Monday, March 5, 2018

Allen Trades for Forwards Tristan King and Alexandre Carrier, Roster Update, Playoff Battle Schedules and Allen's Futile Special Teams by the Numbers

It has been a busy week for roster changes if you are an Allen Americans fan with two more players added yesterday. Here is a roster recap:

Jake Paterson - The AHL contracted goalie was assigned to Allen on Wednesday by Milwaukee and started both games against Rapid City over the weekend.  Jake's GAA for the two games was 1.93 and his save percentage was .944. Here is the press release announcing his assignment to Allen:

Thomas Frazee - On Thursday another AHL contracted player (San Antonio), forward Thomas Frazee was acquired through a deal with Norfolk for future considerations. Frazee played his first game for Allen Saturday night. Thomas has played in 47 games this season (Norfolk & Atlanta) and has 37 points (11 goals 26 assists). Here is the press release with the details:

Tristan King - Yesterday it was announced Tristan King is returning to Allen from Quad City in the trade that sent Connor Reilly to the Mallards. It will be King's third stint with the Americans having been part of the 2015-16 championship team and was with Allen briefly in 2016-17. One of the most critical goals of the entire 2016 Kelly Cup championship was scored by Tristan. It was in overtime in game seven at home in the first round against Idaho.  It was a game in which Allen never led until King scored the game winner at the 3:28 mark of overtime. King has played in 42 games for Quad City this season and has 33 points (15 goals 18 assists). He was third on the team in goals and points and second in points per game average (.79). Here is the press release with the details:

Maurice Fitzgerald interviewing Tristan after game seven OT game winner

Alexandre Carrier (kair-EE-ay) - With the King trade Allen had five veterans and the limit on the active roster is four vets so Mathieu Aubin was dealt to Atlanta for Carrier who brings size and toughness to the team. Here is the press release with the details:

- What Allen accomplished with these moves is to get in coach Martinson's words, bigger, faster and more skilled. The focus now is getting into the playoffs and these moves were all made with that intent. I would add toughness to the list with the Carrier deal. The upcoming road trip has the potential to have a lot of fireworks and I am sure coach Martinson wants to be prepared. All four stops on the road trip will be against teams with at least 40 fights this season. Here are the numbers according to; Colorado (68), Allen (57), Rapid City (50), Utah (47) and Idaho (41).

- Martinson still has a little over three days before the trade deadline (Thursday 2:00 pm CST) so you can expect there is still more to come. He could be negotiating for players, players rights or future considerations. One thing is certain is he will keep trying to improve the roster until the last second ticks off the clock.   

- The logistics and expense of a 15 day six game road trip would bankrupt most people. The team practiced early Sunday morning because the equipment had to be dried and packed on the bus which left later in the day for Las Vegas (1250 miles). The team will have the day off today and will fly to Las Vegas tomorrow (Tuesday). The bus will pick the team up in Las Vegas and drive the 625 miles to Boise for the game with Idaho on Wednesday. This plan avoids a 25-30 hours bus trip from Allen to Boise for the players but still is more cost effective because of the cheaper airfares to Las Vegas.

- It is hard to over state the importance of this road trip and how critical the next six games will be in determining if Allen makes the playoffs. The Americans have a favorable schedule once this road trip is completed but it may be too late if they don't play well on the road. I would say the goal should be to get at a minimum of six of the 12 available points.

- Allen didn't get any help yesterday as Utah beat Indy 4-1 and Wichita beat Idaho 2-1. The standings now have Wichita in third place with 66 points, Tulsa and Utah tied for fourth place with 61 points and Allen in sixth place with 60 points. Here is the schedule for all four teams while Allen is on the road with home (H) and away (A) in parentheses.

Allen - Idaho (A), Utah (A), Utah (A), Rapid City (A), Colorado (A), Colorado (A)
Wichita - Quad City (H), Tulsa (A), Tulsa (A), Rapid City (A). Rapid City (A)
Tulsa - Rapid City (A), Wichita (H), Wichita (H), Kansas City (H), Kansas City (A)
Utah - Allen (H), Allen (H), Manchester (A), Manchester (A), Worcester (A)

Allen is the only one without a home game but they are also the only one of the four teams to play six games between now and March 18. Wichita has the easiest schedule with three of their five games against teams in last place in their division (Quad City & Rapid City). Allen's schedule is the toughest with three games against the top two teams in the Mountain Division (Colorado & Idaho) and two games against the hottest team in the league in Utah who has not lost in the last nine games (8-0-0-1). This upcoming six game road trip will certainly be a challenge but it is also a great opportunity for Allen.

- If Allen expects to have success on this road trip special teams play will have to improve. It is hard to overstate how bad things have become for a team that has always been at or near the top of the chart on special teams. The power play has dropped from #4 to #16 in the ECHL by going 2-47 over the last 11 games. That converts to 4.7%. The penalty kill is ranked #22 (80.2%) overall and #25 (75.6%) on the road and over the last 11 games is at 80.0% (9-45). While the power play was good and has become bad the penalty kill has been bad and is still bad. If there is any one facet of the game that could really help it would be improvement on special teams.

- Former Allen forward Kale Kerbashian had quite the game yesterday as his Orlando Solar Bears beat Reading in overtime 2-1. Kale had the only goal for Orlando in regulation and scored the game winner 37 seconds into overtime. Kale has only played four games this season because he was signed by Orlando late (January) and then missed six weeks with an injury. In the four games he has played Kale has four goals including two game winners.

- The San Jose Barracuda (AHL) beat Ontario yesterday 2-1 in a shootout. The winning goal in the shootout was scored by defenseman Mike Brodzinski whose brother plays for Ontario and missed his shootout attempt. It was San Jose's second straight win and allowed them to climb out of the basement in the Pacific Division. The Barracuda are in seventh place in the eight team division and have little chance of making the playoffs. Colby McAuley was in the lineup but had all zeros in the boxscore but was a +1 for the game. Alex Schoenborn did not play.

DID YOU KNOW: As mentioned above the Allen special teams have always been excellent in the past but have fallen off a cliff this season. One way to measure overall special teams performance is a stat that combines power play and penalty kill percentages. In the NHL typically 10% of the teams exceed 105% which is considered excellent. The average for all teams is 100% and anything below 100% is considered poor performance by special teams. Here is the combined total for Allen since they joined the ECHL with the power play and penalty kill percentages in parentheses.

2017-18:   98.7%    (17.1% PP & 81.6% PK)
2016-17:  108.8%   (24.4% PP & 84.4% PK)
2015-16:  107.5%   (21.1% PP & 86.4% PK)
2014-15:  108.2%   (21.9% PP & 86.3% PK) 


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