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AHL Weekly Release

WEEKLY RELEASE #27

AHL Standings || Scores and Schedules || League Leaders

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.News and notes from around the American Hockey League, where it’s do-or-die time:

THE HOME STRETCH … Seven of the 16 berths in the 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs remain unclaimed, setting the stage for a down-to-the-wire finish to the AHL’s 76th regular season on Sunday.

Nine clubs have secured their postseason invites while only four have been officially eliminated heading into the final week, leaving 17 teams to battle it out for the last seven spots.

Updated AHL standings
Calder Cup Playoffs qualification rules

Norfolk (107 points), which clinched the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the league’s regular-season champion on Apr. 6, will be the top seed in the Eastern Conference and have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. None of the other 15 seeds have been locked in yet.

Syracuse (80), 13-2-1-1 in its last 17 games, has built a three-point cushion in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, and Manchester (77) begins the week in the eighth spot, tied with Portland (77) but with a game in hand. Adirondack (76) is just one point out of eighth and Providence (75) is two back, but time is running out. The Crunch and Monarchs control their fates for the final two playoff bids in the East: Syracuse clinches a spot with four points over its last three games, and Manchester would get in by earning seven points in its last four.

The Northeast Division title is still up for grabs also, with Bridgeport (87) leading Connecticut (84) by three points with three games remaining. The Sound Tigers and Whale are on course for an intra-state showdown in the first round, as are Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (93) and Hershey (88).

Oklahoma City (95 points), Toronto (95) and Abbotsford (88) have locked up playoff spots in the Western Conference, although the Barons and Marlies will go the distance to determine the number-one seed. Chicago (86) can punch its ticket as early as Tuesday night, but there is a six-team logjam from fifth place to 10th with just one point separating them entering the week. Milwaukee (82), 7-1-0-2 in its last 10, hadn’t been in a playoff position since Jan. 27 before waking up Monday morning in fifth place, and the Admirals now control their destiny with four games on the schedule this week as they bid for a 10th consecutive postseason appearance.

Houston (82), San Antonio (81) and Charlotte (79) can also clinch playoff berths simply by taking care of business themselves, while Peoria (82), Lake Erie (82), Rochester (81) and Grand Rapids (75) all need wins plus outside help.

The 2012 Calder Cup Playoffs will begin next week with the best-of-five conference quarterfinal round. The conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will all be best-of-seven series.

FIT TO BE UNTIED … Following are the tiebreaking procedures used in the event of a tie in the standings following the completion of the regular season on Sunday:

Between two teams:
a) wins (excluding shootout wins)
b) points in season series between teams
c) goal differential
d) goals scored in season series between teams
e) intra-conference points percentage

Among three or more teams:
a) wins (excluding shootout wins)
b) points percentage in combined season series
c) goal differential
d) goal differential in combined season series
e) intra-conference points percentage

TWENTY-FIVE ALIVE … Norfolk completed the home portion of its 2011-12 regular-season schedule with 3-1 and 4-1 wins over Binghamton, extending their remarkable winning streaks to 25 games overall and 15 in a row at home heading into the final weekend of the season.

Already with far and away the longest winning streak in AHL history, Norfolk can turn its attention to a few more entries in the record book. Winners of 10 straight away from home with games remaining in Albany, Binghamton and Adirondack, the Admirals can match the AHL record for longest road winning streak (13), and they can also tie the AHL record of 28 road wins in a season with a three-game weekend sweep. Norfolk’s 25-game run is also within striking distance of the 64-year-old standard for longest undefeated/points streak; the Cleveland Barons went 21-0-6 over the final 27 games of the 1947-48 regular season.

During the streak, Norfolk has outscored its opponents 95-37, allowing two goals or fewer in 20 of the 25 games. The last 19 wins have all come in regulation, and the Admirals have trailed on the scoreboard for just 11 percent of the time (165:39 out of 1,505 minutes played).

QUICK HITS … Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Scott Munroe shut out Connecticut in all three of his starts against the Whale this season (2-0-1), stopping all 82 shots he faced… Will O’Neill and Danny Dries scored 15 seconds apart – the first professional goal for both – in a 5-2 St. John’s win over Portland on Apr. 3… Six different players have scored at least 20 goals for Peoria this season: Jonathan Cheechoo (25), Phil McRae (23), Derek Nesbitt (22), Adam Cracknell (21), T.J. Hensick (21) and the since-traded Brett Sterling (22)… Albany captain Stephen Gionta’s first career NHL goal was the game-winner in New Jersey’s 4-2 victory over Ottawa on Saturday… David Leggio has made 20 consecutive starts in goal for Rochester heading into the final week of the season… Darren Haydar bagged his 20th goal of the season for Chicago in a 3-0 win at Oklahoma City on Saturday, reaching that plateau for the ninth time in 10 AHL seasons… Including his 2-0-1 mark this season, Syracuse goaltender Igor Bobkov, a 2009 draft pick by Anaheim, is 4-0-1 in five career AHL appearances… Entering the final week of the season, Texas’s Matt Fraser (36) and fellow rookie Cory Conacher of Norfolk (35) were the top two goal-scorers in the AHL; since 1990, only one rookie (Brett Sterling, 2006-07) has led the AHL in goals in a season… With Riley Sheahan making his National Hockey League debut with Detroit on Saturday, the Grand Rapids Griffins have now sent 125 players to the NHL in the franchise’s 16-year history… All 30 AHL teams will be in action on Friday as the final weekend of the regular season kicks off.