Sunday, May 8, 2016

Allen vs Missouri Game Five Preview, Playoff Update, The Game in Pictures & The Subplots

It seems like each and every game day morning, when I sit down to write the blog, the thought going through my mind is, "today's game is critical and the Americans need to win." With a 3-1 series lead against top seeded Missouri, the Americans have three chances to close it out but the Mavericks are too good of a team to let them get this series back to Independence for games six and seven. After all, Missouri won the regular season championship with 109 points, the highest point total for a Brabham Cup winner since 2007-08. And don't forget Missouri won 29 home games in the regular season which is tied for the second most in ECHL history.

Allen needs to approach the game this afternoon at the Allen Event Center (4:05 pm CDT) with the same desperation that the Mavericks will have. As coach Martinson so often says, games like this come down to "want and will."

- Here is how Allen and Missouri rank among the eight teams in the conference semi-finals.

Goals Against Average: Allen 5th (2.44) - Missouri 6th (2.50)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 7th (2.64) - Missouri 4th (3.00)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 5th (2.45) - Missouri 6th (2.50)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 4th (30.45) - Missouri 7th (28.29)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 3rd (28.00) - Missouri 5th (29.38)
Shooting Percentage: Allen 7th (8.7%) - Missouri 4th (10.2%)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 1st (24.4%) - Missouri 4th (20.5%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 7th (81.6%) - Missouri 5th (86.5%)
Plus/Minus: Allen 6th (-3) - Missouri 6th (-3)

- Allen won game four despite being outshot 37-28 and losing the special teams battle. Allen was 0-2 on the power play while Missouri was 1-4. If coach Martinson decides to add penalty kill help, you might see Justin Courtnall back in the line up today.

- The head to head totals for the first four playoff games between Allen and Missouri are close other than goals scored. Allen has the lead in goals 13-8 but Missouri leads in shots 117-114. The Mavericks are 4-20 (25%) on the power play while Allen is 3-20 (15%). Both teams have taken the exact same number of penalties (25 penalties for 50 minutes).

- Scoring the first goal has been money in the series thus far as the team that scored first has not lost. Might be a reason for both teams to get off to a fast start today.

- With the early start times on Sunday it throws the schedule off for the players who have a routine they like to follow on when they eat, when they take a nap and when they head to the rink. Allen's Sunday record this year is 9-6 while Missouri is 10-2.

- The referees scheduled today are Mike Sheehan (#17) and Peter Tarnaris (#23). The linesmen will be Mitch Macpherson (#48) and Erik Contino (#92).


- When looking at the playoff rosters for Allen and Missouri this morning I happened to notice all of the American born players on both teams. There are 24 total (Missouri 14 & Allen 10). I looked back to the 2010 playoffs, which was the first year for both of these teams, and the total number of American born players was just 10 (Missouri 6 & Allen 4).

- There are so many subplots to this series between Allen and Missouri. There have been a lot of players that have played for both teams over the years. Missouri has long been the star franchise off the ice that struggles in the playoffs on the ice. Allen has been a struggling franchise off the ice that has excelled in the playoffs on the ice. Then you have the matchup between the coach with 20 years of experience and nine championships against his assistant coach for two years, who became Missouri's head coach last season and is the reigning ECHL Coach of the Year and ECHL Hockey Executive of the Year. If Steve Martinson can pull off a win in this series it will only add to his legacy as a coach that will out work, out prepare, out strategize and out coach most everyone in a seven games series. If Richard Matvichuk can pull off a win in this series it will show his acumen as a coach and motivator that has turned the playoff fortunes of the Mavericks around. This series isn't over and it will be enjoyable to watch no matter how long it lasts.


- There were two playoff games last night and the home teams were successful in both games. The home versus road record now stands at 33-32.

- Reading beat Wheeling at home last night by a score of 3-1 and holds a 3-2 series lead. The series now heads back to Wheeling where the Nailers will have to win games six and seven to advance to the Eastern Conference final.

- In the other Eastern Conference semi-final, the Adirondack Thunder won at home against the South Carolina Stingrays. Adirondack took a 2-0 lead in the first period only to have South Carolina comeback and tie the game in the third period to send it into overtime.  The Thunder got the game winner at 11:21 of overtime. With the win, Adirondack takes a 3-2 lead with the series headed to South Carolina for games six and seven.

- The Missouri vs Allen game is the only game on the schedule today.

- If the teams that are currently leading in their series (Allen, Reading and Adirondack) all win (a big if) it would put the #6 and #8 seeds in the Eastern Conference final and the #2 and #4 seeds in the Western Conference final. It would also mean just one of the six division winners (Fort Wayne) would make it to the Conference final. So much for the importance of the regular season in playoff hockey.


- Here are some of my favorite photos from the game on Friday:

Empty net goal by Vinny - photo by

It's a celly! - photo by Lauren Lyssy

Faceoff concentration or Where you eating after the game? - Lauren Lyssy

Why don't you talk to me anymore Mr. Matvichuk? - photo by Dianne Webster

Hey Ref, how long does he have to hold my stick before it is a penalty?
No problem, I've got it in my glove - photo by Dianne Webster
Oh crap Stevie, we missed it! - photo by Dianne Webster

DID YOU KNOW: The amount of historical data available about playoffs in sports is unbelievable. Here is some information from that you might find interesting. If you look at all major sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) that have best of seven formats the series victory probability when one team takes a 3-1 series lead is 91.7%. If you look just at the NHL the percentage is 90.1%. If you look at the probabilities if the first game of the series was on the road (Allen's situation)  the percentages go down to 88.0 % for all sports and 87.4% for the NHL. Game five results when a team takes a 3-1 lead are very different than the series win probabilities. When a team takes a 3-1 series lead and the first game of the series was on the road the win probabilities for game five are 38.0% for all sports and for the NHL are 41.7%.

If you want to get down to the exact type of series in the Allen vs Missouri matchup it would be the second round (quarterfinals), Allen with a 3-1 lead and their first game was on the road.  Here are the all time NHL results in that situation. In game five the team with the 3-1 lead has gone 15-15 (50%) and in winning the series the team with the 3-1 lead is 27-3 (90.0%).

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