Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Allen vs Idaho Series Preview, Playoff Roster, Time To Fly & Banner To Rafters

The Allen Americans start their 2016 playoff run tomorrow night at home against the Idaho Steelheads. The Americans have made the playoffs every year since their inception (2009-10), have won three straight championships and are the defending Kelly Cup champs. Allen fans have come to expect deep playoff runs from this team and the expectations certainly aren't any different this year.

Heard some good news yesterday from the team that they will be flying to Idaho rather than making the 1600 mile trip by bus. The entire team was pleased to hear they would avoid another 60 hours (round trip) on "Big Red." It will make the short turnaround between games much easier. Congrats to all who pulled this off.


Game 1: Thursday, April 14th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST
Game 2: Saturday, April 16th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST
Game 3: Wednesday, April 20th Allen at Idaho 8:10 PM CST
Game 4: Friday, April 22nd Allen at Idaho 8:10 PM CST
Game 5: Saturday, April 23rd Allen at Idaho 8:10 PM CST if necessary
Game 6: Tuesday April 26th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST if necessary
Game 7: Wednesday April 27th Idaho at Allen 7:05 PM CST if necessary


                                     ALLEN                              IDAHO

Team Record              41-24-3-4 (89 points)            38-24-7-3 (86 points)
Division Ranking         2nd - Central                        2nd -West
Conference Ranking   4th - Western                       5th - Western
League Ranking         6th                                         9th
Home Record             22-10-2-2                              19-11-3-3
Road Record              19-14-1-2                              19-13-4-0
Last Ten                      5-3-0-2                                  4-3-2-1
Goals For                    222                                        203
Goals Against             204                                        187
Power Play                 21.1% (58/275)                      15.1% (41/271)
Penalty Kill                  86.4% (39/286)                      86.5% (36/266)
Most PIM's                  Stevenson (115)                    Carroll (101)
Leading Scorer           Costello  (24-79-103)             Linsmayer (21-36-57)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 5th (16.51) - Idaho 20th (12.74)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 13th (3.08) - Idaho 19th (2.82)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 13th (2.83) - Idaho 5th (2.60)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 24th (28.82) - Idaho 22nd (29.35)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 18th (30.61) - Idaho 9th (29.03)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (21.1%) - Idaho 22nd (15.1%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 3rd (86.4%) - Idaho 2nd (86.5%)

-  Special teams play is always critical during the playoffs and Allen has the best special teams in the ECHL. One way to look at this is combining power play and penalty kill percentages. The magic number that teams strive to achieve is greater than 105% combined. Typically around 10% of NHL teams can exceed the 105% level and it is considered exceptional. Allen leads the ECHL with a combined percentage of 107.5%. Idaho has a combined percentage of 101.6%.

- The advantage Allen has on special teams is on the power play. Allen is ranked #1 in the league at 21.1%. Idaho is ranked #22 at 15.1% and on the road the Steelheads convert on only 12.8% of their power play chances.

- When it comes to penalty kill both teams are outstanding. Idaho is ranked #2 (86.5%) and Allen is ranked #3 (86.4%). Win the special teams battle and you will most likely win the game.


- Allen and Idaho played four times during the regular season with all four games taking place in a 10 day period back in December. Since these teams haven't seen each other since December 19 and have very different lineups, it is hard to draw any conclusions from the four head to head games they have played but here is a brief recap:

December 9 in Allen - Riley Gill led Allen to a 4-0 victory with a 29 save shutout. Tristan King had two goals and Eric Roy had three assists. Allen was 2-5 on the power play while Idaho was 0-5.

December 13 in Allen - The Americans trailed in this game 1-0 and 2-1 but came back to tie the score 2-2 midway through the third period on a Gary Steffes goal. Idaho won in overtime on a Cole Ully goal. Ully was the #1 star of the game and was called up by Texas (AHL) after the game and spent the rest of the season with Texas. If Texas gets eliminate earlyin the playoffs you could see Ully back in Idaho.

December 18 in Idaho - This was the famous "road trip from hell" game that the Americans lost 6-3. After spending the better part of two days to make it to Boise just in time for the game, the Americans came out flying in the first period. They out shot Idaho 15-5 and killed off a five minute major penalty (Justin Courtnall got a game misconduct for boarding) but all the Americans got for their effort was a 1-1 tie after the first period. Allen had leads of 2-1 early in the second period and 3-2 early in the third period but couldn't hold them. The roof fell on Allen in the third period as Idaho scored four unanswered goals including an empty net goal to make the final score 6-3. Allen was 3-4 on the power play and Idaho was 2-4.

December 19 in Idaho - If you look at the box score you would have to say the Americans stole this game as they won 3-2 in a shootout.  They jumped off to a two goal lead in the first period on just four shots with goals by Chad Costello and Chris Crane but gave them both back in the second period. Allen mustered a paltry 12 shots on goal in regulation which is the lowest total all season. While getting only 12 shots in regulation Allen allowed Idaho 32 shots. The Americans took 15 penalties and gave Idaho nine power play opportunities including a couple of extended five on three power plays. Allen had just two power play opportunities and one of them was just 20 seconds long. This was also the game where Allen won the shootout after four shooters on a Gary Steffes goal but neither the officials or teams realized it so the shootout continued until the sixth round when Eric Roy scored.

- The roster Allen has today is very different than the roster when they played Idaho in December. Jake Hildebrand, Joel Rumpel, Thomas Carr, Matt Register, Jordan Rowley, Spencer Asuchak, Kyle Neuber, and Greger Hanson were not with Allen when they played Idaho in December.

- Leading scorers for Allen in the four head to head games were Chad Costello (2 goal 5 assists), Tristan King (3 goals 3 assists) and Eric Roy (1 goal 4 assists). Leading scorers for Idaho were Kyle Jean (0 goals 6 assists and Emil Molin (2 goals 2 assists).


- Another key factor in any playoff series is goalie play. In all of Allen's championship seasons there was a goalie that stepped up and played outstanding. Riley Gill last season, Bryan Pitton in 2014 and Aaron Dell in 2013. Who will that player be this year? Based on who played down the stretch in the regular season the best guess is Jake Hildebrand will get the start on Thursday. But if you remember last year both goalies played early on and then Riley Gill just took over. It is still to be determined who will step up this season.

- Idaho has a plethora of goalies with Philippe Desrosiers and Brandon Komm on the active roster and Maxime Legace and Jack Campbell on the playoff eligible list. If Texas is eliminated in the first round of the playoffs they could send one of the playoff eligible goalies to Idaho.

- If you look at season long goalie stats the advantage goes to Idaho. Allen has a team GAA of 2.75 and save percentage of .909. Idaho has a team GAA of 2.52 and save percentage of .912.

- When it comes to playoff goalie play you can throw the stats out the window. One of these goalies will step up and be a difference maker and it is always fun to watch that happen.


-  The ECHL has adopted the two referee system for all playoff games this season so it will be interesting to see what impact that will have, especially on some of the extra curricular activities that happen behind the play.

- The Allen vs Idaho series should be a great series that could very easily go seven games. These are two well coached teams with lots of talent.  Home ice advantage has proven to be very helpful to Allen over the years and it could be an important factor in this series.

- If Allen can stay aggressive offensively without gambling and if the forwards can buy into the concept of it is more important to win the game than score points, the Americans will be in good shape. Coach Martinson always reminds players you don't need to anything extra in the playoffs. Don't try to do too much and be a hero. Just play your best and that is enough.

- I have had a lot of questions about the playoff roster. If you saw the final list you noticed three groups of names. There were nineteen on the active list, three on the reserve list and two on the playoff eligible list. The total is 24 names so one question is how can there be 24 names when the playoff roster is 23. The ECHL rule allows you to have slots for players in the AHL that are qualified to play without naming the players. The Americans have two players (Jevpalovs & Doremus) currently in the AHL that are qualified to play for Allen in the playoffs. Coach Martinson has decided to save one slot on the roster for Jevpalovs or Doremus but doesn’t have to decide which one to add until they become available by San Jose. Once one of them (presumably Jevpalovs) is added the roster is full and complete at that time. To answer another question a player can move back and forth from active to reserve at any time as long as their salary isn't changed. If the salary is changed they must stay on the reserve list for at least one game.

- If you get the chance listen to the radio show with Steve Martinson today from 12:30 - 1:30 pm. I will join Tommy Daniels as we discuss with coach Martinson the upcoming series with Idaho. The show will be live streamed through 107.3 FM.

DID YOU KNOW: I found a surprise when I stopped by the Allen Event Center (AEC) yesterday. The Kelly Cup championship banner has finally found it's place in the rafters. Sorry for the poor quality but here is the proof:


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