The Allen Americans will have a full on practice today for the first time in over a month. Not a fit a practice in the day before a game or a practice after playing four games in five days. The Americans will practice the next four days as they prepare for the Western Conference Finals.
– South Carolina beat the Everblades 4-2 in Florida last night to force a game five. There will be two winner take all games tonight with South Carolina at Florida and Wichita at Fort Wayne. Allen and Greenville have already punched their tickets to the final four. Greenville takes on the winner of the South Carolina vs Florida game in the Eastern Conference Finals and Allen takes on the winner of the Wichita vs Fort Wayne game in the Western Conference Finals.
– One thing Steve Martinson isn’t doing right now that he would be doing if he was under contract for next season and Allen had an affiliate is talk to the affiliate and other AHL teams about signing players from the current Allen roster to AHL deals for next season or offering spots in AHL training camps. Allen is already behind in planning for next season because of the uncertainties.
– Another concern is three Allen players (Paterson, Mackin, Butcher) have already been announced as signed in Europe for next season and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
– There are a lot more opportunities in Europe for the 2020-21 season because teams aren’t offering as much money because of COVID so more ECHL tiered players are getting offers than in the past. When you consider the income is tax free, the teams play on a larger sheet of ice, they don’t play as many games, practice less and provide housing and transportation, getting an opportunity has plenty of allure. Because of the situation in Allen and in Europe you could see most of Allen’s top players go overseas.
– While a lot of players currently in the midst of the Kelly Cup playoffs have signed in Europe most will not be announced until have the playoffs are over. Players that have already been announced as heading to Europe include the following. ECHL MVP Anthony Beauregard will play Switzerland). Florida’s top defenseman, Logan Roe, who has finished #1 or #2 in plus/minus for defensemen the last four seasons will play in Sweden. Corey Mackin, the ECHL’s second leading goal scorer this season (30) will play in Sweden. Goalie Jake Paterson who was the #2 ECHL goalie in GAA (2.31) and save percentage (.927) will play in Norway. Michael Huntebrinker, Florida’s third leading goal scorer (23) will play in Austria. Pascal Aquin, Jacksonville’s third leading goal scorer (20) will play in Germany. These are just the first of many that will be announced in the next month.
– Faceoffs are so critical in the playoffs as winning in the defensive zone gets the team out of trouble especially when killing penalties and it sets up the offense/power play in the offensive zone. Spencer Asuchak has been one of the best in the ECHL in faceoffs for years but his performance in the Utah series was off the charts. In the current Stanley Cup playoffs, 50 players have taken 70 or more faceoffs thus far with win percentages ranging from a low of 35.7% (Matt Barzel – NYI) to a high of 61.5% (Casey Cizikas – NYI). Just three of the 50 NHL players with at least 70 faceoffs in the playoffs have hit the 60% mark, which is considered elite. In addition to Cizikas the other two are Nicolas Roy (VGS) at 60.8% and Gabriel Landeskog (COL) at 60.0%. The tops in the regular season was Patrice Bergeron (BOS) at 62.2%.
In the three game sweep against Utah here are Asuchak’s faceoff percentages and stats:
76.2% – Game 1 (16-21)
69.6% – Game 2 (16-23)
70.8% – Game 3 (17-24)
72.1% – Series Total (49-68)
– I have had several questions about the second round series against Wichita or Fort Wayne and how the series will proceed. It has already been announced the first two games of the best of five series will be in Allen. That means the final three games of the series, if necessary will be on the road. The rule when the five game series were announced for the playoffs was the higher seed (Allen is #1 in the West) has the choice of opening at home or on the road. I assume because the league was tying to save travel costs, if a team chooses to open at home it means two home games and then three on the road. If the higher seed wants three home games they will start with two road games. If teams mutually agree to a different format because of arena availability they can do so. Since Allen has opted to start the next series at home (two weekend dates) they will play the final three games on the road.