AHL Morning Skate: May 6

Take a game-day spin around the AHL ice with latest news and notes from the Calder Cup Playoffs
in today’s Morning Skate.

Complete Schedule || Playoff Brackets || Today’s Scoreboard || League Leaders

Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live
@WBSPenguins | @MonarchsHockey | #MCHvsWBS

The Calder Cup conference semifinals get underway with three games tonight, including the opener between the Manchester Monarchs and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Verizon Wireless Arena… The Monarchs, the AHL’s regular-season points champions (50-17-6-3, 109 pts.), needed the full five games to get past Portland in the first round, finishing off the Pirates with a 5-3 win on Saturday night… The Penguins completed a three-game sweep of Syracuse last Wednesday… Manchester was 3-0 on home ice in the conference quarterfinals, scoring 16 goals in the three games, and has won nine in a row overall at home since a 3-0 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Mar. 7… Jordan Weal entered this postseason with no goals in eight career playoff contests, then scored five in the series vs. Portland (5-2-7)… Monarchs rookie Michael Mersch (5-3-8) leads the AHL in playoff scoring with eight points… Sean Backman added 1-5-6 in the first round, and regular-season league scoring champion Brian O’Neill tallied 3-2-5… Jean-Francois Berube (3-2, 3.00, .856) played the entire series in net for Manchester, which allowed only 104 shots on goal over the five games (20.8 avg.)… The Penguins led the AHL in both goals scored (4.67) and goals allowed (1.00) per game in the first round, outscoring Syracuse 14-3 over the three contests… Matt Murray (3-0, 1.00, .965) stopped 82 of 85 shots in the series… Rookie Conor Sheary (2-3-5), who had 6-5-11 in 15 playoff games last year when he joined the Penguins fresh out of UMass-Amherst, led the club in first-round scoring… Kasperi Kapanen (3-1-4), Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, netted a team-high three goals… Manchester won three of the four meetings between the teams in the regular season… The Penguins led the league in defense allowing 2.14 goals per game in the regular season; the Monarchs were second (2.32).

Eastern Conference Semifinals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
1-Manchester Monarchs vs. 4-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Wed., May 6 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 2 – Thu., May 7 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
Game 3 – Sat., May 9 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Mon., May 11 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Tue., May 12 – Manchester at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Fri., May 15 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sat., May 16 – W-B/Scranton at Manchester, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live
@WolfPackAHL | @TheHersheyBears | #HERvsHFD

Coming off a five-game series win over Providence, the Hartford Wolf Pack visit the Hershey Bears in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series tonight… While the Wolf Pack were needing overtime of Game 5 to eliminate the Bruins on Friday night, the Bears were becoming the first AHL team in 17 years to hit double digits in a playoff game in their 10-4 series-clinching victory over Worcester in Game 4… Cameron Schilling (2-3-5) tied for Hershey’s team scoring lead in the first round, and also tied for the league lead in plus/minus rating (+6)… Bears forwards Tim Kennedy (1-4-5), Casey Wellman (3-1-4) and Kris Newbury (0-3-3) are all former Wolf Pack skaters… Pheonix Copley (2-1, 2.12, .942) allowed seven goals on 121 shots in four appearances in the first round, while Philipp Grubauer (1-0, 3.00, .905) started Game 4 and became the fifth goaltender ever to win games in the Calder Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same postseason (see below)… Yann Danis (3-2, 1.39, .954) stopped 167 of 175 Providence shots in the first round for Hartford… Chris Mueller (2-1-3), a Calder Cup winner with Texas last year, scored two goals in the Wolf Pack’s Game 5 win, including the equalizer with 46 seconds left in regulation… Tommy Hughes (1-1-2) was the overtime hero in Game 5 after scoring just once in 42 regular-season outings this year… Wolf Pack scoring leader Chris Bourque (1-2-3) won three Calder Cups with the Bears and was MVP of the 2010 playoffs… Hershey won three of four from Hartford in the regular season, with the Wolf Pack starting a different goaltender in each of the four meetings.

Eastern Conference Semifinals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
2-Hershey Bears vs. 3-Hartford Wolf Pack
Game 1 – Wed., May 6 – Hartford at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Fri., May 8 – Hartford at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Sun., May 10 – Hershey vs. Hartford, 3:00 (at Worcester, Mass.)
Game 4 – Mon., May 11 – Hershey vs. Hartford, 7:00 (at Worcester, Mass.)
*Game 5 – Wed., May 13 – Hartford at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 6 – Fri., May 15 – Hershey at Hartford, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sun., May 17 – Hartford at Hershey, 5:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Game 1 – 7:00 ET, AHL Live
@GoIceHogs | @GriffinsHockey | #GRvsRFD

Grand Rapids became just the 11th team in AHL history to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games, finishing off the comeback with a 3-1 win over Toronto in Game 5 on Sunday… They advance to meet Rockford in the Western Conference semifinals beginning tonight at Van Andel Arena, where the Griffins have won 14 of their last 16… Teemu Pulkkinen scored a league-high six goals in the first round (6-0-6) and Andreas Athanasiou added 4-1-5 as the Griffins’ 19 goals in the first round were scored by just seven different skaters… Tyler Bertuzzi (2-1-3) scored the game-winners in Games 3 and 4, and Alden Hirschfeld (1-0-1) netted the decisive tally in Game 5… Tom McCollum (3-1, 3.27, .899) posted the first three playoff wins of his pro career in the series… Rockford swept Texas in three straight for its first series victory since 2008… Michael Leighton (3-0, 1.67, .955) allowed five goals on 111 shots in the series, and is now 12-8 with a 1.39 GAA and a .956 save percentage in 22 career Calder Cup Playoff appearances… Phillip Danault (2-2-4) led the first-round offense for the IceHogs, who saw nine different skaters scored their 11 goals in the series… Stephen Johns‘ series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 3 gives him three game-winning goals out of his five total scored this season… The IceHogs have won 20 of their last 26 games since Feb. 21, but three of the six losses have been to the Griffins… Grand Rapids led the AHL in scoring in the regular season, while Rockford was third in goals allowed… These teams split eight meetings in 2014-15.

Western Conference Semifinals – Series “L” (best-of-7)
2-Grand Rapids Griffins vs. 4-Rockford IceHogs

Game 1 – Wed., May 6 – Rockford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 2 – Fri., May 8 – Rockford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 13 – Grand Rapids at Rockford, 8:00
Game 4 – Thu., May 14 – Grand Rapids at Rockford, 8:00
*Game 5 – Sun., May 17 – Grand Rapids at Rockford, 5:00
*Game 6 – Tue., May 19 – Rockford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 20 – Rockford at Grand Rapids, 7:00
   *if necessary… All times Eastern

Offense, Defense, Special Teams
Regular-season ranks of this year’s eight conference semifinalists in goals scored, goals allowed, power-play success and penalty-killing efficiency:

E1-MCH 5 2 1 16
E2-HER T-12 4 9 1
E3-HFD 10 16 17 23
E4-WBS 15 1 14 17
W1-UTI 11 5 T-18 7
W2-GR 1 T-6 16 6
W4-RFD 9 3 15 8
W6-OKC T-7 15 10 5


Match Game
With Hershey taking on Hartford in the Calder Cup conference semifinals and Washington battling the New York Rangers in an Eastern Conference Second Round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is the first time since 2011 that AHL and NHL affiliates have played each other in a postseason series going on at the same time, and the ninth time since 1995:

2015 – Hershey vs. Hartford, Washington vs. N.Y. Rangers
2011 – W-B/Scranton vs. Norfolk, Pittsburgh vs. Tampa Bay
2009 – Hershey vs. W-B/Scranton, Washington vs. Pittsburgh
2008 – W-B/Scranton vs. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia
2002 – Bridgeport vs. St. John’s, N.Y. Islanders vs. Toronto
2001 – Philadelphia vs. Rochester, Philadelphia vs. Buffalo
1999 – Kentucky vs. Hershey, San Jose vs. Colorado
1995 – Albany vs. Providence, New Jersey vs. Boston
1995 – Cornwall vs. Binghamton, Quebec vs. N.Y. Rangers

Double Play
Philipp Grubauer last week became just the fifth goaltender ever to win games in the Calder Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same postseason:

2015 – Philipp Grubauer, Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals
2014 – John Gibson, Norfolk Admirals and Anaheim Ducks
1979 – Robbie Moore, Maine Mariners and Philadelphia Flyers
1939 – Bert Gardiner, Philadelphia Ramblers and New York Rangers
1937 – Earl Robertson, Pittsburgh Hornets and Detroit Red Wings

Working Overtime
There have been eight overtime games played in the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs so far… Home teams are 5-3:

May 1 – Chicago 4, UTICA 3 (Joel Edmundson, 2:19)
*May 1 – HARTFORD 3, Providence 2 (Tommy Hughes, 4:35)
*Apr. 29 – ROCKFORD 3, Texas 2 (Stephen Johns, 0:23)
*Apr. 29 – Oklahoma City 2, SAN ANTONIO 1 (Jujhar Khaira, 5:01)
Apr. 29 – UTICA 2, Chicago 1 (Darren Archibald, 10:58)
Apr. 26 – PROVIDENCE 2, Hartford 1 (Seth Griffith, 42:00)
Apr. 25 – OKLAHOMA CITY 4, San Antonio 3 (Connor Jones, 4:01)
Apr. 22 – Utica 3, CHICAGO 2 (Bobby Sanguinetti, 23:10)
  *series clincher

Alumni Watch
Mikael Backlund, who had 1-8-9 in 13 Calder Cup Playoff games with Abbotsford in 2010, scored his first career NHL playoff goal last night to give Calgary a 4-3 overtime victory over Anaheim in Game 3 of their Western Conference Second Round series… Corey Crawford made 30 saves in Chicago’s 1-0 win over Minnesota, giving the Blackhawks a 3-0 series lead.  
AHL Live
Don’t miss a second on the road to the 2015 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live brings AHL action to your desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet all season long with live video webcasts and free highlights of every AHL game… Visit ahllive.com for details.