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AHL Weekly Release: Putting the final pieces in place


WEEKLY RELEASE #26

cc09-puzzle_300.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … A remarkable fight to the finish sees 10 teams still alive for the final six berths in the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs as the American Hockey League enters the final week of its 73rd regular season.

Updated AHL standings
Calder Cup Playoffs qualification rules

Philadelphia has injected itself back into the East Division race with a 10-2-0-2 record since Mar. 14, turning a 12-point deficit into one-point lead over Binghamton heading into the final week. Phantoms bench boss John Paddock, who has reached the Calder Cup Playoffs in each of his first 13 seasons as an AHL head coach, joined Philadelphia this season after six years in the Senators organization with Binghamton and Ottawa.

Atop the East, Hershey (104, 3 games remaining) leads Bridgeport (102, 2 GR) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (99, 4 GR), but the Penguins finish the regular season three home games against non-playoff teams (Norfolk twice, Albany) before visiting the Bears on Sunday evening.

Portland (84 points), Worcester (83) and Manchester (80) are battling for the last two spots in the Atlantic Division, with each club playing the other two over the final week. Hartford and Providence have already clinched playoff berths, with the Wolf Pack clinging to a two-point cushion in search of their first division title since 2004.

Toronto enters the home stretch with a one-point lead over Syracuse for fourth place in the North Division; the winner of that race will get Manitoba in the opening round of the playoffs, while Grand Rapids will square off with Hamilton in a match-up of teams who missed the postseason in 2008. The winner of this Friday’s Griffins-Bulldogs game will have the upper hand in the bid for home-ice advantage in their division semifinal series.

Rockford and Houston (84 points) are deadlocked for the final two slots in the West Division, with Quad City (79) still mathematically alive at five points back. The Flames, who host Rockford on Wednesday before finishing with two against Iowa, will need three wins this week and three regulation losses by either the IceHogs or the Aeros to qualify. First-place Milwaukee (103) has clinched its third division title in the last six years, and Peoria (88) will return to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 but is still trying to lock up home-ice advantage in the division semifinals.

The 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs will begin next week with 16 teams looking to capture the American Hockey League championship.

AHL Standings
(through games of Sunday, 4/5/09)

 AtlanticPtsWGRWed
4/8
Thu
4/9
Fri
4/10
Sat
4/11
Sun
4/12
xHartford94443@MCH @LOWSPR 
xProvidence92423@LOW @POR@WOR 
 Portland84373@WOR PRO@MCH 
 Worcester83403POR MCHPRO 

 Manchester80363HFD @WORPOR 
          
 EastPts
W
GR
Wed
4/8
Thu
4/9
Fri
4/10
Sat
4/11
Sun
4/12
xHershey104483  @PHIPHIWBS
xBridgeport102472  SPRLOW 
xW-B/Scranton99474NOR ALBNOR@HER
 Philadelphia90423@ALB HER@HER 

 Binghamton89403@SYR NOR@ALB 
          
 NorthPts
W
GR
Wed
4/8
Thu
4/9
Fri
4/10
Sat
4/11
Sun
4/12
yManitoba104493@HAM @TOR@LE 
xGrand Rapids98432  HAM@PEO 
xHamilton96463MTB @GR@TOR 
 Toronto86383RCH MTBHAM 

 Syracuse85393BNG @RCHRCH 
          
 WestPts
W
GR
Wed
4/8
Thu
4/9
Fri
4/10
Sat
4/11
Sun
4/12
yMilwaukee103472@PEO CHI  
xPeoria88423MIL @RFDGR 
 Rockford84393@QC PEO@CHI 
 Houston84373  SA@SASA

 Quad City79333RFD IOW@IOW 

x-clinched playoff berth
y-clinched division title

Links
AHL standings
Scores and schedules
League leaders

TIEBREAKERS … Following are the tiebreaking procedures used in the event of a tie in the standings following the completion of the regular season on Sunday. When a tie among three or more teams is broken resulting in a two-team tie, the original tiebreaking method is used.

Between two teams:
a) wins
b) points in season series between teams
c) goal differential
d) goals scored in season series between teams
e) intra-conference points percentage

Among three or more teams:
a) wins
b) points percentage in combined season series
c) goal differential
d) goal differential in combined season series
e) intra-conference points percentage

SAYING THANKS … Prior to Friday night’s game at Scope Arena, the Norfolk Admirals recognized the doctors, trainers and emergency medical personnel whose quick action helped save the life of AHL referee Chris Cozzan on Mar. 27. Cozzan was accidentally cut in the neck by a skate blade during the Admirals’ game against Grand Rapids.

“My wife Cathy, son Chris and daughter Amelie, we are all very grateful,” said Cozzan in a statement read to the Scope crowd. “Very simply, you saved my life and there are not words that I can say or express that will do justice to that very fact.”

PENALTY SHOT DRAMAThomas Greiss preserved Worcester’s critical 3-2 win at Manchester on Saturday by denying Monarchs forward Matt Moulson’s penalty shot attempt at 19:54 of the third period. It marked the first time that a penalty shot had been awarded in the final minute of regulation of an AHL game since Feb. 10, 2007, when Peoria’s Jason Bacashihua stopped Houston’s Danny Irmen with 2.2 seconds left to seal a 4-3 victory.

Greiss has always been successful in one-on-one situations, stopping 13 of 18 shootout tries (72.2 percent) this season and 57 of 67 (85.0 percent) for his AHL career. He had faced one prior penalty shot attempt in three years with the Sharks and turned away Hartford’s Lauri Korpikoski on Mar. 9, 2007.

ETC.Alexandre Giroux now has 57 goals for Hershey, tied for the sixth-most ever in a single AHL season… Peoria’s Manny Legace went 3-0-0 with one shutout and stopped 77 of 78 shots (.987) last week as the Rivermen extended their winning streak to a season-high six games… Josh Tordjman returned from a month-long stay in the NHL and led San Antonio to consecutive shutout wins over Iowa… Rookie Brock Trotter set a Hamilton franchise record by scoring nine seconds into the Bulldogs’ 6-3 win over Grand Rapids on Friday… Drafted fourth overall by Los Angeles in 2007, defenseman Thomas Hickey has four points (1-3-4) in his first four professional games for Manchester… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is closing in on its fourth consecutive 100-point season, a feat never accomplished in the AHL… Milwaukee has topped 100 points for the fourth time in the last six seasons; Hershey has reached that plateau for the third time in the four years it has been affiliated with the NHL’s Washington Capitals… Bridgeport matched an AHL season high with five power-play goals in their 6-3 win over Albany on Sunday, becoming the fourth club to accomplish the feat in 2008-09… Syracuse has won 11 straight home games against Rochester since a 5-2 loss on Apr. 11, 2007… Binghamton heads into Wednesday’s game at Syracuse with a record of 22-5-3-1 outside the East Division… Since Christmas, Manitoba is 0-4-0-1 against Toronto but 28-10-0-5 against the rest of the league… With Chicago mathematically eliminated from postseason contention a year after Hamilton failed to qualify in 2008, the defending Calder Cup champion will miss the playoffs in successive seasons for the first time since 1963 (Springfield), 1964 (Buffalo) and 1965 (Cleveland).