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Countdown to Opening NightOctober 16, 2021
76 days to go.
A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins
There are eight teams left in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. Sadly, the Penguins aren’t one of them. Of those that remain though, we are going to take a look at how they did and how they match up against their opponent.
Let’s start in the Western Conference first.
How the Barracuda got here: San Jose survived a scare in the Stockton Heat, beating the Heat in five games with a shorthanded goal and in overtime to boot.
How the Gulls got here: San Diego got past Ontario in five games but in the final game the Reign started their third string goaltender which went about as good as you’d expect, and San Diego advanced.
How they match up: Pretty evenly, actually with each team winning five over the other in the regular season.
Key player so far for San Jose: Ryan Carpenter, whose seven points in the postseason not only leads his San Jose side but the AHL Playoffs in whole. You know that the Gulls will be keying in on him this series.
Key player so far for San Diego: Jhonas Enroth’s 1.82 GAA and .945 SV% is impressive considering that the series with Ontario went the full five games.
Prediction: San Jose in seven. Perhaps the Heat exposed a flaw in the Barracuda that the Gulls can expose more and it’s San Diego that gets by, but I like the unfettered way that Roy Sommer’s group plays that has got them the Pacific Division and Western Conference Championships so far.
Note: This series started Wednesday and I tweeted my prediction a few hours before to preserve it. See below.
How the Wolves got here: Needed five games to get past the resurgent Charlotte Checkers in a series that was over in a week.
How the Griffins got here: The only unblemished team left, they swept away the Milwaukee Admirals in three games last round.
How they match up: The one matchup the Wolves did not want was Grand Rapids, who went 8-2 against Chicago in the regualar season.
Key player so far for Chicago: He’s the league MVP for a reason. Kenny Agostino.
Key player so far for Grand Rapids: Jared Coreau is unbeaten in net for the Griffins so far.
How the Crunch got here: Went down in Game 1 against the St. John’s IceCaps and pulled it from the brink in Game 2 down a pair of goals. Syracuse scored twice to tie it then won in double overtime to force it back to Syracuse tied 1-1. The Crunch would win Game 3 then Game 4 in overtime to advance.
How the Marlies got here: Same story, different verse for Toronto. Shutout in Game 1 by Albany, won Game 2 big to tie the series coming back to Toronto and won in one overtime in Game 3 and three overtimes in Game 4.
How they match up: Throw everything away in the regular season away with these two because it’s an entirely different group of Crunch players. This may be the most evenly matched series out of all the division finals games.
Key player so far for Syracuse: Matt Taormina was named Defenseman of the Year this past season and so far has lived up to the award. Four points so far for him.
Key player so far for Toronto: Taormina will probably be staring across at fellow blueliner Justin Holl, whose six points and +5 rating cannot go without notice.
Prediction: Syracuse in six. Crunch fans waited a long time for all the pieces to come home from Tampa Bay and now that they are, it’s Syracuse’s spot in the finals we think is theirs to lose. Toronto keeps in interesting, but goes out in six games.
The only one and two seeds not to advance with all the other one and two seeds was Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley, proving how tough the Atlantic Division really was.
How the Bears got here: Not by winning on home ice, that’s for sure. Hershey lost both games at Giant Center to Lehigh Valley in a series where the home team never won.
How the Bruins got here: They did not shock the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins, not by a long shot. That series was dangerously even and the Bruins took out the regular season champion Penguins in five games.
How they match up: Bruins went 3-3 against the Bears, with a win in the shootout.
Key player so far for Hershey: Stanislav Galiev is a point a playoff game player for the Bears and not someone first on your list of players to shutdown, but at the end of the night he is one you wish you did.
Key player so far for Providence: Zane McIntyre straight up stole Game 5 from the Penguins, stopping fifty shots.
Prediction: Each team took out a higher seed expected to advance over the other. But Zane McIntryre is going to continue to be a difference maker for his team and will stymie the Bears offense. Going Providence in six.
If you still have a team going in this, good luck.