Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Practice Update, Playoff Update, Allen, Colorado, Fort Wayne & Toledo Compared, Allen's All-Time Ironmen

It was a playoff style practice for the Allen Americans yesterday as coach Martinson, goalie coach Thomas Speer and skating coach Luke Chilcott put the team through the paces as they prepare for the division finals series against the Colorado Eagles. Back check drills, breakout drills and other system tweaks to adapt to how Martinson wants to attack Colorado. Tanner Eberle was a full participant at practice yesterday for the first time in a month though he was wearing the no contact yellow jersey. Tanner will not play this weekend. A couple of other players were not skating yesterday but should be available by Friday.

-  One of the many similarities between Allen and Colorado is they can be successful playing a skill and speed game or a rough and gritty game or a combination of the two. For those that think the series between Allen and Colorado will be a penalty filled slug fest, they may be right but the series could also be more of a battle of skill and will. After the first round of the playoffs Allen is ranked #6 in average penalty minutes per game (15.00) and Colorado is ranked #12 (10.20). Much different than their #1 and #2 ranking during the regular season.

- Two more teams punched their ticket into the second round of the playoffs last night. Manchester beat Adirondack 6-5 in overtime to win their North Division series 4-2. Hats off to Manchester who not only knocked off the #1 seed in the division, they did it having just two home games because of facility availability. Manchester will face Brampton in the North Division finals. The other team that advanced last night was Toledo who beat Kalamazoo 3-1 in the seventh game of their Central Division semi-final. Home ice advantage proved to be important in that series as the home team won all seven games.

- The only first round series not complete is in the South Division where Florida beat Orlando last night 6-4 at home to force a game seven which is tonight in Florida. Orlando had Florida on the ropes with a 3-1 series lead and game five at home. Florida has fought back to tie the series 3-3 and has to be the favorite at home tonight. If  somehow  Orlando can pull out a win tonight it will be a clean sweep for the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference. The #1 and #2 seeds in the North Division have been eliminated as well as the #2 seed in the South Division. Only Florida, who is the #1 seed in the South Division and the Eastern Conference has a chance to advance.

- It is a different story in the Western Conference as all four higher seeded teams advanced to the second round. The #1 seed in the Central Division (Toledo) will take on #2 seeded Fort Wayne. In the Mountain Division #1 seed Allen takes on #2 seed Colorado.

-  The "Barry the Blogger Matrix" was spot on in predicting the first round winners in the Mountain Division so thought I would give it a try to predict who will be the winners in the second round and advance to the Western Conference finals. This matrix is a way to compare teams across a number of statistical categories and then come up with an overall score. Can't say the "Barry the Blogger Matrix" is a good predictor of Kelly Cup success as it had Fort Wayne vs South Carolina in the finals last season.

- Below is how the four remaining teams in the Western Conference playoffs compare in 11 statistical categories. This uses regular season stats only. Fairly easy to see the strengths and weaknesses of each team. 

Goals Scored (average per game)
4.19 - Toledo
4.08 - Allen
3.68 - Colorado
3.67 - Fort Wayne

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.65 - Toledo
2.82 - Allen
2.86 - Colorado
2.92 - Fort Wayne

Shots For (average per game)
34.39 - Fort Wayne
32.94 - Colorado
32.17 - Toledo
31.44 - Allen

Shots Against (average per game)
28.39 - Fort Wayne
28.63 - Toledo
29.75 - Colorado
34.93 - Allen

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
12.9% - Allen
12.9% - Toledo
11.1% - Colorado
10.6% - Fort Wayne

Power Play Percentage
25.1% - Toledo
24.8% - Colorado
24.4% - Allen
21.4% - Fort Wayne

Penalty Kill Percentage
86.8% - Toledo
84.4% - Allen
83.4% - Colorado
82.3% - Fort Wayne

+334 - Allen
+309 - Toledo
+273 - Fort Wayne
+148 - Colorado

Goals Against Average (GAA)
2.60 - Toledo
2.76 - Allen
2.80 - Colorado
2.86 - Fort Wayne

Save Percentage
.920 - Allen
.908 - Toledo
.905 - Colorado
.898 - Fort Wayne

Record Last 10 Games (regular season)
9-0-1-0 - Allen
7-2-1-0 - Fort Wayne
6-3-0-1 - Toledo
5-5-0-0 - Colorado

- Finally, I tallied up the rank for each team in every category to get an overall score. The lower the score the better. If you finished first in every category you would get a final score of 11 and if you finished last in each category the score would be 44. Here are the results:

18.5 - Toledo
23.5 - Allen
33.0 - Colorado
35.0 - Fort Wayne

 - Based on the matrix you would pick Toledo as a heavy favorite over Fort Wayne and Allen as the favorite over Colorado. While this is an interesting way to look at regular season performance it is not a very good way to pick outcomes in the second round of the playoffs.

- A simpler way to compare matchups is to look how the teams fared in head to head games. Allen played Colorado just two times in the regular season and lost both. The Americans lost in Colorado 4-3 on November 9th and at home 5-4 on December 14th. Former Allen player and ECHL Defenseman of the Year, Matt Register, had the game winning goal in both games. They were both power play goals.

- Toledo and Fort Wayne played six times during the regular season and Toledo dominated. The Walleye had a record of 5-1 against the Komets and outscored Fort Wayne 26-12.

DID YOU KNOW:  I think one of the more undervalued statistics there is has to do with players that never miss a game. I call them the Ironmen and they are few and far between. In AA hockey with limited rosters and salary cap/budget issues having a player that plays every game in a season is something special and valuable. That means playing with injuries, no AHL call ups and answering the bell each and every game. Thought today would be a good day to honor all of the Ironmen in Allen history. One thing to keep in mind is when the Americans first started in the CHL (2009-10) they only played 64 games in a season. It was then expanded to 66 games and since joining the ECHL (2014-15) it is 72 games. Congrats to all Allen Ironmen past and present!

2016-17 - Chad Costello, Joel Chouinard
2015-16 - Chad Costello
2014-15 - Chad Costello, Aaron Gens, Jamie Schaafsma
2013-14 - Spencer Asuchak, Daniel Tetrault, Mike Berube
2012-13 - Jamie Schaafsma, Jason Deitsch
2011-12 - Jason Deitsch
2010-11 - Colton Yellow Horn, David Strathman
2009-10 - Bruce Graham, Christian Gaudet

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