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Allen vs Utah Series Preview, Utah Snowstorm Causes Delays, NHL/AHL Contracted Players Assigned to ECHL Teams and More

Wednesday, February 22nd
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It is game day for the Allen Americans, but it remains to be seen if the team can get to Utah in time for the game tonight. A major winter storm traveling across Utah yesterday caused the cancellation of many flights including the one the Americans were on last night. This morning there are still issues as the hazardous weather conditions have produced an accumulation of snow at the airfield. The Americans are trying to get to Salt Lake City for the game. UPDATE: The team did find flights and is on the way to Salt Lake City, so game should go on as scheduled.

– The Americans are headed to Utah for a rematch of a three-game series from the first week in February. It will be difficult to repeat the success of the first three game series when the Americans beat the Grizzlies 4-1, 6-2 and 8-1. Since that three-game sweep by Allen the Americans have a record of 3-3-0-0 and Utah’s record is 3-1-2-0.

– Allen and Utah enter this series separated by two points in the standings and a playoff spot is literally on the line. Allen currently occupies the fourth and final Mountain Division playoff position with 49 points, Utah is in fifth place with 47 points. If either team takes all six points available in this series, they will be assured of fourth place and could end the week in third place. Third place in the division is occupied by Kansas City (50 points) and the Mavericks will be in Florida this week for a tough three games series against the Everblades. Florida has a .761 home points percentage, the third best in the league.

– Here are some comparisons between Allen and Utah.

  • Allen road record 13-13-0-0, Utah home record 9-11-0-0
  • Goals per game: Allen #8 (3.45) – Utah #24 (2.84)
  • Goals allowed per game: Allen #22 (3.67) – Utah #21 (3.59)
  • Power play: Allen #8 (22.6%) – Utah #17 (19.6%)
  • Penalty kill: Allen #12 (81.8%) – Utah #15 (79.6%)
  • Shorthanded goals: Allen (4) – Utah (4)
  • Shorthanded goals allowed: Allen (5) – Utah (6)
  • Record when scoring 1st: Allen (16-6-1-0) – Utah (14-3-0-0)
  • Overtime Record: Allen (3-1) – Utah (2-3)
  • Penalty minutes per game: Allen #2 (18.84) – Utah #1 (19.12)

– What stands out to me in the stats above is how much Allen has improved compared to the start of the series against Utah at the beginning of the month. A couple of examples. On February 1st Allen was ranked #18 in average goals per game (3.08), today the Americans are ranked #8 (3.45). Allen has seen a similar improvement on the power play. On February 1st Allen was ranked #16 at 20.1%, today it is ranked #8 at 22.6% and is .3% of being in the top five.

– The games in this series should be high scoring affairs if the recent past says anything. Utah has scored 22 goals in the last five games; Allen has scored 21. The Americans have scored 60 goals in the last 12 games, an average of exactly five goals per game.

– The one stat that jumps out from the list above is the fact Utah and Allen are the two most penalized teams in the ECHL. One thing you can count on is there will be a lot of penalties in this series. Here is a comparison of season totals:

  • Minor penalties: Allen 304 – Utah 281
  • Major penalties (5 minute): Allen 23 – Utah 27
  • Misconduct penalties (10 minute): Allen 14 – Utah 17
  • Game misconducts: Allen 4 – Utah 7
  • Match penalties: Allen 2 – Utah 0

Allen is #1 in the ECHL in minor penalties and match penalties. Utah is #1 in 10-minute misconducts and game misconducts.

– In the three-game series at the beginning of February there were a total of 39 power play opportunities (21 Allen – 18 Utah), 72 penalty infractions (32 Allen – 40 Utah) and 218 penalty minutes (89 Allen – 129 Utah). It is highly unlikely the penalty fest from the first series will be repeated but there will be plenty of penalties this week. Adding Stefan Fournier to the Allen lineup may in fact tamp down the penalties, but if not, Allen will be better prepared to deal with however Utah chooses to play.

– As always, the three keys of scoring first, outshooting Utah and winning the special teams battle will be important in the series. Utah is almost unbeatable with a lead. The Grizzlies record when leading after the first period is a perfect 8-0-0-0 and when leading after the second period is 17-1-0-0. Allen doesn’t want to be playing from behind in this series.

– The Americans dominated special teams play in the last series in Utah. Allen’s power play was 6-21 (28.6%) and the penalty kill was 94.4% (1-18). If Allen can make the Grizzlies pay when they take penalties, which Utah will, the Americans should have a great week.

– When playing Utah, it is always worthwhile to mention the Grizzlies have played Idaho 15 times this season. Idaho is still on pace to have the best season in the history of the ECHL. Utah’s record against Idaho is 4-11-0-0. Utah has a current overall record of 22-24-3-0 which is a points percentage of .480. If you eliminate the 15 games against Idaho, the record for the Grizzlies is 18-13-3-0 which is a points percentage of .575. The point being, Utah is a better team than its record reflects.

– The Allen goal for the week is the same as every week. Win two out of three games and take a minimum of four of the available six points.

OTHER COMMENTS

– It is hard to keep track of all of the player streaks for the Americans. Even though several were broken last week here are some that are still intact.

  • Jack Combs has scored in 14 straight games (23 points). That is the longest current streak in the league.
  • Hank Crone has scored in 12 straight road games (20 points). That is every road game he has played in since December 23.  It is the longest road point streak in the ECHL this season.
  • Colton Hargrove’s 23 game point streak was snapped last week but he still has the second longest road point streak in the league. Hargrove has scored in 11 straight road games (19 points) dating back to January 3.

– There are eight games in the ECHL tonight. Mountain Division teams in action in addition to Allen at Utah are Maine at Idaho and Kansas City at Florida. Here is the ECHL Today with the previews https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/2/echl-today-feb-22

– If you didn’t see the announcement from the Americans, Stefan Fournier will be wearing jersey #44 which Xavier Bernard had been wearing until he was recalled by Belleville. When Bernard returns to Allen, he will by wearing #5, the same number he wears in Belleville.

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today is about NHL/AHL contracted players assigned to ECHL teams. It is no surprise Allen is tied for the fewest in the league. All the more reason to applaud what the Americans have accomplished since the beginning of 2023, a record of 15-7-0-0 and a points percentage of .682.

NHL/AHL contracted players assigned to ECHL teams varies daily and is hard to track. Currently the number assigned ranges from 1 to 14. The number includes players on the active roster and reserve only, contracted players on injured reserve are not included. There are a few exceptions but in general the teams with 5+ contracted players assigned are the best in the league. Eleven ECHL teams currently have a points percentage above .600. Ten of the 11 have five or more contracted players assigned. The one exception is Indy with four. Here are the number of NHL/AHL contracted players assigned to each ECHL team.1: ALN, IA2: ADK, WIC3: KAL, RC, WHL4: IND, NOR, UTA5: ATL, CIN, GVL, IDH, JAX, KC, MNE, TUL, WOR6: SAV7: ORL, SC8: FW, TOL, TR10: FLA, REA14: NFL

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