From the Eagles Desk: Less Magical than Usual

At this time of year an AHL lineup is usually a revolving door of players leaving and returning the lineup from injuries and callups. Once in a while you get a situation like Friday night where there’s a huge influx of guys returning all at once. It worked, but as usual the trickle of guys getting injured or called up gradually evened out. The BEC magic couldn’t make up for a some odd plays and the homestand ended up just 2-2 when it needed to be more.

Injuries/Transactions

– Friday night there were 5 guys returning from injury. Pavel Francouz, Cody Bass, Scott Kosmachuk, Tyson Jost and Nic Meloche.
– Ryan Graves was called up just before Friday’s game due to Ian Cole being injured. He’s past his waiver exemption now so he’ll probably be on the Avs for the rest of the season.
– Sergei Boikov was recalled from the Grizzlies to take Graves’ spot.
– Anton Lindholm was returned to the Eagles on Sunday.
– With the Grizzlies off until Friday, the Eagles recalled Julien Nantel, Caleb Herbert and Josh Anderson for the midweek set vs San Diego.
– Tyson Jost was called up the Avs Monday
– Michael Joly (UBI) was injured over the weekend and missed both the Tues/Weds games. Word on the street is that it might be a while.
– Dominic Toninato was called up to the Avs for the one-game trip to Winnipeg.

COL 4 – STK 2

Goals: Joly (Meloche, Toninato), Agozzino (O’Connor, Geertsen), Joly (Kosmachuk, Davis), Agozzino
Shots: +27/-24
PP 1-4, PK 6-6 (+2)

Lineup:

The Eagles got off to a slow start in this one, which I’ll give a pass on because a third of the lineup was coming off injury or recently acquired or called up. Down 2-0 they came out of 1st intermission focused and ready for business. They proceeded to score the next 4 goals and take the win. Might have been their best 2nd period of the season with a 15-4 shot margin and 2 goals.

COL 2 – STK 6

Goals: O’Connor (Aggz, Wars), Jost (McCormick, Wars)
Shots: +31/-34
PP 0-2, PK 3-4

Lineup:

After a grindy 1st where 2 complete defensive breakdowns allowed 2 goals that never should have happened the good guys came out in the 2nd and immediately tied it up. Unfortunately they couldn’t keep the momentum. Stockton went ahead again immediately, kept adding gradually to the lead and capped off the evening with a classless PPG to make it 6-2 with 35 seconds remaining.

COL 1 – SD 2

Goal: Geertsen (Aggz)
Shots: +30/-37
PP 0-4, PK 3-4

Lineup:

The Gulls scored early then backed it up with another less than 13 minutes into the game. This was the 3rd game in a row they spotted the opponent a 2 goal lead and like in the previous contest vs Stockton they were not able to battle back. Mason Geertsen provided the only scoring late in the 2nd.

COL 5 – SD 4 (OT)

Goals: Warsofsky (Geertsen, Lewis), Agozzino (Kaut, O’Connor), Kosmachuk (Meloche, McCormick), Agozzino, Meloche (Aggz)
Shots: +36/-34
PP 1-1, PK 2-3

Lineup:

The Eagles did a great job of controlling play for the first 40 minutes then sat back with a 4-1 lead in the 3rd and got screwed. Two goals 11 seconds apart made it 4-3 then a heartbreaker went in with 38 seconds to go. Overtime was festive with both clubs creating some good chances but Nic Meloche finished it off for the good guys 2:20 in. Well done, but the collapse was alarming.

Breaking Down: Week 19

Summary

Goals: +12/-14, season +135/-148

The Eagles are zeroing in on 3 goals per game, at 2.96 right now which is 22nd in the AHL. The median team scores 3.19 so there’s a ways to go just to be average. 12 goals have come shorthanded which gives them a PK scoring  percentage of 5.5%. 31 goals have come from the PP and they have 4 fake goals from the shootout, leaving 92 at even strength or 1.96 per game. They give up 2.19 per game at even strength so this is where the bulk of the goal differential is found.

Shots: +124/-129 (49%), season +1470/-1624 (47.5%)

Better than average shot share week but they still give up about 3 per game more than they get. The alarming aspect is that most of that is coming in 3rd periods and it’s been that way all year. They are -103 for the season and have many many games where they don’t even get close to 10 SOG in the 3rd period. That’s fine if you’re winning all the time but they aren’t. In Wednesday’s game vs the Gulls they were up 4-1 going into the 3rd and got outshot 12-5 while giving up the lead. Their record when leading after 2 is 12-1-2, which means they give up the lead 20% of the time. Not crisp.

Shooting percentage: 9.7%, season 8.5%
Save percentage: 89.1%, season 90.9%
PDO: 98.8, season 99.4

A blowout loss and a 3rd period collapse weigh heavily on the save percentage this week. Lots of times the goalies are just along for the ride when the defense breaks down constantly. I don’t put much of this on them at all. Marginal gains in the power play don’t seem to be helping the shooting percentage much which says something about the offensive system in general. It’s a volume of weak chances strategy so unless they dominate possession or get lucky, they lose.

PP: 2-11, season 31-196, 15.8% (29th)
PK: 14-17, season 153-185, 82.6% (9th)
Special Teams percentage: 98.4

I’m starting not to hate the power play. It’s still fairly ineffective but it’s not the total bummer it’s been for most of the season. If the staff can dial it up to maybe 18-20% for the rest of the year it’s going to be a net positive but won’t make up for the first 2/3rds of the season in overall ranking. The PK has been a little scratchy lately but Aggz and LOC are the league’s most productive scoring duo there, which is fun.

Individual

Your scoring star of the week is Andrew Agozzino with 4 goals and 3 assists. O’Connor, Meloche, Geertsen and Warsofsky had a goal and 2 assists each. Joly had 2 goals before being injured and Kosmachuk had a goal and assist returning from an injury of his own.

With the big week, Aggz moved up to 4th in AHL scoring with 22G/27A in 47 games. Logan O’Connor leads the league in shorthanded goals (5) and points (7). Aggz is 2nd in SHP with 6.

Overview

The Eagles are still in 5th after the week and still in competition for a playoff spot more or less. A 4 game homestand is a good place to make up ground but they really didn’t. They split with Stockton, which is fine because Stockton’s 9 points back with one more game played. Both the Heats and Reigns are way out of the Pacific race. The collapse on Wednesday means that the Gulls left town with 3 points while the Eagles only got 2 and that’s put them 6 points behind with an equal number of games played.

Tucson is the only vulnerable team in the top 4 really and they are trending worse. I think it could be close between these two teams at the end of the year. Right now the RR’s have a 2 point lead and 2 games in hand.

The next 7 games set up perfectly for the Eagles to take charge. They play Stockton (x2) and Ontario on the road then come home to face the Rampage (x2) and the Roadrunners (x2). After that the schedule is not very favorable for the final 14 games. They really ought to have a lead on Tucson by that point if they have designs on playing after April 13th.

One thing that could help the Eagles out is an influx of amateur talent as the season end draws near. I’ll go into more detail in a few weeks but 1st rounder Shane Bowers, 7th leading scorer in the OHL Brandon Saigeon and 9th leading scorer in the WHL Nick “Hustle Hank” Henry, among others, could all be available when their seasons are completed.

Next up

Saturday and Sunday in Stockton.

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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