With the Allen Americans eliminated from the ECHL playoffs so early I have been paying more attention to the races around the league than in the past. As I mentioned yesterday the ECHL season is down to between 6 to10 games depending on the team. Only four teams have qualified for the playoffs (Florida, Cincinnati, Idaho, Tulsa) and just two teams (Allen & Greenville) have been eliminated from playoff contention.
– Last night Cincinnati beat Wheeling 4-1 at home for their sixth straight win, the longest current winning streak in the ECHL. The Cyclones also have the best record over the last 10 games at 8-1-1-0. With the win last night Cincinnati clinched their division championship for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
– Cincinnati is having one of the best seasons in a long time and has been flying under the radar to a certain extent. Maybe because they haven’t had a winning streak longer than seven games all season they don’t get the publicity they deserve. It is the Cyclone’s consistency that has stood out this season. They haven’t lost more than three games in a row all season and if you look at regulation losses they have lost two straight just one time. Cincinnati’s home record is 27-1-2-2.
– Cincinnati has 99 points with nine games remaining so if they win out they could finish the season with 117 points. In the last 10 ECHL seasons the most regular season points is 112, which happened last season when Florida won the regular season.
– The other team that is having a terrific season is the Florida Everblades. They are the only other team with over 90 points (95), the only other team beside Cincinnati with a winning percentage above 700 (.720) and they are 8-2-0-0 in their last 10 games. It didn’t look good for Florida at the beginning of the season as they were 5-5-2-0 for the first month but since then they have a record of 40-11-3-0. Florida has also clinched their division championship.
– The playoffs rarely go as expected but Cincinnati in the West and Florida in the East are clearly the best teams and they are playing the best hockey going into the playoffs. Here is how the two rank among all 27 ECHL teams in a few key stats:
#1 – Cincinnati (252)
#2 – Florida (251)
#1 – Cincinnati (147)
#2 – Florida (168)
#1 – Cincinnati (+105)
#2 – Florida (+83)
#1 – Cincinnati (.786)
#2 – Florida (.720)
Power play percentage
#13 – Cincinnati (17.8%)
#12 – Florida (18.0%)
Penalty kill percentage
#4 – Cincinnati (85.7%)
#9 – Florida (83.7%)
#14 – Cincinnati (923)
#11 – Florida (979)
– Cincinnati or Florida will win the Brabham Cup given to the team with the best regular season record. The Cyclones are the big favorite at this point with a lead in points 99-95 and three games in hand over Florida, who won the Brabham Cup last season. Florida followed a long list of teams that have won the regular season championship and failed to win the Kelly/Riley Cup. In the 30 year history of the ECHL only three teams have accomplished that feat. Alaska did it three times (2014, 2011, 2006), Cincinnati did it in 2008 and South Carolina in 1997. Some call it the curse of the Brabham Cup and it bit Florida last season.
– Nothing new to report from the Allen practice yesterday as the Americans prepare for games against Utah on Friday and Saturday. I will have a full preview tomorrow but one thing to keep in mind is both Utah and Allen will be different teams than the ones that led to a three game sweep by the Americans in Allen last month. Allen has lost some skill and toughness (Alex Breton, Riley Bourbonnais, Emerson Clarke) and it is unknown if C.J. Motte will return from the injury that has kept him sidelined for the last three weeks. Utah has added toughness and skill with the addition of Gabriel Verpaelst by trade, Joey Ratelle (from the AHL) and a couple of amateurs. Finally, Cole Ully, who missed over two months with an injury has returned to the lineup. Even though he has only played in 35 games, Ully is the third leading scorer on the Grizzlies with 39 points (14G, 25A).
– Yesterday was Bobby Orr’s 71st birthday. I grew up when Bobby Orr was in his heyday. His career was cut short because of knee injuries so he doesn’t always get the acclaim of others in the conversation of the best hockey players of all time. Orr only played nine full seasons in the NHL. Despite his short career he has the most Norris Trophies (best defenseman) in NHL history. He won eight straight. Among defensemen Orr has four of the five best seasons in assists including a record 102 in 1970-71, three of the five best season in points including the record 139 in 1970-71 and three of the top six seasons in goals including 46 in 1974-75. Orr still holds the record for plus/minus at +124 in 1970-71. He is the only player to win the Norris, Art Ross, Hart and Conn Smythe Trophies in a single season (1969-70).
– Bobby Orr became an agent representing hockey players long after his playing days were over. Whenever I think about Bobby Orr I am reminded of a former Allen Americans player, Adam Pineault, who was on the 2013 championship team. Adam was represented by Bobby Orr when he was drafted in the second round (46th overall) of the 2004 NHL draft. I wrote a story about Adam and his wife (Monique) back in 2013. It is a story of success, failure, heartache, love, sorrow and perseverance. Well worth the read. The last I heard Adam and Monique are doing well, living in Florida. Here is his story: https://allenamericansblog.blogspot.com/2013/01/adam-pineault-player-profile.html
– There are three games in the ECHL tonight; Atlanta at Orlando, Kansas City at Greenville and Toledo at Cincinnati. Here is the ECHL Today with a preview of each game. https://www.echl.com/en/news/2019/3/echl-today-march-21
DID YOU KNOW: Here are the Brabham Cup (most regular season points) winners for the last 10 seasons. The teams with an asterisk won the Kelly Cup.
2018-19: 99 points – Cincinnati (nine games remaining
2017-18: 112 points – Florida
2016-17: 106 points – Toledo
2015-16: 109 points – Missouri
2014-15: 107 points – Toledo
2013-14: 97 points – Alaska*
2012-13: 106 points – Alaska
2011-12: 97 points – Alasksa
2010-11: 97 points – Alaska*
2009-10: 103 points- Idaho