From the Eagles Desk: First AHL Wins vs a Familiar Foe

The beloved Eagles took the next step forward this weekend by notching their first and second AHL victories over former affiliate San Antonio. Not that standings matter 4 games into the season but they are in a playoff spot and it’s much easier to stay in one than it is to move up.

Injuries/Transactions

– Vlad Kamenev was called up to the Avs and played against Buffalo and Calgary this week.
– Sheldon Dries was assigned to the Eagles for the weekend and called back up on Sunday.
– Turner Ottenbreit was loaned to the Grizzlies over the weekend. I’d love to tell you what he did there but the ECHL site is in beta right now and unusable.
– Joe Cannata was assigned to the Grizzlies this week. As far as I can tell he played in at least one game over their premiere weekend.
– Pavel Francouz made his debut in San Antonio after missing the first week with an undisclosed injury.
– Sergei Boikov was scratched both games after getting a game misconduct last week against Chicago. No guidance from the team so we are left to wonder whether this is a doghouse deal, an injury or a straight up coach’s decision.
– Josh Dickinson has yet to suit up, that also could be just a coach’s decision but I have my doubts that they would scratch him every game if healthy.

COL 2 – SAR 1

Goals: Shvyrev (Barron, Graves), O’Connor (Wars, Aggz)
Shots: +20/-28
PP 0/2, PK 4/4

Lineup:

Both teams held off scoring until the 3rd period when the Rampage took the lead a few minutes in. Igor answered back with his 2nd goal of the season 3 minutes later. O’Connor gave them the lead with 9 to go and they rode the turtle on home. Francouz was lights out all night saving 27 of 28.

COL 3 – SAR 1

Goals: Beaudin (Greer, O’Connor), Kosmachuk (Aggz, Wars), Meloche (Lewis, Toninato)
Shots: +36/-31
PP 1/4, PK 3/3

Lineup:

Julien Nantel and Michael Joly dropped in the lineup for Travis Barron and Grayson Downing with Coach Cronin saying he wanted a little more offense and the new guys had practiced well over the week. Nantel had 4 SOG and had shaken the rust off by late in the game, Joly was ineffective at best. Downing played well on Friday with 3 SOG and Barron had an assist so there seems to be a good battle going for the filler spots.

The Rampage took the lead early in the first on a defensive breakdown and once again couldn’t hold it. Beaudin scored early in the 2nd on a net-front scrum then Scott Kosmachuk got the Eagles first PP goal of the season on a slick saucer pass through the crease from Agozzino at 5v3. Nic Meloche added his 2nd goal of the season for insurance early in the 3rd and instead of the turtle we saw the Eagles pushing play the whole 3rd, outshooting the Rampage 16-9 in the frame. Francouz was again wonderful and the star of the weekend as a whole.

Breaking Down: Week Two

Now that there’s some data to go on we can see where the Eagles stack up vs the league.

Shot Share: +111/-107 (51%). Eagles are 23rd in the AHL in shot generation but 7th in shot defense. It’s really inconsistent so far, two games they’ve dominated and two games they could hardly get the puck on net. Stay tuned to see which one they really are.

Goals: +8/-10. Thanks to a blowout loss they have a winning record with a negative goal differential. Scoring 2 goals per game has them 29th in the league but the defense (mostly goaltending) is 11th at 2.5 per game.

PDO: 979. Shooting percentage is 7.2% which is ok but not great in the AHL, we’d like to see that closer to 9%, which is pretty much where they were this weekend so no big deal there. Save percentage is .907 overall but Francouz was .966 this weekend so that’s going to be on the rise.

Power Play: 1/19 (5.3%). Last in the AHL so far and the only tally coming at 5v3 is a concern. By percentages they’re down two projected goals already. The Avs are making adjustments to their PP so hopefully that filters down eventually because the Eagles really need some help.

Penalty Kill: 20/21 (95.2%). In contrast to the PP, the PK is tops in the league. Again by percentages they should have given up a couple more so that washes out with the PP ineffectiveness. Taking both special teams together they are very slightly above average in performance.

Overview

We’re starting to get an impression of the Eagles personality. They are a weak offensive team that relies heavily on goaltending, but that doesn’t paint the right picture. Yes, Francouz was amazing this weekend and probably will continue to be plus Marty wasn’t as bad as the numbers indicate last week.

The forwards aren’t exactly the only culprits here, the defensive corps is weak and has difficulty moving the puck and generating offense. Outside of Meloche, Boikov and Warsofsky there isn’t much offensive talent on the blueline. The D’s have taken 37 SOG, one-third of the team total, and only Meloche has scored (twice). Take him out and they’re 0-for-29. The reason Meloche scores is because he pinches in to higher-percentage areas, both his goals have come from below the top of the circles. Wars does this too and Boikov occasionally. The rest are lobbing them in from the point where maybe one in forty ever goes in. Obviously tips and rebounds make good chances so it’s not totally without merit but as a strategy I’m not a fan. Don’t waste energy getting the puck close to the goal just to pass it back for a low-percentage point shot.

The forwards themselves are settling into some semi-consistent lines. The Greer/Beaudin/Kosmachuk line has been the most reliable in all 3 zones and as a group have the most offense to show so far. Dominic Toninato has been alongside Martin Kaut in all 4 games and this weekend had Ty Lewis at LW. They got on the board with assists on Meloche’s goal Saturday. Agozzino and O’Connor have been with Kamenev/Dries and showed some production this weekend. Igor has been with the rotating cast on the 4th line so I’ll call him the consistent 10th forward. That said, even with the rotating cast he’s been effective and showed plenty of ability to break the puck out and create in the offensive zone.

I still like what I’ve seen out of the coaching staff. Cronin is taking his time learning the players but makes good in-game adjustments and at least from his interviews seems to take advantage of what the Avs/Eagles are providing as far as analytics and video. Only criticism so far would be that they’re a little bit conservative but risk-taking in October isn’t a necessity. Sooner or later some changes are going to be needed on the blueline, whether that’s shuffling the pairs or using some different personnel remains to be seen. With Conor Timmins out for the foreseeable future there’s a big hole talent-wise and defaulting to using what they have won’t take them where they need to be in the 2nd half.

Next Up

Two games at home this weekend:
Friday 9pm ET/7pm MT vs Ontario
Saturday 9pm ET/7pm MT vs Ontario

 

Thanks to the AHL for statistics and to the Colorado Eagles for the feature photo.

 

earl06

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

One thought on “From the Eagles Desk: First AHL Wins vs a Familiar Foe

  • October 15, 2018 at 2:42 PM
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    Great article! Your overview really brings things into focus for this Eagles fan!

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