– Tomorrow I will look at the first round matchup between Allen and Utah but today I wanted to preview the four Western Conference teams in the playoffs and compare them in a way that may help determine who are the strongest teams based on regular season results. The “Barry the Blogger Matrix” has been spot on some seasons and so-so in others in predicting the first round winners. This matrix is a way to compare teams across a number of statistical categories and then come up with an overall score.

– Below is how the four teams in the Western Conference playoffs rank in 13 statistical categories based on regular season stats. Fairly easy to see the strengths and weaknesses of each team.

Goals Scored (average per game)
3.33 – Fort Wayne
3.28 – Allen
3.07 – Wichita
2.88 – Utah

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.67 – Fort Wayne
2.68 – Wichita
2.72 – Allen
3.04 – Utah

Goal Differential (goals scored minus goals allowed)
+40 – Allen
+34 – Fort Wayne
+28 – Wichita
-12 – Utah

Shots For (average per game)
32.59 – Fort Wayne
32.40 – Utah
31.40 – Allen
30.83 – Wichita

Shots Against (average per game)
25.22 – Fort Wayne
29.10 – Utah
31.67 – Allen
35.46 – Wichita

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
10.3% – Allen
10.2% – Fort Wayne
9.9%  – Wichita
8.8%  – Utah

Power Play Percentage
25.9% – Fort Wayne
20.5% – Allen
16.8% – Utah
14.3% -Wichita

Penalty Kill Percentage
86.8% – Fort Wayne
85.4% – Wichita
84.2% – Utah
81.7% – Allen

Power Play Goals Scored
57 – Allen
51 – Fort Wayne
47 – Utah
36 – Wichita

Plus/Minus
+151 – Wichita
+114 – Allen
+49 – Fort Wayne
-87 – Utah

Goals Against Average (GAA)
2.60 – Wichita
2.62 – Fort Wayne
2.67 – Allen
2.90 – Utah

Save Percentage
.925 – Wichita
.914 – Allen
.898 – Utah
.896 – Fort Wayne

Record Last 10 Games
7-2-1-0 – Allen
5-5-0-0 – Utah
4-5-0-1 – Fort Wayne
4-6-0-0 – Wichita

– Finally, I tallied up the rank for each team in every category to get an overall score. The lower the score the better. If you finished first in every category you would get a final score of 13. Here are the results:
24 – Fort Wayne  (1.85 average)
28 – Allen  (2.23 average)
37 – Wichita  (2.85 average)
42 – Utah  (3.23 average)

– Based on the stats you would pick Allen over Utah and Fort Wayne over Wichita in the first round. This is just a fun way to look at stats and not very sophisticated. Two of the biggest issues it doesn’t factor in is the differences between teams which can be small or large and how teams are performing as the playoffs begin. If you looked at these stats over the last six weeks rather the entire season you could see a very different picture.

 

COACH’S CORNER

It is an important day as the playoff roster is due this afternoon (2:00 pm CDT). This morning I asked coach Martinson his thoughts as he puts together the playoff roster and prepares for the playoffs:

“I would like to keep everyone on the roster for the playoffs but as of this morning I expect to to leave one defenseman and one forward off the roster.”

“I will select the players I think will give us the best chance to win the Kelly Cup even though some may not be available for the first round.”

“We are taking team pictures today and everyone will be included. I won’t make my final decisions until I have one more chance to talk to some players, the trainer and doctor.”

“All three goalies will be on the playoff roster. Because of the condensed playoffs and unique circumstance if you have to add an emergency goalie (they can have no pro experience) it is not worth the risk to go with two goalies.”

“I have been saying for a while with so many rookie and second year players, many added during the season, our team would improve as the season progressed. We are now playing our best hockey offensively, defensively and in goal.”

“One of my messages to players as we start the playoffs is be ready, work hard, be aggressive but don’t try to do too much, don’t try to be the hero.”

 

 

DID YOU KNOW: The ECHL Stats post today recognized the Ironmen from this season who played in all of their team’s games. At the top of the list is Les Lancaster who is one of just three players whose team played 72 games and they played in them all. If you follow the team you know Les played hurt several times this season but he was there for every game. Job well done!

The value of players that can be counted on each and every game can’t be overstated. Only five of the 14 teams that played this season had such a player. It is a rare feat in any year to not miss a game but in the COVID pandemic regular season just completed even more so. There were 584 players that played in the ECHL in 2020-21. Just seven (1.2%) played in everyone of their team’s games. Congrats to these Ironmen!
Here are the seven players that didn’t miss a regular season game listed by the number of games their team played:
72 – Les Lancaster, Allen
72 – Aaron Luchuk, Orlando
72 – Tristin Langan, Orlando
71 – Avery Peterson, Rapid City
71 – Jay Dickman, Wichita
71 – Cam Clarke, Wichita
69 – Alex Kile, Florida