ALLEN, TX – The Allen Americans have just nine road games and 12 home games remaining in the season and the playoffs are right around the corner. I thought today would be a good time to take stock of what lies ahead for the Americans as they pursue their third Kelly Cup in four years.
– You often hear all you have to do is make the playoffs and then anything can happen. You also may have heard about the curse of being the best team during the regular season spelling doom in the playoffs. I decided to take a look at the last 10 years and see how the Kelly Cup champions fared in the regular season. Here is what I found.
– Winning the Brabham Cup (most points in the regular season) is not a good predictor of winning in the playoffs. Just three times in the last 10 years has the regular season champion gone on to win the Kelly Cup. It has only happened five times in the 29 year history of the league. So you can see why some say winning the regular season is a curse in the playoffs. Only 17 percent of the time has the best team during the regular season gone on to win the Kelly Cup.
– How does the theory that all you have to do is make the playoffs and then anything can happen hold up? Turns out not so good. In the last 10 years, the Kelly Cup champion finished first or second in their division nine times. Florida was the lone exception when they won the Kelly Cup in 2012. They finished third in the division, fourth in the conference and had the seventh best record in the league during the regular season. Turns out Florida was a very good team in a tough South Division.
– When Allen won their first Kelly Cup in 2015 they were #1 in the Central Division, #1 in the Western Conference and #2 in the ECHL. They had 106 points in the regular season.
– When Allen won their second Kelly Cup in 2016 they had 89 points in the regular season which placed them #2 in the Central Division, #3 in the Western Conference and #5 in the ECHL.
– In the last 10 seasons no team has won the Kelly Cup from lower than fourth place in their conference. Here is how the last 10 champions finished the regular season in their conference.
1st place – 5 times
2nd place – 1 time
3rd place – 2 times
4th place – 2 times
– In the last 10 seasons the Kelly Cup champion has finished no lower than seventh place in the overall regular season standings. Here is the breakdown:
1st place – 3 times
2nd place – 2 times
3rd place – 1 time
4th place – 1 time
5th place – 2 times
7th place – 1 time
– The conclusion I draw from the info above is ECHL fans that are hoping that their favorite team just makes the playoffs need to reassess and hope they finish in the top two in their division if they stand any chance of winning the Kelly Cup.
– So what does this all mean for the Allen Americans? They have a record of 25-20-4-2 (56 points) with 21 games left in the regular season. They are currently #3 in the Mountain Division, #7 in the Western Conference and #13 in the ECHL. When you remember no team in the last 10 years has won the Kelly Cup from lower than #4 in their conference and #7 overall in the ECHL, the Americans have some work to do over the next 21 games.
– Here is how the final 21 games of the season break down for Allen. There are 12 at home and nine on the road. Six of the nine road games are on the longest trip of the season for the Americans when they travel to Idaho, Utah, Rapid City and Colorado between March 7-18. Allen finishes the season with eight of their last nine games at home. Other than one game in Wichita on April 3, the Americans will be at home from March 19 until the end of the regular season on April 7.
– Allen plays 17 of their last 21 games against Mountain Division opponents. The four games out of the division are all against Kansas City. Here are the final 21 games by opponent showing home and away games.
4 games – Colorado (2 home 2 away)
4 games – Utah (2 home 2 away)
4 games – Kansas City (2 home 2 away)
3 games – Idaho (2 home 1 away)
3 games – Rapid City (2 home 1 away)
2 games – Wichita (1 home 1 away)
1 game – Tulsa (1 home 0 away)
– If you combine the records of the seven teams Allen must play in the last 21 games of the season the total is 164-143-23-14 and their winning percentage is .531. Here are the winning percentages for each team.
.698 – Colorado
.633 – Idaho
.563 – Wichita
.549 – ALLEN
.510 – Kansas City
.480 – Tulsa
.440 – Utah
.396 – Rapid City
– Allen is currently in third place in the Mountain Division, two points ahead of Wichita and six points behind Idaho. The gaps are misleading because the Americans have played 51 games, Wichita 48 and Idaho 49.
– In order to have a realistic chance to win the Kelly Cup, the Americans need to finish no lower than second place in the Mountain Division. Their record over these last 21 games doesn’t have to be as dramatic as last season when Allen was 8-11 going into December and went 41-6-4-2 the rest of the way. The Americans finished the season on a streak of 15-0-1-0 to overtake Colorado and earn the top seed in the division. What Allen does need to do is play more consistent hockey down the stretch and start piling up wins.
– There are four teams battling for the top two spots in the division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Based on history, the teams that finish third and fourth have virtually no chance of winning the Kelly Cup. Here are the games remaining for the four teams that will battle it out for the top two spots. Colorado and Idaho have a leg up at this point but there is still time for Allen and Wichita to make up ground. Here are the games remaining for all four teams:
24 games – Colorado (10 home 14 away)
24 games – Wichita (11 home 13 away)
23 games – Idaho (11 home 12 away)
21 games – Allen (12 home 9 away)
– If Allen is going to make a run at second place they need to get the vast majority of points over the next three weekends when they play six games against teams that are outside of the playoffs and have a combined winning percentage of .449. Next weekend the Americans are at home against Utah, the following weekend (February 23 & 24) they are in Kansas City and the next weekend (March 2 & 3) they are at home against Rapid City.
– The last two weekends of the season Allen plays Colorado (March 30 & 31) and Idaho (April 6 & 7) at home. Wouldn’t it be nice if first and second place in the division was still in play at that time.
DID YOU KNOW: Here are the regular season points for the Kelly Cup champions over the last 10 years and where they ranked in the ECHL in points.
2017 – Colorado 99 points – 3rd
2016 – Allen 89 points – 5th
2015 – Allen 106 points – 2nd
2014 – Alaska 97 points – 1st
2013 – Reading 99 points – 2nd
2012 – Florida 85 points – 7th
2011 – Alaska 97 points – 1st
2010 – Cincinnati 91 points – 5th
2009 – South Carolina 90 points – 4th
2008 – Cincinnati 115 points – 1st