Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Roster, The Schedule, The Record - What Lies Ahead for the Allen Americans

As the Allen Americans head back to practice at the Allen Event Center (AEC) today I thought it would be a good day to see where this team has been and where it is headed. I want to focus on the roster and the schedule as the team heads into February.

- The Roster - One of the most unpredictable parts of the job for coach Martinson is the roster. Injuries, call ups and loans create situations that go from too many players on the roster to not enough in a matter of days. Just over a week ago the Americans were playing with only seven forwards and using an emergency backup goalie (EBUG). Coach Martinson brought in goalie Peter Di Salvo and contemplated bringing in other players. Within two days Greger Hanson, Bryan Moore and Jake Marchment were back in Allen from AHL assignments and Dyson Stevenson returned from an injury.

- Peter Di Salvo was released yesterday so that means Riley Gill is ready to go and expected to play this weekend. Zach Hall who has been listed as day to day could also be available. All of a sudden coach Martinson isn't thinking about adding players but subtracting players. The Americans could have 12 forwards and seven defensman available this weekend. That doesn't include Aaron Gens and Travis Brown who are still on the mend. The good news is Allen is going into February with a strong roster, the bad news is if everyone is healthy some players will probably get moved.

- The Schedule - Two things are happening at the same time that should be good news for Allen fans. The roster is getting stronger and the schedule is getting more favorable. It is always good to remember at the end of November, Allen had a record of 8-11 and was mired in last place in the Mountain Division. A phenomenal December record of 10-2-1-1 turned things around for the Americans. You may have a feeling January didn't go so well, especially when the team was playing shorthanded but it was an excellent month. The Americans record in January was 7-2-1-1 which computes to a winning percentage of .727. If you combine the last two months Allen's record is 17-4-2-2 which equates to a winning percentage of .760.

- Allen has now played almost two thirds of their games (46 of 72) and has just 26 games left in the regular season. Most of the difficult travel is done and the majority of the remaining games are at home (14 of 26). Let's look at the current winning percentage of the teams Allen has to play the rest of the season. Here is the list from lowest to highest win percentage with the number of games to be played in parentheses.

.352 - Indy (3 games - 2 home 1 away)
.417 - Rapid City (5 games - 2 home 3 away)
.419 - Wichita (4 games - 3 home 1 away)
.500 - Missouri (6 games - 2 home 4 away)
.521 - Tulsa (8 games - 5 home 3 away )
.630 - ALLEN

- It is a very favorable schedule the rest of the way for Allen with 18 of 26 games against opponents currently at .500 or below. Missouri, Rapid City, Wichita and Indy are the four worst teams in the Western Conference according to winning percentage.

- If the standings are close at the end of the season it is good to know six of the last seven games are at home against familiar foes in Tulsa (4 games), Missouri (2 games) and Wichita once. The worst thing about the remaining schedule is Allen does not play any of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

- The number one goal for Allen is to win their division. The first two rounds of the playoffs are within the division so winning the Mountain Division is critical to obtain home ice advantage. It is going to be a challenge for the Americans to overtake Toledo to become the top seed in the Western Conference. Toledo's winning percentage (.786) is much higher than Allen's (.630) and to make up that much ground in just 26 remaining games is unlikely even with a favorable schedule.

DID YOU KNOW: How important is home ice advantage in the playoffs? In their four consecutive championships the Allen Americans have had at least one seven game series each year. They have had a total of six series go to seven games including the final series in 2013 (Wichita) and 2015 (South Carolina). The Americans have had home ice advantage in all six of their seven game series and have won all of them.

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