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ALLEN, Texas – You could sense the anticipation and urgency ramp up yesterday as the Allen Americans prepare for the 2018 Kelly Cup playoffs. You could see and sense it at practice with the drills and system work Steve Martinson employed. You don’t win ten championships in 22 years without knowing how to adjust and adapt.

Being outshot 96-42 last weekend is all you need to know about whether there were changes in practice. Look for different line combinations and other adjustments when you watch game one against Idaho on Friday night.

– In addition to practice, the other activity for the day was a pep rally with fans which was also unique. It is the first pep rally in the six years Steve Martinson has been the coach where the team is opening the playoffs on the road, the reward for finishing third in the division. The boys got a good send off from the fans.

– The night finished for the team when they set their alarms for somewhere around 3:30 am this morning to meet up and head to the airport for the first flight of the day to Boise. They will practice this afternoon at CenturyLink Arena.

– If you didn’t have a chance to check out all of the playoff rosters here is the complete list issued by the ECHL. https://www.echl.com/rosters-announced-2018-kelly-cup-playoffs

– If the Allen Americans don’t win the Kelly Cup, there is an excellent chance someone that has played for them will. Here are the former Americans in the playoffs with the first round matchups. The players marked “PEL” are on the playoff eligible list and currently in the AHL. They could be added to the active roster when their AHL assignment is completed.

Adirondack  (none)
vs
Worcester  (none)

Manchester  (Tony Turgeon – PEL)
vs
Reading  (Matt Willows, Alex Krushelnyski – PEL)

Florida  (Kyle Neuber)
vs
Atlanta  (Rick Pinkston – PEL)

South Carolina  (Danny Federico)
vs
Orlando  (Kale Kerbashian, Chris Crane)

Toledo  (Tyler Barnes)
vs
Indy  (Jaynen Rissling, Garrett Clarke)

Fort Wayne  (Jamie Schaafsma)
vs
Cincinnati  (none)

Colorado  (Matt Register)
vs
Wichita  (Dyson Stevenson, Travis Brown)

Allen
vs
Idaho  (Corbin Baldwin)

– Tomorrow, I will look at the first round matchup between Allen and Idaho, but today, I wanted to preview the four Mountain Division teams in the playoffs and compare them in a way that may help determine who is the strongest and weakest team based on regular season results.

The “Barry the Blogger Matrix” was spot on last season in predicting the first round winners in the Mountain Division so thought I would give it a try again this season. This matrix is a way to compare teams across many statistical categories and then come up with an overall score.

– Below is how the four teams in the Mountain Division playoffs stand in 13 statistical categories. Fairly easy to see the strengths and weaknesses of each team.

Goals Scored (average per game)
3.68 – Colorado
3.39 – Idaho
3.26 – Allen
3.08 -Wichita

Goals Allowed (average per game)
2.61 – Idaho
2.97 – Colorado
3.22 – Allen
3.26 -Wichita

Goal Differential (goals scored minus goals allowed)
+56 – Idaho
+51 – Colorado
+3  – Allen
-13 – Wichita

Shots For (average per game)
36.11 – Idaho
31.33 – Colorado
31.22 – Wichita
30.74 – Allen

Shots Against (average per game)
28.36 – Idaho
31.57 – Colorado
33.61 – Wichita
36.25 – Allen

Shooting Percentage (goals as a percent of total shots)
11.5% – Colorado
10.5% – Allen
9.8%  – Wichita
9.1%  – Idaho

Power Play Percentage
18.2% – Colorado
17.5% – Idaho
17.1% – Allen
14.3% -Wichita

Penalty Kill Percentage
85.9% – Colorado
84.2% – Idaho
81.6% – Allen
80.1% – Wichita

Power Play Goals Scored
57 – Idaho
54 – Colorado
51 – Allen
35 – Wichita

Plus/Minus
+229 – Idaho
+130 – Colorado
+38   – Allen
+23   – Wichita

Goals Against Average (GAA)
2.53 – Idaho
2.89 – Colorado
3.16 – Allen
3.21 – Wichita

Save Percentage
.912 – Allen
.909 – Idaho
.907 – Colorado
.904 – Wichita

Record Last 10 Games
9-0-1-0 – Idaho
8-2-0-0 – Colorado
4-4-2-0 – Allen
2-6-2-0 – 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:
20 – Idaho  (1.54 average)
23 – Colorado  (1.77 average)
38 – Allen  (2.92 average)
49 -Wichita  (3.77 average)

– Based on the stats you would pick Idaho and Colorado as heavy favorites over Allen and Wichita. In the three years I have been doing this matrix, the Thunder score (averaging 3.77 per category) is the lowest recorded. The stats would indicate this series could be a sweep, but then again stats don’t play the game. Idaho is the best of the lot statistically, and unless the Allen Americans outperform their regular season stats with their revamped lineup, it is hard to see this series going seven games. The matrix gives Idaho a slight edge in the Mountain Division finals, but it is a toss-up statistically.

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