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.
*if necessary… All times Eastern… (WC) – WachoviaCenter
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 6 – Chicago at Rockford, (RFD leads, 3-2)
TV: Comcast Cable Chicago
Rockford can advance to the Western Conference finals in its inaugural season today with a home-ice win over Chicago in Game 6 of the West Division finals… The IceHogs became the first road team to claim a victory in this series when they took Game 5 on Friday by a 5-1 final, their first win in eight visits to Allstate Arena this season… Troy Brouwer posted his second consecutive two-goal game to lead the IceHogs, giving him four goals and five points in the series… Three-time AHL All-Star Martin St. Pierre assisted on both of Brouwer’s tallies, giving him a team-high seven points (1-6-7) in this series and 12 points (2-10-12) for the playoffs… Jack Skille, Colin Fraser and Adam Berti also netted goals in the Game 5 victory, and Corey Crawford stopped 40 of 41 shots to earn the win… Crawford (7-3) leads all active goaltenders in both GAA (1.92) and save percentage (.935) in 10 postseason appearances, and has allowed a total of five goals in four home playoff games… AHL MVP Jason Krog tallied his first goal of the playoffs on Friday for the Wolves, giving him a team-high 13 points overall (1-12-13)… Darren Haydar has registered six points (6-0-6) in Chicago’s six playoff wins, and just one assist in its five losses… The Wolves’ power play is 2-for-20 (10.0%) in their last three games (all losses) after going 5-for-14 (35.7%) in Games 1 and 2 (both wins)… Chicago, which has lost six of seven visits to the MetroCentre this season, is 8-4 all-time when facing Calder Cup Playoff elimination… Rockford has scored 24 of its 27 playoff goals in the second and third periods; Chicago has allowed 24 of its 26 playoff goals after the first intermission.
ICEHOGS CAN CLOSE OUT SERIES
Reed Schreck, Rockford Register Star
Mike Haviland’s first words to his Rockford IceHogs after Friday’s first victory of the season at Allstate Arena were: A. “We’re going to Disneyland!” B. “I love you, man. You can all fly your mothers to the MetroCentre for Mother’s Day at my expense. Plus, a $10,000 bonus to each of you out of my pocket.” C. “All we did was set ourselves up. The toughest game is always closing out a team.” The players wouldn’t have minded hearing a or b, and Haviland might have felt that giddy. They obviously got c instead. “We’ve still got to play 60 minutes,” the IceHogs head coach said of today’s Game 6 against the Chicago Wolves, with the IceHogs getting first shot at clinching the AHL West Division best-of-seven finals by leading 3-2. “We haven’t won anything.”
Troy Brouwer couldn’t stick with the Blackhawks this season. He was called up from the Rockford IceHogs in January and lasted one game. The Hawks told him he had to improve his skating. Brouwer led the IceHogs with 35 goals during the regular season, and he got his first NHL point with an assist against St. Louis on March 23 in his second call-up by the Hawks. That opportunity was also just one game, though, so Brouwer’s play in the American Hockey League’s West Division championship series against the Wolves could go a long way in determining if he can make it with the Hawks next season. So far, Brouwer is making a strong case for himself.
The team that did nothing but win for the final five weeks of the regular season now can’t afford to lose. Such desperate circumstances have often brought the best hockey out of the Syracuse Crunch. It will have to again, or else the team’s season will be over. Twenty minutes away from the promised land of the AHL’s final four Saturday, the Crunch fell apart and allowed three third-period goals to Toronto and watched the Marlies skate off with a 3-2 win in Game 6 of the North Division finals series at the Onondaga County War Memorial. Toronto knotted the best-of-seven series at three games apiece by stinging the Crunch with goals from Peter Tsimikalis, Derrick Walser and Bates Battaglia in a span of less than eight minutes. The series returns to Toronto for Game 7 on Monday.
Bobby Ryan’s future prospects are looking brighter with each round that the Portland Pirates advance in the AHL playoffs. Nearly three years after the Anaheim Ducks made him the second overall pick in the NHL draft, right behind Sidney Crosby, Ryan is playing a major role in the Pirates’ drive for the second Calder Cup in their 15-year history. “You want him to play as much as possible,” said David McNab, the Ducks’ assistant general manager. “You want him to be in a situation where he is counted upon to be important. You want him to play games that are important.” The Pirates, who came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Providence Bruins in six games to capture the Atlantic Division title on Friday, will open a best-of-seven series Wednesday night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Wilkes-Barre, Pa. With five goals and six assists, Ryan shares the team scoring lead through Portland’s first 11 playoff games.
Just before the postseason opened, Dennis Bonvie stood in front of the crowd at Wachovia Arena and talked about Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s chances in the Calder Cup playoffs. “We’re going to do it,” Bonvie shouted into a microphone moments after the final game of the regular season for his Penguins, causing another roar from the home crowd. It wasn’t just a moment of false bravado by the retiring tough guy. The Penguins are halfway to claiming the Cup now, after dismantling a torrid-shooting Philadelphia team in the East Division Finals the same way they took apart Hershey in the first round of the playoffs. We are finding out just how self-certain the Penguins have become.
For all intents and purposes, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were finished. In Game 2 of the East Division finals against the Philadelphia Phantoms, in a span of 77 seconds, Boyd Kane scored twice and Lars Jonsson once to put the Penguins in a deep 4-1 hole late in the second period. The Penguins had already lost Game 1, and in the entire history of the AHL, only five teams had won a best-of-seven series after dropping the first two games at home. Stick a fork in them. The Penguins were done. But hockey games are always at least 60 minutes – sometimes more, but never less – and the Penguins weren’t quite finished after all.
HELM SURPRISE CONTRIBUTOR IN RED WINGS’ PLAYOFF MARCH
Neil Stevens, Canadian Press
The possibility that he might get his name etched on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Detroit Red Wings this spring blows Darren Helm’s mind. The 21-year-old forward from St. Andrews, Man., had never played an NHL game before March 13, yet, here he is strapping on the pads in the Western Conference final. “I didn’t think I’d be in this spot, so I’m pretty happy I’m here,” he said after pulling off his practice sweater and before unlacing his skates. While some Red Wings fans are still wondering who’s wearing No. 43, they were on their feet celebrating Helm’s first NHL goal Saturday night.
Darren Helm, who had 31 points in 67 AHL games for Grand Rapids this season, tallied his first career NHL goal last night off a feed from two-time AHL All-Star Jiri Hudler, and Detroit went on to a 2-1 win over Dallas to take a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals.
2005 AHL All-Star Eric Staal recorded four goals and added an assist and 1999 AHL All-Star Martin St. Louis chipped in five assists to pace Canada to a 10-1 win over Germany yesterday at the IIHF World Championships in Halifax… Alexander Semin, who made his professional playoff debut with AHL Portland in 2004, tallied a goal and an assist as Russia edged Sweden by a 3-2 count in Quebec City.
BY THE NUMBERS:
227 – Combined regular-season points earned by Providence (117) and Hartford (110), ranked first and third, respectively, in the AHL’s overall standings in 2007-08… The Portland Pirates (99 points in the regular season) defeated both on their way to reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.
ON THIS DATE:
May 11, 2007 – Tomas Fleischmann records five points (1g, 4a) and Alexandre Giroux scores his second overtime goal of the series as Hershey advances to the conference finals with a 7-6 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
May 11, 2003 – Raffi Torres, Michael Ryder and Jarret Stoll score and Francois Beauchemin records an assist to lead Hamilton to a 3-2 win over Manitoba in Game 7 of their North Division finals at Copps Coliseum.
May 11, 1997 – J.F. Labbe makes a franchise-record 62 saves and Blair Atcheynum scores 42 seconds into the third overtime period as Hershey staves off elimination with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia in Game 6 of their division final series.
May 11, 1993 – Despite being outshot 63-37, the Springfield Indians (25-41-14 in the regular season) get a goal and two assists from Michael Nylander and win the Northern Division finals with a 6-5 overtime win in Game 7 at Adirondack.
May 11, 1979 – The Maine Mariners win their second consecutive Calder Cup, wrapping up a four-game sweep with an 8-4 win over New Haven.
ON THE AIR:
B2 Networks brings AHL action to your computer all season long with live video webcasts of every AHL game… Visit theahl.com for details.