Well, the Penguins aren’t involved in this years playoffs, but that isn’t going to stop me from taking a stab at making some predictions as it pertains to the 2018-19 Calder Cup Playoffs.
But instead of going round by round, I am giving you the entire playoff preview from round one all the way to the Calder Cup Finals. Maybe I will come back sometime in June to see how right or how wrong I was. Here goes…
Charlotte vs. Providence: The Penguins would have faced off against the Checkers had they managed to usurp the Bruins. They didn’t, and it’s the Bruins that get the four spot. I can see Providence making it a game here and there, but the Checkers have been the overall best team in the AHL for months. Charlotte in four.
Bridgeport vs. Hershey: Calling the upset here. Bridgeport has at times struggled, but were better than the Bears in seeding for the sole reason that the Bears started the season in a hole with the way they were playing. Playoffs is all about momentum and Hershey certainly has it. They will, of course, have to steal at least one in Bridgeport which I think they will do. Hershey in five.
Rochester vs. Toronto: It’s hard for a team that won it last year to repeat the next season. I don’t see Toronto repeating no matter which way you look at it starting in the Western Conference, Charlotte or Syracuse. So fate would have it that the Marlies give the Americans a bit of a scare, but do not advance. Rochester in five.
Syracuse vs. Cleveland: I don’t want to say this, but Syracuse I would say is probably the most vulnerable division winner facing off against a four seed. I don’t see the same in the Central as much as I see it here in the North, but don’t let that fool you with my pick here. Crunch advance, just not as easily as one would think. Syracuse in five.
Charlotte vs. Hershey: Charlotte keeps rolling, but the Bears make it tougher on them. I really think that the winner of this series is bolstered by whichever NHL parent team goes out of the playoffs first. Since the Capitals and Hurricanes are currently in battle with one another and the odds factor the Caps advancing, so too I with the Checkers getting past Hershey. Charlotte in six.
Syracuse vs. Rochester: This is going to be a heavyweight battle for the ages. Every game could go to overtime and it very well may be a war of attrition. It’s the biggest toss up series that you will see in my opinion. Syracuse in seven.
Charlotte vs. Syracuse: Checkers, already battle tested and at full staff after having Carolina go out, make short work of a tired and weary Crunch team that emptied the tank in a war against Rochester. Switch it if you want if you think it’s the Amerks advancing, but Charlotte obliterates whoever comes out of the North regardless. Checkers in five.
Chicago vs. Grand Rapids: The Wolves qualified early while Grand Rapids sat on a magic number of one for weeks. I could go reverse momentum and pick the upset, but the Wolves are stout and are not trapped here by a lifeless Griffins side coming in. Chicago in four.
Milwaukee vs. Iowa: Admirals managed to finish second in the division because they finished a point better than the two other qualifiers in Iowa here and Grand Rapids. Iowa was good all season, stumbled at the end and righted the course. It’s probably the toughest series to call given the fact that the Admirals haven’t lost in fourteen straight coming in, but I like the Wild’s chances here nevertheless. Iowa in five.
Bakersfield vs. Colorado: Condors went on a long winning streak, surged to the pinnacle of the Pacific and stayed there when San Jose stumbled. Colorado made playoffs in their maiden voyage in the AHL. If this is a seven game series, I think that the Eagles have a better chance of stealing a few in Bakersfield and advancing. But the Condors advance in this short series. Bakersfield in five.
San Jose vs. San Diego: I think this is probably the most interesting AHL coaching matchup in the entire first round with the Barracuda’s Roy Sommer vs. Dallas Eakins and the San Diego Gulls. Sommer gets the best of Eakins on the guise of a more experienced team. Barracuda in four.
Chicago vs. Iowa: Could shape up to be a great series, but the Wolves exploit the flaws Iowa exhibited in the final weeks of the season and advance. Wolves in five.
Bakersfield vs. San Jose: The dream season ends for the Condors but they go down swinging and make the Barracuda work hard to advance. Barracuda in seven.
Chicago vs. San Jose: This far out, it’s harder to predict just with the unknown of the Western Conference vs. having a pulse over here in the East. Could see either team advancing, but going with my gut and selecting Chicago in six.
Calder Cup Finals
Charlotte vs. Chicago: So I went chalk and picked the top two teams in their respective conferences. You make the argument that the Western Conference was the tougher conference to play in given the fact that there were so many teams that were still in it on the final weekend. Hell, Manitoba won 39 games and didn’t make playoffs. That said, Charlotte carved up the East all season, but they didn’t see a team quite like the Wolves. Checkers steal game one or two at home, then Chicago wraps it up in Rosemont. Chicago in six.
That’s how I see it breaking. You?