For weeks we had circled this weekend set at the BEC on the calendar as the last chance to make a rush into the playoff picture. Win both and there would be a chance, they did. Now it comes down to a tough final 14 games, 2 of which are in Tucson, and the Eagles have a 3 point cushion.
– Michael Joly remains out with UBI
– AJ Greer was iffy for the first game due to illness but soldiered through.
– Jared Van Wormer was released from his PTO after the 2nd game
COL 3 – TUC 2 (OT)
Goals: Boikov (Geertsen, Nantel), O’Connor (McCormick, Wars), Warsofsky (O’Connor, Aggozzino)
PP 2-4, PK 5-6
Another game filled with dumb leadership penalties sabotaged the Eagles playoff chances somewhat. ECHL plugs Kale Kessy and Jared Van Wormer combined for 3 minors in the 2nd period, where Colorado was outshot 21-10. They managed to win the game in OT but giving up the loser point was unnecessary.
COL 2 – TUC 1
Goals: McCormick (O’Connor, Aggz), Meloche
PP 0-5, PK 4-4
I’m sure the Roadrunners were frustrated after losing in overtime on Saturday and they switched up tactics a bit. This game was very grindy and conservative on both sides. The Eagles took it easy on the dumb penalties and the RR’s backed off on the shot volume. Nic Meloche’s goal near the end of P2 turned out to be the winner and the final 24 minutes found Tucson in desperation mode but unable to break down Colorado’s shell.
Breaking Down: Week 21
Goals: +5/-3, season +156/-167
A light but positive week for scoring at both ends. The Eagles have the 23rd rated offense in the AHL at 2.96 goals per game and the defense is 20th at 3.11 goals against. Going +12 or better in the final 14 games gets them in positive territory and that’s probably what it will take to secure a playoff spot.
Shots: +45/-76 (37.2%), season +1681/-1848 (47.6%)
The Eagles shot generation continues to trend downward and shot suppression is a big weakness. They give up more shots than anyone in the AHL besides Ontario. The Pacific is very high-event compared to the rest of the league so there’s a skew but the differential speaks for itself. Fun fact: The shot share mirrors penalty share almost exactly. Aha…
It’s not apples to apples but it’s interesting that the Avs are 25th in the NHL in shots for in all situations at 32.38 per hour compared to the Eagles being 11th in the AHL at 31.13 per game which works out to 30.69 per hour. The Avs are 18th in the NHL in shots against in all situations at 31.45 per hour while the Eagles are 30th at 34.22 per game (33.7 per hour). Combine these numbers for overall shot pace and the Avs are at 63.83 per hour while the Eagles are 64.43 per hour, so fairly similar styles for both. The big difference is that the Avs generate more than they give up while the Eagles get buried.
Shooting percentage: 11.1%, season 9.3%
Save percentage: 96.1%, season 91.0%
PDO: 107.2, season 100.3
Shooting percentage got a little bump this week by slightly less than one goal and it was important. Even more important was Francouz stopping damn near everything . On paper you would expect to be down two goals rather than up by two. Good thing they were playing Tucson.
PP: 2-9, season 37-232 (15.9%, 27th) -8 SHGA
PK: 9-10, season 213-256 (83.2%, 5th) +14 SHGF
Special Teams percentage: 99.1, adjusted 101.2
The Eagles continue to yard the field in penalty minutes at 17 per game. The penalty differentials are -1.24 minutes per game and 0.44 more PKs than PPs. I understand the thinking that if you aren’t taking a penalty once in a while then you aren’t pushing the limit but the vast majority of the Eagles penalties fall into two categories: fights, which for the most part have little impact, and dumb stick fouls, which are a sign of slow, lazy play. The category you actually want PIMs from – aggression penalties – is lacking.
Logan O’Connor is your scoring star of the week with a goal and 2 assists. He initially had an assist on Nic Meloche’s game-winner on Sunday but it evaporated for some reason so he really should have 4 points total.
The real star this week was Pavel Francouz, not only for the team but for the entire AHL. Frankie got the league’s player of the week award for throwing up 4 wins and a .959 save percentage.
Like we’ve seen with the Eagles being completely stymied by the Stockton Heat, the Tucson Roadrunners flat out can’t beat Colorado. The mark is now 8-2 on the season with the RR’s picking up a couple loser points along the way. A better way to look at it is that the Eagles have 16 points out of this series and the Roadrunners just 6. Take out the head-to-head matchups and Tucson is 7 points ahead in the standings and sitting pretty. More than a quarter of the points the Eagles have earned this year have come at Tucson’s expense. Wow.
This was a good week and 4 wins in a row is always nice, now the hard work begins. Colorado have 7 two-game series left and a 3 point cushion over the RR’s. It’s worth noting that Tucson has two games in hand so that’s not as much as it sounds. Here’s what’s left in the regular season:
at San Diego – Eagles/Avs affiliates never do well there
vs Ontario – Should be easy to pick up some points, COL is 4-2 against ONT but it’s a midweek home set between two trips to California. Weird.
at San Jose – Not a favorable matchup but COL even at 2-2 so far this year
vs Manitoba – Bad team but they smoked the Eagles twice in late December
at Tucson – The biggie. This could determine all.
at Chicago – This probably won’t go well
vs San Jose – They get a home matchup vs a team that’s comfortably in the playoffs by then.
Tucson’s schedule is a little bit more difficult but again they have two more games to try and make up the 3 point deficit. Those “extra” two games come after the the head to head matchup in Tucson too.
Hold on, it’s going to be a grueling 5 weeks.
A quick trip to San Diego to play the dirty birds on Friday/Saturday
Thanks to the AHL for stats and standings and to the Colorado Eagles for the feature photo.