It all comes down to Day 184.
The excitement of the American Hockey League’s 81st regular season comes right down to the finish line, with plenty still left to sort out heading into the final games tonight.
— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) April 15, 2017
Saturday’s complete AHL Playoff Primer with full clinching scenarios is here, but here’s a snapshot of the playoff picture:
Two playoff spots remain up for grabs, and six of the eight first-round matchups are still yet to be determined.
The St. John’s IceCaps host Toronto at 6 p.m. ET in control of their fate: a win and they grab the final playoff berth in the North Division. The IceCaps also clinch if the Utica Comets drop their game in Syracuse (7 p.m. ET) in regulation, or if St. John’s and Utica both earn a single point.
To earn that fourth and final spot themselves, the Comets need a win combined with an IceCaps loss, or a single point combined with St. John’s losing in regulation.
The North Division title is also on the line in those games, with the Toronto Marlies needing a point in St. John’s to secure their fifth division crown in six years. Failing that, the Marlies can still wrap up first place if the Syracuse Crunch lose to Utica. But a Crunch win coupled with a Marlies regulation loss would give Syracuse the top spot.
The Albany Devils have clinched a playoff spot, and need one point in their game against Rochester (5 p.m. ET) to lock up third place in the North.
In the Central Division, the defending Calder Cup champion Cleveland Monsters are in the clubhouse with 86 points, leaving the door open for the Charlotte Checkers to make the postseason. Charlotte needs a single point in its game at Chicago on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET) to punch its ticket; a regulation loss sends the Monsters into the playoffs.
The Central title is also at stake, with the Chicago Wolves needing a win over Charlotte or a regulation loss by the Grand Rapids Griffins in Milwaukee (7 p.m. ET), or overtime/shootout losses by both clubs. The Griffins need three points: either a win combined with a Wolves loss, or a single point combined with a regulation loss by Chicago.
The Milwaukee Admirals have secured third place in the Central and will meet either Chicago or Grand Rapids to open the playoffs.
Back in the Atlantic Division, the winner of the game between the Hershey Bears and the Providence Bruins (7 p.m. ET) will finish third and meet up with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the first round. The loser drops to fourth and gets the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
And in the Pacific Division, the San Jose Barracuda will clinch the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s regular-season champions with a win at Bakersfield (9 p.m. ET), or with a regulation loss by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton against Bridgeport (7:05 p.m. ET), or overtime/shootout losses by both clubs. The Penguins secure first overall with a win plus a Barracuda loss, or a point combined with a Barracuda regulation setback.
The only matchups locked in for the first round are the two Pacific Division semifinals. The San Diego Gulls and the Ontario Reign, who will close out the regular season tonight (10 p.m. ET) with their fourth head-to-head meeting in the last nine days, will collide in one series, and San Jose will face the Stockton Heat in the other. Both of those battles get underway on Friday, Apr. 21.
Full playoff schedules will be announced no later than at the conclusion of play tonight. The first round of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs will be a best-of-5 series, in either a 2-2-1 or a 2-3 format pending building availability. (If 2-3, the higher seed has the option of playing the first two or the last three games at home). Stay tuned to theahl.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates all day long.
Don’t get left out — Catch all of today’s climactic action on AHL Live, with coverage beginning with the first puck drop at 5 p.m. ET.