So just for a little fun and hopefully some insight for those of you reading, I thought I would look at all the match-ups in the Calder Cup this year and take a stab at seeing whether I can predict the ties.
I’ll be covering both conference’s but I’m starting here with the east.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – (best-of-5)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 8-Norfolk Admirals
Interestingly, the top seeds Manchester Monarchs have elected to give up home advantage by playing the first two games on home ice before spending the rest of the series on the road.
Manchester’s home form was a big part of why they won the Eastern conference with 28 wins and 59 points gained. Norfolk’s home and away record’s were almost identical as the clambered into the 8th seed position, edging out Hershey by two points.
The teams played each other four times during this season with the home side running out the victor on every occasion as the series was split.
Manchester will be looking to progress for the first time in four seasons after falling in the first round for three straight season. Two years ago they lost to the eventual Calder Champions the Norfolk Admirals.
With a change of affiliate, Norfolk missed out on the playoffs last season and will be looking to make up for lost time.
Prediction: Manchester in 4.
2-Springfield Falcons vs. 7-Providence Bruins
Springfield will start on the road but keep home ice advantage with a 1-2-1-1 format.
After accruing 99 points last season, the Falcons hit the ton this year and will be looking to progress further than a second round sweep this time around.
The teams will be more than familiar with one another having met ten times this season. Springfield have come out on top, winning the home and road series with 3-1-0-1 records respectively
Providence made the second round last year and were only eliminated by WBS-Pens in seven games.
This had broken three seasons of mediocrity and no post season hockey for them.
Twenty of their games this season went to the shootout which is a good indicator of the how tight some of their games are, and they finished the season with eight of their last eleven games decided by a solitary goal.
Prediction: Springfield in 3.
3-Binghamton Senators vs. 6-W-B/Scranton Penguins
This series will be played as a 2-2-1 as Binghamton begin at home and keep that advantage in a format that mirrors the NHL.
The teams met eight times during the season, in which the home teams dominated all bar one occasion where Binghamton won in overtime in Wilkes-Barre Scranton.
It should be an intriguing series as Binghamton are the offensive free-wheelers in the East while WBS are very strong defensively.
These two teams met in the first round last year and the Pens ran out 3-0 victors and progressed to the Conference finals. WBS have a strong playoff history having made the post season for eleven straight seasons and making the Calder Cup final twice, although failing to win the silverware.
Prediction: W-B/Scranton Penguins in 5.
4-St. John’s IceCaps vs. 5-Albany Devils
With the travel involved, it’s no surprise that St John’s have opted for a 2-3 series starting in Albany.
Despite playing in the same conference these two sides have not met one another this season, just another quirk of the AHL’s scheduling.
St John’s made the conference final in their inaugural season before falling to the eventual champions Norfolk Admirals, but then failed to make the post season last year.
The Ice Caps are the second highest scorers in the East and that is most certainly their forte with some incredibly high scoring and crazy games this season.
Home games, where they always have sell-out crowds will doubtless play a huge part in any success they have.
This is the fourth year of existence for the Albany devils and this will be their playoff debut.
Their home form has been significantly better than on the road so those first two games will be crucial for their hopes of progressing through this first round match-up.
Prediction: St John’s in 4.