ALLEN, TX – The term “must win game” is used all too often in sports and I am as guilty as anyone but for the Allen Americans, the game tonight in Colorado is a must-win game even though it is not an elimination game. Trailing in the series 2-0, a loss tonight would put the Americans in a hole that very few teams have ever been able to crawl out of. According to the website Who Wins, the all-time record overall sports in seven game series when one team takes a 3-0 lead is 335-5 which equates to a 1.49% chance of a comeback.
– A more positive stat from Who Wins is in NHL second round games when a team has a 2-0 series lead and started the playoffs on the road they win game three at home only 52% of the time. As bleak as being down 3-0 in the series would be, if Allen wins tonight they are right back in the series. The road has been good for both teams in the playoffs. Allen and Colorado have a combined record of 8-0-0 on the road but just 2-4 at home.
– It will be interesting to see how coach Steve Martinson approaches the lineup tonight. With Bryan Moore returning from a four-game suspension you would assume he will be reunited on a line with Zach Hall. The question is who will be the third forward on that line. It could be Alex Krushelnyski or Gary Steffes or Dyson Stevenson or Tanner Eberle. The top two lines of Hanson, Asuchak, Costello and MacLeod, Brittain, Barnes have stayed pretty much intact. Under normal circumstances, only 10 forwards would be in the lineup so two of the names above would be healthy scratches. Another option for coach Martinson, which he has used in the past, is to dress 11 forwards and only five defensemen and have Stevenson help out on defense when necessary. With 22 players on the roster, the one fact that is known is four players will be sitting out tonight.
– Here is a comparison between Allen and Colorado looking at the playoff stats:
|Power Play||23.3% (7/30)||25.0% (7/28)|
|Penalty Kill||88.9% (32/36)||79.3% (23/29)|
|Leading Scorers||Hanson (3-5-8)
– Here is how Allen and Colorado rank in some statistical categories among the eight teams remaining in the playoffs:
Penalty Minutes Per Game: Allen 4th (13.29) – Colorado 7th (10.14)
Goals Scored Per Game: Allen 6th (3.00) – Colorado 1st (4.14)
Goals Allowed per Game: Allen 6th (2.71) – Colorado 4th (2.57)
Power Play Percentage: Allen 4th (23.3%) – Colorado 3rd (25.0%)
Penalty Kill Percentage: Allen 3rd (88.9%) – Colorado 8th (79.3%)
– The special team stats above are misleading because Allen was great on the power play in the first round against Utah (30%) but in the two games against Colorado are just 1-10 (10%). If Allen is going to win tonight the power play will have to score.
– The team that scored first won games one and two in this series and I don’t see that changing in game three. The first goal will be critical tonight. A reminder Allen and Colorado have a combined record of 81-4-2-2 when scoring first this season. Just looking at the playoffs they are a combined 8-0 when scoring first.
– This game will come down to which team has the greater will to win. It comes down to will not skill. These are two very talented teams so you can look for who works the hardest, who wins the battles for the puck and who wants it more. If Allen plays up to their potential they will win tonight.
– Officials scheduled for the game tonight are referees Andy Howard (#2) and Andrew Wilk (#24) and linesmen Erik Contino (#89) and Robert Keltie (#83).
– Here is an article written by Cris Tiller of the local paper in Colorado that talks about the familiarity between the Americans and Eagles who were once friends and are now foes. http://www.reporterherald.com/sports/ci_30961487/chad-costello-highlights-player-turnover-rosters-colorado-eagles
– Mary Betz and Ted Hosterman along with a group of friends are in Colorado for the road games the next two nights. Ted & Mary do the blog when I go on vacation and have agreed to do a road trip diary the next two days. Should be interesting to get their perspective.
– The San Jose Barracuda won last night to advance to the second round of the AHL playoffs. There was plenty of drama in the winner take all fifth game of the series against Stockton. The game went to overtime and the Barracuda scored the game winner while shorthanded. The final score was 2-1. San Jose will now play San Diego in the Division finals. Here are the details: http://thesinbin.net/carpenter-scores-in-ot-barracuda-advance-to-division-finals/
– It is a full slate of ECHL playoff games tonight. Brampton is at Manchester (Manchester leads series 3-1). Florida is at South Carolina (South Carolina leads the series 2-1). Toledo is at Fort Wayne (Toledo leads the series 2-0). Allen is at Colorado (Colorado leads the series 2-0).
– I had a reality check in the responses I received after the posts the last couple of days. On Monday, I wrote about the conflict I was experiencing between the optimistic and pessimistic thoughts I was having about this series against Colorado. Yesterday, it was about fan and player superstitions. The reality check for me was a reminder that regardless of how the series with Colorado turns out, the fans of the Allen Americans love this team and the young men that go out of their way to be accessible. I was also reminded of what a great group of dedicated fans or more appropriately what a great family makes up the Allen fan base. I wanted to share a few responses that make the point very well.
“Our four and seven year old’s do lend a different perspective as they seem to have lost interest in the game but are significantly more upset by the thought of not getting to talk to their “buddies” (the players) until the fall. They were spoiled by the amazing kindness and warm reception from the players on the concourse over the last few weeks. So while the season may not end up as we planned, for theses kiddos, it will always be special because of these great young men.”
“Win or lose we have an awesome group of guys who not only play great entertaining hockey but who we have the privilege of getting to know as more than just hockey players. The hockey family in Allen is like no other. Yes, we are spoiled, no team, no matter how great can win every year. No coach, no matter how great can win every championship. So win or lose we will be proud of these young men, proud of the people they are, proud of the season they gave us and blessed to have them in Allen. Would we like to comeback? You bet. Do we believe the boys can comeback? Absolutely. But if this isn’t our year it changes nothing about how we feel about our guys and our team!”
“Barry, you are right on with the superstitions. We try to make sure what we wear is something we have worn when the team won a game. We wear the same shoes and eat at Whataburger before the game. I carry the same stuff in my car until the end of the season. Don’t want to throw off the mojo! I even have a vinyl decal I bought two seasons ago. It’s in my driver’s side door pocket in my car. I can’t apply it because we have been winning championships since it has been in that pocket. Don’t mess with what works!”
Someone else commented:
“Barry, I got my hair cut before the last home games and people were telling me to leave, they said the short hair was bad luck. They may be on to something, two losses with short hair.”
DID YOU KNOW: Average attendance for the ECHL playoffs thus far is 3770 but the variance from team to team is very large. Here is the average playoff attendance for the eight teams remaining in the playoffs. Western Conference teams are drawing much better than the Eastern Conference teams.
6937 – Toledo
5902 – Fort Wayne
5289 – Colorado
4670 – Allen
3165 – Manchester
3132 – Florida
2717 – South Carolina
2486 – Brampton