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Preview: Mixing it up in Mile-High

Tuesday, November 17th
Preview: Mixing it up in Mile-High

The Steelheads need to get back into the win column as they meet the Colorado Eagles for a three-game set at Budweiser Events Center. The Steelheads are winless in their past six games, but they face a Colorado team that sits last in the West Division after a rocky start of its own.

The Eagles won just one game in their first eight contests but have rebounded a bit in recent weeks, winning three of their past five games including an 8-1 trouncing of the defending champion Allen Americans. Steelheads Head Coach Neil Graham has said during the season’s first month that there is a lot more talent on the Colorado roster than their early results suggested, and those results appear as though they may be coming around.

The Steelheads did a lot right against the Florida Everblades at 5-on-5, but they did fall victim to a powerful special teams combo in Florida’s top-ranked power play and second-ranked penalty kill. Florida’s power play converted in both games, and the Steelheads’ man-advantage wasn’t able to break the ice in Saturday’s shutout loss.

The Steelheads will want to play as much 5-on-5 as possible against the Eagles as well, who boast the ECHL’s second-best power play (26.2 percent) and third-best penalty kill (90 percent). The Eagles’ 11 power play goals are tied for fourth most in the league, but they’ve also surrendered three short-handed goals this season.

The Steelheads are 28-11-4 all-time against the Colorado Eagles, and have won six of their past seven against the Eagles. Their last three victories over Colorado have all come in overtime or via the shootout.

The Steelheads are 4-3-1 against West Division opponents this season.

STEELHEAD TO WATCH

Colton Beck and Rob Linsmayer certainly have been red hot during this road-trip, and there has been another beneficiary on that line. Taylor Peters has goals in two straight games, both of the breakaway variety. Peters now has four goals in his last seven games for Idaho, and his six goals are tied for the team lead. Graham has mentioned how Peters has had more jump to his game since that line was put together, not only being in the right places but using a deceptively strong skating stride to get in behind the defense and create chances.

EAGLE TO WATCH

Jesse Mychan’s nine goals certainly are enough to make him stand out, giving him the league lead after the Steelheads managed to keep Florida’s Mike Aviani off the scoresheet over the weekend.  Mychan has five goals in his last three games, including a hat trick in Colorado’s 8-1 win in Allen. Equally important for the Steelheads to mind are Mychan’s four power play goals, tied for the league lead. The Eagles rely heavily on their power play to create offense and that power play funnels through Mychan. His 45 shots on goal also lead the team.

KEY MATCHUP

The Steelheads know that in order to get back on the winning track, they need to do a better job of taking command of games once they’ve taken a lead. They are just 1-4-1 this season when they outshoot an opponent, and 2-2-2 when they score first. They’re also just 3-2-2 when taking a lead into the first intermission. For the Steelheads, getting a lead hasn’t been an issue, but holding a lead for 60 minutes has been. The Eagles haven’t had much success when they’ve fallen behind, going 1-7-0 when they’ve been tied or trailing at the end of the first period. The Steelheads need not only to push to an early lead, but to make that lead stand. Again, special teams can play a big role in Idaho holding a lead and earning a win.

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