From the Eagles Desk: Sloppy

The beloved Eagles headed to San Diego for their first California trip this weekend. Historically the Rampage were terrible in the Golden State and this was a chance to prove they’ve moved past that. They didn’t, dropping a pair of sloppy one-goal games that should have been an easy 4 points.

Injuries/Transactions

– AJ Greer was recalled to the Avs on Wednesday
– Travis Barron and Caleb Herbert were called up from Utah before the trip West
– Dominic Toninato skated with the club in a non-contact jersey this week but didn’t make the trip.
– Anton Lindholm has been out since the Iowa series for reasons unknown.

COL 3 – SD 4

Goals: Geertsen (Aggz), Dickinson, Joly (O’Conner, Warsofsky)
Shots: +29/-38
PP 1/3, PK 3/3

Lineup:

The Eagles started out very slow in the 1st with many weak clears, turnovers and icings keeping them trapped in the d-zone for the first 10 minutes or so. This would be a pattern that repeated in every period through the weekend. Gradually they clawed back into the game and got a lead when Mason Geertsen scored his first goal of the season late in the period. The Gulls dominated the opening of P2 and tied the game when Ryan Graves passed it right to a defenseman who one-timed it past Francouz, then went ahead on another defensive zone cluster 5 minutes later. Josh Dickinson got it back even with a strong PK shift where he shot it at the Gulls goalie, recovered his own rebound, took a lap around the net and roofed it backhand. Ryan Graves struck again early in the 3rd with a gruesome shift including several turnovers which ultimately ended with a SD goal. Michael Joly got a PPG to tie it again with 10 minutes to go but more nauseating play in the d-zone led to the winning goal for the Gulls with 5 minutes to go.

COL 2 – SD 3

Goals: Agozzino (Falk), Agozzino (Warsofsky, O’Conner)
Shots: +43/-43
PP 1/7, PK 4/5

Lineup:

The avalanche of turnovers continued on Saturday night leading to another loss. The Gulls scored early thanks to Max Comtois who was down from the NHL on conditioning assignment. That held up until early in the 3rd period when Aggz got the 2nd shorthanded goal of the weekend. The Gulls struck back immediately on yet another dumb turnover. Aggz tied it again on the power play but victory wasn’t meant to be. Troy Terry beat Mason Geertsen, who was without a stick or any defensive support, and that’s all she wrote. Despite some promising late flurries, including a PP with 5 minutes to go, they couldn’t force OT and left California empty-handed once again.

Breaking Down: Week 6

Goals: +5/-7, season 3.17/gm for (16th) and 3.08/gm against (13th)

A below average weekend on the scoresheet for sure. Missing your 2nd leading scorer and replacing him on the top line with the ECHL’s leading scorer had an effect but careless puck play did the real damage.

Shots: +72/-81 (47%), season +410/-366 (52.8%)

San Diego was and still is the worst team in the league as far as allowing shots on goal. The fact that they held the Eagles, who are 4th in the league in shots per game, to only 72 for the weekend shows exactly how destructive the turnovers were. This was a terrible weekend as far as shot suppression goes and that’s the first thing the staff need to address at practice on Monday.

I’m still very pleased with the Eagles shot share and ability to generate shots over the season so far. The Avs aren’t strong in either area so it’s nice to see the affiliate buck the trend. As long as they can keep that going they’ll have it as a strong base to work off of.

Shooting percentage: 6.9%, season 9.3%
Save percentage: 91.4%, season 89.9%
PDO: 983, season 992

The Eagles are still lagging in save percentage, which is counter-intuitive when you have one of the top goalies in the league and don’t give up much on the PK. Shooting percentage is still a little high but not by much. It’s not being driven by power play either which hints that things like score effects have a hand in the strength there.

PP: 2/10, season 16.1% – 22nd
PK: 7/8, season 86.8% – 6th
Special Teams percentage: 102.9

The penalty kill is still strong and still looks sustainable. Very gradually the number of penalties is coming down which is a good sign. The power play isn’t great and the only hope of it getting better rests with rookies like Kaut and Lewis continuing to improve. The Agozzino unit was very heavily used this weekend which I can sort of understand with Greer out of the lineup but I don’t think that’s a good thing overall.

 

Your scoring stars of the weekend were Andrew Agozzino once again with 2G/1A, David Warsofsky and Logan O’Conner had 2 assists each. Honorable mention to Josh Dickinson who scored his first goal as a pro.

Overview

– Caleb Herbert made his Eagles debut after securing a contract in pre-season and then leading the Grizzlies and the ECHL in scoring. The staff put him on the top line with Beaudin and Kosmachuk which was a bit of a surprise. Ty Lewis took that spot for a game last week and put up a goal and an assist. While Herbert wasn’t terrible he was obviously over his head with limited practice and playing out of position. If they want to keep him in the lineup then put him in place of Michael Joly, who’s been a disaster other than a few power play points.

– Good to see Travis Barron back with the Eagles. I don’t see a full time slot for him when we’re in the healthy part of the injury cycle but I don’t see the reasoning for him playing in Utah either. He’s already more effective than any of the part-time forwards. He displaced Igor Shvyrev as center on the 4th/shutdown line which I wasn’t a fan of. Maybe Igor was banged up or the staff wanted him to watch from above to correct some aspects of his game, which was a bit of a struggle on Friday. I’m not against giving rookies a night off here and there to reflect and recharge. Shvyrev has already logged more minutes this season than he did in the KHL last year.

– The Eagles defensive corps looks little like I had imagined at the end of last year. What was going to be a strength has now become it’s biggest liability. The first blow was Conor Timmins being indefinitely unavailable due to a concussion. I thought re-signing Ryan Graves was an arrogant mistake but solid performances against minor leaguers in pre-season gave some hope that’s now vanished. I barely considered Anton Lindholm as a possibility for a regular player, as far as I knew he would be with the Avs or back to Sweden. Now we have Justin Falk signed to a PTO out of nowhere. At this point it’s a big mess and roles seem to change game by game and even shift by shift.

Warsofsky and Alt are decent AHL veterans but they don’t make a good pair and definitely don’t make a viable top pair. They both play slow and don’t handle puck pressure well which makes breaking the puck out of the zone an adventure.

Boikov and Meloche struggle together for different reasons, mainly that they’re both young and inconsistent. Boikov falls back on risky plays all the time which is extremely frustrating and despite having some offensive skill doesn’t have the best offensive instincts. Meloche’s offensive instincts are fine and he’s probably the only D that can make a breakout pass consistently without turning it over but he reminds me of Nikita Zadorov sometimes with play around his own net.

Bet you can’t guess which D leads in even strength points, raise your hand if you picked Mason Geertsen. Despite being written off as not having enough this or that he’s been the most consistent pure defensive D and has manged to get on the scoreboard often enough to make things interesting. Justin Falk only has two games and unless I’m focusing on looking I haven’t noticed him being on the ice. Doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement but it actually is. He’s gone out and done his job, gets a couple shots on goal per game and assisted on a shortie Saturday night. I don’t like that the Avs management felt they needed him but he hasn’t actively hurt the team like some of the others.

Those are the top 6 defensemen as of right this moment. Use them wisely, put some rational and consistent pairs/roles together and things will improve. The next guy I want to see behind them is Kevin Davis, who is currently 3rd in the ECHL in assists and has 14 points in 11 games overall. For reference, the Eagles Ds as a whole have 24 in 12 games. This is a good team and they’ve kissed at least 5 or 6 points goodbye already thanks to blueline issues. The rest of the team doesn’t need to suffer from a fixable situation.

Next up

Little time to contemplate here as the Stockton Heat come to town Tuesday for the Eagles first mid-week games of the season. After that it’s back to California again on Saturday and Sunday against Bakersfield and San Jose.

 

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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