The Chicago Wolves open the Western Conference Semifinals against Toronto with Game 1 on Friday night and Game 2 on Saturday night at Allstate Arena. We open with this seemingly mundane paragraph because it gives away where Wolves assistant coach Scott Allen will sleep on Friday night: In the team’s locker room at Allstate Arena.
“I’ve slept on the floor in the coaches office,” Allen said. “I’ve slept on the couch.”
Whenever the Wolves play back-to-back games at home, Allen spends the night at the office because that’s what he feels he needs to do to get the job done right. The 48-year-old New Bedford, Mass., native says he’s done this for every team he has coached, which includes five other American Hockey League stops as well as three seasons on the New York Islanders’ staff (2009-12).
“I just believe in doing as much as you can to prepare yourself and your players,” Allen said. “I think I owe it to the players. I think I owe it to the organization to do what I do and how I do it. Any other way would be difficult for me. I’m fairly fortunate I have the ability to operate on not a lot of sleep.”
Allen forgoes sleep because he breaks down every Wolves game on video before the next game arrives. It requires five or six hours for him to cut it up in various categories — for each player, for each situation (5 on 5, power play, penalty kill), and for the various systems. He’ll break down the opponent’s stuff and log it as well.
An example: When Allen finished cutting up Games 1 and 2 of the recently concluded Western Conference Quarterfinals Series with Rochester, he had 994 different clips for his voluminous folders. He admits he might go too far, but this is a guy who still lugs around the notes he made 18 years ago when he began his coaching career with the ECHL’s Johnstown Chiefs — as well as all the scouting reports and video clips he has created since.
“My wife (Traci) gets all over me because every time we move, that stuff comes with us,” Allen said. “Again, it’s probably overkill. She says, ‘What are you going to do with this stuff?’ I say, ‘I don’t know.’ But I put a lot of time and effort into it, so it’s difficult for me to just throw it away.”
Shortly after the Wolves won Game 5 against Rochester on Sunday, Allen plowed through that video and performed his usual due diligence. He started his pre-scout work about the Toronto Marlies on Monday and has been taking a little more than four hours on each game. He says he’ll keep scouring video and looking for secrets right up until the 7:30 p.m. puck drop on Friday.
“I’m a big believer in getting as much information for myself as you can,” Allen said. “But the key is how much you give the players. You can paralyze them with over-analysis. That’s the last thing we need or want.”
When the coaches present a compilation of Toronto clips to the players, it might be just seven to 10 minutes long. When they provide insight on each Toronto player, they might offer a handful of tendencies instead of bogging them down with every possible factoid about AHL Defenseman of the Year T.J. Brennan (25 goals, 47 assists) or right wing Spencer Abbott (17 goals, 52 assists).
So what’s Allen’s thumbnail scouting report on Toronto at this juncture?
“Their special teams really did a good job in the Milwaukee series (which Toronto swept),” Allen said. “I think as a staff, we all were surprised how easily they pushed through Milwaukee because Milwaukee can be a grinding type of team. They’re a working team, a grinding team, but they weren’t able to get their game on track. So that’s a credit to Toronto.”
SHATTOCK SHATTERS GLASS
Prior to the Wolves’ official practice Tuesday at Allstate Arena, a handful of players worked on the ice with skating and skills coach Kenny McCudden. During a shooting drill at the east end, right wing Tyler Shattock fired a shot that deflected off the crossbar, flew toward the top of a glass partition behind the net and hit with such force that it shattered.
“I think I’ve done it twice,” Shattock said. “Once in juniors and now. Must’ve been a weak spot in the glass. A couple of the boys are a bit mad because it delayed practice, but they’ll get over it.”
The Wolves had to wait about 30 minutes while arena personnel cleaned the broken glass and inserted a new pane.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Shattock doesn’t get many opportunities to reveal his shooting skills. He splits time between the team’s third and fourth lines and had six goals and 102 shots to show for his 66 regular-season appearances.
He put just four shots on goal during the five-game Western Conference Quarterfinals, but he excelled in his role. In Sunday’s Game 5, he took a fighting penalty because he jumped in after Rochester’s Colton Gillies roughed defenseman Jani Hakanpaa. When Shattock was freed from the box, almost every Wolves player on the bench tapped their sticks against the boards while Hakanpaaa gave him a couple appreciative stick taps to Shattock’s behind.
“After Game 2, Rochester came out with a bit of a physical presence,” Shattock said. “I think we have enough guys who can put the puck in the back of the net. I’m a bigger body, so I have no problem doing that as long as it’s for the team to win. I love all these guys, so I’ll do anything to help this team win.”