From the Eagles Desk: Holiday Personnel Shuffle

A month ago the Eagles played two in Bakersfield, getting blown up in the first and winning a tight one in game 2. Same deal at the BEC this weekend, the good guys got blown up in the 2nd period of game 1 then ground out a good victory on Saturday in the shootout. I like the way the staff and the players have responded in the rematches, next time we all want to see a better showing in the openers.

Injuries/Transactions

– Martin Kaut was assigned to the Czech National Team last week for the World Junior Championships. He’ll be there for a couple weeks.
– Josh Anderson was re-assigned to Utah but called back up before the weekend. He made his AHL debut on Friday night.
– Anton Lindholm was called up to the Avs on Friday due to some injury issues there. He was returned on Sunday.
– Sheldon Dries was called up to the Avs Monday and played that night. Did not play Wednesday and with another healthy scratch Friday he was loaned to the Eagles for game 1 vs Bakersfield then recalled after.
– Unfortunately Dries couldn’t play for the Avs Saturday so AJ Greer was summoned that morning and played vs Arizona. He was returned on Sunday.
– Semyon Varlamov was scheduled to start Saturday but had the sick and couldn’t go. Also on Saturday morning, Pavel Francouz was summoned to Arizona to fill in and ended up making his NHL debut and playing half the game, well I might add. He too was returned after the game.
– Joe Cannata was called up from Utah to backup Spencer Martin on Saturday and returned to Utah after the game.
– Sergei Boikov missed Friday’s game with UBI but played Saturday.
– David Warsofsky practiced with the team in a non-contact jersey last week but wasn’t cleared for game play.
– Conor Timmins is reported to be making progress and could come out of concussion protocol at some point soon. The thinking is that once that happens he’ll be assigned to the Eagles and make his pro debut when he’s ready.
– Ryan Graves was called up to the Avs last night.

COL 3 – BAK 5

Goals: Lewis (Joly, Alt), Joly (Toninato, Lewis), Davis (Kosmachuk, Joly)
Shots: +38/-27
PP 1-5, PK 3-4

Lineup:

The 1st period was a pretty solid effort and had the good guys up 1-0. The 3rd was all score effects with Bakersfield only getting 2 shots on net and Kevin Davis offering up the only scoring with his first AHL goal. In between there was 20 minutes of firewagon hockey with the Condors scoring 5 goals, mainly on Eagles mistakes. Logan O’Connor fell down, couldn’t clear the puck and there was no support. 1-1. Joly was soft on a Bako zone entry then Josh Anderson couldn’t handle a straightforward 1v1 play. 2-1. Joly made up for it, tying the game mid-period. 2-2. Lack of communication and awareness allowed the Condors to sneak a guy out of the box and pop an easy seam pass in. 3-2. An aggressive PK that had spent a bunch of time in the Bako zone was gassed and playing soft. 4-2. Yet another odd man rush leaked through Martin’s 5-hole. 5-2. Both teams were giving up rush chances constantly during the period. Bad defense was responsible on all 5 goals, maybe 2 I’d put directly on Martin but at some point you get shell-shocked. The Eagles got a lot of the same chances but couldn’t convert which made it doubly frustrating. This game could have been 9 to 9 at the end of the 2nd easily.

COL 3 – BAK 2 (SO)

Goals: Joly, O’Connor (Toninato, Agozzino)
Shots: +35/-35
PP 1-4, PK 3-4

Lineup:

Both teams tightened up the D for this game and were even more physical. With the loss of Greer & Dries and additions of Barron & Dickinson, the Eagles played a grindier game and that seemed to do the trick against the opportunistic Condors. Having Boikov in for Anderson allowed the staff to roll 3 pairs rather than overplay 5 guys and that helped for sure, especially on the back half of a b2b.

Breaking Down: Week 11

Summary

Goals: +5/-7, season +79/-84

Another week of getting outscored but picking up points for the Eagles. The downside is that they gave up 3 points to the team right below them in the standings. Scoring can do more than win games, one more goal in regulation Saturday would have taken a point away from their competition and those are the goals they’re finding it difficult to score this year. The Eagles are 24th in overall scoring and 11th in scoring defense, most of that is laid on special teams play.

Shots: +73/-62 (54.1%), season +888/-908(49.4%)

What’s become a rarity now was a strength this week. A good +11 on the shot board reverses a major downward trend in shot share. Even better they averaged close to 12 shots per period and only had 2 periods (both 1sts) under 10.

Shooting percentage: 6.8%, season 8.2%
Save percentage: 88.7%, season 90.8%
PDO: 95.5, season 99.0

Last week the Eagles were at an even 100 PDO, drops in both Sh% and Sv% have them back under par. Obviously Friday’s P2 is the major influence here with 5 goals given up on 14 shots. The shooting percentage was drab all weekend, Friday they missed on rush chance after rush chance and Saturday they had a lot of low-percentage shots playing the volume game.

PP: 2-9, season 17-127 (13.4%, 29th)
PK: 6-8, season 109-128 (85.2%, 6th)
Special Teams percentage: 96.8

Two goals on the PP kept the Eagles out of the basement in that category but they still sit 29th at 13.4% and 8 goals below the median team’s percentage. It’s impossible to make that up all at once but a solid month or two could get them back to average. The PK had a bit of a down week but not something systemic that needs to be looked at. This is a huge advantage and one reason they remain competitive despite poor scoring numbers.

The Eagles staff has tried just about everything imaginable to jumpstart the team’s weakest area. A couple times over the weekend they had 5 forwards out there and that’s about as desperate as it can get. I know Michael Joly is a hero in town and all that but the one constant seems to be having him running the show on the PP. Joly is a lucky and opportunistic shooter, he is not a playmaker. He does not generate shot volume. It makes sense to take advantage of his strengths however possible but misusing him in this role isn’t working at all.

Individual

Your scoring star of the week was Michael Joly with 2G/2A. Ty Lewis had a goal and an assist and Dom Toninato had 2 assists. Shoutout to Kevin Davis for scoring his first AHL goal, and it was a beauty.

Take out Friday’s 2nd period and Spencer Martin had a superb weekend stopping 46 of 48 shots (.958) and blanking the Condors in OT and the shootout on Saturday. That’s not how it works however so we’re still left wanting more from Marty.

Aggz slips out of the top 10 AHL scorers but just barely, he’s 11th with 29 points in 28 games. Logan O’Connor leads the league in shorties with 3. Even thought Francouz had the weekend off (in the AHL at least) he’s 1st in saves, 2nd in wins, 3rd in save percentage and minutes played.

Overview

You’re not going to have the same lineup often in the AHL but a lot of the Avs moves this week were of the last-minute variety and sure didn’t help. Sheldon Dries practiced with the Avs all week and ended up playing for the Eagles. Anton Lindholm practiced with the Eagles all week and ended up playing with the Avs.

The Avs philosophy seems to be getting the tweener guys playing time wherever it’s possible and I agree with that. I do think it’s important to practice for the role you’re going to have and that’s where they’ve fallen short so far. I’d like to see personnel decisions made quickly and the callups better prepared for playing in the NHL. Most of the callup situations we’ve seen this year involve players with zero practice time before being inserted into the Avs lineup. Sometimes that can’t be avoided like with Greer and Francouz on Saturday, emergencies are real, but most of the time it has been avoidable. That helps no one, not the player or either the Eagles or Avs.

Kevin Davis scored his first AHL goal on Friday, giving him 5 points now in 8 games. That’s tops on the team in D points per game and he’s tied for fifth in straight up D points. Besides providing offensive spark his defense has noticeably improved in the last 8 games. He’s still pretty raw but he definitely belongs in the AHL. Depending on how the injuries fall out the staff are going to have some decisions to make when David Warsofsky is cleared, when Barberio/Zadorov return to health for the Avs and maybe even with Conor Timmins making his pro debut sometime this season. That’s a lot of depth chart to climb up but he deserves a chance to win a spot.

Josh Dickinson got back in the lineup Saturday for his 11th start of the season. It’s been tough for him to find TOI this year, the Avs and the Eagles staff both seem to like him at center and the numbers don’t favor him there so far. He’s struggled to generate shots on goal and has some rookie inconsistency which doesn’t help. That said, I don’t think the ECHL is where it’s at for the guy. He’s a project and probably a long-term one but he can only improve if he gets PT and confidence with the Eagles. It shouldn’t be that difficult to get him into half the games at least.

Big Josh Anderson made his AHL debut on Friday and as we’ve seen since he was drafted, struggled in game situations. He’s very young, only turning 20 right before Rookie camp opened, and has a long way to go. He made a fundamental error on the Condors 2nd goal of the night and played very little after. I do think the ECHL is the right place for him for this year, he’s overmatched at the AHL level right now and needs to build some experience and develop his game.

An interesting observation from the weekend, Dominic Toninato flips his stick when he takes faceoffs on the right side of the ice. He essentially takes them as a righty so he’s ambidextrous on faceoffs. Pretty cool skill.

Next up

Thursday game in San Jose then a few days off before heading to Manitoba on Sunday/Monday.

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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