Every game day from now until the end of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the AHL Morning Skate takes 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.
TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE (all times ET):
Game 1 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
2011 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “A” (best-of-7)
A1-Portland Pirates vs. A3-Connecticut Whale || Series Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – Connecticut at Portland, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Connecticut at Portland, 7:00
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Portland at Connecticut, 6:00
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Portland at Connecticut, 7:00
*Game 5 – Thu., Apr. 21 – Connecticut at Portland, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Portland at Connecticut, 7:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Connecticut at Portland, 7:00
Atlantic Division Semifinal – Series “B” (best-of-7)
A2-Manchester Monarchs vs. E5-Binghamton Senators || Series Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Manchester at Binghamton, 5:05
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Manchester at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Manchester at Binghamton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Binghamton at Manchester, 7:00
East Division Semifinal – Series “C” (best-of-7)
E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E4-Norfolk Admirals || Series Preview
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:15
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – W-B/Scranton at Norfolk, 7:30
*Game 6 – Sat., Apr. 23 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Norfolk at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
East Division Semifinal – Series “D” (best-of-7)
E2-Hershey Bears vs. E3-Charlotte Checkers || Series Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – Charlotte at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Charlotte at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Hershey at Charlotte, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Charlotte at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Charlotte at Hershey, 7:00
North Division Semifinal – Series “E” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. W5-Oklahoma City Barons || Series Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 7:30
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 4:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Hamilton at Oklahoma City, 8:05
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 4:00
*Game 7 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Oklahoma City at Hamilton, 7:30
North Division Semifinal – Series “F” (best-of-7)
N2-Lake Erie Monsters vs. N3-Manitoba Moose || Series Preview
Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 12:00
Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 17 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 3:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Lake Erie at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Thu., Apr. 21 – Lake Erie at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Lake Erie at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 4:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 26 – Manitoba at Lake Erie, 7:00
West Division Semifinal – Series “G” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W4-Texas Stars || Series Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 14 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 16 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Milwaukee at Texas, 8:30
*Game 6 – Mon., Apr. 25 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Tue., Apr. 26 – Texas at Milwaukee, 8:00
West Division Semifinal – Series “H” (best-of-7)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. W3-Peoria Rivermen || Series Preview
Game 1 – Wed., Apr. 13 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
Game 2 – Fri., Apr. 15 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35
Game 3 – Mon., Apr. 18 – Houston at Peoria, 8:05
Game 4 – Tue., Apr. 19 – Houston at Peoria, 8:05
*Game 5 – Wed., Apr. 20 – Houston at Peoria, 8:05
*Game 6 – Fri., Apr. 22 – Peoria at Houston, 8:35
*Game 7 – Sun., Apr. 24 – Peoria at Houston, 5:05
*if necessary… All times Eastern
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 1 – Peoria at Houston, 8:05
Both back in the Calder Cup Playoffs after missing out in 2010, second-place Houston and third-place Peoria kick off their West Division semifinal tonight at Toyota Center… These teams are meeting in the first round for the third time in the last six years, with the Aeros prevailing in a four-game sweep (2006) and a seven-game marathon (2009)… Houston was just 2-5-1-0 through its first eight games of the 2010-11 season but collected points in nine of its next 10 outings (7-1-0-2) to climb into playoff contention for good… Aeros captain and former Rivermen forward Jon DiSalvatore led the team in goals (28) and points (61) while playing all 80 games; DiSalvatore’s career-high 28 goals marked the eighth consecutive season in which he scored at least 20… Former AHL rookie of the year Patrick O’Sullivan led the entire AHL in scoring after the All-Star break with 41 points (16-25-41) in 29 games… Houston rookie goaltender Matt Hackett, who assumed the bulk of the workload after Anton Khudobin was dealt to the Boston organization at the NHL trade deadline, finished 23-16-4 (2.37, .916) in 45 appearances overall and went 8-3-0 in his last 11 outings down the stretch… Peoria posted a 4-1-1-0 mark in April to secure a playoff spot and climb to third place in the West… Three-time AHL All-Star T.J. Hensick paced the Rivermen with 69 points (21-48-69) despite playing only 59 AHL games in between NHL recalls to the St. Louis Blues… Graham Mink, who netted a team-best 24 goals (24-26-50), is a two-time Calder Cup champion (2006, 2009) with the Hershey Bears… Peoria forward Nicholas Drazenovic closed the regular seasons by scoring a goal in three straight games (3-1-4) and six of his last eight (7-1-8)… The Rivermen finished in the AHL’s top 10 in both power play efficiency (19.5 percent – eighth) and penalty-killing efficiency (84.8 percent – sixth).
HUNGRY AEROS HAVE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS – Houston Chronicle
The Peoria Rivermen were built to win a Calder Cup championship. In the first three months of the season, they won games at an astonishing pace in the midst of what was shaping up as the best division in the history of the AHL. Through the first 10 days of January, the Rivermen were 25-10-1-2 and on top of the standings. That is right about the time when the Aeros were heating up, too. Now these two teams – for the third time in six years – will meet up in the first round of the AHL playoffs.
DIFFRERENT CAST FOR RIVERMEN-AEROS THIRD INSTALLMENT – Peoria Journal Star
Nearly all of them are long gone now from the terrific playoff series between the Peoria Rivermen and Houston Aeros in 2008-09. Yan Stastny and Trent Whitfield and Manny Legace, gone. Corey Locke and Krys Kolanos and Anton Khudobin on the Houston side, all gone. The Rivermen and Aeros will open Playoffs Part III on Wednesday when third-place Peoria visits second-place Houston for Game 1 of a best-of-7 West Division semifinal.
HE’S COME A LONG WAY, BABY – Hamilton Spectator
You can try all you want, but the closest you’re going to get him to admit to satisfaction at the way things played out with his old team is a brief silence before quickly offering a denial that comes across as absolutely believable. But Drew MacIntyre just isn’t the kind of guy to take perverse joy in the failure of those who had no faith in him. Nor does he boast about his own success in an I-told-you-so kind of way. It’s just not in his character.
CUNNEYWORTH NOT REALLY SURE WHAT TO EXPECT – Canadian Press
Hamilton Bulldogs coach Randy Cunneyworth admits he’s a little unsure about what to expect heading into the AHL playoffs. Hamilton meets the Oklahoma City Barons in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. But the Barons roster will be bolstered by the return of five players from the team’s NHL affiliate, the Edmonton Oilers, leaving Cunneyworth with more questions than answers regarding his first-round opponent.
BEARS HOPE EXPERIENCE MAKES DIFFERENCE IN THREE-PEAT BID – Intelligencer Journal
Brian Willsie played 381 games in the National Hockey League. He played 10 games in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That kind of experience is something the Hershey Bears did not have en route to the Calder Cup titles they captured over the last two seasons. Willsie’s presence and that of teammate Sheldon Souray, who has played 650 games in the NHL, give the Hershey Bears a basis of knowledge, experience and grit so valuable in the playoffs.
BEARS SET TO DEFEND, AGAIN – Lebanon Daily News
The last time the Hershey Bears took the ice in the Calder Cup playoffs, they were finishing off the Calder Cup Finals against the first-year Texas Stars. That was last June when the Bears raised their 11th Calder Cup in franchise history after defeating the Stars, four games to two. Fast forward about 10 months and the Bears are back in the playoffs for the sixth straight year.
IRON MAN OF MIND AND BODY – Portland Press Herald
Ask for a day off? Derek Whitmore wouldn’t hear of it. No bones were broken, no body parts twisted. No headaches and no double vision. No wife about to give birth to their first-born. Not yet, anyway. If he could skate, he could play hockey. He’s only 26 but an old-school guy who’d rather earn his pay and opportunities than ask Coach Kevin Dineen for the favor of a day of mental rest and physical relaxation.
STREET READY FOR FIRST TASTE OF PLAYOFFS – Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
The last time Ben Street suited up for a playoff series he was wearing a jersey with a gorilla on the front. That was back in 2005 when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins rookie was a member of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the British Columbia Hockey League. Now, with the Penguins set to open their best-of-seven series against the Norfolk Admirals this Friday at home, Street is anxious to experience the intensity that comes with facing the same opponent night after night in the postseason.
LIGHTWEIGHTS MUST RISE UP – Winnipeg Free Press
They are the silk of the Manitoba Moose roster, as opposed to the sandpaper. They are young, relatively inexperienced and have something else in common besides being the top prospects in the Vancouver Canucks organization: They’re lightweights. What will become of the Moose, who open their best-of-seven AHL North Division series with the Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday in Cleveland – when the rubber of their talented, undersized prospects meets the hard road of the post-season?
MOOSE STRONG BETWEEN PIPES – Winnipeg Sun
There is little question Eddie Lack will be between the pipes when the Manitoba Moose open the Calder Cup playoffs on Saturday. However, having a capable and experienced backup in Tyler Weiman is an asset Moose head coach Claude Noel won’t be afraid to lean on. “Tyler should be excited. He may have an opportunity to play, depending on what goes on,” Noel said after putting the Moose through the paces at the MTS Centre on Tuesday.
NHL VETERANS HELP ADMIRALS PREPARE FOR PLAYOFFS – Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
When it comes to experience, the Milwaukee Admirals have it. And they don’t. Two Admirals, center Steve Begin and defenseman Aaron Johnson, have played in 711 National Hockey League regular-season games. Eight of their teammates, however, recently have been added to the roster and have played in a combined total of 38 games in the American Hockey League. There also are five other rookies with the Admirals.
BACHMAN HOLDS UP IN FIRST AHL SEASON – Austin American Statesman
When Richard Bachman situates himself between the pipes as the Texas Stars’ rookie goalie Thursday night to start their second straight playoff run, he’ll reach back for some experience he first accumulated as a youngster in upstate New York. As a catcher. In truth, this smallish, native Coloradoan who might reach 6 feet in his skates loved baseball before he gravitated full-time to hockey.
PENGUINS FREE AGENTS TAKE TEAM INTO PLAYOFFS – Scranton Times Tribune
A week into July, it was already clear what the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins’ plan was for the 2010-11 season. On the second, they signed captain Ryan Craig. On the third, they added sniper Brett Sterling. On the seventh, it was puck-moving defensemen Andrew Hutchinson. The Big Three free agents were going to carry the team into Calder Cup contention. Eight months later, the plan has worked to perfection so far.
MONARCHS TURN TO VETERANS FOR PLAYOFFS – Union Leader
One year ago, Manchester Monarchs players such as Bud Holloway, Viatcheslav Voynov, Corey Elkins, Justin Azevedo and Dwight King had never played a single playoff game at the professional level. As the Monarchs prepare to open the postseason Thursday against Binghamton at 7 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena, those players are poised to lead the way.
SENATORS’ BUTLER, BRUST HAVE TIES TO PLAYOFF FOE – Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin
Manchester, New Hampshire, is an unfamiliar place for the Binghamton Senators. Over the course of more than 500 of their most recent games, the B-Sens have visited Verizon Wireless Arena five times. But when they travel there today to open a best-of-seven first-round Calder Cup playoff series against the Monarchs on Thursday, the six-hour drive will feel like a trip home for two B-Sens players.
MORE UPS THAN DOWNS FOR GREENING – St. John’s Telegram
Colin Greening was up and down between the AHL to the NHL all season, but finished strong with the Ottawa Senators and, all things considered, the St. John’s native was pleased his performance. “I never expected to be called up after training camp,” admitted the 25-year-old left-winger who scored six goals and picked up seven assists in 24 games with Ottawa.
CAPS TAP NEUVIRTH TO START IN NET – Associated Press
With no NHL playoff experience to speak of, Michal Neuvirth was left to tout his back-to-back titles with the Hershey Bears, the Capitals’ AHL affiliate. “It was a lot of pressure. The buildings were packed,” Neuvirth said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that much different between the two playoffs. Obviously, NHL is NHL. Down in Hershey there was a lot of pressure on us because everybody expected us to win. Same as here, everyone expects us to win, and I’ve got no problem with it.”
FROM CALDER TO STANLEY:
Fourteen of the 16 head coaches taking their teams to the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs previously served as a head coach in the American Hockey League, and five of those 14 men won a Calder Cup as a bench boss in the AHL: Washington’s Bruce Boudreau (Hershey, 2006); San Jose’s Todd McLellan (Houston, 2003); Philadelphia’s Peter Laviolette (Providence, 1999); the New York Rangers’ John Tortorella (Rochester, 1996) and Nashville’s Barry Trotz (Portland, 1994).
BY THE NUMBERS:
11 – Different Houston skaters who scored the Aeros’ 11 goals (excluding shootouts) in their six-game season series with Peoria in 2010-11.
April 13, 2003 – Craig Anderson makes 19 saves as Norfolk completes a three-game sweep of its conference quarterfinal series with a 3-1 win at San Antonio.
April 13, 2002 – Alain Nasreddine’s overtime goal gives Hamilton a 4-3 win at Quebec in Game 1 of their opening-round series.
April 13, 1987 – 19-year-old rookie Mike Keane scores 14:12 into overtime to give Sherbrooke a 3-2 win over Nova Scotia and a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round series.
April 13, 1956 – The Providence Reds win what would be their final Calder Cup, finishing up a four-game sweep of Cleveland with a 6-3 victory.
April 13, 1950 – The Indianapolis Capitals complete a perfect 8-0 postseason run with a 3-2 victory over Cleveland to win the Calder Cup.
Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2011 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.