From the Eagles Desk: Hottest Team in the West

The Eagles are the hottest team in the AHL right now with 17 points and 8 wins in their last 10 games. It’s impressive yet troubling since they’re one of the lowest scoring teams in the league and one of the worst on the power play.

Injuries/Transactions

– AJ Greer was called up to the Avs last Monday. He did fine with what he was given. Played on a 4th line that had no center and didn’t get much TOI since the team was playing like garbage generally. Coach Bednar said he wanted to get him more but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or something like that. He was re-assigned Sunday afternoon.
– The Eagles swapped Julien Nantel for Josh Dickinson ahead of the road trip for some reason. Dickie never played so not sure what the point was. The Grizzlies are severely shorthanded right now and the Eagles aren’t.
– Sheldon Dries was called up to the Avs Sunday night. The Eagles staff put him at center all week after recovering from a shot-block injury but by my eye it only half worked out like that. Yes, the Avs need a center but this isn’t the answer.
– Mark Alt was also re-assigned on Sunday after proving to the Avs staff that they don’t want to use him. Now the Eagles can stop pretending they’re going to dress Josh Anderson for a game in the foreseeable future.
– Josh Anderson was sent back to Utah on Monday.
– The NHL roster freeze begins on Wednesday at Midnight so any upward movement will have to be done by then. The Grizz and Eagles can still swap players if they need to.

COL 1 – TUC 2

Goal: Lewis (Aggz, Davis)
Shots: +30/-35
PP 1-6, PK 4-5

Lineup:

This was a really tight game between teams adjacent to each other in the standings. The 1st was dead even, the 2nd was controlled by Tucson. In the 3rd we had an explosion of penalties. The RR’s ended up with a 5v3 early and took a 2-0 lead right after it expired. The Eagles drew a holding call which turned into a double when the Tucson offender mouthed off to the refs. Ty Lewis made them pay but the team could get no closer.

COL 2 – TUC 0

Goals: O’Connor (Graves, Aggz), Kosmachuk (Graves, Aggz)
Shots: +17/-22
PP 0-8, PK 7-7

Lineup:

I’m not sure what to say about this, two teams with 15 combined power plays end up with a total of 39 shots on goal. Anecdotally I can say that a) there were a lot of blocked/missed shots and b) the scorer missed a whole bunch. Be that as it may, this was a continuation of the previous night’s tight checking game and not very interesting overall. Logan O’Connor got his 3rd shortie of the season to put the good guys up 1-0 in the 2nd and then we sat on the lead for 28 minutes. The big news was Spencer Martin getting his first win for the Eagles and a shutout to boot.

COL 4 – ONT 3 (OT)

Goals: Agozzino (Meloche), Downing (Lewis, Toninato), Agozzino, O’Connor (Aggz, Meloche)
Shots: +38/-36
PP 0-2, PK (none)

Lineup:

Now that’s more like it. Lots of shots, a solid amount of goals and a rare OT win. The Reigns scored a minute in and set off their teddy bear toss. They controlled the game early and got a 2-0 lead before the Eagles pushed back hard and tied it going to 1st inters. After 4 goals and 16 PIMs in P1, there were none of either in P2 but Colorado controlled the pace with a +17/-6 on the shot board. A horrible turnover early put Ontario up 3-2 but Aggz got it back a few minutes later. We saw the usual 3rd period turtle and headed to OT. Logan O’Connor scored a weird goal that the refs thought might have been punched in but further review confirmed it was a good AHL goal.

Breaking Down: Week 10

Summary

Goals: +7/-5, season +74/-77

Colorado is 23rd in goals scored per game and 13th in goals allowed. Home/Road splits are usually bunk but we have a bit of an extreme here. At the BEC the Eagles average 3.2 goals for per game and on the road only 2.4. Home goals against is 2.7 per game while allowing 3.4 on the road. Most teams play better at home obviously but this is an area they either fix or it’s going to fix them.

Shots: +85/-93 (47.8%), season +815/-846 (49.1%)

The downward trend continues for shot share and that’s mainly from shots allowed going from around 28 to over 32 in the last month or so. Shots for have tapered by slightly more than a shot per game but they’re still 7th in the league there.

Shooting percentage: 8.2%, season 9.1%
Save percentage: 94.6%, season 90.9%
PDO: 102.8, season 100.0

The Eagles are now dead even in PDO but shooting percentage is high for a team that is this poor on the power play while there’s some capacity to rise in save percentage.

PP: 1-14, season 15-119 (12.6%, 30th in AHL)
PK: 11-12, season 17-121 (86%, 5th in AHL)
Special Teams percentage: 98.6

The Eagles score 20.3% of their goals on the PP and 9.5% shorthanded. For an in organizational comparison the Avs score 26.2% of their goals on the PP and 5.7% on PK. If the Eagles had just an average PP they would have around 23 goals there, so they are leaving 8 on the table. Just for hyperbole’s sake, Syracuse has a 29.5% PP, if the Eagles had that they would have 20 more goals. To make another comparison, Eagles’ opponents have an 87.4% kill rate which would be the 2nd best in the league. See what I’m getting at here? These are free points in the standings they’re giving away.

Individual

Your scoring star of the week is Andrew Agozzino by a mile with 2G/4A, participating in 85% of the goals. Logan O’Connor had 2 goals, Ty Lewis had 1G/1A and Meloche and Graves had 2 assists each.

Aggz is now tied for 7th in AHL scoring with 28 points (12G/16A). With the shortie on Tuesday Logan O’Connor is tied for the league lead with 3, he’s also tied for 4th in SOG by rookies.

Pavel Francouz leads the league in minutes played and saves, 2nd in wins and 4th in save percentage with .921. Spencer Martin gets a shoutout for his first win for Colorado and for a bonus it was a shutout. His numbers still look a little grim compared to Frenchie’s but he played a great game on Wednesday and hopefully this gets him on track because at some point this year he’s going to have to carry the load.

Overview

Although the 2nd period is their worst for scoring, there’s something happening in the 3rd period that’s very troubling. Over the season they’ve been outshot consistently in the 3rd at +215/-272 or 8.27 shots for and 10.5 shots against average. Goals are 27 for, 30 against which isn’t bad but they’re playing the turtle/PDO game and that’s not going to last all season. They have a 12.6% shooting percentage and an 88.9% save percentage in the 3rd. This past week they scored 3 goals in the 3rd on 19 shots (15.8%) and gave up 3 goals on 37 shots (91.9%) or almost double the amount of shot volume. They won 2 out of 3 so no harm done but that’s something the staff will want to give some attention to. I’m not a fan of shooting just for the sake of shooting but hitting the 10 shots per period mark consistently needs to be a goal.

– With Mark Alt returning to the Eagles they have to find a spot for him, and that’s not as easy as it sounds. While he was away Ryan Graves and Nic Meloche took on top line duties well and added 4 points. Anton Lindholm and Kevin Davis were a semi-sheltered 2nd pair and were respectable, Davis added his 4th assist of the year in his 5th game and continued to do his best to liven up the ineffective PP. Mason Geertsen and Sergei Boikov took a lot of defensive zone starts and held their own.

The easy way out is to sit the youngest guy without regard to role or skillset like they’ve been doing all year. That’s Davis and would be a big mistake since he’s the only healthy puck-mover they have. Another likely move would be to break up the most effective duo, put Alt back with Graves and have a one-dimensional top pair that gets buried constantly again. The logical move is to have Alt with Boikov/Geertsen and let that pair continue as the defensive specialists.

– AJ Greer was re-assigned and Sheldon Dries called up to the Avs. Greer played 3 games in this latest stint and averaged 6 minutes of ice time and no points. Dries slotted into the 6 minute role last game and looks like a scratch tonight. Overall this year Dries has been the more effective NHL player with greater ice time, some special teams work and 4 points in 16 games. In the AHL it’s a different story where Greer is over a point per game with 9 goals and 12 assists while Dries has a goal and an assist in 9 games. I like both guys and it’s evident that both can help the Avs when given the opportunity, they just aren’t being given the opportunity right now. Greer has better scoring skills although he’s never been put in that role in the NHL. Dries is a better volume shooter which is valuable. Both can kill penalties but the Avs coaching staff would rather rely on the ineffective vets that have the PK at the bottom of the league rather than try something new. There’s a lot of roster inertia to overcome at the NHL level and a few passengers getting a free ride.

Next up

A week of practice then Bakersfield visits on Friday & Saturday ahead of Christmas Break. They’ll be off from the 23rd to the 27th when they play at San Jose.

Thanks to the AHL for stats and standings and to the Colorado Eagles for the feature photo.

earl06

Scoring LW, punchy climber for the Ardennes classics, spirit guide

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