The Week Ahead
Friday, April 15 (Game 1) & Saturday, April 16 (Game 2); Eagles, Mavericks Open Semifinals at the BEC
The Eagles will look to continue their push through the Ray Miron Presidents’ Cup playoffs as they open the Turner Conference Semifinals against the Missouri Mavericks in a best-of-five series. Games 1 & 2 will be at the Budweiser Events Center this weekend, while Games 3 & 4 (if necessary) will be held in Independence, Mo. next week. If a Game 5 is needed, it will take place back at the BEC next weekend. Colorado got through the first round by defeating the Quad City Mallards, 3-games-to-1, while the Mavs got past the Wichita Thunder 3-games-to-2. This is the first ever meeting between the Eagles and the Mavericks in the playoffs. Colorado has an all-time record of 7-5-2 against the second-year franchise in the regular season.
CLOSE CONTESTS – The Eagles went 3-4-1 against the Mavericks during the regular season, and are 7-5-2 against them all-time (including 5-3-0 at the BEC). Historically, the games between the two teams have been tight, with just one of the eight meetings this season being decided by more than two goals, and two of them being decided in overtime; the Eagles have out-scored the Mavs by just four goals (50-46) in the 14 all-time meetings. Colorado will need to tighten up its penalty kill against Missouri, as the Mavs converted on 26.7% of their chances in the regular season — good for nearly a third of their goals in the season series.
KEEP AN EYE ON – There are several Mavericks that the Eagles will need to keep in check to have success in the Conference Semifinals. Mike Berry and Nick Sirota each had 10 points in the season series, with Berry notching three power-play goals and two game-winners. Simon Watson chipped in eight points and scored five goals on just eight shots for a shooting percentage of .625. Nathan O’Nabigon has a history of timely goals against the Eagles and scored the pivotal marker that helped the Mavs advance in Game 5 of the opening round. Brandon Coccimiglio played in just three games against the Eagles as a mid-season signing, but looked good and has put up some of Missouri’s best stats so far in the postseason. And last, but not least, Robby Nolan was voted the CHL’s Most Outstanding Goaltender during the regular season after posting a league-best seven shutouts and ranking in the top three in GAA (1st), SV% (3rd) and wins (Tied 3rd).
NO SHOOT FOR YOU – Colorado out-shot Quad City 153-108 (or an average of over 11 shots-per-game) in the first round and leads the CHL heading into the second round with an average of 38.3 shots-per-game. While the Eagles were holding the Mallards to just 27 shots-per-game, the Thunder were holding the Mavericks (Colorado’s Conference Semifinals opponent) to 26.6 shots-per-game. That might be something the Eagles can build upon after they set a franchise record on Feb. 2nd by holding the Mavs to just a single first period shot in a regular season game at the Budweiser Events Center.
KEEPING IT CLOSE – Three of the Eagles’ four opening round games against Quad City were decided by a single goal, continuing a recent trend for Colorado’s first round match-ups. In the team’s first round played during the 2010 playoffs, two of the four games against the Mudbugs were decided by one tally, and in 2009, all four of the games were of the 1-goal variety as the Eagles swept Bossier-Shreveport from the postseason.
THE FORCE IS STRONG – On a roster that boasts the last two CHL MVPs, it’s a rookie standout that’s leading the Eagles in points through four games in the 2011 playoffs. Adam Chorneyko — a 2010-11 All-Rookie Team selection — has registered a team-leading six points via one goal and a team-high five helpers. He also leads Colorado in shots (21) after tying a Greg Pankewicz franchise playoff record with 10 in Game 1 against the Mallards, and leads the Eagles in multi-point games (2) as well.
PLAYOFF PENALTY SHOTS – Kevin Ulanski led the Eagles in goals during the regular season (35) and led the entire CHL in the game-winning variety with 11, but he waited until Game 4 of the opening round series against the Mallards to pick up his first tally of the playoffs, and it just happened to be the eventual game-winner that pushed Colorado into the Conference Semifinal round. That goal came via a penalty shot against David Brown, and was just the second successful playoff penalty shot in franchise history. Almost unbelievably, the talent-laden Eagles’ first successful penalty shot — regular season or playoffs — came in the 2007 playoffs when Ryan Tobler beat Memphis’ Larry Sterling in a series-deciding game that sent the Eagles to their second Presidents’ Cup championship.
HISTORY OF SUCCESS – When the Eagles have made it through their first playoff series, they’ve never fallen short of the Conference Finals and advanced all the way to the Presidents’ Cup Finals four out of five times. When the Eagles have made it through their second playoff series, they’ve made it to the Presidents’ Cup Finals every time.
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