Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Calder Cup Playoff Preview — Western Conference

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We are about 48 hours away from the first pucks hitting the ice in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs! Below, you will find the Western Conference Playoff Preview.

I try my best to offer up as much intelligent information / analysis on teams the Penguins and the rest of the Eastern Conference never play. If you are a fan of a Western Conference team and you find my capsules to be way off base, drop a line in comments.

Here goes nothing…

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Charlotte Checkers

Record: 42-26-4-4 // 92 pts. 2nd place South Division (4 seed)

Power Play: 5th // 20.2%

Penalty Kill: 3rd // 86.5%

Top 3 Scorers: Chris Terry 25-35-60 / Brett Sutter 19-29-48 / Zach Boychuk 23-20-43

Overview: Checkers are one of the few teams that have all three top scorers with the team. They boast sound special teams. This will be the Checkers’ first go at playoffs in the Western Conference.

First Round Opponent: Oklahoma City Barons

Record vs. the Barons: 4-4

Odds to win Calder Cup: 20:1

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Grand Rapids Griffins

Record: 42-26-4-4 // 92 pts., 1st place Midwest Division (3 seed)

Power Play: 9th // 18.5%

Penalty Kill: 29th // 80.3%

Top 3 Scorers: Gustav Nyquist* 23-37-60 / Tomas Tatar 23-26-49 / Landon Ferraro 24-23-47

Overview: Won one of the tightest divisions in hockey. Parent Detroit may miss NHL playoffs. If you don’t get the Griffins in Round 1, you may not get them.

First Round Opponent: Houston Aeros

Record vs. the Aeros: 4-2

Odds to win Calder Cup: 15:1

* – on NHL recall

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Houston Aeros

Record: 40-26-5-5 // 90 pts., 4th place South Division (6 seed)

Power Play: 7th // 19%

Penalty Kill: 18th // 82.6%

Top 3 Scorers: Justin Fontaine 23-33-56 / Jason Zucker 24-26-50 / Brian Connelly 5-34-39

Overview: Lame Duck Aeros are going to go all out and play with nothing to lose. Is probably one of the stronger lower seeds.

First Round Opponent: Grand Rapids Griffins

Record vs. the Griffins: 2-3-0-1

Odds to win Calder Cup: 70:1

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Milwaukee Admirals

Record: 41-28-4-3 // 89 pts., 2nd place Midwest Division (8 seed)

Power Play: 26th // 14.2%

Penalty Kill: 19th // 82.6%

Top 3 Scorers: Zach Hamill 19-25-44 / Taylor Beck* 11-30-41 / Austin Watson 20-17-37

Overview: The last team to get in the playoffs, the Milwaukee Admirals have made the playoffs for an eleventh consecutive season, tied with the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins as active leaders.

First Round Opponent: Texas Stars

Record vs. the Stars: 0-1-1-0

Odds to win Calder Cup: 75:1

* – Beck is on NHL recall

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Oklahoma City Barons

Record: 40-25-2-9 // 91 pts., 3rd place South Division (5 seed)

Power Play: 1st // 21.6%

Penalty Kill: 30th // 79.3%

Top 3 Scorers: Mark Arcobello 22-46-68 / Jordan Eberle* 25-26-51 / Justin Schultz* 18-30-48

Overview: Funfact: The Barons have the best power play and the worst penalty kill in the AHL.

First Round Opponent: Charlotte Checkers

Record vs. the Checkers: 4-3-1-0

Odds to win Calder Cup: 25:1

* – Eberle and Schultz played for the Barons during the NHL lockout

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Rochester Americans

Record: 43-29-3-1 // 90 pts., 2nd place North Division (7 seed)

Power Play: 4th // 20.3%

Penalty Kill: 2nd // 87%

Top 3 Scorers: Mark Mancari 22-39-61 / Kevin Porter* 15-29-44 / Johan Larsson 16-25-41

Overview: Bad draw for the Amerks in Round 1. They have had virtually no success against the Marlies.

First Round Opponent: Toronto Marlies

Record vs. the Marlies: 1-7-1-1

Odds to win Calder Cup: 100:1

* – Porter on NHL recall

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Texas Stars

Record: 43-22-5-6 // 97 pts., 1st place South Division (1 seed)

Power Play: 2nd // 20.9%

Penalty Kill: 22nd // 81.8%

Top 3 Scorers: Colton Sceviour 21-31-52 / Matt Fraser* 33-13-46 / Travis Morin 12-32-44

Overview: Stars are primed for another run at the Calder Cup Finals. Won the most competitive division in hockey. If they continue the pace set, will be skating for Calder in June.

First Round Opponent: Milwaukee Admirals

Record vs. the Admirals: 2-0

Odds to win Calder Cup: 7:1

* – Fraser on NHL recall

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Toronto Marlies

Record: 43-23-3-7 // 1st place North Division (2 seed)

Power Play: 19th // 16.4%

Penalty Kill: 15th // 83.1%

Top 3 Scorers: Ryan Hamilton* 30-18-48 / Joe Colborne* 14-28-42 / Keith Aucoin* 10-27-37

Overview: Defending Western Conference champions back looking for revenge. The Marlies dominated their division and their opponent in the first round, the Rochester Americans. Are the Texas Stars biggest challenge.

First Round Opponent: Rochester Americans

Record vs. the Amerks: 9-1

Odds to win Calder Cup: 12:1

* – all on NHL recall, Aucoin isn’t in the organization anymore (New York Islanders)

So there you have it. Hopefully I sound semi-intelligent here. I will have a better idea of what I am talking about tomorrow when I roll out the Eastern Conference Calder Cup Playoff Preview.

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