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AHL Morning Skate: May 11, 2007

Every morning, take a spin around the AHL ice with recaps and previews, news and notes, facts and figures, and the top headlines from around the American Hockey League.


THURSDAY’S SCORES:
Game 5 – IOWA 5, Chicago 1 (CHI leads, 3-2)


THURSDAY’S THREE STARS:
1. Joel Lundqvist scores a pair of power-play goals to help Iowa stave off elimination in Game 5.

2. With Chicago pressing to tie late in the first, Yared Hagos picks up a shorthanded goal to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.

3. Dan Ellis shuts down the potent Wolves with 36 saves on 37 shots.


FRIDAY’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 5 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00 (HER leads, 3-1)


2007 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Final – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Manchester Monarchs vs. A3-Providence Bruins || Preview
Game 1 – Tue., May 1 – Providence 6, MANCHESTER 3
Game 2 – Wed., May 2 – MANCHESTER 4, Providence 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 8 – PROVIDENCE 2, Manchester 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 9 – Manchester 3, PROVIDENCE 2
Game 5 – Sat., May 12 – Providence at Manchester, 7:35
Game 6 – Mon., May 14 – Manchester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 7 – Wed., May 16 – Providence at Manchester, 7:05

East Division Final – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E2-W-B/Scranton Penguins || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., May 2 – HERSHEY 4, W-B/Scranton 3
Game 2 – Fri., May 4 – HERSHEY 4, W-B/Scranton 3 (2OT)
Game 3 – Sat., May 5 – Hershey 2, W-B/SCRANTON 0
Game 4 – Wed., May 9 – W-B/SCRANTON 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Fri., May 11 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 12 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., May 14 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00

North Division Final – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N3-Hamilton Bulldogs || Preview
Game 1 – Sat., May 5 – Hamilton 2, MANITOBA 1
Game 2 – Sun., May 6 – Hamilton 3, MANITOBA 2
Game 3 – Tue., May 8 – Manitoba 3, HAMILTON 2
Game 4 – Sat., May 12 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 7:00
Game 5 – Sun., May 13 – Manitoba at Hamilton, 3:00
*Game 6 – Mon., May 14 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Wed., May 16 – Hamilton at Manitoba, 8:30

West Division Final – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W2-Chicago Wolves vs. W4-Iowa Stars || Preview
Game 1 – Wed., May 2 – CHICAGO 7, Iowa 0
Game 2 – Fri., May 4 – Iowa 5, CHICAGO 4
Game 3 – Sun., May 6 – Chicago 5, IOWA 3
Game 4 – Tue., May 8 – Chicago 6, IOWA 1
Game 5 – Thu., May 10 – IOWA 5, Chicago 1
Game 6 – Sat., May 12 – Iowa at Chicago, 8:00
*Game 7 – Mon., May 14 – Iowa at Chicago, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern


GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 5 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00 (HER leads, 3-1)
Kurtis McLean scored a pair of power-play goals, including the game-winning goal 35 seconds into overtime, to help Wilkes-Barre/Scranton avoid a four-game sweep with a 3-2 win in Game 4 on Wednesday night… Jonathan Filewich, a 30-goal scorer in the regular season for the Penguins, recorded an assist in Game 4 for his first point in seven games… Pens forward Robert Nilsson has eight points (8a) in five road games this postseason… Wilkes-Barre has added defenseman Kris Letang, whose junior season at Val d’Or (QMJHL) ended this week… Matt Hendricks has scored a goal in each of the first four games of the series for the Bears… Hershey’s Alexandre Giroux has five points (2g, 3a) and a plus-4 rating in the last three games… Ryan Stone, who also scored on Wednesday, will serve a one-game suspension for the Penguins tonight following his boarding major and game misconduct in the second period of Game 4… Each team scored two power-play goals on Wednesday after going a combined 0-for-34 through the first three games of the series… Tonight’s Game 5 is back at the Giant Center, where Hershey is 11-3 over the last two postseasons… Of the 103 previous teams to lose the first three games of a best-of-seven series, only 12 have managed to force a Game 6.


MORNING HEADLINES:

PENS GETTING SOME ADDED HELP
Kelly Tomlinson, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

The seemingly insurmountable odds the Penguins have to overcome in order to make their best-of-seven East Division final series with the Hershey Bears respectable aren’t looking quite so long this morning. Part of that has to do with the fact that the Penguins actually managed to win a game against Hershey – they won Game 4 in overtime 3-2 on Tuesday night. But mostly it’s because help is on the way in the form of defenseman Kristopher Letang. Letang, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound wizard with the puck, was reassigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday, one day after his junior team, the Val d’Or Foreurs, were eliminated from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs. “He’s very good,” said Penguins assistant GM Chuck Fletcher. “He’s young. He’s talented. He’s going to be good in the NHL for a long time to come.” … Link

SAVING IT ALL FOR THE PLAYOFFS
Garry McKay, Hamilton Spectator
Unlikely heroes are often the story of any hockey playoff. Hamilton Bulldogs coach Don Lever had said before the AHL postseason began that someone on his team, maybe even more than one, would emerge as a surprise. Introducing: Danny Groulx. The Bulldogs defenceman had a total of zero goals and 16 assists in 58 regular season games. In the playoffs so far, he’s tied for second on the team in scoring with two goals and four assists in nine games. “I was saving it all for the playoffs,” said Groulx, who scored the Bulldogs’ first goal in their 3-2 loss to the Manitoba Moose in Game 3 of their best-of-seven North Division final Tuesday night at Copps Coliseum. “I’ve been working hard in practice at getting the puck on net when I shoot and it’s started paying off lately. Hopefully, I can keep it going that way.” … Link

PLAYOFFS HELP GARNETT FOCUS ON TASK AT HAND
Lindsay Kramer, NHL.com

The pressure of the playoffs has something of a purifying effect on Chicago Wolves goalie Michael Garnett. There are no personal issues to cloud your play and stats don’t matter. Well, besides the obvious aim of picking up the “W.” “In playoffs, for me personally, when I can go into a game and think, it doesn’t matter what happens as long as we win, it simplifies your thinking,” he said. “You don’t let anything else get in the way. Maybe in the regular season, I’m thinking; ‘Geez, I want to get my save percentage here, or my goals-against average here.’ For me, it (the postseason) is a good way to refocus on the task at hand.” … Link

TOIVONEN A SAVING GRACE FOR P-BRUINS
Joe McDonald, Providence Journal

In some cases, statistics – wins, shutouts, saves, save percentage and goals-against average – do not give an accurate assessment of how well a goaltender is performing. That certainly is true in the case of the Providence Bruins’ Hannu Toivonen. The soon-to-be 23-year-old netminder is back at top form while helping the P-Bruins in their quest for the Calder Cup. If the P-Bruins are to advance to their second Eastern Conference Finals in the last three years, Toivonen will have to continue his outstanding play. Forget the fact that his playoff record this season is 6-5. Forget the 2.88 GAA and .897 save percentage. Don’t pay attention to the 30 goals he has allowed on 291 shots. Those numbers mean little when assessing Toivonen’s game. When he’s providing his team with a close-to-peak performance, he has certain mannerisms that indicate as much. … Link


FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
2005 AHL MVP and two-time AHL All-Star Jason Spezza recorded a goal and an assist and was named the game’s first star as Ottawa posted a 5-2 win over Buffalo in Game 1 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Final last night… Ray Emery, also a two-time AHL All-Star, made 18 saves in the victory.


BY THE NUMBERS:
.492 – Winning percentage (31-32) of home teams during the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs… Visitors had the edge in last year’s postseason as well (44-40).


ON THIS DATE:
May 11, 2003Raffi Torres, Michael Ryder and Jarret Stoll score and Francois Beauchemin records an assist to lead Hamilton to a 3-2 win over Manitoba in Game 7 of their North Division Final at Copps Coliseum.

May 11, 2002Dan Snyder scores two goals, including the game-winner with 14:00 gone in the second overtime, to give Chicago a 4-3 win over Houston in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final.

May 11, 1997J.F. Labbe makes a franchise-record 62 saves and Blair Atcheynum scores 42 seconds into the third overtime period as Hershey staves off elimination with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia in Game 6 of their division final series.

May 11, 1993 – Despite being outshot 63-37, the Springfield Indians (25-41-14 in the regular season) win the Northern Division Final with a 6-5 overtime win in Game 7 at Adirondack.

May 11, 1979 – The Maine Mariners win their second consecutive Calder Cup, wrapping up a four-game sweep with an 8-4 win over New Haven.


ON THE AIR:
B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer, web-enabled cell phone or PDA throughout the Calder Cup Playoffs with live video webcasts of nearly every AHL game… Visit caldercup.com for details.