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.
*Game 6 – Fri., May 23 – Portland at W-B/Scranton,
*Game 7 – Sat., May 24 – Portland at W-B/Scranton,
Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
W1-Chicago Wolves vs. N1-Toronto Marlies || Preview
Game 1 – Fri., May 16 – Toronto at Chicago,
Game 2 – Sun., May 18 – Toronto at Chicago,
Game 3 – Tue., May 20 – Chicago at Toronto,
Game 4 – Wed., May 21 – Chicago at Toronto,
*Game 5 – Fri., May 23 – Toronto at Chicago,
*Game 6 – Sun., May 25 – Chicago at Toronto,
*Game 7 – Tue., May 27 – Toronto at Chicago,
*if necessary… All times Eastern
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 1 – Toronto at Chicago,
TV: Leafs TV, Comcast Cable Chicago
The two division champions out of the Western Conference face off in the conference finals beginning tonight as Chicago hosts Toronto at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill... Each team earned its ticket to the third round by rallying for a seven-game victory in the division finals… The Marlies overcame a 3-1 series deficit to knock off Syracuse, and the Wolves came back from a 3-2 deficit to eliminate Rockford… Toronto is in the conference finals for the first time, while Chicago is making its second straight appearance and fourth in seven seasons as a member of the AHL… The squads split their two-game season series, including a 5-4 Wolves victory at Allstate on Jan. 12… Regular-season AHL MVP Jason Krog comes in with four goals in his last three games for the Wolves, and his 17 playoff points (4-13-17) are tied for the league lead… Darren Haydar’s 49 career Calder Cup Playoff goals are two shy of the all-time record held by AHL Hall of Famer Jody Gage… Rookie Ondrej Pavelec (8-5, 2.28, .925) stopped 38 of 39 shots in Chicago’s series-clinching 4-1 win over Rockford on Tuesday… Counterpart Scott Clemmensen (8-6, 2.74, .912) has backstopped his club to seven one-goal victories this playoff year… David Ling paced Toronto with 10 points (3-7-10) in the division finals against the Crunch… John Mitchell scored five goals in that series and is tied for second in the league with eight tallies overall (8-2-10)… Toronto’s roster features three Chicago-area natives in Bates Battaglia, Andy Wozniewski and injured forward Robbie Earl… Chicago boasts the AHL’s top postseason power play at 22.1 percent, including a 6-for-10 showing in Games 6 and 7 combined vs. Rockford… The Marlies ranked first in penalty killing (87.4%) during the regular season but have allowed 17 goals in 77 postseason chances (77.9%)… This is the 10th consecutive series that the Wolves have played in which they are the higher seed.
GRAPES’ PRAISE A BIG BOOST FOR MARLIE
Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star
Marlies defenseman Jay Harrison watched the Penguins-Flyers playoff game at home the other night with defensive partner Jaime Sifers. Fellow defenders Chris Harrington and Patrick Wellar provided a little company. Harrison’s wife, Jodean, and daughter Presley, were also enjoying another display of Pittsburgh’s dominance. Then in the first intermission, Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner came on and the attention of the hockey world turned to the Marlies – and specifically, Harrison. “We were just watching, then he (Cherry) said something about me,” Harrison said, referring to Cherry’s insistence that the Leafs should have the seven-year pro at the NHL level next season. “It was an honor to be drawn to his attention and hopefully it comes true one day.”
The Wolves are at full attention after receiving a wake-up call courtesy of the Rockford IceHogs. After the IceHogs extended their playoff series to seven games, the Wolves have turned their focus to the AHL’s Western Conference finals Friday night against the Toronto Marlies at Allstate Arena. The winner of the best-of-seven series will go to the Calder Cup finals. “It was a pretty good scare when we were down three [games] to two and we had to pull the last two out,” the Wolves’ Jason Krog said. “I think everyone’s a little bit hungrier and knows that you can’t afford to make mistakes or give a game away here and there and get behind … because your season is over. We’re playing a little bit safer and a little bit hungrier, focusing on every shift and every little play you have and every one-on-one battle.”
Forgive Tove Kronwall if she is not 100% thrilled that sons Niklas and Staffan are still playing hockey this late in May. Niklas is a win away from going to his first Stanley Cup final with the Detroit Red Wings and Staffan opens the AHL Western Conference final tonight in Chicago with the Toronto Marlies, eight wins shy of the Calder Cup. But that means a few more weeks of isolation in Stockholm, where Tove has lived alone since the boys’ father passed away a decade ago. “I’m sure she is happy for us, but a little heartbroken, too,” Staffan said yesterday as the Marlies headed for the airport. “We’ve been away a long time and haven’t seen her since she came over at Christmas. I’m usually home by now.”
Bobby Ryan got to go one-on-one twice Thursday night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goalie John Curry. It was two times too many for Curry and the Penguins. Ryan beat the rookie netminder both times to lead the Portland Pirates to a 3-2 win in Game 2 of the American Hockey League’s Eastern Conference finals. Ryan’s second goal, on a breakaway set up by defenseman Brian Salcido’s long outlet pass, gave the Pirates a 3-1 lead with less than five minutes to play. Nathan Smith scored his second goal of the game on a power play with less than three minutes left as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton fought hard to get back into the game. “It was a typical Portland game,” Pirates coach Kevin Dineen said. “We have to make it very interesting at the end. It would be very nice to be able to cruise through the last five minutes of a game, but that’s just not our way.”
Game 2 between the Portland Pirates and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins was an evolution. The first period was lackluster by both teams, by the second period the offenses opened up and in the third it looked like things would explode. But the Pirates, led by two goals from Bobby Ryan and another steady effort in net from J.S. Aubin, weathered a third-period barrage from the Penguins to win 3-2 and tie the Eastern Conference Finals series 1-1. The series shifts to Maine for Games 3-5 starting on Sunday. The Penguins started the game flat, managing only one shot on two power-play opportunities. For the first 18 minutes of the period, the Penguins only had two shots on net.
On June 23, the Pittsburgh Penguins traded center Stephen Dixon to the Anaheim Ducks for center Tim Brent. Eleven months later, all it took was one look at the Wachovia Arena ice to determine the trade, from an AHL perspective at least, worked out great for both sides. Brent is the top-line center for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, leading the AHL in scoring. Dixon is the second-line center for the Portland Pirates, working with talented wingers like Bobby Ryan, Geoff Platt and Drew Miller. The bottom line: Both teams involved in the swap are in the Eastern Conference finals. “Obviously Brent is doing great and I can’t complain, making it to the final four,” Dixon said. “Making it this deep, it’s new territory for a lot of guys. It’s definitely exciting.”
9-0 – Portland’s record this postseason in one-goal games… Portland was 22-11-5-4 in such games in the regular season.
0-4 – Portland’s record this postseason in games decided by more than one goal.
Joffrey Lupul netted a pair of goals and 2005 Calder Cup champion Jeff Carter and 1998 AHL All-Star Daniel Briere also scored as Philadelphia staved off elimination with a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh in Game 4 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals last night.
ON THIS DATE:
May 16, 2006 – Jiri Hudler records five assists as Grand Rapids erases a three-goal Game 7 deficit and earns a trip to the conference finals with a 5-4 win over Manitoba.
May 16, 1999 – Richard Park picks up five points (2g, 3a) and Dennis Bonvie adds a goal and two assists as the Philadelphia Phantoms rout Evgeni Nabokov and the Kentucky Thoroughblades, 9-3, in Game 7 of the Mid-Atlantic Division final.
May 16, 1998 – Martin St. Louis scores twice as Saint John downs Hartford, 5-4, in their conference final Game 1.
May 16, 1989 – Brent Fedyk’s hat trick helps the Adirondack Red Wings win their third Calder Cup of the 1980’s with a 10-7 victory over New Haven.
May 16, 1984 – The Maine Mariners defeat Rochester, 5-2, to capture their third Calder Cup title in seven years.
May 16, 1980 – Darryl Sutter nets the winning goal as New Brunswick staves off elimination with a 4-2 win over Hershey in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals.
ON THE AIR:
B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts of every AHL game… Visit theahl.com for details.