Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Allen vs Missouri Preview, Who's In, Who's Out, Reading President Resigns, McDonald's Jersey & Playoff Primer

The Allen Americans are in Missouri tonight to take on the Mavericks in a game that is very important for both teams for different reasons. Allen is battling Colorado for the top spot in the division. The Americans and Eagles are playing great hockey, tied for the best record in the league over the last ten games (8-1-1-0) and the Americans can't afford to lose. Meanwhile Missouri is battling with Utah and Alaska just to make the playoffs and can't afford to lose.

- In the battle for the top, Allen and Colorado have a combined streak 11-0-1-0. In the battle for the playoffs Missouri, Utah and Alaska have a combined streak of 0-7-2-1. Allen is six points behind Colorado in the race for #1. Missouri is six points behind Alaska in the race for a playoff spot.

- The bottom line is if Allen loses tonight their hopes of overtaking the Eagles will be pretty much gone. Since Colorado holds the tiebreaker over the Americans the Eagles could go 5-3 over their last eight games and still win the division.

- The task at hand for Allen is to concentrate on the game tonight rather than the playoff implications and that is exactly what they will do. A roster that was overflowing with players left Allen yesterday with no extra players available. Spencer Asuchak, Greger Hanson and Alex Schoenborn are all playing in the AHL and Bryan Moore was left home because of an injury. That is a lot of firepower that will not be in the lineup tonight.

- The good news for the Americans is there will be plenty of new firepower available to fill the void and eat up more ice time. Wade MacLeod will be starting his fifth game, Tyler Barnes his third and Alex Krushelnyski his first for Allen. Combined they have over 200 games of AHL experience and all three average around a point a game over their ECHL careers.

The game tonight will be the 11th of 13 meetings between Allen and Missouri during the regular season. The final two games will be at the Allen Event Center on March 29 & 30.

- Allen is 8-1-1-0 in the first 10 games these team have played this season but that dominance doesn't mean much at this point. Missouri has lost three games in a row and got embarrassed 5-0 by Quad City in their last outing. The question that remains for tonight is whether the Mavericks will play with the desperation needed to make the playoffs or like a team that already believes they will not make the playoffs.

- Here is how Allen and Missouri match up:

                                    ALLEN                              MISSOURI

Team Record:             41-17-3-2 (87 points)          28-26-3-5 (61 points)
Division Ranking:        2nd Mountain                     6th Mountain
Conference Ranking:  3rd Western                       10th Western
League Ranking:        3rd                                      20th
Last Game:                 4-2 Win (Wichita)               5-0 Loss (Quad City)
Goals For:                   252                                    199
Goals Against:            180                                     206
Power Play:                23.4% (63/269)                  14.9% (42/282)
Penalty Kill:                85.1% (45/302)                   83.8% (37/228)
Most PIM                    Mathers (238)                     Fox (109)
Leading Scorers:        Costello (31-78-109)           Fox (28-35-63)
                                   Hanson (33-38-71)              Nowick (21-24-45)

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

Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 1st (20.22) - Missouri 14th (13.66)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 2nd (4.00) - Missouri 16th (3.21)
Goals Allowed Per Game: Allen 2nd (2.86) - Missouri 16th (3.32)
Shots For Per Game: Allen 20th (31.60) - Missouri 15th (32.10)
Shots Against Per Game: Allen 23rd (34.78) - Missouri 21st (34.00)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 4th (23.4%) - Missouri 22nd (14.9%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 2nd (85.1%) - Missouri 8th (83.8%)

- A fast start is always a good predictor of success for the Americans. They have the second best record in the league when scoring first (32-2-2-1). Another key to success is special teams and Allen has the advantage ranking #4 on the power play (23.4%) compared to Missouri at #22 (14.9%). Both teams are good on the penalty kill with Allen ranked #2 and Missouri #8 in the league.

- The Allen power play has been the best in the league since December scoring at close to a 30% clip. While the power play has gotten a lot of attention it has been the penalty kill that has shined recently, climbing to #2 in the league at 85.1%. In the last ten games the penalty kill unit has given up just three goals in 49 chances. The 3-49 translates to a penalty kill percentage of 93.9%. Every bit as impressive as a 30% power play. Job well done by the underappreciated penalty killers. 

- If you combine the stats for the ten games these teams have played this season, Allen leads in goals (36-22) but Missouri has the edge in shots (358-279). Allen has a big advantage on the power play as they have at least one power play goal in eight of the 10 games. The Americans are 9-44 (20.5%) on the power play while Missouri is 6-62 (9.7%).

- Allen and Missouri had some low penalty minute games earlier in the season but the recent games have seen 40, 60, 52 and 54 penalty minutes with lots of fisticuffs. Jake Doty has had fights with Mathers (2), Stevenson, Gunn and Brittain in the last three games. All three games were in Missouri and were entertaining for the home crowd but you have to question the tactic as that style of play works to Allen's advantage. Allen won all three games. It will be interesting to see if Missouri changes their approach tonight but if they want dance partners they will have plenty of choices. Would have to think a Mathers vs Doty rematch is likely.

- The referee scheduled for the game is Corey Chipperfield (#5) and the linesmen are Russ Coll (#40) and John Tallieu (#0).


- Late last night the Reading Royals issued a press release announcing their team president, Drew Bell, has resigned effective immediately. This follows the recent announcement that Reading coach, Larry Courville, could not come to an agreement with the team even though he wanted to return. Courville will be leaving after the end of the season. Not sure what this all means but it is concerning if for no other reason than the team is doing very well on the ice and will make the playoffs for the eighth straight year. Reading won the Kelly Cup as recently as 2013. Having all of this turmoil during the season for a successful team is disheartening and rumors abound that others are leaving the front office as well. Not sure if whatever is going on in Reading will have any impact on re-signing Steve Martinson or front office changes in Allen but it does make you wonder. Stay tuned.

- When new Allen owner Jack Gulati met with season ticket holders before the game on Saturday he asked for help putting "butts in the seat" and at least one fan took him up on his request. Many of you know Mary Betz who I would describe as a super fan and that is an understatement. Mary posted the following on her Facebook page in an effort to reach out. Good job Mary!

Just a reminder - if you live in Allen, Frisco, Plano, McKinney, Fairview, or reasonably close to Allen, you have Championship Hockey in Allen. The Allen Americans are ECHL, just 2 levels away from NHL. We are affiliated with the San Jose Sharks (because someone a long time ago in the Dallas Stars franchise chose not to support Allen). We have won the championship the past consecutive 4 years. The Allen Event Center is easy to get to, free parking, and a whole lot of places to eat before and after the games. We are down to our final 6 home games before we officially start the "DRIVE FOR FIVE", as we pursue our 5th consecutive championship. Come be a part of history being made.....we are the winningest franchise in the DFW metroplex. See ya'll Friday at the game!

- Heard yesterday that April 1st will be McDonald's night at the Allen Americans as they take on the Tulsa Oilers. It will be a fitting day to bring back the famous McDonald's specialty jersey. The final design is not available yet but you can be assured it will look similar to this blast from the past as modeled by NHL goalie Aaron Dell.

Aaron Dell and the famous McDonald's specialty jersey

- First place Colorado is in action tonight at home against the last place Rapid City Rush. It is not as bleak as it might sound as Rapid City has won three of the last five game these teams have played including two in Colorado.

DID YOU KNOW: The first two rounds of the Kelly Cup playoffs will be played entirely within the division, with the division winner playing the fourth place finisher and the second place team meeting the third place team in the division semifinals. The winner of each series will meet in the division finals, leading to the conference finals and Kelly Cup finals. All series will be best of seven and there will be two referees for all playoff games.

1 comment:

  1. What is going on? Maybe the grass isn't greener, maybe we are out of the frying pan and into the fire. Where there is smoke there is fire. Not looking good.