AHL Morning Skate: Remember us?

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.


HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 1 (HOU leads series, 2-1)

1. Anton Khudobin stopped 27 of 28 shots as Houston captured a 3-1 win over Milwaukee in Game 3 of the West Division Finals.

2. Matt Beaudoin tallied the game-winning goal on the power play early in the third period for Houston, which leads the series, 2-1.

3. Ryan Jones netted the Admirals’ lone goal late in the second period.

Game 4 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00 (MTB leads series, 3-0)
Game 3 – Hershey at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:05 (HER leads series, 2-0)
Game 2 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05 (PRO leads series, 1-0)

CC09rd2_160x600.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Atlantic Division Finals – Series “I” (best-of-7)
A2-Providence Bruins vs. A4-Worcester Sharks
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Game 1 – Tue., Apr. 28 – PROVIDENCE 3, Worcester 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Wed., May 6 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
Game 3 – Fri., May 8 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sat., May 9 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 5 – Mon., May 11 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 13 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05
*Game 7 – Thu., May 14 – Worcester at Providence, 7:05

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E3-W-B/Scranton Penguins
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Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – HERSHEY 5, W-B/Scranton 3
Game 2 – Sun., May 3 – HERSHEY 3, W-B/Scranton 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 6 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Fri., May 8 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00

North Division Finals – Series “K” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. N3-Grand Rapids Griffins
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Game 1 – Fri., May 1 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MANITOBA 2, Grand Rapids 1
Game 3 – Mon., May 4 – Manitoba 3, GRAND RAPIDS 1
Game 4 – Wed., May 6 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 5 – Fri., May 8 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – Grand Rapids at Manitoba, 8:30

West Division Finals – Series
“L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W3-Houston Aeros || Preview
Game 1 – Thu., Apr. 30 – Houston 2, MILWAUKEE 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 2 – MILWAUKEE 4, Houston 1
Game 3 – Tue., May 5 – HOUSTON 3, Milwaukee 1
Game 4 – Thu., May 7 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:05
Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Milwaukee at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Mon., May 11 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00
*Game 7 – Wed., May 13 – Houston at Milwaukee, 8:00

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Manitoba at Grand Rapids, 7:00 (MTB leads series, 3-0)
Manitoba can become the first team to advance to the conference finals tonight with another road win over Grand Rapids in Game 4 of the North Division Finals… The Moose have currently won a franchise-record six straight playoff games, and are going for their first-ever four-game sweep… Alexandre Bolduc, who netted the game-winning goal in Manitoba’s 3-1 Game 3 victory on Monday, shows five points (3-2-5) in the series and has found the back of the net in all three games… Jason Jaffray figured into all three Moose goals (1-2-3) on Monday and has matched a career high with his team-best six playoff goals (6-3-9)… Baz Bastien Award winner Cory Schneider has denied 71 of 74 shots (.959) by Grand Rapids through three games… Manitoba is 6-0 in the playoffs when it scores the game’s first goal… The Griffins are just 1-3 at home this postseason and are trying to avoid being swept for the third time since 2004… Rookie Francis Pare has two of Grand Rapids’ three goals in the series after scoring twice in two regular-season meetings with the Moose… Top playoff scorers Ville Leino (3-10-13), Darren Haydar (4-6-10) and Justin Abdelkader (6-2-8) remain without a point in the series… The teams are a combined 2-for-23 on the power play in the series (Grand Rapids 1-for-11, Manitoba 1-for-12)… Only two AHL teams (1960 Rochester Americans, 1989 Adirondack Red Wings) have successfully come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series; Griffins head coach Curt Fraser accomplished the feat coaching Orlando in the IHL in 1999.

Game 3 – Hershey at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:05 (HER leads series, 2-0)
Hershey brings its 6-0 postseason record into the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza tonight to battle Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 3 of the East Division Finals… This is the fifth playoff series all-time between these clubs; in each of the previous four occasions, one team won the first three games… Eight different players netted goals as the Bears captured 5-3 and 3-1 victories in the first two contests at Giant Center last weekend… Chris Bourque is Hershey’s scoring leader both in this series (1-2-3) and overall in the playoffs (1-7-8)… Rookies Oskar Osala and John Carlson joined 2006 Calder Cup champion Graham Mink with goals as part of Hershey’s Game 2 victory on Sunday… Carlson, a defensemen drafted in the first round by Washington in 2008, scored in his professional debut after tallying 76 points in 59 games for London (OHL) this year… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had the AHL’s top-ranked home power play in the first round (5-for-8, 62.5%), while Hershey boasted the league’s best road mark (4-for-12, 33.3%)… Defenseman Alex Goligoski netted the Penguins’ lone goal in the Game 2 loss… Pens rookies Nick Johnson (2-0-2), Dustin Jeffrey (0-2-2) and Reid Cashman (0-2-2) all show two points in the series… The Penguins outscored Hershey 18-6 in going 3-0 at Wachovia Arena in last year’s playoff meeting… Three of the 20 clubs in AHL history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 0-2 have been Wilkes-Barre/Scranton teams (2004, 2005 and 2006).

Game 2 – Providence at Worcester, 7:05 (PRO leads series, 1-0)
After seven days off to think about their series opener, Worcester and Providence re-start the Atlantic Division Finals tonight at the DCU Center… The P-Bruins jumped to a 2-0 lead in Game 1 a week ago Tuesday but needed an unassisted goal from captain Jeremy Reich at 6:19 of overtime to emerge with the 3-2 victory, their fifth win in a row dating back to their opening-round triumph over Portland… Three-time AHL All-Star Martin St. Pierre and rookie Brad Marchand each tallied a goal and an assist in the opener for Providence… St. Pierre paces the Bruins with seven points overall (2-5-7), and Marchand shows a team-high three goals (3-3-6)… B’s goaltender Tuukka Rask (5-1) leads the AHL in goals-against average (1.17) and save percentage (.957) while not surrendering more than two goals in any of his six playoff games… Rookie Jamie McGinn scored both of Worcester’s goals in Game 1 after taking a cross-country flight from San Jose, and first-year defenseman Jason Demers assisted on both markers… Including the regular season, McGinn shows eight goals in nine games against Providence… Riley Armstrong leads the Sharks with eight postseason points, all assists… The Bruins are 11-3 all-time in series when they take Game 1, but they lost the division finals in both 2007 and 2008 despite winning each opener… The Sharks went 3-0 at home during their division semifinal victory over Hartford and outscored the Wolf Pack by a 12-3 margin.


Rich Garven, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Most fans think of “two-way hockey” as forwards getting back on defense. With the Sharks, it also means defensemen getting involved in the offense. The Sharks have gotten some tangible offensive production from their blue-liners thus far in the playoffs, continuing a trend established during the regular season. “A lot of what we do is generated from the back,” said coach Roy Sommer, his Sharks looking to even their second-round series with Providence tonight in Game 2 at the DCU Center. “How they break out and how they join the rush. When they’re (involved) in our scoring, we’re at the top of our game offensively.”

Jim Donaldson, Providence Journal
Tom Cavanagh always has been a team player – from the time he was a kid, growing up in Warwick, playing youth hockey; as a two-time all-state selection at Toll Gate High; as a team captain in college at Harvard; and in his four seasons as a professional. Now it’s time he put himself first. He won’t do that, of course, as long as his Worcester Sharks are in the Calder Cup playoffs. But, after the season is over, and his contract expires at the end of June, he needs to think about what’s best for himself, not his team. Cavanagh is at a crossroads in his career.

Jonathan Bombulie, Citizens’ Voice
The ice gets crowded this time of year at Penguins practice. Between taxi squad players and amateur tryouts mingling with the regulars and injured players being put through their paces at one end of the ice, it can look like training camp before any cuts have been made. But even amid that collection of more than two dozen bodies, one absence can make news. Such was the case Tuesday when John Curry was not on the ice for practice at the Ice Box in Scranton. “Just bumps and bruises,” coach Todd Reirden said. “Been a long year for him. Days like today where there’s lots of shots, the best thought was to leave him off the ice.”

Dan Sernoffsky, Lebanon Daily News
Other than one playoff series, the Hershey Bears really haven’t won anything yet. Still, with one series victory behind them and an important two-game lead in their second series, the Bears have a good start on the goal they set for themselves when the puck first dropped in October. And there are some striking similarities between the Bears who will be taking the ice tonight in Wilkes-Barre for Game 3 and the team that won the Cup three years ago. “A lot of the guys on this team are character guys,” said Graham Mink. “Whether that takes us as far as it did remains to be seen but it’s a good group of guys.”

Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
In the four previous playoff series between the Hershey Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Game 3 has always been a pivot point. And each time, it’s pivoted toward a short series. For clubs that have been fierce East Division foes, it’s ironic that, aside from Game 1 situations, they’ve never been tied in a postseason series. One team or the other has always taken a 3-0 lead. Hershey did it in 2006 and 2007, and WBS did it in 2001 and 2008. In 2009, it is Hershey, up 2-0 in the best-of-seven, that is poised to take a 3-0 lead. Tonight’s Game 3 at Wachovia Arena will determine whether this is going to be another truncated affair.

Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
The Manitoba Moose have plenty of recent experience in dealing with stress in the playoffs, either from being behind or on the brink of elimination. Until this AHL North Division final, Manitoba had trailed in seven straight post-season encounters, though they eventually prevailed in three of them. So what does a team that’s used to such anxiety do now? How does it think in such an unfamiliar situation? The Moose have never in their history led a best-of-seven playoff series 3-0. For that matter, the last time the Moose played a playoff series that lasted less than six games was in 2005, when each of their three series that spring went either four or five games.

Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun
Never mind the debate of rest versus rust, the primary goal is to eliminate an opponent as quickly as possible. Thanks to another sound effort that translated into a 3-1 victory on Monday night in Grand Rapids, the Manitoba Moose have an opportunity to do something nobody thought was possible. With another win tonight, the Moose will sweep the best-of-7 series and advance to the Western Conference final for just the second time since joining the AHL in 2001-02. “You don’t want to let a team back up off the mat,” Moose head coach Scott Arniel said yesterday. “We want to keep momentum on our side and we want them to have doubt in their (minds).”

Michael Zuidema, Grand Rapids Press
The Grand Rapids Griffins have plenty of reasons to be frustrated. They have been held to one goal in three consecutive playoff games for the first time in franchise history. They cannot generate scoring chances on the power play. Their top line of Ville Leino, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Haydar recently was broken up because it has not scored since the first round. And now, the Griffins face the prospect of being swept in the playoffs. They trail the Manitoba Moose 3-0 in the North Division finals after Monday night’s 3-1 loss at Van Andel Arena.

Heather Galindo, Houston Chronicle
While inconsistency has been the hallmark of the Aeros in the regular season, they may have finally found a consistent way to virtually guarantee a win: Score the first goal and then hold the lead into the second period. The Aeros have won all but one playoff game in which they scored the first goal and all games in which they led going into the second period, and that formula held up Tuesday at Toyota Center. The Aeros scored first, held the lead and earned a 3-1 victory over the division champion Milwaukee Admirals to go up 2-1 in the West Division finals.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant
As Mary Lynn Gorman walked into the freshly painted locker room at St. Augustine School in Hartford’s South End, she paused and shook her head. “Wow,” said Gorman, a board member of the Hartford Wolf Pack Community Foundation Inc. “I mean, I can’t get over this place. You should have seen it before.” The boys locker room and changing facilities at the gymnasium of the 80-year-old school were in disrepair. But a $3,000 grant from the Wolf Pack Community Foundation enabled the school to renovate a facility used by students and neighborhood children.

Worcester Sharks forward Jamie McGinn steps into the AHL Chat Room to answer fans’ questions this Thursday, May 7… Visit theahl.com to submit questions for Jamie, and check back Thursday to see his responses.

Mason Raymond scored his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal and Alexander Edler posted two assists as Vancouver beat Chicago, 3-1, last night to grab a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal… Jonas Hiller turned in a 45-save performance to push Anaheim past Detroit by a 2-1 count, giving the Ducks a 2-1 series lead in the other West semifinal.

64.3 – Percentage of all AHL teams who have finished off a sweep after taking a 3-0 series lead… Only 40 of 112 teams all-time have managed to force even a Game 5.

14-24 – In 19 all-time best-of-seven series, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s record in Games 1-2 (.368).

40-25 – In 19 all-time best-of-seven series, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s record in Games 3-7 (.615).

May 6, 2008John Mitchell (2g, 1a), Jaime Sifers (1g, 2a) and Jiri Tlusty (1g, 2a) help Toronto to an 8-2 win at Syracuse in Game 3 of the teams’ North Division final series.

May 6, 2006 Jordin Tootoo nets a natural hat trick in Milwaukee’s 7-0 win over Houston in Game 2 of their West Division final.

May 6, 2004Derek Roy records two goals and an assist, Jason Pominville dishes out three assists and Ryan Miller makes 33 saves as Rochester downs Hamilton, 4-1, to take a 2-0 series lead in their North Division final.

May 6, 1980 – Darryl Sutter scores 6:01 into overtime, giving New Brunswick a 3-2 win over Maine in Game 6 and sending the Hawks into the Calder Cup Finals.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2009 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live continues to bring AHL action to your computer all postseason 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.