All was quiet around the Allen Americans locker room yesterday as coach Martinson told the team he didn't want to see them yesterday. The only activity was a couple of players getting treatment and one player, Tanner Eberle, taking the ice to shoot some pucks after his cast was removed from an injury he sustained on March 25. Tanner is not yet cleared to play but he can start practicing.
- The other activity yesterday was coach Martinson in his office breaking down video and developing a game plan for the upcoming series with Colorado. Martinson often talks about practicing three days in a row as the maximum for efficiency or as he likes to say I get tired of yelling at them after three days and they get tired of listening to me yell after three days. The extra day off the ice yesterday to rejuvenate was the best use of time during this rather lengthy period between the end of the first round and beginning of the second round of the playoffs.
- The team will have a hard practice today and then ease up some and work on system drills Wednesday and Thursday. When you have coached for 21 years, made the playoffs 20 times and won 10 championships coach Martinson has the playoff preparation figured out.
- I talked yesterday about how similar Colorado and Allen are as they were the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the ECHL in penalty minutes with over 1400 each. Another stat that ranks them #1 and #2 is scoring first in a game. The league as a whole is at 74.5% when scoring first. That is the team that scores first in a game gets 74.5% of the possible points. During the regular season Allen and Colorado were by far the best in the ECHL. The Eagles were #1 at 93.4% and Allen was #2 at 92.2%. What that translates into as far wins and losses is a combined 75-4-2-2. Quick starts and scoring first is always a key to any game but with these two teams you can usually head home after the first goal and know the outcome.
- Another similarity when comparing these teams during the regular season is outstanding special teams. They aren't #1 and #2 in the ECHL on the power play as the best in the league belongs to Toledo at 25.1%. However, they are right behind with Colorado at #2 (24.8%) and Allen at #3 (24.4%).
- When you combine power play percentage and penalty kill percentage you can get a barometer of how good a team is on special teams. The magic number teams strive to achieve is greater than 105% combined. Toledo comes in at #1 in the ECHL at 111.9% but #2 is Allen (108.8%) and #3 is Colorado (108.2%).
- One special teams stat where Allen and Colorado are very dissimilar is related to shorthanded goals. Colorado scored a league leading 20 shorthanded goals this season. That was five more than any other team. When you think the Eagles only gave up 51 power play goals all year and the penalty killers scored 20 shorthanded goals that is an excellent penalty kill unit. Allen was at the other end of the spectrum as they allowed 13 shorthanded goals during the regular season. Only Utah with 14 allowed more shorthanded goals than Allen.
- Enough stats for one day. Still a lot of time to cover more over the next four days before this series gets underway on Friday night. My point today is this should be a heck of a series between two teams that have a lot in common. Tomorrow I will apply the "Barry the Blogger Matrix" to the four remaining Western Conference teams to see who comes out on top. Allen, Colorado and Fort Wayne are already in. The fourth team will be either Kalamazoo or Toledo. They play tonight in Toledo in a winner take all game seven.
- Two more teams made it into the division finals last night and in both cases #3 seeds beat #2 seeds. Brampton was at Reading and beat the Royals 3-1 to take that North Division series 4-2. They await the winner of the Manchester vs Adirondack series. In the South Division South Carolina shutout Greenville 4-0 at home to take that series 4-2. The Stingrays await the winner of the Florida vs Orlando series.
Here is the current ECHL bracket with five teams into the second round and three left to be decided. The games on tap tonight include: Manchester is at Adirondack leading 3-2 in the series. Orlando is at Florida leading 3-2 in the series. Kalamazoo is at Toledo with the series tied 3-3.
- Here here is a story written by Kevin Lytle of Coloradoan.com talking about the upcoming series between Allen and Colorado. With the talk of Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Darryl Bootland and Matt Register being former Allen Americans it is sometimes forgotten that Chad Costello spent two years in Colorado and won the ECHL MVP award playing for the Eagles in 2012. Kevin talks about Chad's time in Colorado: http://www.coloradoan.com/story/sports/hockey/eagles/2017/04/23/chad-costello-allen-americans/100816066/
DID YOU KNOW: The oldest player on the Allen Americans is Riley Gill who is 32. The oldest player on the Colorado Eagles is Darryl Bootland who is 35. Did you know the oldest player in the ECHL is David Ling who plays for the Brampton Beast and is 42 years old. Ling was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the seventh round of the 1993 NHL draft. Here is a story about Ling's 22 year professional career. https://sports.vice.com/ca/article/no-one-loves-hockey-quite-like-echls-eldest-statesman-david-ling