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AHL Morning Skate: May 2, 2008

AHL Quick Hits is now the Morning Skate… 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.


Philadelphia 5, W-B/SCRANTON 2 (PHI leads, 1-0)

CHICAGO 4, Rockford 1 (CHI leads, 1-0)


1. Stefan Ruzicka netted a pair of goals and added an assist as Philadelphia posted a 5-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 1 of the East Division finals.

2. Defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski scored twice to lead Chicago over Rockford, 4-1, in their series opener.

3. Rookie goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stopped 29 of 30 shots in the victory for the Wolves.


Game 3 – Providence at Portland, 7:05 (PRO leads, 2-0)

Game 1 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30


Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A1-Providence Bruins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 26 – PROVIDENCE 4, Portland 0
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 27 – PROVIDENCE 7, Portland 1
Game 3 – Fri., May 2 – Providence at Portland, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May 4 – Providence at Portland, 4:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May 6 – Providence at Portland, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 9 – Portland at Providence, 7:05
*Game 7 – Sat., May 10 – Portland at Providence, 7:05

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E2-Philadelphia Phantoms || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – Philadelphia 5, W-B/SCRANTON 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Mon., May 5 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sat., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
*Game 7 – Tue., May 13 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. N2-Syracuse Crunch || Preview
Game 1 – Fri., May 2 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30
Game 2 – Sun., May 4 – Syracuse at Toronto, 4:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 6 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30
*Game 6 – Sat., May 10 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:30
*Game 7 – Mon., May 12 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Chicago Wolves vs. W2-Rockford IceHogs || Preview

Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – CHICAGO 4, Rockford 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Sun., May 4 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:05
Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – Chicago at Rockford, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 11 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 13 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00


*if necessary… All times Eastern… (WC) – Wachovia Center

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 3 –
Providence at Portland, 7:05 (PRO leads, 2-0)

Providence travels to Portland for Game 3 tonight looking to take a commanding series lead while the Pirates are trying to snap the Bruins’ six-game winning streak and get back into the Atlantic Division finals… The Bruins outscored the Pirates, 11-1, in capturing the first two games in Providence last weekend… Rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask has stopped 39 of 40 shots in the series, good for a .975 save percentage and 0.54 GAA… The B’s snapped an 0-for-35 skid with a power-play goal in their 7-1 win in Game 2 on Sunday… Martins Karsums had a hat trick in Game 2 and Petteri Nokelainen scored twice, his first goals since returning to Providence from the parent Boston Bruins… Pascal Pelletier (1-3-4) and Matt Lashoff (0-4-4) have recorded four points apiece in the first two games for Providence… Andrew Ebbett notched Portland’s only goal of the series in the third period of Game 2… Portland has won four straight home playoff games, dating back to 2006.


Game 1 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30

Syracuse and Toronto kick off the North Division finals tonight at Ricoh Coliseum… The third-year Marlies are making their initial appearance in the second round, while the Crunch are coming off their first playoff series win since 2002… Syracuse won an AHL-record four overtime tilts en route to a six-game victory over Manitoba in the first round… The Crunch have lost just once in regulation – a 5-2 defeat in Game 4 vs. the Moose – since Feb. 18… Derick Brassard, Derek MacKenzie and Zenon Konopka had five points apiece for Syracuse against the Moose… The Crunch did not hold a lead at an intermission in any of their opening-round games, and scored nine of their 14 goals in the third period or OT… Toronto needed seven games to eliminate San Antonio in the division semis, capturing the decisive game on Monday via a last-minute goal by Bates BattagliaJohn Mitchell posted a team-high three goals (3-1-4) against the Rampage, while Kris Newbury, Ben Ondrus and Jiri Tlusty added four points apiece… Former Crunch forward David Ling scored six of his 17 regular-season goals vs. Syracuse.


Tim Sassone, Daily Herald
The Chicago Wolves have a potent power play and they showed it again Thursday night at Allstate Arena. Three power-play goals and more great goaltending by Ondrej Pavelec was the recipe the Wolves used to beat the Rockford IceHogs 4-1 in Game 1 of their Calder Cup playoff West Division final series. The Wolves had an astounding 22 power-play goals in 10 games against Rockford during the regular season and continued the dominance with goals from Joel Kwiatkowski, Darren Haydar and Brett Sterling. “I don’t know what it is,” Wolves coach John Anderson said. “It’s just one of those matchups that’s good for us. Conversely, they had some good chances on the power play, too, but our goalie came up big for us.”

Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizen’s Voice
Last Friday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were a juggernaut, eliminating the Hershey Bears from the playoffs with an arena-rocking flurry of power-play goals. On Thursday night, the Penguins got little going in the way of offense, gave up two goals to Stefan Ruzicka and were rolled 5-2 by the Philadelphia Phantoms in Game 1 of the East Division finals. The way coach Todd Richards sees it, the Penguins could have spent the last six days knitting doilies and sipping Earl Grey and the result would have been the same. “I think the layoff had something to do with our lack of legs and our energy,” Richards said. “We weren’t sharp at the beginning. I think we did try to create some energy but just weren’t able to.”

Mark Zwolinski,
Toronto Star
Jiri Tlusty scored a pair of nice goals in his first game back with the Marlies after the Maple Leafs’ season ended in early April. Tlusty was named the first star in that game – the fourth-last of the season – but now that he’s in the playoffs, the 20-year-old is experiencing what it’s like when grizzled veterans focus on a young star and keep him off the scoreboard. “I was a little worried about my scoring, yes, but it’s also important to help the team and play good defensively,” Tlusty said yesterday as the Marlies prepared for the opening game tonight of their second-round playoff matchup with the Syracuse Crunch at Ricoh Coliseum.

Lindsay Kramer, Syracuse Post-Standard
Deep down, buried way under a skin made of sandpaper and blood that runs ice cold, Toronto agitator David Ling has a desire to be liked. “At the end of the day, sometimes people don’t like you for doing it, when it’s just a game,” Ling said of his pot-stirring style. “You don’t want to go through life with all your peers hating you.” That’s real touchy-feely stuff, but don’t expect the Syracuse Crunch to be reaching for the tissue. Heading into tonight’s Game 1 of the North Division final series in Toronto, Ling remains the same divisive figure that he has been since breaking into the AHL in 1995.

Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun
Derrick Walser has no interest in giving the Syracuse Crunch ammunition. Just giving it to the Crunch, however, is another matter. The Marlies defenseman spent parts of four seasons with Syracuse when he was in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization and would love nothing more than to play a large role in the elimination of the Crunch in the second round of the American Hockey League playoffs. But Walser, whose Marlies open the best-of-seven North Division final tonight at home against Syracuse, took the high road. “I have nothing to say against them at all,” Walser said after practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena. “But there are no friends now. It’s that time of year where you would bury a friend to score a goal or save a goal. It’s all about winning.”

Paul Betit, Portland Press-Herald
The Portland Pirates have had five days to put their lost weekend in Rhode Island behind them – far behind them. The Providence Bruins made it look easy when they opened the Atlantic Division finals last weekend with two lopsided victories. At times the Bruins, the AHL’s best team in the regular season, looked like they should be playing for the Stanley Cup, not the Calder Cup. In the two games at Providence, the Bruins outscored the Pirates 11-1 and had a 73-47 edge in shots on goal. The Pirates are trying to put all of that out of their minds. “It was a frustrating weekend but at the same time, it’s the playoffs,” said Portland center Jason King. “We have to leave the last game behind us. You can’t change what happened.” The Pirates hope to bounce back at the Cumberland County Civic Center tonight when they meet the Bruins in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series.

Stephen Harris, Boston Herald
It may just be the finest hockey team in the world, outside of the NHL, is at work an hour south of Boston. The Providence Bruins delivered an unmatched American Hockey League regular season and, if anything, have gotten better during the playoffs with six consecutive post-season wins heading into Game 3 of their second-round series against the Portland Pirates tonight in Maine. “From the goalie, to out on top, we’ve got a great team here,” said Baby Bruins top scorer and AHL all-star Pascal Pelletier. “This is a good group of guys and we make things happen on the ice. You’ve got to give credit to (coach) Scott Gordon for putting a good system in place, and everybody is riding the boat the same way.”

Pete Dougherty,
Albany Times-Union
It felt like the last day of school. Members of the Albany River Rats arrived in small packs late Thursday morning at Times Union Center. Rather than cleaning out their desks, players were clearing out their lockers. An entire summer lies ahead, followed by the anticipation of gathering again in September for training camp in Raleigh, N.C. Well, at least many of them will be in Raleigh. Among these Rats are several unrestricted free agents – led by goaltender Mike Leighton, the backbone of this year’s team – who could be back in the organization, or may be wearing different colors next season. “It’s never fun saying goodbye to them,” Rats coach Tom Rowe said.

Brandon Dubinsky, who had 14 points (6-8-14) in 18 career Calder Cup Playoff games for Hartford, posted a goal and an assist as the N.Y. Rangers staved off elimination with a 3-0 win over Pittsburgh last night.

Mikael Samuelsson, who made his North American pro playoff debut in the AHL in 2001, scored twice as Detroit cruised to an 8-2 win over Colorado and earned a berth in the Western Conference finals.

– Goaltenders who have played in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring who also minded the crease in the AHL during the 2007-08 season: Montreal’s Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak (Hamilton), Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), San Jose’s Brian Boucher (Philadelphia) and Colorado’s Jose Theodore (Lake Erie).


May 2, 2003 – Trent Hunter scores with 21.4 seconds left in regulation to give Bridgeport a 3-2 win over Binghamton and even their conference semifinal series at 2-2.

May 2, 2000 – Roberto Luongo makes 38 saves in a losing effort as Providence completes a four-game sweep of Lowell with a 6-3 victory.

May 2, 1999 – Evgeni Nabokov’s 19-save shutout propels Kentucky into the second round with a 2-0 victory in a decisive Game 5 vs. Hershey.

May 2, 1995 – Donald Brashear records a hat trick to lead Fredericton to a 7-2 win over the P.E.I. Senators.

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