ALLEN, Texas – The Allen Americans flew to Kansas City last night which is an upgrade from their normal mode of transportation when they play the Mavericks, which will happen tonight (7:05 pm). An 80-minute flight sure beats an eight-hour bus ride. The Americans will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak and avenge their worst loss of the season which came on opening night in Kansas City when the Mavericks spanked them 5-1.
– The way the Mavericks are playing (5-1-1-0) it would be difficult to win in Kansas City under normal circumstances and these aren’t normal circumstances. The Americans have been decimated with injuries, call-ups, and other personal issues. Depending on whether coach Martinson has found some replacements you can look for a game where defensemen will be playing forward, numerous new players will be in the lineup and/or the team will be playing shorthanded. None of the options are good and the old adage about when key players are missing from the lineup it gives an opportunity for other players to step up is definitely the mantra of the day. Opportunities will abound in the game tonight, that is guaranteed.
– Allen and Kansas City have gone in opposite directions this season. The Mavericks did not make the playoffs last season but this season have the best winning percentage in the Mountain Division (.786). Allen made the playoffs last season but this season is last in the Mountain Division with a winning percentage of .350
– Here is how Allen and Kansas City matchup:
|Team Record||3-6-0-1 (7 points)||5-1-1-0 (11 points)|
|Division Ranking||7th Mountain||4th Central|
|Conference Ranking||11th Western||6th Western|
|Last Game||4-1 Loss (South Carolina)||5-4 Win (Utah)|
|Power Play||14.3% (7/49)||13.3% (4/30)|
|Penalty Kill||90.0% (5/50)||84.0% (4/25)|
|Most PIM||Makowski (43)||Goff (14)|
|Leading Scorers||Shmyr (7-17-14)
Keys to Victory:
– Special teams are always important and if you look at the top line numbers above the teams look pretty close. However, if you look behind the numbers there is some interesting data. To start with Allen is ranked #2 in the ECHL in penalty minutes (211) while Kansas City is #26 with 78 penalty minutes. The Americans have taken 63 minor penalties compared to just 29 by the Mavericks. As always Allen needs to stay out of the penalty box and this becomes even more important if the Americans are playing shorthanded.
– Allen’s power play has been better on the road (19.4%) than at home (5.6%). Kansas City is more traditional with a better home power play (20.0%) than road power play (6.7%). Allen’s road penalty kill is 88.9% compared to Kansas City’s home penalty kill which is ranked #24 (72.7%). Whoever can prevail on special teams will likely come away with a win.
– Kansas City has a big advantage in goal differential with a +8 compared to Allen’s -10. The Mavericks have a positive goal differential in all three periods having outscored their opponents 8-6 in the first period, 10-7 in the second and 6-4 in the third. It is a very different story for the Americans who have outscored their opponents in the first period 9-7 but have given up a lot of leads by being outscored in the second period 17-11 and 14-7 in the third period. To be successful Allen needs to play much better defense overall but especially in the second half of the game.
– Goals generate from shots and there is no bigger contrast between these teams than in shots allowed per game. Allen is dead last in the average number of shots allowed per game ranked #27 giving up 41.50 shots per game. Kansas City, on the other hand, is the best in the ECHL ranked #1 in shots allowed per game giving up only 27.00 shots per game. If both teams play to their average Allen doesn’t have a shot at winning this game. The Mavericks are 4-0-0-0 when outshooting their opponents at home. The Americans have to play better defensively and that starts with allowing fewer shots. How does that happen? Take fewer penalties, have a better forecheck, avoid neutral ice turnovers, play with speed and dump the puck if there is not a play.
– Allen is in the middle of the pack in goals scored per game, ranked #16 averaging 2.90 goals per game. However, it has been feast or famine when it comes to how many goals the Americans have scored. Allen has scored zero or one goal four times but four or more goals five times this season. They have scored two or three goals just once.
– The Tulsa Oilers are off to a great start with a record of 4-0-2-2 which is good for second place in the Mountain Division. They lost a nine-round shootout to Rapid City on Friday. You have to put this in the strange stat category as the Oilers have lost 13 straight shootouts. You have to go back to December 10, 2016, to find the last time Tulsa won a shootout and that took seven rounds to determine a winner.
DID YOU KNOW: I talked above about the variance in goals scored by Allen this year as they either score very few goals (0-1) or a lot of goals (4-6). When you take the average it comes out to 2.90 goals per game. Here are the average goals per game for each season the Americans have been in the ECHL. It is worth noting Allen won the Kelly Cup in the season they had their lowest average goals per game and lost in the second round of the playoffs in the season they had the highest average.
2018-19: 2.90 (thru 10 games)