The Allen Americans take on the Utah Grizzlies tonight at the Maverik Center in game four of their best of seven series. The Americans have a 2-1 series lead with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead with a win and or will be in a fight to the end with a loss.
- The Americans will be without the services of forward Bryan Moore who was suspended for four games yesterday for an intent to injure cross check in Allen's 4-2 win on Wednesday. Here is the ECHL release announcing the Moore suspension along with three others. http://www.echl.com/echl-announces-fines-suspensions-68
- If you are an Allen fan you have heard coach Martinson say numerous times how important it is to not retaliate when an opposing player does something that you feel is wrong. Take his number and settle the dispute by challenging the player later. I know coach Martinson emphasized this with the team prior to the start of this series. To be fair to Moore if you watch the video replay which is still on ECHL Rewind (http://www.echl.com/) you can see Utah's Phil Pietroniro check Bryan very low. Even though a penalty wasn't called Moore didn't like the low hit to his knee. At that point in the game you have to have the discipline to skate away and deal with the situation later. I am sure coach Martinson let Moore know it was an unwise decision retaliate when he did.
- There was lots of discussion on social media about the four game suspension for Moore and no suspension for Utah's Tim Daly for a major spearing penalty that included a game misconduct. The big difference was Moore's penalty was a head shot that caused injury to a player. Coach Martinson has been a big advocate for coming down hard on penalties targeting the head. Pietroniro was not seriously injured and will most likely play tonight but he was clearly injured. Daly's penalty was a dirty play that could have resulted in serious injury but did not. He did the same thing to Alex Krushelnyski in game one and wasn't even called for a penalty. You could certainly argue a one game suspension for Daly was appropriate but the ECHL didn't see it that way. Sometimes the ECHL suspends players indefinitely and waits to see if the injured player will miss games. They chose not to do that in Moore's case and gave him four games right away. You could argue four games is too severe and many Allen fans have done just that but when you have a non hockey play that results in a head area injury the league tends to come down hard on the player. The bottom line is Moore put himself in a position to be suspended and Allen is rarely given the benefit of the doubt so they will live with the ECHL decision and move on.
- With Moore out of the lineup tonight it means Gary Steffes who was a healthy scratch on Wednesday will be back in the lineup. Gary Steffes has been a prolific goal scorer in the last two runs to the Kelly Cup with 13 goals each year. It says a lot about the depth of the Americans that they can add the player with the second most goals in the ECHL in the 2015 and 2016 playoffs to the lineup. Wouldn't be surprised at all of Steffes gets a goal tonight.
- With three playoff games in the books here is a comparison between Allen and Utah.
Series Record 2-1 1-2
Goals For 9 9
Goals Against 9 9
Goal Differential 0 0
Plus/Minus -5 +3
Shooting % 9.6% 11.1%
Goals Scored Ave. 3.00 3.00
Goals Allowed Ave. 3.00 3.00
Power Play 21.4% (3/14) 11.8% (2/17)
Penalty Kill 88.2% (2/17) 78.6% 3/14)
- If you look at the stats above the teams are very even in this series. The big regular season advantage Allen had in every category has disappeared. During the regular season Allen had a +91 goal differential while Utah was -15. Allen was +334 in plus/minus compared to Utah at -91. Allen scored a goal more per game and allowed a half a goal per game less than Utah. All of those advantages have disappeared with the exception of special teams. It is a small sample but Allen clearly has the better special teams play thus far. Allen needs to stay out of the penalty box and take advantage of the power plays when they get them.
- I mentioned yesterday the team that has scored first has won the first three games of this series and the team that won the special teams battle has won the first three games. Don't see any reason to bet against that formula in the game tonight.
Tonight the referees will be Andrea Barone (#15) and Jonathan Sitarski (#23).
The linesmen will be James McKenna (#96) and Kollin Kleinendorst (#35)
- The Allen Americans have released their home schedule for next season and it is a lot of the same. Orlando is the only new team coming to the Allen Event Center. The Americans open the season with two games against the Solar Bears on October 21 & 22. Allen plays just eight different teams in their 36 home games. It is clear more games have been scheduled within the division. Here is the list of teams with the number of games played at the AEC:
7 games - Tulsa
6 games - Wichita
5 games - Rapid City
4 games - Kansas City
4 games - Colorado
4 games - Utah
4 games - Idaho
2 games - Orlando
Here is a calendar with all 36 home dates. http://hosting.fyleio.com/11355/public/2017-2018%20Allen%20Americans%20Schedule%20HOME.pdf
- In ECHL play last night Manchester beat Adirondack 2-1 to take a 3-1 series lead in the most surprising results thus far. Manchester only has two home games in this series and has to play the last five games in Adirondack. The series is not over by any means but the Monarchs certainly have the Thunder on the ropes. Reading won in Brampton last night 3-2 and tied that series 2-2. This is a very close series with the first four games all decided by one goal. Orlando beat #1 seed Florida twice on the road and had a chance to take a 3-0 series lead last night at home but lost to the Everblades 5-4 in overtime.
- In addition to Allen at Utah (Allen leads series 2-1) the other games on tap tonight are South Carolina at Greenville (series tied 2-2), Kalamazoo at Toledo (series tied 2-2), Fort Wayne at Quad City (Fort Wayne leads series 3-0) and Colorado at Idaho (Colorado leads series 2-1).
DID YOU KNOW: If you like to look at the odds when predicting who will win the game between Allen and Utah tonight there is some good news and bad news. I mentioned yesterday that in the 14 playoff series under coach Martinson, Allen is 10-4 in game fours. However, if you look at the first round of every NHL seven game playoff series in history when a team leads 2-1 and started the playoffs at home the visiting team in game four wins only 45.9% of the time but they win the series 69.7% of the time. As usual with statistics whether Allen wins or loses tonight there are stats to back up the outcome.