The Eagles forced overtime twice against the Wild this week and grabbed 3 out of 4 possible points. A month ago, they traveled to Iowa and gained a lone point while being outscored 12-6 so there’s evidence of improvement here. One area that hasn’t shown any signs of improvement is the power play, which cost them a point on Saturday.
– Sheldon Dries was sent down from the the Avs on Thursday, played in Friday’s game but was injured blocking a shot. Did not dress Saturday.
– Mark Alt was called up to the Avs Thursday and played sparingly on Friday night.
– Justin Falk signed a 2-way NHL contract with Ottawa on Friday, glad we could help a brother out I guess.
– David Warsofsky is still out with an unknown injury and did not play this week
– So that’s 3 defensemen unavailable as of Friday morning, how many did the Eagles call up? That’s right, zero. They played with 5 D’s on Friday for reasons I can’t even imagine.
– Kevin Davis and Josh Anderson were called up from Utah on Saturday, Davis dressed and Anderson was ready just in case.
– Cody Bass is still out with an undisclosed injury and Grayson downing is MIA
– The Eagles don’t play again until Friday but the only known healthy sub right now is rookie Josh Anderson.
COL 3 – IA 2 (SO)
Goals: Barron (Geertsen, Lindholm), Greer (Boikov, Nantel)
PP 0-3, PK 6-6
Yes, you’re reading that right. 13 forwards and 5 defensemen. Iowa steamrolled the Eagles from the opening puck drop gaining a goal and a 10-3 shot advantage by 10 minutes in. The Eagles managed to gain some measure of control for the rest of the 1st then things flip-flopped in the 2nd period. Colorado had the shot advantage 17-7 in the frame and Travis Barron & AJ Greer gave them a lead going to 2nd intermission. The Eagles took a bunch of penalties early in the 3rd, even killed off an extended 5v3 but Iowa tied it up via a deflating turnover by Nic Meloche. As was the case most of the weekend they got zero offense going but forced a shootout where the magic duo of Joly and Kaut saved the day once again.
COL 2 – IA 3 (SO)
Goals: Lewis (Shvyrev, Geertsen), Greer
PP 0-7, PK 5-5
Like game 1 the Wilds started strong but could not beat Francouz. Ty Lewis and AJ Greer would tally a few minutes apart in the 1st for the Eagles final scoring flurry of the week. The 2nd period was gruesome. Despite 5 minutes of PP time, including 2 extended 5v3 opportunities, the Eagles could neither score nor even generate scoring chances. Another anemic 3rd with few shots and another blown lead pushed the the game to overtime and ultimately the shootout where Iowa won in the 4th round.
Breaking Down: Week 9
Goals: +4/-4, season 63 for (3 per game, 23rd) and 70 against (3.33 per game, 19th)
45 goals at even strength in 21 games is ok but it doesn’t keep up with the 53 allowed.
Shots: +53/-66 (44.5% shot share), season +679/-688 (49.7% shot share)
The Eagles are hovering over the even mark in shot share. In general they shoot a lot and give up a lot, top 5 in the league in most shots for and against. Take out the 2nd period of Friday’s game and they averaged fewer than 6 shots in the other 5 periods this week, and that’s with averaging more than 1 power play in each. That’s bad. I know the staff have tweaked the system to make up for some of the d-zone issues but they’ve created some collateral damage on offense that’s going to be hard to make up.
Shooting percentage: 7.5%, season 9.3%
Save percentage: 93.9%, season 92.2%
PDO: 101.4, season 101.5
Safe to say that Pavel Francouz had a terrific weekend and the shooters didn’t. If you aren’t creating a lot of chances then you better capitalize on the ones you do and the Eagles did not.
PP: 0-10, season 12-93 (12.9%, 27th)
PK: 11-11, season 83-97 (85.6%, 6th)
Special Teams percentage: 100, season 98.5
Now here’s a problem we can delve into, the power play. 0-10 and once again got outscored by the PK. In the last 10 games the Eagles have had 38 PP opportunities and scored 3 goals. That’s a 7.9% rate and accounts for only 12% of their goals over that time.
The gravest indictment was the 3 minutes of 5v3 the Eagles got in Saturday’s 2nd period. Not only did they not score in either but they barely got a couple of shots on goal. The first one coach went yolo and put 5 forwards out there with Michael Joly being the puck-handler. He started by taking out AJ Greer with a vicious body check and then spent the rest of it standing on the half-wall doing nothing productive. Ok, check that off the list of things that do not work at all. In the 2nd opportunity they went with the Agozzino line plus defensemen Ryan Graves and Kevin Davis. It was better but still ineffective. I think Davis could be helpful here but he rolled into town right before the game and hasn’t practiced with the team since pre-season.
Your scoring star of the week was AJ Greer with 2 out of the 4 goals scored. Mason Geertsen had 2 assists. Honorable mention to Travis Barron for his first AHL goal and Igor Shvyrev for his first point in 13 games. Conspicuously absent was the trio of Kaut, Aggz and O’Connor, although Kaut had the game-winning shootout goal on Friday.
Scoring has dried up a bit over the past couple of weeks but they’ve been playing top teams and accumulating points. After the 6 game losing streak ended the Eagles returned to the BEC, grabbed 7 of 8 points and are back in the Pacific Division top 3. Defensively they are right in the middle of the division but offensively they are way behind and that’s concerning. The six Pacific teams other than Colorado hold 6 out of the top 13 spots in AHL goals per game while they sit at 23rd. They need to figure out a strategy to score on the power play and in overtime or they won’t be in the playoff race for very long.
Pavel Francouz has been a huge part of the latest point streak. He’s gotten progressively better each game too. In his his last 6 starts he’s gone 4-1-1 with a .924 save percentage. In his last 3 the save percentage jumps to .935, wow! He’s started 16 games so far and seems to be getting close to acclimating to smaller ice. After the San Diego series this weekend the next 8 out of 10 and 13 out of 19 are on the road, which takes us to early February. If he can keep the Eagles in the top half of the division through that, a) they’ll have a genuine shot at a playoff spot and b) he’s probably ready for the NHL.
AJ Greer leads the team in even strength points with 14. Next closest is Agozzino with 11 then Beaudin with 10. Greer, Beaudin and former linemate Scott Kosmachuk lead with 5 even strength goals apiece. Moving Kosmachuk to Toninato’s wing has spread out the scoring but it’s weakened the top line a bit and appears to have a negative overall effect. It also looks like it’s an excuse to have Michael Joly in the lineup even though he’s been a total passenger. I’d like to see the top 6 stacked again and take whatever the bottom 6 can produce while staying solid at both ends. Kosmachuk was signed to score goals and he’s had one since he was taken off the Greer/Beaudin line. Between Dries, Toninato, Lewis and Shvyrev there’s enough talent outside of the top 2 lines to score and defend well against easier matchups.
Nitpicking aside I continue to be impressed with the coaching staff’s adjustments this year. It’s still very early in the year and the catastrophic issues don’t pop up until late January but they have been aggressive with changes to strategy and tactics. That’s a new thing, in the past we’ve seen the coaches fall in love with something that works and beat it into the ground until long past the time it’s effective.
The San Diego Gulls make their first appearance at the BEC this weekend for Friday and Saturday night games.
Thanks to the AHL for stats and standings and to the Colorado Eagles for the feature photo.