Top seeds fall as first round concludes

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Eight teams finished the 2004-05 American Hockey League regular season with at least 100 points in the standings, the highest number in the AHL’s 69-year history. By the time the first round of the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs concluded on Sunday, only four were remaining.

The Manchester Monarchs and the Hartford Wolf Pack spent much of the season battling for first place, leaving the rest of the Atlantic Division in their wake. But a combined 101 wins and 216 points meant nothing as it will be the Lowell Lock Monsters and Providence Bruins advancing to the second round of the playoffs following six-game victories.

The Binghamton Senators rang up 106 points, were the AHL’s hottest team down the stretch in the regular season and appeared in control after winning the first two games of their East Division semifinal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. But the Penguins stunned the Senators – predicted by many to win the Eastern Conference – with four straight victories and will face the Philadelphia Phantoms in the next round.

And the Milwaukee Admirals had high hopes after registering 103 points in 2004-05, but a worthy Cincinnati Mighty Ducks team kept pace through six games, then got a goal from Mark Popovic with 12.9 seconds left in Game 7 to oust the defending Calder Cup champions. The Mighty Ducks will meet a rested Chicago Wolves in the West Division final after Chicago disposed of Houston in five games.

In the North Division, Rochester bounced back after having lost eight of its final 11 regular-season matches and swept through Hamilton in four straight, while Manitoba earned a split in St. John’s, then took three in a row in Winnipeg to eliminate the Maple Leafs in five.

DIVISION SEMIFINAL NOTES … Five of the eight first-round series were won by the lower seed (three third-place teams, two fourth-place teams)… Providence, Wilkes-Barre and Cincinnati each has a chance to join three other teams in AHL history in eliminating two 100-point teams in the same postseason… Cincinnati’s Game 7 win in Milwaukee was the only victory by the road team in that series… The Mighty Ducks became the 13th team in AHL history to win a series after trailing 3-1… Wilkes-Barre/Scranton had lost nine straight meetings with Binghamton before sweeping the last four… The Penguins are the 15th team in AHL history to come back from 0-2 down to win a best-of-seven series, and the second franchise (Adirondack, 1988-89) to accomplish the feat in back-to-back years… None of the AHL’s top five scorers in the regular season – Jason Spezza, Mike Cammalleri, David Ling, Kyle Wellwood and Simon Gamache – survived to see the second round… Ditto five of the top six goaltenders ranked by GAA… This will be the 14th consecutive season without a successful Calder Cup championship defense… Average attendance in the first round was 4,275 – up 23.1 percent from the division semifinal round in 2004, and the highest first-round average since 1998.

Complete 2005 Calder Cup Playoff schedule and results

Interactive 2005 playoff brackets

All times Eastern… *if necessary

Atlantic Division Final – Series “I”

Game 1 – Fri., May 6 – Providence at Lowell, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 7 – Providence at Lowell, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 11 – Providence at Lowell, 7:00
Game 4 – Fri., May 13 – Lowell at Providence, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 14 – Lowell at Providence, 7:05
*Game 6 – Mon., May 16 – Lowell at Providence, 7:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 17 – Providence at Lowell, 7:00

Regular Season Comparison
Goals for242211
Goals against190202
PP% (rank)15.4 (12)18.5 (4)
PK% (rank)87.0 (7)84.1 (17)

Calder Cup Playoff History
Record (games)10-1551-46
Record (series)2-411-9
OT record0-410-6
Calder Cup titles01 (1999)
Losing finalist00

2004-05 Regular Season Series
at LOW3-2-0-02-1-0-2
at PRO1-4-0-04-1-0-0
Power play6/54 (11.1%)8/44 (18.2%)
ScoringKobasew, 4+4=8
Zigomanis, 2+6=8
Bayda, 3+4=7
Boyes, 5+8=13
Hilbert, 8+4=12
Bergeron, 2+6=8
GoaltendingWard, 3-4-0, 2.31
Krahn, 1-2-0, 4.84
Toivonen, 4-1-0, 2.20
Madden, 2-1-0, 1.16

ResultsOct. 16PRO 4 at LOW 5 (SO)
Oct. 22LOW 2 at PRO 6
Nov. 27PRO 3 at LOW 1
Dec. 26LOW 2 at PRO 3
Jan. 9PRO 7 at LOW 8 (SO)
Feb. 23LOW 1 at PRO 2
Mar. 4PRO 2 at LOW 3
Mar. 18LOW 0 at PRO 2
Apr. 2PRO 3 at LOW 1
Apr. 8LOW 3 at PRO 1

Lowell and Providence meet up in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2000, when the Bruins swept the Lock Monsters in four straight… Lowell’s defeat of Hartford in the first round marked the franchise’s first-ever victory in a best-of-seven series… The Bruins have lost in regulation to the Lock Monsters only twice in 30 meetings over the last three seasons, and Lowell’s 3-1 win on Apr. 8 snapped a 14-game winless skid (0-13-1) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center… Andy Hilbert, the Bruins’ top scorer with 10 points in the first round against Manchester, has 28 points (16g, 12a) in 28 career games against Lowell… Seven different Lock Monsters scored a power-play goal in the Hartford series… Cam Ward had a 2.02 GAA and .936 save percentage in the first round for Lowell, nearly identical to his regular-season numbers (1.99, .937).

East Division Final – Series “J”

Game 1 – Wed., May 4 – Wilkes-Barre at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 2 – Fri., May 6 – Wilkes-Barre at Philadelphia, 7:05 (WC)
Game 3 – Sat., May 7 – Philadelphia at Wilkes-Barre, 7:05
Game 4 – Tue., May 10 – Philadelphia at Wilkes-Barre, 7:05
*Game 5 – TBA – Wilkes-Barre at Philadelphia, TBA
*Game 6 – Sat., May 14 – Philadelphia at Wilkes-Barre, 7:05
*Game 7 – TBA – Wilkes-Barre at Philadelphia, TBA

Regular Season Comparison
Goals for235227
Goals against185219
PP% (rank)16.3 (9)14.6 (17)
PK% (rank)87.4 (5)82.9 (20)

Calder Cup Playoff History
Record (games)49-3532-25
Record (series)11-68-3
OT record9-711-8
Calder Cup titles1 (1998)0
Losing finalist02 (01-04)

2004-05 Regular Season Series
at PHI3-2-0-02-1-0-2
at WBS1-4-0-04-0-0-1
Power play7/46 (15.2%)11/61 (18.0%)
ScoringUmberger, 3+5=8
Sim, 5+2=7
Slaney, 3+4=7
Ouellet, 5+6=11
Murley, 4+6=10
Beech, 3+7=10
GoaltendingNiittymaki, 3-4-0, 2.99
Little, 1-2-0, 3.71
Fleury, 5-1-2, 2.79
Sabourin, 1-0-1, 1.85

ResultsNov. 12WBS 2 at PHI 3 (SO)
Dec. 1WBS 2 at PHI 3 (SO)
Dec. 11PHI 4 at WBS 6
Dec. 26PHI 3 at WBS 5
Jan. 8PHI 4 at WBS 3 (SO)
Feb. 5PHI 1 at WBS 4
Feb. 27WBS 3 at PHI 2
Mar. 5PHI 3 at WBS 4
Mar. 6WBS 4 at PHI 3
Apr. 3WBS 2 at PHI 4

Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre meet in the playoffs for the third time; the Penguins won each of the first two series, including the 2004 East Division final… Andy Chiodo, who did not face the Phantoms in 2004-05, stopped 110 of 113 shots (.973) over the final 13 periods in the Pens’ first-round win over Binghamton… Ryan Whitney has 15 points (15a) in 16 career games against Philadelphia, including the 2004 playoffs… Jeff Carter, who finished his junior career just last month, led the Phantoms with four goals in their first-round series… Antero Niittymaki owns a 1.88 GAA in 18 postseason outings for Philadelphia over the last two springs… Mark Murphy, in his first appearance of the series, netted the series-winner in Game 6 vs. Norfolk.

North Division Final – Series “K”

Game 1 – Wed., May 4 – Manitoba at Rochester, 7:05
Game 2 – Fri., May 6 – Manitoba at Rochester, 7:35
Game 3 – Mon., May 9 – Rochester at Manitoba, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., May 11 – Rochester at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., May 13 – Rochester at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sun., May 15 – Manitoba at Rochester, 6:05
*Game 7 – Tue., May 17 – Manitoba at Rochester, 7:05

Regular Season Comparison
Goals for243243
Goals against208210
PP% (rank)18.9 (2)18.0 (5)
PK% (rank)85.9 (10)83.9 (18)

Calder Cup Playoff History
Record (games)204-17815-11
Record (series)44-324-2
OT record29-363-1
Calder Cup titles6
Losing finalist10

2004-05 Regular Season Series
at ROC0-1-1-02-0-0-0
at MTB2-0-0-00-1-1-0
Power play8/24 (33.3%)4/23 (17.4%)
ScoringPominville, 1+6=7
Gaustad, 3+2=5
Taylor, 1+4=5
Sarno, 4+5=9
Goren, 3+4=7
King, 4+2=6
GoaltendingMiller, 1-2-0, 4.86
Askey, 1-0-0, 3.68
Flaherty, 2-0-0, 3.63
Auld, 0-2-0, 3.32

ResultsOct. 15MTB 7 at ROC 2
Oct. 29MTB 3 at ROC 2 (OT)
Mar. 5ROC 5 at MTB 4
Mar. 6Roc 5 at MTB 4 (OT)

League-leading Rochester lost eight of its last 11 games to end the regular season but pulled off a sweep of Hamilton, coming from behind to win all four games… Manitoba took three in a row at home to eliminate St. John’s in five games… Paul Gaustad scored four goals and Chris Taylor had seven points to lead the Americans’ offense in the first round… Lee Goren had five goals and a plus-6 rating for the Moose… Manitoba’s Wade Flaherty, who has won 11 of his last 12 playoff starts, was 4-1 (1.76, .950) in Milwaukee’s Western Conference Final series victory over Rochester last year… The Moose won twice in Rochester in October, part of the Americans’ 0-3-2-1 start to the season… The Amerks are 11-3 in 14 all-time playoff series against Canadian teams.

West Division Final – Series “L”

Game 1 – Wed., May 4 – Cincinnati at Chicago, 8:00
Game 2 – Sat., May 7 – Cincinnati at Chicago, 8:00
Game 3 – Mon., May 9 – Chicago at Cincinnati, 7:35
Game 4 – Wed., May 11 – Chicago at Cincinnati, 7:35
*Game 5 – Fri., May 13 – Cincinnati at Chicago, 8:30
*Game 6 – Sat., May 14 – Chicago at Cincinnati, 7:35
*Game 7 – Mon., May 16 – Cincinnati at Chicago, 8:00

Regular Season Comparison
Goals for245206
Goals against211191
PP% (rank)16.1 (10)14.1 (21)
PK% (rank)84.5 (14)85.9 (9)

Calder Cup Playoff History
Record (games)30-1911-15
Record (series)8-22-4
OT record6-42-5
Calder Cup titles1 (2002)0
Losing finalist00

2004-05 Regular Season Series
at CHI3-1-1-02-2-1-0
at CIN2-3-0-03-2-0-0
Power play5/54 (9.3%)11/80 (13.8%)
ScoringLarsen, 5+3=8
Vigier, 3+3=6
Santala, 1+5=6
Lupul, 4+6=10
Konopka, 1+7=8
Perrault, 2+5=7
GoaltendingLehtonen, 4-1-0, 1.78
Garnett, 1-2-0, 3.67
Cassivi, 4-3-0, 2.12
Bryzgalov, 1-2-0, 3.02

ResultsOct. 30CIN 4 at CHI 1
Nov. 19CHI 3 at CIN 4
Nov. 20CIN 0 at CHI 3
Dec. 15CIN 5 at CHI 4 (OT)
Jan. 22CHI 1 at CIN 6
Jan. 23CIN 2 at CHI 3 (OT)
Mar. 4CHI 2 at CIN 1
Mar. 18CHI 3 at CIN 2
Apr. 2CHI 1 at CIN 3
Apr. 6CIN 2 at CHI 3

Chicago had a relatively easy time with Houston in the first round, while Cincinnati battled Milwaukee for seven games… Ilya Bryzgalov took over between the pipes during Game 4 and backstopped the Mighty Ducks’ comeback from 3-1 down in the series… Cincinnati allowed only five even-strength goals to Milwaukee in the seven games… Cincinnati defenseman Mark Popovic scored one goal in 74 regular-season games, but had two in the first round, including the series-clincher in Game 7… Teammate Aaron Rome had two goals in 75 games, then scored twice Game 6 against Milwaukee… Kari Lehtonen stopped 138 of 145 shots in Chicago’s division semifinal against the Aeros… Cincinnati had Chicago on the brink of elimination in a 2002 qualifying series, but the Wolves rallied to win the series and eventually the Calder Cup.