The one team Allen needs to think about the next five games is the Kansas City Mavericks. For the only time this season the Americans will play the same team five straight times. Other than during the playoffs, the Americans have never played the same team five straight times. Even more unique is four of the five games against Kansas City are midweek games. Here is the schedule:
- Wednesday, February 9 @Allen
- Thursday, February 10 @Allen
- Friday, February 11 @Allen
- Tuesday, February 15 @Kansas City
- Wednesday, February 16 @Kansas City
– It has been a rough patch for Allen in the last month. The Americans have lost 10 of 15 games with a record of 4-8-2-1. That is a .367 points percentage. Allen did win three straight against Newfoundland recently but the Growlers were decimated at the time. Six players including the top goalie were out with COVID and their top scorer as well as others were out with injuries. A win is a win and Allen was also missing a bunch of players with injuries, but you wonder if the three wins against the Growlers was really a turnaround, given the Americans have lost three straight since the Newfoundland series. Newfoundland has continued to lose (six straight) while playing shorthanded. In an interview with the Growler’s coach yesterday (who was also out with COVID), he said Newfoundland will add seven players back to the roster for its games this weekend.
– I attended practice yesterday and had a chance to talk to coach Martinson and a couple of the injured players. The good news is Eric Roy and Chad Butcher are cleared to play and were full participants in practice. Butcher isn’t eligible to come off the injured reserve until Thursday. Branden Troock has not been cleared to play but it is not out of the question he could be back in the lineup at some point this week. Here is a list of the players out with injuries, the last game they played and expected return date:
- D-Jay Jerome – November 14 (no date for return)
- Gavin Gould – January 22 (out for season)
- Eric Roy – January 23 (will return Wednesday)
- Chad Butcher – January 26 (will return Thursday)
- Branden Troock – January 29 (day to day)
- Andrew Jarvis – January 30 (not available this week)
- Tyler Poulsen – February 2 (out 4-6 weeks)
– Here is the impact of the players out of the lineup. If you add up the average points per game of the seven injured players, the Americans are missing 4.94 points per game. Of the healthy players, Costello, Combs and Asuchak have a combined points per game average of 3.21. The rest of the lineup (12 players) has a combined points per game average of 3.17. Here is a recap:
- 4.94 – points per game contributed by seven injured players
- 3.21 – points per game contributed by Costello, Combs and Asuchak
- 3.17 – points per game contributed by rest of roster (12 players)
– Another way of saying this is Allen is missing 44% of its points production from the players out of the lineup.
– Allen has now completed 56% of the season. Time is starting to run out if the Americans expect to reach the top two spots in the division, which would give them home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That is probably not realistic unless Allen goes on a prolonged winning streak. It is certainly possible as the Americans proved when they won eight of nine games between December 9 to January 7. The Americans raised their points percentage to .580 and were within an eyelash of second place. Since January 7th the Americans have lost 10 of 15 games and their points percentage is down to .500. Only Wichita (.455) has a lower points percentage than Allen.
– In addition to all of the injuries, another thing working against Allen right now is affiliate help. With the NHL taxi squads now dissolved, many ECHL teams are getting players back (returned from loan or reassigned) from the AHL. If Allen could get its injured players back and a few players assigned by Charlotte (Bibeau, Kneen, Lohin, Henman) it would make all the difference down the homestretch. Don’t think anyone should be holding their breath right now, but at some point help will come from Charlotte.
– The deadline for players overseas that want to return to the ECHL and play this season is just one week away (February 15, 3:00 pm EST). Based on my conversations with Steve Martinson, who keeps in touch with players in Europe, don’t expect any of the players from last season to return. They are doing well in Europe and enjoying the experience. While Martinson could pull a rabbit out of the hat, it is unlikely any players from Europe will be added to the Allen roster before the deadline arrives a week from today.
– Even as injured players return, you can be assured Martinson spends plenty of time with his general manager’s hat on trying to improve the team. If he can find a way to upgrade the roster through a trade, signing college players turning pro early or identifying free agents, his past success says he won’t hesitate to do so.
– With two and possibly three injured players back in the lineup this week, look for line changes as well as changes to the power play units. Allen played its best hockey when there was scoring and speed on the top two lines and both were contributing. If the Americans can get back to that point with players returning, they will get this thing turned around.
– Here is a article written by Patrick Williams which covers a range of topics related to the AHL as discussed by AHL President, Scott Howson. There is no reference to the ECHL but plenty of issues are discussed that impact the ECHL. Well worth the read: https://theahl.com/howson-reflects-on-challenging-first-half-looks-aheadDID YOU KNOW: The ECHL stats post yesterday was goal differential based on average goals for and against, which is a good proxy for strength of team. Allen’s differential is minus .40 based on its 13th ranked average goals scored (3.20) and 23rd ranked goals allowed (3.60).
11 ECHL teams have a positive goal differential when you subtract average goals allowed from average goals scored per game. Here are the five teams that average 1/2+ goal more per game than its opponents.The team’s average goals scored and allowed is in parenthesis:1.04: Toledo (3.80 – 2.76).68: Florida: (3.34 – 2.66).66: Idaho: (3.16 – 2.50).59: Reading: (3.42 – 2.83).50: Jacksonville: (2.85 – 2.35)There are different ways to get on this list. Best example is Jacksonville, which is ranked #24 in average goals scored per game and is ranked #1 in average goals allowed.