From the Eagles Desk: Clench Time

The Eagles fared well against the conference leading Wolves this weekend with a win on Sunday. A cruel twist of fate late in Saturday’s game denied them at least another point and perhaps two more. Tucson pitched in by getting beat by Ontario right after Colorado’s win on Sunday but the Gulls are now just about out of reach. To continue past this weekend we still need help and that will come mainly from San Diego.

Injuries/Transactions

– Pavel Francouz missed the weekend while in the Czech Republic for the birth of his daughter. Congratulations! Joe Cannata was called up from Utah to back up Spencer Martin. Frankie is back in town now and ready for the final two games.
– Cody Bass returned to health so Kale Kessy was optioned back to Idaho. He only lasted one game however.
– Nick Henry joined the club on an ATO Thursday and played both games over the weekend. He had previously signed his ELC with the Avs in early March.
– Josh Dickinson joined the rookie exodus to the Utah Grizzlies on Friday. He had been injured for a bit and hadn’t played since the San Jose series in mid-March.
– Andrew Agozzino was waived by the Avs on Friday and cleared in time to play Saturday evening.
– Sheldon Dries was injured in the first game, made a brief re-appearance but did not dress for game 2.
– Travis Barron was re-assigned to the Grizzlies on Tuesday.

COL 2 – CHI 3

Goals: Greer (Toninato, Dries), O’Connor (Geertsen, Kaut)
Shots: +32/-27
PP 0-3, PK 2-2

Lineup:

I thought the Eagles played a fantastic game and much different than I expected. They were quick and had the puck plenty in the first two periods. Not many good scoring chances but enough to manage a 2-2 tie for most of the game. Not having a viable power play hurt of course but it looked like we were headed to OT and a point for each team, which looked like the goal for both sides during most of the 3rd period. Then tragedy struck. With less than two minutes to go Aggz threw the puck out in front of the Eagles net right to Gage Quinney, who had it in the net before Marty had any idea what was happening. It was one of those “do anything but this and you’ll be fine” situations, and “this” happened.

COL 3 – CHI 2 (SO)

Goals: O’Connor (Aggz, Kaut), Lindholm (Aggz, O’Connor)
Shots: +30/-33
PP 0-4, PK 2-3

Lineup:

Colorado played one of their better periods of the season in the first, outshooting Chicago 18-6 and coming away with a 1-0 lead thanks to Logan O’Connor finishing off a wonderful triangle play from Kaut and Agozzino. They got rolled over in the 2nd however but still ended up with a 2-1 lead after the teams traded goals late. The Wolves scored in the 3rd on the usual defensive tomfoolery then we headed to OT and ultimately the shootout. Michael Joly led off with his league-leading 5th shootout goal of course. The Wolves tied it. AJ Greer was the 4th Eagles shooter and won it. BAM, it was glorious.

Breaking Down: Week 27

Summary

Goals: +4/-5

Offensive output continues to crater with 2 goals in each of the last 3 games and only 12 in their last 7. Coach Cronin keeps mentioning a skill deficiency, I see adequate or better skill (available, not necessarily used) and a terrible offensive system. Defensively they do fine but with no goal support fine isn’t good enough. Using Alt/Lindholm as the top pair recently has been a major drag on production as well and they are the worst pair defensively on the team.

Shots: +62/-60 (50.8%)

An average weekend for shot output but a decent one for shot suppression. Chicago doesn’t shoot much so this was actually a better than average weekend for them.

Shooting percentage: 6.4%
Save percentage: 91.7%
PDO: 98.1

Sure they missed a couple open nets but all in all didn’t generate many truly dangerous scoring chances. Cycle low, pass high, shoot from the perimeter and crash the net. Rinse and repeat. Not getting it done. Their shooting percentage isn’t a luck thing it’s poor tactics. Given the amount of defensive breakdowns, Martin’s save percentage this weekend doesn’t indicate how hard he had to work. He was phenomenal.

PP: 0-7
PK: 4-5

The Eagles have now gone 21 straight PP’s without a goal and are 1 for their last 39. They’ve changed everything but the system so this is their lot in life. Trapped in the Avalanche’s terrible PP with no way to get out.

Individual

Your scoring star of the week was Logan O’Connor with 2 goals and an assist. Kaut and Aggz both chipped in 2 assists. Shoutout to Anton Lindholm for his first goal in any league since January of 2017.

Spencer Martin did a fine job as he has since mid-December. One goal was on the PK, one goal was the tragic breakdown at the end of game 1 and the other three… let’s just say Anton Lindholm had a rough weekend defensively.

Overview

Before we get to the playoff situation, many folks are interested in how Shane Bowers and Nick Henry did in their pro debuts.

Bowers looked comfortable right away and by the 3rd period of game one had seamlessly transitioned to the AHL. BU plays a similarly bad low-to-high system so that plus a week of practice had him dialed in. He set some guys up for nice scoring chances in the slot which they didn’t seem ready for because hardly anyone on the Eagles passes into the slot. He played a 3rd line role with Max McCormick and Michael Joly for most of the weekend and got 2nd PP unit time with Kaut, Henry, Alt and Greer/Kosmachuk. I really liked his calmness both with and without the puck. He’s going to help more and more with zone entries and especially his net front play. One shift the AHLtv director had the end zone cam focused on him in front and he was strong and ready on the off chance there was an opportunity.

Henry got to Loveland later in the week after Lethbridge was eliminated so he only had one practice and some morning skates to get acclimated. He played on the 4th at LW, not his natural position, with Julien Nantel and Cody Bass/Scott Kosmachuk. Also was with Bowers and the aforementioned crew on PP2. Like Bowers he set up some good chances in front and looked like an upgrade on the power play. I liked his 5v5 play for the most part. In the first game especially there were times I could pick out some hesitation about coverages and forechecks but nothing awful. He was called for a really soft hook in the o-zone late in the 2nd period of game 2 and didn’t play a ton after that. The 4th wasn’t used much so I’m not reading a lot into that. There’s plenty of potential to look forward to.

Now for the playoff situation. The Eagles are technically in 4th place by points but Tucson has a game in hand and better points percentage. If Tucson loses tonight against Bakersfield then Colorado goes back to controlling it’s own destiny. Right now they have a magic number of 6 with 2 games to play.

San Diego is in 3rd with a magic number of 2 to clinch a playoff spot. A Tucson loss will clinch for them or they could beat San Jose tonight and do it themselves. They just got a bunch of talent back from the NHL thanks to Anaheim finishing off the season so they’re stacked.

After tonight’s games, Colorado hosts San Jose for two this weekend and San Diego and Tucson play each other for two. Best case for the Eagles is Tucson losing out, in which case they don’t need anything to clinch a spot. That feels dirty so we want to win at least one against the Barracudas but you get the point. Tucson has to lose at least one in regulation for the Eagles to have a chance. If they do and the Eagles sweep San Jose we’re in as well so those are the two ends of the spectrum. Bottom line, root for Bako tonight and the Gulls this weekend. And pray.

Next up

The final weekend of the season. Two games at home vs San Jose. It’s time for some BEC magic.

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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