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ECHL Standings and the Playoffs, Prospects for the Mountain Division, Prospects for Allen, Critical Dates and More

Monday, March 7th
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While the Allen Americans are taking a few days off there is not much new to report so the blog will be pretty lean until Thursday.

On a personal note, today would have been my mom’s 100 birthday though she has been gone for over 20 years. She was born and raised in Dalkey, Ireland (near Dublin) by a foster mother, as she was given up as a baby. Her given name was Mary but she went by Trixie all of her life. She became a nurse and met my dad (a medic) during WW II in England. She was a great athlete and even had a hockey connection as she was the first aide nurse for the Minnesota North Stars. Remember, back in those days there was no netting around the ends of the rink so she did a lot more than handing out aspirin and treating falls. Lot’s of puck injuries back then. She was a combination of an opinionated Irish woman, the life of the party and as caring a person as you will ever meet. If you are lucky enough to still have your mother around, cherish her, as you never get used to not having her around. Happy 100th birthday mom! “The world changes from year to year, our lives change from day to day, but the love and memory of you only grows stronger and shall never pass away.”

– I was talking yesterday about how tight the Mountain Division has become with all teams still having a chance to finish at the top. The two games in the Mountain Division yesterday tightened up the standings even more. Yesterday Rapid City beat Utah and Wichita beat Kansas City. The Mountain Division is now in a very unique position where no team has a points percentage below .500 and no team is above .600. The difference between the top of the division (Utah – .598) and the bottom of the division (Kansas City & Wichita – .500) has shrunk to just .098 percentage points. Here are the current standings:

  • .598 – Utah
  • .579 – Rapid City
  • .555 – Idaho
  • .519 – Tulsa
  • .510 – Allen
  • .500 – Kansas City
  • .500 – Wichita

–  If you look at the points percentage difference between the top and bottom teams in the other divisions it is very different. The Mountain Division has the lowest points percentage of the #1 teams in the four divisions and the highest points percentage of the last place teams. Here is the range and points percentage difference between the first and last place teams in all of the divisions:

  • .098 – Mountain (.598 to .500)
  • .264 – North (.684 to .420)
  • .266 – South (.655 to .389)
  • .298 – Central (.718 to .481)

– Here are some other stats from the standings;

  • Just one team (Toledo – .716) is above .700
  • Two teams are under .400, both in the South Division (South Carolina .389, Norfolk .394)
  • South Division has three teams above .600
  • North Division has two teams above .600
  • Central Division has one team above .600
  • Mountain Division has no teams above .600

– It is hard to draw any conclusions from the standings, but time is running out quickly on the regular season. Two teams (Rapid City & Kansas City) are down to their last 15 games. Based on historical numbers, if the playoffs started today, the Mountain Division would not fare well. If all of the teams in the division keep beating each other and a strong teams doesn’t emerge, it is hard to see a Mountain Division team making it to the Kelly Cup finals.

– Here is the regular season points percentage for the last five Kelly Cup champions. Odds are a team better have a points percentage above .600 if it expects to win the Kelly Cup:

  • .618 – Fort Wayne (2020-21)
  • .653 – Newfoundland (2018-19)
  • .708 – Colorado (2017-180
  • .688 – Colorado (2016-17)
  • .618 – Allen (2015-16)
  • .736 – Allen (2014-15)

– Here are the six ECHL teams currently above .600 in the standings and early Kelly Cup favorites with the regular season winding down:

  • .716 – Toledo
  • .684 – Reading
  • .655 – Atlanta
  • .649 – Newfoundland
  • .627 – Jacksonville
  • .625 – Florida

– I think Newfoundland will be one of the big favorites for the Kelly Cup again his season. The Growlers always get loaded up with contract players from Toronto and this season they have also received players from Manitoba. Newfoundland is only #4 in points percentage rank but its record is deceiving. It has been the tale of three seasons for the Growlers. They had a great start, then disaster struck with callups, injuries and a huge COVID breakout and then back to normal. Here is Newfoundland’s record in these three phases with points percentage in parenthesis:

  • 14-2-0-0: October 21 to December 2 (.875)
  • 3-10-3-0: December 3 to February 8 (.281)
  • 12-3-0-0: February 9 to March 6 (.800)

– Another big factor in playoff success is the help ECHL teams get from their AHL affiliates. It is no secret if a team’s AHL affiliate doesn’t make the playoffs it can be a big help in getting players sent to the ECHL. Here are the AHL teams currently not in a playoff position with their ECHL affiliate. The ECHL team’s rank in their division is in parenthesis.

  • Bridgeport Islanders – Worcester (5th)
  • Lehigh Valley Phantoms – Reading (1st)
  • Syracuse Crunch – Orlando (4th)
  • Cleveland Monsters – Kalamazoo (6th)
  • Iowa Wild – Iowa (5th)
  • Texas Stars – Idaho (3rd)
  • Tuscon Roadrunners – Rapid City (2nd)
  • San Jose Sharks – Orlando (4th)

– For Allen to make a deep playoff run the team will have to win a huge percentage of its final 20 regular season games. A team that barely makes the playoffs as the third or fourth seed in the division has virtually no chance of winning the Kelly Cup. The idea of once you make the playoffs any team can win sounds good, but it is not the case at all in the ECHL, based on past history. Bottom line is the Americans have to find a way to get to the second seed in the division to have a realistic chance in the playoffs. It is a big ask but not impossible when you consider Allen will add Ryan Lohin, Ben Carroll, Chad Butcher and others this weekend and/or next weekend, which will make the Americans a better team. Also, having a light week this week, including three days off, will allow some dinged up players to heal a bit and rejuvenate the team for a stretch run. After winning two games against Idaho this past weekend it is imperative to keep this going in Tulsa next weekend. Splitting series will not cut it at this point.

– Luckily, the teams ahead of Allen in the standings have not been pulling away. Allen’s two game win streak doesn’t sound like much, but it is the second longest streak in the division. All the teams ahead of Allen in the standings are on losing streaks, with the exception of Rapid City, who is 3-0-0-1 over the last four games.

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL playoffs are only 44 days away. Some key dates are approaching:March30 Recall/Assignment Deadline (11:59 p.m. ET)31 ECHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)April15 Last day to place Player on Waivers (5 p.m. ET)17 Last day of 2021-22 ECHL regular season18 Submission of Playoff Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)20 Kelly Cup Playoffs beginTeams in the playoff hunt (buyers) and teams on the outside of the playoffs (sellers) will have to make decisions as the trade deadline approaches.

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