From the Eagles Desk: Big Homestand

The beloved Eagles continued their domination of the Roadrunners with a pair of wins in Tucson while allowing only a loser point. They still sit 3 points back of a playoff spot with the RR’s holding a game in hand. The good news is that they’ve put some distance between themselves and Stockton in 6th and by the way the Heat are stopping by for a visit this weekend.

Injuries/Transactions

– Sheldon Dries was called up to the Avs after the All-Star Break.
– Scott Kosmachuk, Cody Bass, Nic Meloche and Pavel Francouz didn’t make the trip to Tucson. From what I’ve seen all have been practicing in some capacity this week. Tyson Jost was in Denver for some treatment on an LBI he suffered vs the Kings but then rejoined the Eagles for practices.
– Julien Nantel, Grayson Downing and Sergei Boikov were assigned to the Grizzlies on Monday.
– AJ Greer and Anton Lindholm were called up to the Avs for their road trip. Not only did they not practice with the Avs beforehand, they weren’t even allowed to travel on the team charter. Nice planning.
– Conor Timmins has not been assigned to the Eagles but is participating in practices with the team while the Avs are on the road. He’s still on season opening injured reserve and in concussion protocol. If and when he passes protocol he will begin his pro career in Loveland.
– Jean-Christophe Beaudin was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday for journeyman forward Max McCormick.

COL 3 – TUC 1

Goals: Beaudin (McGauley, Lewis), Alt (O’Connor, Joly), Kaut (Greer)
Shots: +30/-32
PP 1-3, PK 4-4

Lineup:

This game was a close affair the whole night but the way Spencer Martin has been playing lately it never felt dangerous. J-C Beaudin gave the Eagles an early lead halfway through the 1st which lasted until late in the 2nd period. A double minor for Tucson gave the good guys a power play that carried into the 3rd period where Mark Alt scored what turned out to be the game-winner. Martin Kaut added an ENG late to seal it.

COL 4 – TUC 4 (OT)

Goals: O’Connor (Aggz, Alt), Shvyrev (Barron, Davis), Joly (Toninato), McGauley (Davis, Greer), Agozzino (Kaut)
Shots: +33/-48
PP 0-1, PK 2-5

Lineup:

Poor officiating was the story of the night here with the stripes making constant mickeymouse calls on Colorado while looking the other way every time Tucson committed an infraction. That doesn’t excuse the poor play on the penalty kill but it was a factor. Luckily the Eagles were able to keep up on the score sheet and win it in OT. Tucson can enjoy the free point because the refs liked them more.

Breaking Down: Week 18

Summary

Goals: +7/-5, season goal differential -11

I’ve been trying to decide whether the goal differential not lining up with the Eagles record is important or not. They’ve been involved in 12 games this year with a final margin of 3 or more, which is significant. They are 5-7 in those games which would take a chunk out of the goal diff.

Shots: +63/-80 (44%), season +1346/-1495 (47.4%)

Shot share continues to drop, mostly because of shots against. The Eagles are dead least in the AHL at 34.77 shots against per game. They are 9th in shots for at 31.3 per game so some of this is just high-event style, which I’m a fan of. The Pacific in general is really high-event compared to the rest of the league with 5 of the top 10 in shots per game and all 7 teams in the top 15.

Shooting percentage: 11.1%, season 9.1%
Save percentage: 93.8%, season 91.0%
PDO: 104.9, season 100.1

Colorado remains pretty close to league average in shooting and save percentage so this is a good indication of what they are. Spencer Martin’s play lately has boosted the team massively in the short term so if that doesn’t continue there could be some trouble ahead.

PP: 1-4, season 15.7%, 28th
PK: 6-9, season 82.7%, 9th
Special Teams percentage: 98.4

The power play has been better over the past couple of weeks but still lags. With a league average performance they should have 4 or 5 more goals there which isn’t much but they all add up. What’s concerning is the widening gap between the number of PPs and PKs, now at 17 more PKs on the season. I know the amount of truly dumb penalties drives Coach Cronin batty but at this point I’m not sure that’s going to change.

Individual

Six different Eagles had a goal and assist over the weekend but I’ll give this week’s scoring star award to Tim McGauley who was making his debut with the club. Joining him with the same output were Alt, O’Connor, Joly, Kaut and Agozzino. AJ Greer also picked up a couple of assists.

Overview

– Spencer Martin was generally thought to be left for dead at the beginning of the season. Coming off an ELC where he progressively got worse plus a couple of uninspiring performances for the Avs during the lost season, there was little hope he could turn into an NHL goalie. In the first two months of the AHL season he made 5 starts and one relief appearance with an 0-3-2 record and an .858 save percentage. He was working on 24 days rest when he took the net on December 12th vs Tucson.

That night he crafted a 22-save shutout and since then has been lights out for the Eagles. Starting with that night he’s had 10 starts, 8 of them considered to be Quality Starts, and gone 7-3 adding a masterful 68-save shutout vs Ontario to the one that started the streak. He’s faced over 38 shots per game with a .935 save percentage. These numbers are far better than what Pavel Francouz has done over the same stretch.

Marty’s never been a streaky goalie. In fact his game-to-game inconsistency has been his hallmark. One good game followed by a bad one over much of his career. He’s still only 23 years old, so young and perhaps for the first time in pro hockey starting to get it. This is only a short stretch but if he indeed is starting to get it then that’s a very good thing for an org with more questions than answers at the goalie position. Right now the hope should be he continues to show enough promise to earn another contract and take the NHL #3/AHL starter role for next season.

– The Avs ended their relationship with J-C Beaudin less than 4 years after drafting him in the 3rd round by shipping him out for a journeyman vet. Beaudin was a strong part of the Eagles final Kelly Cup run but still hadn’t found success at the AHL level. The debate over what, if anything, went wrong will continue until he shows one way or the other what his professional ceiling is. I thoroughly enjoyed following his very successful amateur career in Rouyn-Noranda but found him to be extremely frustrating to watch in the AHL. The skills weren’t lacking but his level of play shift to shift was. Both Eric Veilleux and Greg Cronin moved him around the lineup in various roles trying to find the right fit but it never materialized. That said, throwing in the towel after a year and a half is a little premature and swapping him out for some dime-a-dozen palooka makes it look ten times worse.

– Speaking of Max McCormick, he’s coming from a Canadian team so there will be some visa things to sort out before he can join the guys in Loveland. We’ll probably see him at practice sometime next week. The Eagles straight up gave him Beaudin’s number which is a nice touch. He’s a 5’11 188# LW that put up 7 goals on high shooting percentage plus 5 assists in 20 games this year. Career in the AHL he’s around a half-point per game and up until this season got in a lot of fights.

Next up

The Eagles have 8 of the next 11 games at home so if they’re going to make a move the time is now. Stockton rolls in for a two-game set this weekend.

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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