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AHL Playoffs First Round

The first round of the AHL playoffs completed last night.  This year the AHL reduced their regular season schedule from 80 to 76 games and they reduced the first round from a best of seven to a best of five.  Potentially this could drop six games from an AHL player’s season.  The idea is that hockey players play such a tough schedule that is takes away from the quality of games and leads to a higher injury rate.  Although part of me would like to see the NHL follow suit (and the other part would like to be able to watch hockey 365 days a year), I don’t think this is enough to make a meaningful difference in the quality of play.  Reducing the schedule at the NHL level is a financial non-starter and reducing it further at the AHL level likely is too.  This leads to a greater level of randomness in the first round due to shorter series.  If the NHL had five game first round series, two of the eight first round series would have ended differently.  Florida would have beaten New Jersey and Ottawa would have beaten the New York Rangers.

Here are the first round results in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs:

Norfolk defeats Manchester three games to one   Norfolk is the Tampa Bay Lightning farm affiliate and Manchester is that of Los Angeles.  Norfolk finished the regular season on a remarkable 28 game winning streak and finished first overall.  Manchester gets full credit for winning even one game in the series.  Alexandre Picard, Trevor Smith and Alex Killorn led the way offensively.  Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus shared the goaltending duties.  Linden Vey and defencemen Thomas Hickey and Patrick Mullen lead the way for Manchester.  Martin Jones was their top goaltender.

St John’s defeat Syracuse three games to one   St. John’s is the Winnipeg Jets affiliate and Syracuse belongs to the Anaheim Ducks.  Aaron Gagnon and defenceman Derek Meech led the way for St John’s.  Eddie Pasquale gave a strong performance in goal.  Mark Bell and Dan Sexton led the way offensively for Syracuse with Mathieu Carle leading their defence.  Iiro Tarkki was their goalie.

Connecticut defeats Bridgeport in three straight   Connecticut is the New York Rangers farm affiliate and Bridgeport belongs to the Islanders.  This was a proxy battle of New York in the AHL.  Marek Hrivik, Casey Wellman and Ryan Bourque led the way for Connecticut offensively.  Cameron Talbot had two shutouts and posted a .977 saves percentage in the first round in the Connecticut goal.  Justin DiBenedetto, David Ullstrom and Calvin de Haan were the only Bridgeport players to post two points in the series.  Kevin Poulin was the Bridgeport goalie.

  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defeated Hershey three games to two   Wlkes-Barre/Scranton is Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate and Hershey belongs to Washington.  Jason Williams and Colin McDonald led the way offensively for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with Alex Grant leading the defence.  Brad Thiessen was the W-B/S goalie.  Hershey was led by Ryan Potulny and Chris Bourque with Tomas Kundratek leading their defence.  Dany Sabourin was the Hershey goalie.

  Oklahoma City defeat Houston three games to one   Oklahoma City is Edmonton’s farm affiliate and Houston is Minnesota’s.  Oklahoma City was led by Mark Arcobello, Ryan Keller and Tyler Pitlick.  Yann Danis had a strong performance in the Oklahoma City goal.  Houston was outplayed.  Only Cody Almond, Brett Bulmer and Carson McMillan were the only Houston players to score as many as two points.  Mike Brodeur was the more successful of the Houston goalies in the series.

  Toronto defeats Rochester in three straight   The Toronto Marlies are the Toronto Maple Leafs farm affiliate.  Rochester belongs to Buffalo.  Jerry D’Amigo and Mike Zigomanis led the way for Toronto with Ben Scrivens in goal.  Marcus Foligno and Phil Varone lead the way offensively for Rochester.  TJ Brennan led their defence and David Leggio was their goaltender.

  San Antonio defeated Chicago three games to two   San Antonio is the farm affiliate for Florida and Chicago belongs to Vancouver.  Jon Matsumoto and James Wright led the way offensively for San Antonio.  Jacob Markstrom won all three games that he played for San Antonio in the series.  Darren Haydar and Mark Mancari lead Chicago offensively with Brad Hunt leading their defence.  Eddie Lack was their goalie.

  Abbotsford defeats Milwaukee in three games straight   Abbotsford is Calgary’s farm affiliate.  Milwaukee belongs to Nashville.  Krys Kolanos and Ben Walter led the way offensively for Abbotsford with Clay Wilson on defence.  Danny Taylor had a solid performance in goal.  Kyle Wilson and defenceman Teemu Laakso were the only Milwaukee players to get more than one point in the series.  Jeremy Smith was overpowered in the Milwaukee goal.

In the second round we return to seven game series.  Norfolk meets Connecticut, St John’s meets Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Oklahoma City meets San Antonio and Toronto meets Abbotsford.  The first second round game is not until Tuesday.

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Dakkster's avatar

Did you watch even one of these games or did you just read the box scores, as usual? Norfolk’s best skater in the series was Cory Conacher. He created stuff every shift and while it didn’t translate to the score sheet all the time, he was their best player. Then again, you’d have to watch the games to know that.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 04/29/12 at 08:05 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

No I didn’t watch every shift of every AHL playoff game to date and neither did you.  Do they show many AHL games in Sweden?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/29/12 at 08:35 PM ET

Dakkster's avatar

It’s called the internet, bub. We’re on it right now. Games are available if you know where to look.

My point is that it’s very much the norm for your blog posts to glaringly show that you simply don’t watch any hockey. You post the most outlandish things that could only be derived by someone who only looks at numbers and not the actual games themselves.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 04/29/12 at 09:40 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

I know that is your point and it is 100% bullshit.  Cory Conacher is the focal point of Norfolk’s offence.  He was their runaway top scorer in the regular season.  Manchester successfully shut him down in the first round of the playoffs.  I listed a few of the top players on each team in every series.  I do not think Conacher was one in the first round.  When you list a few players per team you naturally do not name all the players who are important.

If I wrote a summary like this of the NHL first round in the NHL playoffs I would have likely omitted Nicklas Lidstrom and his zero points.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t watch any games or that I don’t know who Lidstrom is.  The fact you suggest it is bullshit and you should know it.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 04/29/12 at 09:49 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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