Sunday, April 30, 2017

Allen Loses 5-2, Trail 2-0 as Series Heads to Colorado, Martinson Comments, Playoff Update, Look at Affliate Help

The Allen Americans have had numerous comebacks in the Steve Martinson era on their way to four straight championships including trailing Ontario 3-1 in the Western Conference finals in 2015. However, after losing to the Colorado Eagles 5-2 last night at the Allen Event Center (AEC) before a crowd of 4882 the Americans are in uncharted territory. They have never lost the first two games of a playoff series.

- It was a similar script between the loss last night and the loss in game one. Allen gave up the first goal just 4:46 into the game. The Americans  started the game with a lot of energy and had several chances to take the early lead but were stopped by the Eagles rookie goaltender Lukas Hafner. I mention as a key to every game the first goal is so important and that is especially true in this series. For the record Allen and Colorado now have a record this season when scoring first of 81-4-2-2.

- Even more perplexing than giving up the first goal of the game is Allen's lack of success on special teams. They came into this series with a distinct advantage with a 30% success rate on the power play facing a Colorado penalty kill that struggled in the first round at only 73.7%. The game plan was to make sure there were plenty of power play opportunities and Allen would come out on top. The results in the first two games prove that game plan didn't work. The Americans were 0-4 last night on the power play and are 1-10 (10%) over the first two games. Meanwhile the Eagles scored power play goals in both games and are 2-9 (22.2%).

- The goal scorers for Allen were Gary Steffes (1) and Josh Brittain (2). In my opinion Josh Brittain was the best player on the ice for Allen. He not only had a goal but played Allen Americans style hard nosed hockey all night. If you want to look at all of the goals (except the empty net goal) the highlights are posted at ECHL Rewind. Focusing on the defensive breakdowns that created the goal scoring opportunities might be as instructive as the goals themselves. Here is the link to ECHL Rewind:

- The task gets tougher for the Americans as they now head to Colorado for the next three games trailing 2-0 in the series. Anyone that thinks this series is over doesn't know Steve Martinson. At his post game press conference he was realistic but resolute that his team has the talent to win and will be focused on just one thing and that is winning game three.

- Here is the game recap issued by the Allen Americans:

- If you want a very detailed recap of the game check out this story from Cris Tiller of the Loveland Reporter-Herald which is very well done.


- It is always interesting to listen to coach Martinson's pregame interview with Tom Manning. Here is what Martinson had to say before the game last night.

Here are Steve Martinson's post game comments:

- This obviously is not where we wanted to be. We now have to go into Colorado and win. In order to do that we are going to have to eliminate some of our mistakes. We have to go into Colorado and bring our best game. It is frustrating to be in this position but we have won all year on the road.

- Our first line has to score more even strength. We will get Bryan Moore back in the lineup in Colorado and that will gives us additional speed and our best goal scorer over the last 10 games. I am confident we can win the next game and turn this series around.

- It is not the position we want to be in and it is a little frustrating being down 2-0 at home. But we can go into their place and win. I said last night it is not a best of one and tonight I will say it is not a best of two. We do not want to go down 3-0 as that is something you don't want to be looking at.

- I thought we had a good start tonight but we need to do a better job finishing. We had our chances and it is playoff time so we have to capitalize on those chances.

- Our power play didn't get much done again tonight. I thought the first couple of power plays we were trying to pass the puck into the net rather than shooting it. We need to make better decisions on the power play. We took some shots when there was no net support but their goalie also made some pretty big saves.

- Their four on four goal (second goal) was painful. We turned the puck over and then didn't defend the play well. Belzile is killing us with two goals tonight and the game winner last night. We have to counter with our top guys scoring goals.

- We have been down by two games before and came back. We are the defending champions and we are going to have to play better if we want to get back in this series. Colorado won 17 games straight this season so they know how to win. They are not going to give up anything easy. So we have to go into their place and fight tooth and nail for the win. We have the guys that can do it but they have to do it. Our guys have to step up and makes plays otherwise the season isn't going to be much longer. Don't count us out yet!


- In the other ECHL games last night Florida beat South Carolina 5-2 to even the series at one game apiece. The next three games are in South Carolina. Manchester beat Brampton 4-3 in overtime to even that series 1-1. They now head to Manchester for the next three games. Toledo beat Fort Wayne in overtime to take a 2-0 lead in that series. The next two games will be in Fort Wayne.

- Allen has had a lot of help over the years by getting players from their AHL affiliate for the playoffs. It is typically a big advantage when your NHL and AHL affiliates don't make the playoffs. That is the case this season with the Eagles as both their NHL affiliate (Colorado Avalanche) and AHL affiliate (San Antonio Rampage) missed the playoffs. Allen on the other hand saw both the San Jose Sharks and Barracuda make the playoffs. Colorado's playoff roster has five players that had significant time with their AHL affiliate (San Antonio) this season. Here is the list with regular season games in San Antonio and Colorado.

Sergei Boikov - 63 games San Antonio, 7 games Colorado
Julien Nantel - 59 games San Antonio, 5 games Colorado
Mason Geertson - 36 games San Antonio, 9 games Colorado
Alex Belzile - 45 games San Antonio, 17 games Colorado
Shawn St-Amant - 28 games San Antonio, 35 games Colorado

If you compare this to Allen, they have four players on the playoff roster that spent time with their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda but the total games played by the fours players was just 15. Mike Brodzinski (9), Harrison Ruopp (3), Bryan Moore (2) and Travis Brown (1). To be fair Allen had other players, most notably Greger Hanson (12 games) who played for non-affiliated AHL teams. Two late season additions for Allen (Alex Krushelnyski & Tyler Barnes) spent significant time in the AHL this season. Alex played 43 games in Binghamton and Tyler 25 games in Rockford.

Colorado has clearly been helped by the players assigned by their AHL affiliate. Most notably Alex Belzile who is the ECHL playoff leader in both goals (8) and points (14). Getting all of these players assigned by San Antonio could carry the Eagles a long way in the playoffs, just has affiliate help has for Allen in the past.

DID YOU KNOW: How big of a hole has the Allen Americans dug for themselves. If you look at all seven game series in NHL history where a team loses the first two games at home here are the odds. The odds say Colorado has a 52.9% chance of winning game three and a 79.3% chance of winning the series. The good news is under Steve Martinson Allen has a record of 9-6 in game three. However, in the CHL (2013 & 2014) Allen was 5-1 but since joining the ECHL the game three record is 4-5. 


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  2. So start with, I think Colorado is just a better team. It looks bleak and possibly a quick short series, but, if Allen would actually play defense they would have a chance. I was at last night's game and that was a pretty bad game. The forwards have to play defense, put their body and stick on the Eagle players body and stick or they are done. Allen has to challenge the puck, find their man, be in position. The let guys walk the puck in and take uncontested shots, did not pick up their man who then got a rebound goal. Defense boys, start playing it or your season is over.
    As for offense, you can't take a backhand across two guys, one guy yes, two guys no. Example: a righty on the left side then tries to go right on his backhand across two Eagles, not going to work. Better to take that puck to the left corner. Colorado plays a great defense, challange the puck, keep a guy in the middle to stop passes. Seeing that too many passes equal Colorado taking the puck. Take some shots at goal and SOMEONE go the the net for a rebound. Take some attempts of a centering pass from behind the goal.
    Lets go RED.

    1. As much as I care about the Allen franchise, I have to be realistic and I may have offended some people when I thanked the boys for a "good" season after last night's loss...but you could clearly see who was in the game and who was NOT. I guess those players dragging their feet do not think that they are being watched by potential coaches, but they are...guess what? they will NOT take any of those who are not giving it ALL, and Martinson for sure will take you back. Every year there is more and more younger players being scouted coming from different one is getting any younger here, those of you who are NOT performing need to STOP thinking that you are doing Allen a favor, it is the other way around. There is an opportunity to make history here!!! If you do not like the franchise, coach, and fans at least be professional enough and play a good game!!! There were players that did not make the play off roster that I am certain would have given it ALL they had to defend the cup and everything it represents. Shame on those who think they are above and beneath others!!!

  3. There are a few guys on this "team" that really don't want to be here - players that actually wanted to be in years past...

  4. Come on, all is not lost. Allen has the best team in the league and the best fans too. I remember thinking that Ontario had it in the bag up three games to one and up 5 to 2 in the third period and Allen won that game and then the series. Then last year Allen was tied with Idaho and had to settle the series in OT and won. This team has heart, determination, and a fan base that rocks !!! My son was proud to be a member and hoist the Cup last year and I wish he was still on the team helping the boys this year too. Don't give up on these fine group of players. I know Steffs and Cotsty and others have too much heart to loose. That's what makes them fine players and people too.
    Just my 2 cents.

    1. I agree 100% with AF. We are in a hole for sure, but we have faced adversity in prior years and emerged victorious. It is painful for me to see such criticism placed on our team after only the first two games in the series. We have to believe and have faith in our players and our coach!

  5. Sorry for the pain TD - I stand by my response above because that is what I see. And no, I didn't play rec softball...

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