ALLEN, Texas – It is a new week and a chance for the four teams struggling to make the final two playoff spots in the Mountain Division to take charge. The group of Wichita, Allen, Tulsa, Utah had lost 15 of their last 20 games. The question is will any of the four start winning consistently?
– The battle for playoff positions remains very close between Wichita, Allen, Tulsa, and Utah. Colorado is pretty much locked in as the #1 seed and Idaho is locked in for the #2 seed. The other two spots are there for the taking but none of the teams have stepped up. Here are the current Mountain Division standings with games played in parentheses.
94 points – Colorado (67 games)
87 points – Idaho (67 games)
74 points – Wichita (67 games)
71 points – Allen (66 games)
71 points – Tulsa (67 games)
67 points – Utah (67 games)
48 points – Rapid City (67 games)
– Here is the remaining schedule for Allen, Wichita, Tulsa and Utah:
Allen – Wichita (H), Colorado (H), Colorado (H), Wichita (A), Idaho (H), Idaho (H)
Wichita – Allen (A), Tulsa (H), Allen (H), Colorado (A), Colorado (A)
Tulsa – Wichita (A), Kansas City (A), Idaho (H), Rapid City (H), Rapid City (H)
Utah – Idaho (A), Idaho (A), Colorado (A), Kansas City (H), Kansas City (H)
– Allen has a game in hand and will make that up this week as they are the only one of the four teams to play three games. Wichita and Utah play two games this week and Tulsa just one. Because of the Big Red breakdown on St. Patrick’s Day that resulted in postponing Tulsa’s game with Kansas City the Oilers will play four of their remaining five games next week.
– The formula is pretty simple for the Americans but easier said than done. If Allen wins their three home games this week they will have sole possession of third place going into the final week of the season. Allen plays Wichita on Wednesday and their record against the Thunder this season is 5-5. The Americans play Colorado on Friday and Saturday. The last time Colorado visited Allen (March 17 & 18) the Americans won both games. Their record against the Eagles this season is 2-1-1-0.
– It might be a good time to review the tiebreakers since it is likely the race for the final two playoff spots will come down to the final weekend or even the final game of the season. There are eight tiebreakers in total with number eight being a coin toss, but here are the first two with how the four teams stand today.
1. Wins, regular season (excluding shootout wins)
32 – Wichita
30 – Tulsa
29 – Allen
24 – Utah
2. Goal Differential
– If you have been tracking the playoffs in all of the college and junior leagues in North America you know there were a lot of teams eliminated this weekend. That means a lot of players have finished their eligibility and will be looking for pro contracts. There is no doubt Steve Martinson has spent a lot of time this weekend recruiting, trying to find players to improve the roster. I am sure it is more difficult because Allen is not locked into the playoffs but I would be surprised if Martinson doesn’t add more players this week.
– It was a big day for Alex Schoenborn and Stephon Williams yesterday as they both played a big role in the Barracuda’s 3-2 win over the Tucson Roadrunners. Alex scored his first AHL goal of the season and Stephon stopped 27 of 29 shots in his first start for San Jose to earn the victory. David Makowski was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. David played in the first game after he was called up and then sat out the last three. If he is not going to play it would sure be nice to have Makowski back in Allen for three very tough and very important games this week.
– Here is a Hockey News article, “Second Best Masked Men,” that ranks the NHL’s 31 backup goalies. It has some nice things to say about Aaron Dell who is ranked #11 on the list. http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/second-best-masked-men-ranking-the-nhl-s-31-backup-goalies
DID YOU KNOW: Here is a stat you might find interesting. Allen is 11-6-5-2 in one goal games this season for a winning percentage of .604 which is much better than their overall winning percentage of .538. Last season, Allen was 17-6-4-2 in one goal games for a winning percentage of .690 which was worse than their overall winning percentage of .722.