By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
PROSPECT PROMOTIONS / DEMOTIONS:
12-09-11 -- LW Pete MacArthur released from PTO contract by Peoria (AHL).
12-13-11 -- LW Evgeny Grachev called up to St. Louis (NHL) from Peoria (AHL).
12-14-11 -- RW Chris Bruton signed to PTO by Peoria (AHL).
12-14-11 -- C Mike Radja signed to PTO by Peoria (AHL).
12-17-11 -- D Maury Edwards signed to PTO by Peoria (AHL).
12-18-11 -- D Derrick LaPoint signed to PTO by Peoria (AHL).
None to report this week.
PLAYERS ON SICK CALL:
12-17-11 -- RW Jay Barriball, D Mark Cundari, D Jake Gannon, D Brett Ponich, D David Shields and C Brett Sonne all out indefinitely with various injuries. (LINK).
PLAYERS RETURNED TO DUTY:
12-08-11 -- C Jori Lehtrera (Sibir Novosibirsk/KHL) returned to duty from knee injury.
PLAYERS ON SUSPENSION:
None to report this week.
The Peoria Rivermen had a pretty good seven days during the week ending Dec. 17. In three games against Western Conference opponents, the Rivs posted three wins, scoring ten goals during those games while allowing just four goals in that span. And, despite what has been up to this point a sophomore slump year for Jake Allen, the top prospect netminder in the organization contributed significantly to that win streak.
Allen hit a rough patch early on in the season; from mid-October until mid-November, in just five appearances totaling 276 minutes of playing time, the pride of Fredericton, New Brunswick allowed 22 goals on 158 shots. That translates to a 4.78 goals-against average and an 86.1% save percentage, and that translated into just a 1-3-1 record over that crucial early part of the year.
During that stretch, in the week ending Oct. 29, Allen’s numbers hit rock bottom for the year. A check of the weekly Prospect Statistical Report for that date shows "Jake the Snake" crawling well behind the pack with an 0-2-1 record, a 4.74 GAA and a save percentage of just 85.6%.
Allen is still struggling to get wins, having secured only his second win of the season during the last week, a strong performance in the Rivs’ 5-2 shellacking of upstate rival Rockford on Friday night at "The Big Orange Box," The BMO Harris Bank Arena in downtown Rockford. Interestingly, his first win of the season was also against the Ice Hogs, the wild, come-from-behind 7-6 win at Carver Arena on Veteran’s Day.
In Illinois Lottery Cup play, Allen is 2-1-0 in three starts against the Rivs’ arch-rivals from 100 miles north on I-39, while battery mate Ben Bishop is 3-2-0 versus the men from the Forest City.
The wins may not be coming yet, but Allen’s numbers are trending the right way in every other category. With solid performances in the last three weeks, he has shaved almost a full goal off of his GAA, bringing it down to 3.80, and brought his save percentage back to the vicinity of the crucial 90 percent mark at 89.3%. In 177 minutes played since the beginning of December, Allen has allowed just seven goals on 117 shots for a 2.38 GAA and a nice 94% saves rate for the month to date.
A large part of Allen’s struggle this season can be laid at the feet of his teammates, who have provided him with less-than-adequate goal support. In Allen’s 11 starts, including the half-game disaster vs. the Texas Stars on Oct. 22 where The Snake gave up five goals in 32 minutes, the Rivermen have scored just 34 goals in support of their sophomore netminder.
Even during his recent reversal of fortune, Allen has not gotten a great deal of help from the Rivermen. On Dec. 3, in the second game of a home-and-home series with Milwaukee, Allen surrendered three goals to the Admirals at Carver Arena, and got just two goals from his teammates in support. On Dec. 10 in San Antonio, Allen allowed the Rampage just two goals, but only got one goal in support from second-year man Anthony Nigro.
The five goals that the Rivs scored for Allen on Friday night were the most they've scored in front of him in any game this year, except for the Victory On Veteran's Day. In three of Allen' 11 starts, the Rivs have managed just one goal in support of their netminder, and have managed more than three goals just three times (including four gola sin Allen's 32 minutes against Taxes on Oct. 22), scoring exactly three goals another three times.
Contrast that to the help Bishop is getting, where in 19 starts, the Rivs have scored 57 goals, including six times where they’ve scored four or more goals for the big Chaminade alumnus. Not surprisingly, all six of those efforts went into the win column for Big Ben, and in the seven games where they Rivs have score three goals in support of Bishop, they’ve managed to win five of them. Indeed, the only game that Bishop has won for the Rivermen this year, in which he did not get at least three goals in support, was the 2-0 whitewashing of the Toronto Marlies last night before over 6400 at Carver Arena.
FEATURES THIS WEEK
The three "Regulars" are all on Christmas break this week, so others picked up the slack. Details at 5:00 PM Central Time.
The most complete weekly source of Blues' prospect scoring and goaltending stats available anywhere in one place. Details at 6:00 PM Central Time.