The Allen Americans are on their all-star break, they don't play until Friday and the Colorado Eagles are on a 15 game winning streak. Time to look at the remaining schedule and how the playoffs are shaping up for the Americans.
- Allen has now played 80% of their schedule with just 15 games remaining. They have played the most games (57) in the Mountain Division and the other teams have between one (Colorado) and four (Alaska) games in hand. It wasn't long ago the Americans were leading their division, conference and the entire ECHL in points. With the Colorado win streak it is looking more likely the Americans will finish second in the division.
- There are still plenty of games to be played so if Allen plays well they could overtake the Eagles who have a five point lead. However, if the Americans play poorly they could be caught by Idaho who is only five points behind Allen. Anything can happen down the stretch but the most likely outcome looks like a second place finish for the Americans and home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
- If you break the remaining schedule down in segments, the next two weeks will be critical. It is a light schedule with only four games in the next 18 days but they are all on the road. Three games against Missouri and one against Indy. Missouri is in fifth place in the division and battling to make the playoffs but have been one of the hotter teams in the league going 8-2 in their last 10 games. Allen plays great on the road with a record of 18-9-1-1 and has won their last four road games. If Allen plans on catching Colorado they will need to get at least seven of the eight points available in these four road games and hope the Eagles cool off a bit. Colorado is at home for their next five games against South Carolina (3) and Alaska (2).
- Once Allen returns to the Allen Event Center (AEC) on St. Patrick's Day the schedule turns in their favor. Eight of the last 11 games are at home. The last 11 games are against three familiar foes. Allen will play the Tulsa four times, Wichita four times and Missouri three times. The Americans record against Tulsa this season is 7-3-0-0, against Missouri is 5-1-1-0 and against Wichita is 7-2-1-0. Remember, the away game against Wichita originally scheduled for March 8th was changed to April 9th. Many of the schedules printed early on still show the March 8th date.
- Riley Gill has battled a couple of injuries this season but when he has been in the lineup he has been close to unbeatable. His record since early December is 14-2. He leads the ECHL in GAA (2.13), save percentage (.937) and shutouts (6). In case you were wondering the all time ECHL record for shutouts in a season is eight.
- How is this for the odd stat of the day that I just noticed while wading through all of the ECHL statistics. Allen has been in only three shootouts this season and lost two of them. However, they are ranked #1 in the ECHL by converting on .571 (4-7) percent of their attempts. Allen is ranked last, #27 when it comes to shootout goals allowed. Opponents have converted on .714 (5-7) percent of their attempts. How bad is the .714 shootout conversion percentage? The next worse team to Allen in allowing shootout goals is Indy who has allowed .455 (5-11). The ECHL Average is .266.
- With their nine goal outburst against Tulsa on Friday the Americans are now averaging exactly 4.00 goals per game for the season. Only Toledo has a higher average at 4.24. The Americans raised their shooting percentage to 12.5% which is also second in the ECHL to Toledo's 12.8%.
- Allen has lost ground recently to Colorado but the Americans record over the last ten games (7-2-1-0) is as good as any of the other teams at the top of the league. Here are the top five teams in the ECHL in winning percentage. Interesting to note four of the five are in the Western Conference.
.750 - Toledo Walleye
.726 - Florida Everblades
.714 - Colorado Eagles
.664 - Fort Wayne Komets
.658 - Allen Americans
DID YOU KNOW: Shots on goal is a topic you hear discussed quite often in the press box, among fans, with coaches and certainly with goalies. For a long time I thought a shot on goal was simply any puck that would have gone in the net had the goalie not been there. Here is the official definition of a shot on goal with some clarifications:
"A shot on goal occurs when an attempt by an attacking player, with intent to score a goal, either results in a goal or would have entered the goal if not stopped by the goaltender."
- Any effort resulting in a goal is considered to be a shot on goal.
- Clearing or stray passes that end up on goal, but were not taken with an intent to score, are not considered shots.
- Attempts that hit only the crossbar or goalpost, or that are blocked by a forward or defenseman before reaching the net are not considered shots.
- Regardless of where the puck is shot, it is deemed a valid shot if it is a legitimate effort or attempt at scoring by the player taking the shot. For example, a bank shot from behind the net can be a shot on goal.
- Any penalty shot is considered a shot on goal regardless of whether the attacking player actually puts a shot on net.
- In a shootout, the winning team is credited with one additional shot on goal, though this shot is not credited to any player in particular.
Even with the definition and clarifications there is a lot of judgement involved in crediting shots on goal. Lively discussions will continue about over counting or under counting shots on goal.