It seems like every time I write a game preview the first sentence starts with how critical the game will be. When Allen takes on Missouri tonight at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in game six of their series it will definitely be a critical game. The Americans had a 3-1 series lead before losing on Sunday at home. If they win tonight Allen will advance to the Western Conference final against Fort Wayne. If the Americans lose tonight there will be a winner take all game seven tomorrow (Wednesday) night.
- There is no way the Americans want to tempt fate and have this series go to a game seven. This series is the 12th playoff series since Steve Martinson has been the coach. Allen is 11-0 at this point and has won six of the 11 series in game seven. However, all six of those game seven wins came at the Allen Event Center (AEC). Home ice advantage is with Missouri and could be the difference maker if the series go to game seven.
This series is now five games old and Allen leads 3-2. Here are some of my observations when looking at the first five games.
- The team that scored first has won four of the five games. The one exception was in the last game when Allen scored first and lost.
- The team with the most shots has lost four of the five games.
- None of the games have been real close with the margin of victory being two goals three times, three goals once and four goals once. Nothing close to an overtime yet. Maybe tonight.
- There has not been a single major penalty called in the series. The most penalty minutes either team has had in a game is 18. In game four there were only a total six penalties called in the entire game.
- The home team has a record of 3-2 in the series.
- Both teams have struggled on the power play. Missouri was 3-8 on the power play in game two when they routed Allen 5-2, but in the other four games they are just 1-16 (6.3%). Allen had one power play goal in the first three games of the series but has had none in the last two. The Americans top ranked power play unit is just 3-26 (11.5%) against Missouri.
- Missouri has done a good job of shutting down the Allen defenesmen in the offensive zone. In five games the defensemen have just one goal (Eric Roy). In the first round of the playoffs against Idaho the defensemen had six goals.
- Both of these teams like to play with a lead. In the first two rounds of the playoffs their combined record when leading after the first period is 8-1 and when leading after the second period is 11-0.
- Coach Martinson mentioned after game five that he would be making some roster changes for game six. He specifically talked about J.P. LaFontaine getting a regular shift.
- Tristan King did not make the trip so he will have to be replaced. My understanding is Tristan has an upper body injury.
- With the type of series this has turned into you would think Justin Courtnall will replace King on the roster and play tonight.
- Rick Pinkston was activated from reserve yesterday and is with the team. That means seven healthy defensemen so you would assume either Pinkston or Federico will not play. Aaron Gens is also on the trip but will not play.
- The referees scheduled tonight are Pierre Lambert (#20) and Andrew Wilk (#24). The linesmen will be Russ Coll (#40) and Erik Contino (#92).
- In the only playoff action last night the Wheeling Nailers blew open a close game (2-2 after second period) with six third period goals to beat Reading 8-3 and tie the series 3-3. The winner take all game seven will take place in Wheeling on Wednesday night.
- In addition to the Allen at Missouri game tonight, Adirondack is at South Carolina for game six in that series. Adirondack leads the series 3-2.
-The home versus road record for the entire payoffs now stands at 34-33.
- One of the nice privileges I get by writing the Allen Americans Blog is meeting people in the press box that make a living writing about sports. I have mentioned many times how helpful Rick Gosselin and Mike Heika, who are nationally known sports writers for the Dallas Morning News, have been to me, the novice. They have not only been more than willing to share their knowledge with me but have been kind enough to forward my blog to their readers via Twitter. To get my stories about the Americans forwarded to 40,000 hockey/sports fans is incredible publicity for the Allen Americans. The support my blog and the Allen Americans get from Rick and Mike is both noticed and appreciated.
- Another sports writer who is not so well known is Matt Welch, who is the Executive Sports Editor for Star Local Media and writes for the Plano Star Courier and Allen American newspapers. Matt's primary responsibility is to cover high school sports for these local papers so you can imagine how busy he is with all of the high school sports going on. When Matt gets time he makes it to Allen games during the regular season and covers the playoffs each year. You can check out Matt's work by following him on twitter (@MWelchSLM) or at http://starlocalmedia.com/
- Here is Matt's story about the Allen Americans game five loss on Sunday: http://starlocalmedia.com/allenamerican/sports/hockey-allen-americans-let-elimination-chance-slip-aside-against-echl/article_b0f3373e-1638-11e6-a32c-771a0cd36248.html
- Allen's NHL affiliate, the San Jose Sharks, lost game six to the Predators last night in Nashville by a score of 4-3 in overtime. The winner take all game seven takes place in San Jose on Thursday. The Dallas Stars won their game six in St. Louis last night (3-2) to force a game seven which will be played in Dallas on Wednesday.
DID YOU KNOW: May 10 & 11 have been a couple of big days in Allen Americans history. Allen won the Central Hockey League (CHL) championship on this date (May 10) in 2014 beating Denver 5-2. Allen won the 2013 CHL championship on May 11, 2013, beating Wichita in game seven by a score of 3-2 in overtime.