All three games are against the Tulsa Oilers with the game tonight in Allen, Saturday in Tulsa and Sunday back in Allen.

 Roster changes for both teams since Tulsa beat Allen 2-0 on Tuesday favors the Americans. Here is the list:

Aaron Harstad - The Oilers defenseman, who is under contract with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) and was a seventh round pick of the the Winnipeg Jets in the 2011 NHL draft, was recalled by Manitoba on Wednesday. In 14 games with Tulsa, Harstad had eight points, 14 penalty minutes and was a +11.

David Makowski - The Allen defenseman returns to the line up tonight after serving a one game suspension on Tuesday. A key part of the Americans power play, David has the fourth best points per game average in the ECHL among defensemen.

Tristan King - According to coach Martinson, King will be activated today and be in the line up tonight after missing several games with an injury. Tristan last played on December 27.

Nikita  Jevpalovs - Pronounced (YEFF-pell-uhvs), this big bodied forward showed up on the AHL transactions yesterday as being loaned to Allen by the San Jose Sharks. Nikita is currently playing for the San Jose Barracuda. Since the Barracuda has been in Texas this week playing the Texas Stars on Wednesday and the San Antonio Rampage tonight and Saturday, it was both easy and inexpensive to get Jevpalovs to Allen. He could play a couple of games for Allen and hook back up with the Barracuda before they leave Texas. The AHL All-Star break starts this weekend so after their game with San Antonio on Saturday, San Jose doesn't play again until February 5th. Expect to see Jevpalovs in the line up for Allen tonight wearing #24. Nikita is a 21 year old rookie who signed a free agent NHL deal with San Jose a little over a year ago. He is from Latvia and has extensive experience playing in the World Cup for his country. Last season he played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and totaled 100 points (49 goals 51 assists). He has struggled scoring in his rookie season with the Barracuda with just two goals and eight assists in 37 games. Here is a description of Nikita's style from the news release when he signed his NHL deal. "He is an attacking Latvian wing with a relentless motor. Makes good puck decisions and never seems to stop moving and working. Is patient and displays good hands, and passes. Good in traffic and in close."

Nikita Jevpalovs will be in the line up for Allen tonight

- Bottom line is Allen adds three offensive weapons and Tulsa loses one of their best defensemen to the AHL. It all favors the Americans if it they can generate more shots on goal which has been an Achilles heel recently.

- One player you won't see in the line up tonight is Reid Halabi. As a matter of fact he will be out of the line up for a few weeks. Reid is the Allen tough guy in more than one respect. Reid was hit with a puck a couple of weeks ago and could hardly walk after the game. He had an x-ray which was negative but his ankle was slow to heal despite wearing a walking boot. According to coach Martinson, despite his injury, he told the coach he wanted to play last week when Wichita was in town and put Erick Lizon back in the line up after a suspension. Reid said he was good to go for a fight if Wichita wanted to start something. Sure enough Reid fought Wichita's Paxton Leroux and despite giving up five inches to Leroux, Reid held his own. As coach Martinson said at his post game press conference, "If I would have put him out again after the fight he would have fought again but I could tell from watching him on the bench he could barely sit still because his foot was so sore and he had his skate loosened up." Since playing against Wichita last week Reid's ankle has not improved so the team sent him to get an MRI and that revealed he had a hairline fracture all along and played the game with Wichita and had the fight with a broken ankle. Now that is a tough guy who went above and beyond the call of duty. I am sure that earned Reid a lot of respect in the locker room.

- The game tonight against Tulsa will be the ninth of 15 games these teams will play this season. The Americans record against the Oilers in the previous eight games is 3-5. In addition to the typical comparison between the teams, thought it would be interesting to look at averages based on the eight head to head match ups. Here are the results:
                                    ALLEN          TULSA                  
Goals:                            1.88              3.00
Shots:                            23.13            28.75
Power Play %                13.3%           14.7%
Penalties:                       6.38              5.88
Penalty Minutes:            16.38            15.75

- Here is the regular comparison between Allen and Tulsa:

                                     ALLEN                                TULSA

Team Record              24-15-2-1(51 points)             19-14-2-2 (42 points)
Division Ranking         2nd - Central                         3rd - Central
Conference Ranking   4th - Western                        8th - Western
League Ranking         9th                                        17th
Last Game                  2-0 L (Tulsa)                         2-0 W (Allen)
Goals For                   123                                      102
Goals Against             119                                       90
Power Play                 22.0% (35/159)                     13.1% (18/137)
Penalty Kill                 85.1% (25/168)                      83.3% (25/150)
Leading Scorer          Costello  (16-42-58)                DeSalvo (11-20-31)
Most PIM's                 Stevenson - 74                       Clark - 113

-  Here is how Allen and Tulsa rank in the ECHL in some statistical categories:

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 2nd (17.48) - Tulsa 5th (16.59)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 12th (2.93) - Tulsa 18th (2.76)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 13th (2.83) - Tulsa 5th (2.43)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 26th (27.69) - Tulsa 25th (27.92)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 16th (30.43) - Tulsa 4th (27.43)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 2nd (22.0%) - Tulsa 26th (13/1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 8th (85.1%) - Tulsa 16th (83.3%)

- Special teams will most certainly play a role in the game tonight. If you look at the ECHL stats, Allen has a big advantage with a much better overall power play percentage than Tulsa (22.0% to 13.1%).  If you look at Allen's home power play percentage (19.7%) versus Tulsa's road power play percentage (8.4%) the advantage is even bigger. However, if you look at the eight head to head games between these teams, Tulsa is at 14.7% on the power play compared to Allen at 13.3%.

- Both of these teams have trouble getting shots on goal with Allen ranked #26 in the league and Tulsa #25. They both average just under 28 shots per game. But head to head Tulsa has a big advantage averaging almost 29 shots per game compared to Allen's 23. I know coach Martinson has made some adjustments for this game so hopefully the adjustments along with the addition of Makowski, King and Jevpalovs will generate more shots.

 - Officials scheduled for the game are referee Mike Sheehan (#11) and linesmen Alex Black (#63) and Brian Bull (#49).

- If you see a couple of different looking jerseys being worn by Chad Costello and Joel Rumpel tonight it is part of a program sponsored by the ECHL and The MeiGray Group. Fans had the opportunity to vote on for one member of each team to be selected to the 2015-16 fantasy team. The winning player from each team will wear a special ECHL Fantasy Jersey at a home game. Chad Costello was the winner from Allen and will wear the specialty jersey tonight. A goaltender is also selected from each team in what is called the MeiGray Golden Goalie Program. Joel Rumpel will be wearing the "Golden Goalie" jersey tonight. The game worn jerseys will be available for bid through The MeiGray group starting March 3rd running through March 24.

Chad & Joel checking out the specialty jerseys they will wear tonight - photo by Dianne Webster

DID YOU KNOW: Since joining the ECHL, Allen's overall record against Tulsa is 15-9-0-1. They are 7-5 at home against the Oilers and 8-4-0-1 in Tulsa.

1 comment:

  1. It will be interesting to see Nikita Jevpalovs. He hasn't done much in the AHL so maybe so time in the ECHL would help. I know this is a very short term loan, but for his own development he might benefit from time in the ECHL.