AHL Morning Skate: May 7, 2008

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.


PORTLAND 3, Providence 2 (POR leads, 3-2)

Toronto 8, SYRACUSE 2 (SYR leads, 2-1)


1. John Mitchell scored twice, added an assist, and posted a plus-5 rating as Toronto cruised to an 8-2 win at Syracuse, cutting their North Division final deficit to 2-1.

2. Jean-Sebastien Aubin stopped 30 shots in net for his seventh straight one-goal victory to help Portland over Providence, 3-2, giving the Pirates a 3-2 series lead.

3. Geoff Platt scored the eventual game-winner and chipped in an assist in Portland’s triumph.


Game 4 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00 (SYR leads, 2-1)

Game 4 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WBS leads, 2-1)

Game 4 – Chicago at Rockford, 8:05 (CHI leads, 2-1)


Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)

A1-Providence Bruins vs. A3-Portland Pirates || Preview

Game 1 – Sat., Apr. 26 – PROVIDENCE 4, Portland 0

Game 2 – Sun., Apr. 27 – PROVIDENCE 7, Portland 1

Game 3 – Fri., May 2 – PORTLAND 4, Providence 3 (OT)

Game 4 – Sun., May 4 – PORTLAND 3, Providence 2 (OT)

Game 5 – Tue., May 6 – PORTLAND 3, Providence 2

Game 6 – Fri., May 9 – Portland at Providence, 7:05

*Game 7 – Sat., May 10 – Portland at Providence, 7:05


East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)

E1-W-B/Scranton Penguins vs. E2-Philadelphia Phantoms || Preview

Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – Philadelphia 5, W-B/SCRANTON 2

Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – W-B/SCRANTON 5, Philadelphia 4 (OT)

Game 3 – Mon., May 5 – W-B/Scranton 3, PHILADELPHIA 2 (WC)

Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)

Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05

*Game 6 – Sat., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)

*Game 7 – Mon., May 12 – Philadelphia at W-B/Scranton, 7:05


North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)

N1-Toronto Marlies vs. N2-Syracuse Crunch || Preview

Game 1 – Fri., May 2 – Syracuse 5, TORONTO 1

Game 2 – Sun., May 4 – Syracuse 3, TORONTO 1

Game 3 – Tue., May 6 – Toronto 8, SYRACUSE 2

Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00

Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30

*Game 6 – Sat., May 10 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:30

*Game 7 – Mon., May 12 – Syracuse at Toronto, 7:30

West Division Finals – Series “L” (best-of-7)

W1-Chicago Wolves vs. W2-Rockford IceHogs || Preview

Game 1 – Thu., May 1 – CHICAGO 4, Rockford 1

Game 2 – Sat., May 3 – CHICAGO 7, Rockford 3

Game 3 – Sun., May 4 – ROCKFORD 3, Chicago 1

Game 4 – Wed., May 7 – Chicago at Rockford, 8:05

Game 5 – Fri., May 9 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:30

*Game 6 – Sun., May 11 – Chicago at Rockford, 5:05

*Game 7 – Tue., May 13 – Rockford at Chicago, 8:00


*if necessary… All times Eastern… (WC) – Wachovia Center

GAME NOTES (all times ET):

Game 4 – Toronto at Syracuse, 7:00 (SYR leads, 2-1)

TV: Leafs TV, Time Warner Cable

Fresh off an 8-2 victory last night, Toronto looks to even the North Division finals in this evening’s Game 4 at the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter in Syracuse… The visiting team has won the first three games of this series, and Toronto is 3-1 on the road thus far in the playoffs… The Marlies had combined for four goals in their previous four games prior to last night’s eight-goal explosion… John Mitchell led the way with two goals, an assist and a plus-5 rating, while David Ling, Jaime Sifers and Jiri Tlusty each had a goal and two helpers… Kris Newbury and Bates Battaglia netted a goal apiece, extending their scoring streaks to four games… Toronto went 3-for-9 on the power play in the victory… The eight goals were the most allowed by the Crunch all season, and the most scored by a visitor on Oncenter ice in nearly a decade, since a 14-2 win by Providence on Nov. 25, 1998… Goaltenders Karl Goehring and Adam Munro – making his first postseason appearance of the year – each surrendered four goals… Nate DiCasmirro and Joakim Lindstrom netted goals in the losing effort… Syracuse has not lost two straight games since Feb. 18-22.

Game 4 – W-B/Scranton at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WBS leads, 2-1)
Philadelphia looks to knot up the East Division finals tonight when it welcomes Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for Game 4 at the Wachovia Center… The Phantoms were 45.4 seconds away from taking a 2-0 series lead in Game 2, but eventually dropped that one in overtime and lost Game 3 by a 3-2 count on Monday to fall into a two-games-to-one deficit… After scoring four goals in the final 18:31 of Game 2, the Penguins scored three in the first 17:06 of Game 3, with Alain Nasreddine, Connor James and Alex Goligoski staking them to the 3-0 lead… Philadelphia attempted a third-period comeback, receiving tallies from Stefan Ruzicka and Jonathon Kalinski to pull within 3-2… The Penguins held on for the victory, as 2008 AHL All-Rookie goaltender John Curry made 22 saves for his sixth win in eight postseason outings… Ruzicka leads all scorers in the series with six points (3-3-6) for Philadelphia, while Kurtis McLean’s five points (1-4-5) paces the Penguins… 2008 AHL All-Rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski has a point in seven straight games (3-9-12) for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after going scoreless in the postseason opener, and his 12 points rank first among AHL rookies and blueliners… The Phantoms are 5-for-15 (33.3%) on the power play in the series after going just 3-for-35 (8.5%) in their opening-round win over Albany.

Game 4 – Chicago at Rockford, 8:05 (CHI leads, 2-1)
After two days off, Chicago and Rockford are back on the ice for Game 4 of the West Division finals tonight at the MetroCentre… The home team has won each of the first three games, most recently a 3-1 triumph by the IceHogs in Game 3 on Sunday… Second-year pro Kris Versteeg led Rockford’s offense with a goal and an assist in that game and shows a team-high four goals and eight points in the playoffs to date… Derek Nesbitt and Petri Kontiola also lit the lamp for the IceHogs in Game 3… Corey Crawford came within 1:16 of his first career playoff shutout before rookie Bryan Little tallied a power-play goal to put the Wolves on the board… The teams combined for 18 power plays in Game 3, as Chicago went 1-for-8 and Rockford 2-for-10… Wolves forward Darren Haydar has 49 career Calder Cup Playoff goals, just two back of Jody Gage for the all-time record… Five of Haydar’s six goals in this year’s playoffs have come on the power play… Thirteen of Chicago’s 18 goals against this postseason have come in the third period or overtime, and the Wolves have outscored opponents 10-1 in the first period.


The American Hockey League announced on Monday that XM Satellite Radio and XM Canada will be carrying three games from the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs this week on their all-hockey Home Ice XM 204 channel. XM, which has previously carried the 2006, 2007 and 2008 AHL All-Star Games and the 2006 and 2007 Calder Cup Finals as well as regular-season AHL action, is carrying Games 3 and 4 of the East Division Finals between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Philadelphia Phantoms, and Game 3 of the North Division Finals between the Toronto Marlies and the Syracuse Crunch.





Adam Kimelman, NHL.com

Minnesota may call itself “The State of Hockey,” but right now Pennsylvania is challenging that title. While the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins open the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday in Pittsburgh, the franchises’ American Hockey League affiliates, the Philadelphia Phantoms and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, are battling in the East Division final of the Calder Cup Playoffs. In the 2005 AHL playoffs, the Phantoms and Baby Penguins met in a taut, five-game East Division final. In all, 11 players and both coaches – Philadelphia’s John Stevens and Pittsburgh’s Michel Therrien – who took part in that Calder Cup series currently are with their respective NHL clubs. With that familiarity is going to come some major-league contempt.




Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star

Different coaches will use certain catch words to describe how they want their team to play. With Rockford IceHogs coach Mike Haviland, he settled on three in particular after Sunday’s 3-1 victory over the Chicago Wolves. “We’ve got to go in with the mindset that it’s got to be more of the same — the desperation, the sacrifice, (being) relentless,” Haviland said about tonight’s Game 4 at 7:05 at the MetroCentre, with Chicago leading the AHL West Division best-of-seven finals 2-1. “They’re all cliché words that we use in this sport. But when you play like that, you give yourself a chance to win. And they did all three (Sunday).” Mesh the three words together, and you have what Haviland calls “playoff hockey.”




Steve Solloway, Portland Press-Herald

Take a deep breath and relax? Bobby Ryan hasn’t had time. “Tomorrow,” he said, meaning Wednesday. “There’s no game.” But there’s still a playoff series. The Portland Pirates won again in the Atlantic Division finals. That’s three in a row for a hockey team that was supposed to be dead in the water. Three bite-your-lip, hold-your-breath games. For a team that seemingly has been skating uphill, the Pirates need one more victory to eliminate favored Providence from the AHL playoffs. The Bruins must win the last two games at home. Who would have thought it? “It’s been a whirlwind, I’ll tell you that,” Ryan said after his goal and assist helped beat the Bruins, 3-2. Twenty minutes after another modest but fanatic crowd cheered their heroes off the Cumberland County Civic Center ice, Ryan still sounded breathless.




Stephen Harris, Boston Herald

Ultimately, Providence Bruins coach Scott Gordon’s most important job is sending players up the road to Boston. Not counting center David Krejci, who started the season with the NHL Bruins, was demoted for 25 games, then returned to the parent club to stay, seven Providence players were called up to play at least one game in the big league. Forwards Petteri Nokelainen (56 games), Vladimir Sobotka (48), Pascal Pelletier (6) and Jeff Hoggan (1), defensemen Matt Lashoff (18) and Matt Hunwick (13), and goalie Tuukka Rask (4) all saw NHL action. Gordon wished there were more names on the list. “The thing that was unfortunate is that Noky and Vladdy went up and played so well that guys like Jeff Hoggan and Nate Thompson, who were probably deserving of an opportunity to be up, never got one,” Gordon said recently.




Tom Venesky, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

It’s not a surprise that Tim Brent, Kurtis McLean and Chris Minard are in the top 10 in the American Hockey League in playoff scoring. They are forwards, after all, and scoring is what they’re expected to do. But it is a bit of a surprise that Alex Goligoski, a defenseman, is second in the league among scoring leaders. Not that Goligoski hasn’t exhibited an offensive prowess during the regular season, but usually the top 10 slots among scoring leaders are occupied by forwards. Goligoski has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) for the Penguins in eight playoff games. His knack for getting involved in the offense has spread to his fellow blueliners in the postseason, as three of the Penguins top 10 playoff scorers are defenseman. “When they can chip in in the offensive zone – whether it’s a goal or a nice play that leads to a goal, it’s a great bonus for our team,” head coach Todd Richards said.




Jonathan Bombulie, The Citizen’s Voice

Can momentum carry over from game to game in a playoff series? That’s a loaded question for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins as they bring a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 of the East Division finals tonight at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. One on hand, the strong first period they had in Game 3 had to be at least somewhat related to their strong finish in Game 2 when they rallied from three goals down in the third period to win in overtime. Yet if the Penguins admit there was a correlation, they’re also admitting they could be in trouble in Game 4 tonight. After all, the Phantoms scored twice in the third period of Game 3 to turn a comfortable 3-0 lead for the Penguins into a nail-biting 3-