ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans were hard at work during practice yesterday as they prepare for two games in Kansas City on Sunday and Monday. Some strange scheduling for sure driven by the availability of the arena where an indoor soccer team plays tonight. The Americans will head to Kansas City Saturday afternoon and play at 4:05 pm on Sunday and 7:05 pm on Monday.

– It was good to see Peter MacArthur and Connor Reilly back at practice after recent injuries. Dalton Thrower, Zach Hall, and Riley Gill are still listed as day-to-day and it remains to be seen when they will return. Zach Pochiro had successful surgery on his hand on Tuesday and those type of injuries typically have an eight-week recovery time.

– This is the time of the season where it starts to be difficult to find players to sign if a team is looking to add to their roster. Injuries mount up across the league, players leave for Europe and there are more call-ups as NHL/AHL have injuries. Each week it becomes harder and harder to find players to sign. I am sure this is something Steve Martinson has to be contemplating with Jonathan Lessard leaving to play in France and Pochiro out long-term. Martinson has enough forwards (11) today but does he want to gamble there won’t be more injuries or call-ups over the next couple of weeks? If he is going to add a depth player, he will have to do that sooner rather than later because fewer and fewer players will be available.

– Because of the way the schedule is this weekend the Allen Americans could wake up in Kansas City Sunday morning having a must-win game against the Mavericks. The three teams above Allen in the standings (Wichita, Colorado, Idaho) will be favored to win their games against teams with losing records. Wichita plays in Indy on Saturday against the last place Central Division team. Colorado is at home for games tonight and Saturday against Rapid City, the last place team in the Mountain Division. Idaho is at home for two games against Utah, a team that has one win in their last ten games. If the favored team wins all of these games, which is very likely, the standings will look like this Sunday morning:

36 points – Wichita
35 points – Colorado
34 points – Idaho
27 points – Allen

If Allen doesn’t win in Kansas City, a tight four-team race could become a close three-team race for the top spot in the Mountain Division.

– The Allen Americans have now completed 30% of the season. Thought today would be a good time to provide an update on some team stats. Here is how the Americans rank in the ECHL in some critical statistical categories:

Goal differential – 7th (+11)
Average PIMS per game – 1st (24.52)
Overall power play – 11th (18.2%)
Home power play – 8th (20.4%)
Road power play – 21st (15.6%)
Overall penalty kill – 17th (82.0%)
Home penalty kill – 2nd (89.5%)
Road penalty kill – 27th (72.1%)
Shorthanded goals for – 3rd (4)
Shorthanded goals against – 15th (4)
Ave. goals scored – 7th (3.52)
Ave. goals against – 10th (3.00)
Ave shots for per game – 11th (33.48)
Ave shots against per game – 23rd (35.38)
Shooting percentage – 10th (10.4%)
Save percentage – 3rd (.916)
Attendance – 14th (3781)

If you compare the stats above to the last time I posted them, which was one month ago, a few things stand out. The power play has improved from 13% to 18.2% but the penalty kill has gone in the opposite direction falling to 82% from 89.6%. The road penalty kill is the worst in the league at 72.1%. Along with a declining penalty kill percentage, the penalty minutes have increased over the past month going from an average of 20.73 per game which was #5 in the league to 24.52 minutes per game which is #1. One stat that has remained constant over the last month is team save percentage which is ranked #3 in the league at .916.

DID YOU KNOW:  Ever since the NHL adopted plus/minus as an official stat back in 1967, it has been criticized as an individual stat.

The definition of plus/minus is a player is awarded a “plus” each time they are on the ice when their team scores an even-strength goal or a shorthanded goal and given a “minus” every time they are on the ice when their opponent scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal. Critics of the stat argue plus numbers are awarded to players that make little or no contribution to a goal being scored and minus numbers are given to players that were doing their job defensively.

A good player surrounded by weaker players will likely have a poor plus/minus number while a weak player playing with stronger players can have a good plus/minus number. Studies have estimated 30% – 40% of the of the plus/minus marks are given to players that had no impact on the play. If you look at team plus/minus numbers however it gives a better idea how good a team is playing.

Here are the ECHL teams with a plus/minus over +50.

+124 – Wichita
+104 – Florida
+56 – Colorado
+53 – Allen
+52 – Toledo
+51 – Fort Wayne

You may wonder how Allen could be in fourth place in their division and but have the fourth best plus/minus number in the 27 team ECHL. If you look behind the numbers, Allen has feasted on the Rapid City Rush. They have played Rapid City four times and in those four games are +24, +15, +15 & +14 for a total of +64. If you eliminate the four games against the Rush, the plus/minus is -15 against the rest of the teams Allen has played this season.

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