Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Heartbreaking and Record-Breaking Ending, Game Recap, Steve Martinson's Comments, Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda and Much More

 I am not sure where the blog post is headed this morning because there are so many thoughts and emotions going through my head. Maybe more opinion than facts than normal but I am an expert at my own opinion. Let's get started.

- Allen lost game seven last night in Boise by a score of 4-1. Only 3060 were in attendance to watch the conclusion of a historic comeback by the Idaho Steelheads. It was the second smallest crowd of the entire season for Idaho.


- The game last night was much closer than the final score. Idaho scored the only goal of the first period and second period. Allen scored their only goal of the game early in the third period (6:20) to cut the score to 2-1 but could not get the equalizer. The Steelheads scored two empty net goals in the last 32 seconds of play to make the final score 4-1.


- If you exclude the two empty net goals last night, three of the four Allen losses to Idaho in this series were by the score of 2-1. You can't expect to win scoring one goal per game.


- Several Allen fans, who love the Americans, sent me messages after the game that had the sentiment of epic fail, huge collapse and unbelievable poor finish. There is little doubt that losing a seven game series after taking a 3-0 lead is historic. It has happened only one other time in the 30 year history of the ECHL (2010 Cincinnati Cyclones). Across all major league sports (MLB, NBA, NHL) it is even a more rare occurrence. The historical combined series record for teams that take a 3-0 lead across these major league sports is 346-5. Just a week ago when Allen was up 3-0 and about to play game four at home the the odds of the Americans winning the series (based on historical major league data) was 98.6% and if you just looked at historical NHL data it was 97.9%. Idaho turned a 2% chance of winning into a series victory. I would say that qualifies as an epic win for the Steelheads and epic failure for the Americans. 


- How would everyone feel if this series had gone seven games and had the same outcome but Allen had won games two, four and five instead of one, two and three? My guess is there would be a very different feeling today.


- I am reminded this morning of something Steve Martinson has said to me many times over the years. The best team doesn't always win five game series but the best team does win seven game series. Rather than focusing on the four losses just maybe Allen did a great job winning the first three games.


- Before this series started I compared these teams based on the regular season stats and it was pretty clear Idaho was a much better team statistically. Here is the data which shows Idaho better than Allen in 11 of the 13 stats. I have added a number in parentheses which is the average for the seven games in the playoffs.


Goals Scored (average per game)
3.39 - Idaho   (3.29)
3.26 - Allen   (2.71)

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.61 - Idaho   (2.71)
3.22 - Allen   (3.29)

Goal Differential (goals scored minus goals allowed)
+56 - Idaho   (+4)
+3  - Allen    (-4)

Shots For (average per game)
36.11 - Idaho   (35.86)
30.74 - Allen   (31.57)

Shots Against (average per game)
28.36 - Idaho   (31.57) 
36.25 - Allen   (35.86)  

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
10.5% - Allen   (8.6%)
9.1%  - Idaho   (9.2%)

Power Play Percentage
17.5% - Idaho   (18.8%)
17.1% - Allen   (8.3%)

Penalty Kill Percentage
84.2% - Idaho   (91.7%)
81.6% - Allen   (81.3%)

Power Play Goals Scored
57 - Idaho   (6) 
51 - Allen   (2)

Plus/Minus
+229 - Idaho   (-1)
+38   - Allen   (-1) 

Goals Against Average (GAA)
2.53 - Idaho   (2.71)
3.16 - Allen   (3.29)  

Save Percentage
.912 - Allen   (.908)
.909 - Idaho   (.914) 

Record Last 10 Games
9-0-1-0 - Idaho   (4-3 in last seven games)
4-4-2-0 - Allen   (3-4 in last seven games)


- If you look at all of these stats my conclusion is Idaho was the better team in the regular season and that carried over to the playoffs. The one category that stands out is special teams where Idaho over performed their regular season numbers in the playoffs and Allen under performed. It is hard to overcome an 8.3% power play percentage which is what Allen had in the playoffs. The Americans had just two power play goals and one of them was five-on-three.


- If you are interested in the details of the game last night which I skipped over above here is a game recap and the video highlights courtesy of the Idaho Steelheads. Have to admit it is painful to watch:

Game recap: http://www.idahosteelheads.com/events/allen-americans-vs-idaho-steelheads-13/#gametab-2



- It is ironic that Allen played Idaho 17 times this season (10 regular season and 7 playoffs) and outshot the Steelheads just two times, The first game of the season (November 10) and the final game of the season last night. Over the 17 games Allen was outshot 641-471.


OTHER COMMENTS

- I know every team has a coulda, woulda, shoulda sob story but what a difference it would have made had Allen had Riley Gill, Olivier Archambault, Vincent Arseneau, Colby McAuley and Jonathan Lessard coming down the stretch and into the playoffs. To me the most frustrating loss for the playoffs was Vincent Arseneau who is on loan to Utica (AHL) but has sat in the stands the last two games as a healthy scratch. Coach Martinson is always willing to loan players to AHL teams to help their careers but usually has an understanding they will be returned to Allen if they are not playing. Would assume Martinson is not very happy with Utica.


- My opinion going into the playoffs was the the #1 seed Colorado and #2 seed Idaho were clearly the best two teams in the Mountain Division and would meet in the Division finals. The statistical matrix I use to assess the playoff teams actually rated Idaho ahead of Colorado but it was very close. Idaho is going into the series against Colorado with a lot of momentum. The division final should be a hard fought series that could very easily go seven games. With no dog in the fight it will be an enjoyable series to watch. The division Allen has been in has won the last three Kelly Cups and that is one streak I want to see continued.


- I have had the pleasure of working with fellow Team Sin Bin writer C.C. Hawkley, aka Sin Bin Steelheads, during this series and want to thank him for all of his work to make this series enjoyable for fans in Boise and Allen. He is a class act and a lot of fun to collaborate with. I wish C.C. and the Steeleheads the best and look forward to his coverage as the playoffs resume in Colorado this weekend.


- It is never easy to lose in the playoffs and it is even more disappointing this season losing in the first round the way the Americans lost. There is no doubt Allen fans as well as the coach and players have high expectations. I see so many teams congratulating themselves for making the playoffs and losing in the first round. Not the case in Allen as everyone sees this season as a failure. The goal in Allen is never to just make it to the playoffs. With that said the body of work by the Allen Americans since Steve Martinson arrived six years ago is unprecedented. Four championships, a second round loss and a first round loss and a playoff series record of 15-2.


- The season ended abruptly and with great disappointment after Allen went up on Idaho 3-0. I will have my usual thank you post tomorrow but this will be the last daily post for the season. It has been 225 straight days of blogs posts so a break will be nice. I will still keep everyone up to date on an as needed basis but it will be much more sporadic until September rolls around. I will say this again tomorrow but thanks for all of the support and encouragement as it keeps me going throughout the season.


- Sometime in the next week or so I will interview coach Martinson and go in depth with him about the season, the playoffs and his plans for next season. I did ask him to give me a quote for today now that the season is over. Here is what he said, "It is a painful ending. Idaho added some AHL players from their affiliate which gave them a strong push and we didn't have the ability to close out the series. We struggled the second half of the season and some guys didn't have much left when we needed it." 



DID YOU KNOW:  Since starting the Allen Americans Blog on October 8, 2012 there have been 1505 blog posts and the total number of unique page views just passed the 1,310,000 mark.      


10 comments:

  1. Barry - thank you for the posts. The posts have been very educational & informative.
    Unfortunately, the playoffs were consistent with the regular season -inconsistent.
    It seems like most of the teams that made the playoffs got players from the AHL, whereas we did not. As I have said before, there needs to be some rule changes when it comes to the ECHL playoff roster eligibility. To only play 5 games in the ECHL all season and then be eligible for the ECHL roster seems crazy to me.
    We wish all the players, coaches, front office and back office personnel and all those associated with the Allen Americans the best going forward.
    Thanks again Barry!

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  2. It seems to me this team underperformed all season long. Coach often said your best players have to be your best players and they consistently weren’t. It was a very frustrating season to watch. If it hadn’t been for Fraser and some of the energy of the young guys, it wasn’t looking like we were even going to make the playoffs. How we missed him and Arseneau who would have been a real potential game changer with Idaho. It will be interesting to see the team Coach puts together for next season. I expect many changes. Barry, thanks for all of your wonderful posts all season long.

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  3. Thank you for another season of giving us the "inside look" at what is happening with the team and its players. I would like to say that this season wasn't a disappointment but it wasn't the same Allen team we have seen in the past, something seemed to be missing in watching the team play.

    Going to end with some hope:

    - I hope that Riley Gill gets better over the off-season and returns to the ice with Allen next year to be the player we have counted on in the past. Goaltending was strong this year without him but it wasn't the same without him in net.

    - Hopefully coach can find someone to lead the PP unit. last year Allen was number 3, the year before that number 1 this year number 15 in the league. The PP was painful to watch at times.

    - On the same note the PK was even worse, ranked 20th in the league, last year it was number 3 and number 1 the year before.

    I know that you know all these stats and coach knows em even better than we do, I am just venting.

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  4. Thanks Barry for all tiyr time ensight and knowledge you put into this blog for us the fans. I am puzzled why Utica would not give Vinny back if he wasn't going to play. Jefferson Dahl was a huge difference maker in that series. Like him or not. He did play the agitator role and it worked to perfection. Ttyl Barry and thanks again.

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  5. Thanks. Barry, it was another eventful year and Tha season made better with your daily input. Not what we hoped for, but still overall enjoyed the season even if up and down.

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  6. Granted the team seemed to under perform but in many ways it was still a successful season. On the brink of missing the playoffs, the addition of new young players showed what the future can hold. Unfortunately it looked like Idaho figured out how to neutralize their impact.
    I too am disappointed that Utica seemed to prevent an integral part of the Americans from returning to the team especially when they are not utilizing that player and will probably not advance in their playoffs. To compound the insult, they returned other players on loan back to their ECHL teams including another LW to the Florida Everblades who sweeped their first round opponent with a win the next day.
    To counter balance that disappointment, I too would like to thank everyone associated with the Allen Americans organization who do so much to ensure the fans have the best possible experience during the season.

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  7. Barry, thanks again for another year of covering the Americans! I look forward to reading your blog every day during the season, and will surely miss the daily report and updates now that it's over for this year. Hopefully Marty can keep some of the rookies and other players that shined so brightly who joined late in the year like, Shmyr, Foget, Bethune, and JC Campagna, and will bring Frazee and Brodeur back next season. I also hope he learned his lesson about Utica and will decline requests from them in the future for call-ups, and likewise will develop a more clear understanding with San Jose about loaning players and call-ups at inopportune times. At the end of the day, we can point fingers at some of our seasoned guys for this loss, but I prefer to cheer for the name on the front of the jersey, than the one on the back! See you next season

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  8. Team chemistry got off to a bad start this year with the loss of Stevenson to Wichita and then the loss of Gill to injury. We never fully recovered IMHO.

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  9. These blogs are a LOT of work; thank you so much, Barry, for putting the time in. You have a great writing style and I love how you let your emotions JUST peek through without letting them take over. My son and I are just sick that the team couldn't close this series out. Even as we watched a fairly easy win on Wednesday to see them go up 3-0, I had an uneasy feeling that we were burning up our "luck points". Getting badly outshot, but somehow winning anyway, didn't seem sustainable. It wasn't.

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  10. Barry, thank you for a season where you, once again, played championship hockey in your position as a blogger. You always make the season more fun and entertaining as well as informative. I look forward to another October. Are we there, yet?

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