Before I talk about the game tonight and the rest of the series against Kansas City, I want to thank everyone for all the messages on social media, email and texts welcoming me back after our trip to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). It was quite a history lesson visiting ruins from the Phoenicians dating to the 12th century BC to the tunnels inside the Rock of Gibraltar last used during WW II and everything in between. In addition to visiting beautiful cites from Barcelona to Lisbon we spent a day in the life of a Spanish Bull Farm that supplies bulls for the most prominent bull rings in Spain. We learned all about the farm’s breeding and selection program and also the controversy that surrounds this centuries old custom. We have now visited all seven continents and over 70 countries but for some reason Nancy’s bucket list only gets longer, go figure.
– Allen has a great opportunity to take a commanding lead in the series with Kansas City tonight. Getting a win in game four with a 2-1 lead in a seven-game series has proven difficult over history (NHL). While the odds of winning the series with a 2-1 lead is around 70%, the odds for winning game four has been less than 50%. Stats are just stats and Allen fans will remember both sides of beating the odds:
- In 2015 on the way to its first Kelly Cup, Allen was down 3-1 in the series playing the Ontario Reign. The odds said Allen had less than 10% chance of winning the series. The Americans won three straight games (6-2 in Ontario, 2-1 and 3-1 at home) to advance to the finals.
- In 2018 Allen took a 3-0 series lead against Idaho. The Americans had a 98% chance of winning the series according to the odds. Idaho won four straight games (2-1, 2-1 in Allen and 6-3, 4-1 in Idaho) to advance.
The moral of the story is ignore the stats, ignore the odds and just play one game at a time.
– As you would expect in a series as close as this one the stats are very close starting with the scores. Allen won game one 3-2, Kansas City won game two 3-2 and Allen won game three 1-0 in overtime. It has been the lowest scoring series in the playoffs. Here are some other stats:
- The team scoring first has won all three games.
- Allen is averaging 29.0 shots per game, Kansas City 29.3.
- Allen has scored six goals, Kansas City five.
- Colton Saucerman leads Allen in PIMS (4), Joshua Lammon leads KC (6 minute).
– This series has been distinguished by outstanding goalie play from both teams and you can expect both teams will stick with the same goalies throughout the series unless something unusual happens. Here are the stats:
- Kevin Mandolese – GAA 1.63, save percentage .943 (3 games, 88 saves).
- Shane Starrett – GAA 1.95, save percentage .931 (3 games 87 saves).
– Special teams will likely play a bigger role tonight and in the other games in Allen. Neither team has matched its power play percentage from the regular season. Allen’s power play percentage in the regular season was 23.9% compared to 16.7% (2-12) in the playoffs. Kansas City was 18.1% during the regular season and is 14.3% (1-7) in the playoffs. The Allen power play could be the difference maker tonight.
– I haven’t received the starting lineup for the game tonight but after attending practice yesterday I would expect it will likely be the same as the last game in Kansas City. I will post the starting lineup on social media and update it on the blog if I receive it later today.
– Teams that win in the playoffs have to be special teams and you never know if a team is special until late in the season. The locker room is the deciding factor in how special a team can be. If you remember back to the end of December, Allen was dead last in the division with a record of 5-12-1-0 and a points percentage of .306. Since that low point the Americans fought back to finish second in the division on a record of 32-20-1-1 and a points percentage of .611. In retrospect that poor start and what the team had to do to make the playoffs could be the reason this team so special. There will certainly be obstacles going forward in the playoffs, but this team as knocked down plenty of them this season. you have to like their chances.
– Toledo beat Indy last night 5-3 to sweep the series against the Fuel and advance to the division finals against the winner of the Cincinnati vs Fort Wayne series. The #1 seed Cyclones lead in the series 2-1. A Toledo vs Cincinnati Central Division final would be a great series pitting the #2 and #3 teams in the league during the regular season against each other.
– There are five games on the schedule tonight, however none are elimination games. All five series are 2-1. Here is the ECHL Today with all of the previews: https://www.echl.com/en/news/2023/4/echl-today-april-28
DID YOU KNOW: How important is scoring the first goal of an ECHL game?
– ECHL teams scoring first in the regular season had a big advantage, winning 71% of the points.
– Thus far in the Kelly Cup playoffs, teams are close to unbeatable when scoring first. In the Allen vs Kansas City series, the team that scored first won all three games. Overall, after 28 first round games the record for teams scoring the first goal of the games is 24-4 (86%). Three of the four losses were in overtime.