Chirps from Center Ice

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

Calder Cup Playoff Preview — Eastern Conference

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Welcome back to the Calder Cup Playoff Previews. Yesterday we looked at the Western Conference. If you missed that, you can click here to go there direct.

Anyway, we are here in familiar territory with teams that the Penguins see on a pretty regular basis. In keeping with what I gave yesterday, I provide capsules on each team that made it this year.

Here we go…

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Albany Devils

Record: 40-23-5-8 // 93 pts., 2nd place Northeast Division (5 seed)

Power Play: 21st // 16.2%

Penalty Kill: 14th // 82.7%

Top 3 Scorers: Joe Whitney 22-31-53 / Kelly Zajac 12-32-44 / Mike Sislo 23-18-41

Overview: Devils hung around and were relevant all season. Defense is what got them here. Defense is what they are going to need in stopping St. John’s, who was the third highest scoring team in the AHL at 3.39 goals per game.

First Round Opponent: St. John’s IceCaps

Record vs. the IceCaps: Did not play.

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 20:1

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Binghamton Senators

Record: 44-24-3-5 // 96 pts., 1st place East Division (3 seed)

Power Play: 5th // 20.7%

Penalty Kill: 23rd // 80.6%

Top 3 Scorers: Mike Hoffman 30-37-67* / Stephane Da Costa 18-40-58 / Cole Schneider 20-34-54

Overview: Binghamton has been the best overall team in the East Division all season. This is a team that has excellent coaching, superb penalty killing (16 SHGF led the AHL) and is the highest scoring team in the AHL. You cannot make a mistake against this team.

First Round Opponent: Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Record vs. the Penguins: 5-3-0-0

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 8:1

* – Hoffman is on NHL recall

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Manchester Monarchs

Record: 48-19-3-6 // 105 pts., 1st place Atlantic Division (1 seed)

Power Play: 19th // 16.3%

Penalty Kill: 19th // 81.5%

Top 3 Scorers: Jordan Weal 23-47-70 / Linden Vey 14-34-48* / Brian O’Neill 26-21-47

Overview: Monarchs dominated the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference for months. Not an overly flashy team, but consistent on all levels and the results of a 1 seed show. Despite this, some have Manchester as a longshot Cup favorite.

First Round Opponent: Norfolk Admirals

Record vs. the Admirals: 2-2-0-0

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 10:1

* – Vey is on NHL recall

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Norfolk Admirals

Record: 40-26-3-7 // 90 pts., 3rd place East Division (8 seed)

Power Play: 22nd // 16%

Penalty Kill: 1st // 88.1%

Top 3 Scorers: Emerson Etem 24-30-54 / Andre Petersson 23-31-54 / Devante Smith-Pelly 27-16-43*

Overview: Admirals were up and down all season but never were a serious threat to the division title. Norfolk is here thanks to superb goaltending by John Gibson and in his absence, Brad Thiessen. Best penalty kill in the AHL too.

First Round Opponent: Manchester Monarchs

Record vs. the Monarchs: 2-2-0-0

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 25:1

* – Smith-Pelly is on NHL recall

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Providence Bruins

Record: 40-25-2-9 // 91 pts., 3rd place Atlantic Division (7 seed)

Power Play: 6th // 20.5%

Penalty Kill: 21st // 80.9%

Top 3 Scorers: Alexander Khokhlachev 21-36-57 / Seth Griffith 20-30-50 / Craig Cunningham 25-22-47

Overview: P-Bruins were led by rookies in Khokhlachev and Griffith all season long. Rookie G Malcolm Subban was in the top five amongst AHL goaltending leaders. Bruins are a dark horse whom are looking to atone the 0-3 blown series lead against Wilkes-Barre last year.

First Round Opponent: Springfield Falcons

Record vs. the Falcons: 4-5-0-1

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 20:1

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Springfield Falcons

Record: 47-23-1-5 // 100 pts., 1st place Northeast Division (2 seed)

Power Play: 12th // 18.8%

Penalty Kill: 2nd // 86.9%

Top 3 Scorers: Carter Camper 12-39-51 / Michael Chaput 19-26-45 / Sean Collins 16-25-41

Overview: Springfield couldn’t catch Manchester all season for tops in the East. Goalies Mike McKenna and Jeremy Smith split time in goal for the Falcons. Springfield is the fourth highest scoring team in the league, scoring 3.25 goals per game.

First Round Opponent: Providence Bruins

Record vs. the Bruins: 2-1-1-0

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 12:1

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St. John’s IceCaps

Record: 46-23-2-5 // 99 pts., 2nd place Atlantic Division (4 seed)

Power Play: 13th // 18.1%

Penalty Kill: 9th // 83.5%

Top 3 Scorers: Jason Jaffray 18-41-59 / Jerome Samson 27-29-56 / Andrew Gordon 23-33-56

Overview: St. John’s is led by future hall of famers in Jaffray, Samson and Gordon. Third highest scoring team in the AHL. Goaltending has been a bit of a carousel for the IceCaps, with four goaltenders appearing in 10 or more games.

First Round Opponent: Albany Devils

Record vs. the Devils: Did not play.

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 14:1

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Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Record: 42-26-3-5 // 92 pts., 2nd place East Division (6 seed)

Power Play: 28th // 13.7%

Penalty Kill: 13th // 83.1%

Top 3 Scorers: Tom Kostopoulos 22-25-47 / Nick Drazenovic 13-29-42 / Andrew Ebbett 13-27-40

Overview: Top defensive team in the League is back for the twelfth time in a row looking to ascend to the ultimate summit of a Calder Cup Championship. With things as wide open in the East with no clear cut number one team, Wilkes-Barre is as good as any other team if not better. Tepid power play needs to come alive. Team plays well with a lead vs. trailing.

First Round Opponent: Binghamton Senators

Record vs. the Senators: 3-3-1-1

Odds to win the Calder Cup: 12:1

So there you have it. I return tomorrow with my Series Preview for the Penguins and Senators and break it all down for you as well as offer my prediction.

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