Today is a practice day for the Allen Americans as they prepare to take on the Rapid City Rush and try to get out of the "funk" as captain Joel Chouinard described the recent play of the team. How bad is it? If you remember back to the end of December right after the Christmas break the Americans played the Wichita Thunder four games in five days. The Americans won the first two games of the series 7-2 in Allen and 3-2 in Wichita. After those two wins Allen moved into second place in the Mountain Division. The Americans were tied with Toledo for third in the ECHL in points (41) trailing Florida (45) and Colorado (48). Allen was fourth in the league in winning percentage (.683).
- Allen ended up losing the last two games of the four game series against Wichita. They lost 3-1 in Wichita and 4-2 in Allen at the New Year's Eve warmup brawl game. Starting with those two losses to Wichita at the end of December until now the Americans have been the worst team in the ECHL with a record of 2-9. It has been almost a month and they have earned a grand total of four points. At the end of December they were third in points in the league (41 points), today they have 45 points and are ranked #14. Allen's winning percentage has fallen from #4 (.683) at the end of December to #14 today (.549).
- Slumps are part of hockey and every team suffers through a period of poor performance. If you can lose this much ground in a month you can gain a lot of ground in a month. The real question is whether what the Americans are going through right now is different than in the past. In the six years I have been writing the blog there has never been more concern expressed to me, even by the most ardent Allen supporters, about whether this year is different and the Americans will struggle to move up in the standings from their current fourth place.
- Just yesterday I was reading a story about hockey analytics which talked about how small changes in averages equate to big improvement in wins. That inspired me to take a 25,000 foot view comparing stats from last season to this season and see differences in goals scored or allowed.
Goals For - Last season Allen averaged 4.08 goals per game and this season they are averaging 3.39. Over the course of a full season that equates to 50 fewer goals.
Goals Against - Last season Allen gave up an average of 2.82 goals per game. So far this season they are allowing an average of 3.27 goals per game. Over the course of a full season that equates to allowing 32 more goals.
Power Play - Last season Allen had a power play percentage of 24.4%. Thus far this season the power play percentage is 19.9%. Over the course of a season that difference in power play percentage would equate to 13 fewer goals scored on the power play.
Penalty Kill - Last season Allen's penalty kill percentage was 84.4%. Thus far this season the penalty kill percentage is 80.6%. Over the course of a season the difference in penalty kill percentages would equate to giving up 13 more goals.
Goaltending - Last season the Allen goaltenders had a save percentage of .920 on 2513 shots which equates to 201 goals. This season the goaltenders have a save percentage of .913 and are on pace to face 2680 shots which equates to 233 goals, a 32 goal difference.
In summary, Allen is on pace to score 50 fewer goals than last season, allow 32 more goals than last season, score 13 fewer goals on the power play and allow 13 more goals on the penalty kill. The save percentage is lower this season and the goalies are facing more shots. What these numbers show is a lot of room for improvement in every phase of the game; offense, defense, special teams and goaltending. The question for coach Martinson is can he get things turned around with the current roster. Zach Hall is about ready to get back in the lineup and Zach Pochiro shouldn't far behind but who knows if and when Riley Gill will return and it us uncertain when Vincent Arseneau will be headed back to Allen.
- Here is a stat I found somewhat surprising. The best teams in the ECHL in first period goal differential (goals for minus goals against).
- I have written many stories about Aaron Dell since he arrived in Allen as a rookie back in 2012-13 and led the Americans to their first championship. The jist of many of the stories was how throughout his hockey career Aaron always started out as the number two goalie and became the number one. Here is an excerpt from one of those stories:
best part of Aaron Dell's story is that he has had to work for everything he has
accomplished. At every step of the way from juniors, college and in the
pro ranks he was never "the guy" who was designated the top goalie on
his team. He always started out as the number two goalie and through
hard work and performance became the number one goalie. It was true in
college when he started on the bench and beat out an all-conference
goalie for the number one spot. He signed his first professional
contract with the Colorado Eagles in 2012-13 but was waived in training
camp. He then signed with Allen, where two University of North Dakota
alumni (Ed Belfour & Craig Ludwig) had just started working with the
Americans. He was supposed to be the backup goalie to a veteran Kelly
Cup MVP but won the starting job and led the Americans to their first
championship playing in all 19 playoff games. The same thing happened
when he got promoted to the AHL in Worcester and then San Jose as he
earned his way as their top goalie. Aaron Dell has never been given a
thing. He has climbed the hockey ladder through hard work,
determination, and performance. Aaron is now the backup goalie for the San Jose Sharks and
don't forget, every time he has become a back up goalie he eventually
became the starter. Just sayin!
What made me think about the story above was a story I saw this week out of San Jose because Aaron has had to step in as the Sharks #1 goalie because of an injury. He played in back to back games on Saturday and Sunday, won them both and saved 64 of 67 shots. Dell has played in 20 games this season and has a GAA of 2.17 and save percentage of .929. He ranks #3 in the NHL in GAA and #4 in save percentage. Dell has seen this script before and always risen to the occasion. He is a free agent after this season and if not in San Jose, he just might become a starting goalie in the NHL. As he has proven over and over again since he was a kid, if you give him a chance he will grasp the opportunity. Here is the story from the San Jose Mercury News talking about Dell as the #1 goalie. https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/01/20/three-takeaways-dell-fuels-sharks-goalie-debate-in-win-over-penguins/
DID YOU KNOW: Here is a list of the top ten Allen players for penalty minutes in a single
season with the number of games played in that season in parentheses.
The far right shows the number of fights each players had according to
274: Derek Mathers - 2016-17 (59 games) 30 fights
257: Garrett Klotz - 2013-14 (55 games) 20 Fights
256: Brett Lyon -2014-15 (47 games) 13 Fights
223: Garrett Clarke - 2012-13 (54 games) 12 Fights
205: Garrett Clarke - 2014-15 (57 games) 16 Fights
186: Aaron Gens - 2014-15 (72 games) 8 Fights
185: Brandon Straub - 2009-10 (58 games) 12 Fights
168: Jim McKenzie - 2011-12 (54 games) 7 Fights
157: Brett Clouthier - 2011-12 (60 games) 10 Fights
146: Kip Brennan - 2010-11 (31 games) 11 Fights