The math is simple for Milwaukee. The Admirals sit in first place in the West Division at 98 points, two points ahead of Houston, that only has one game remaining (Sunday against Oklahoma City). The Aeros and Lake Erie are the only two teams that can catch Milwaukee in the Western Conference and the only way either can is by winning out and having the Admirals not pick up a single point this weekend.
Therefore, all Milwaukee needs is one more point to clinch the West Division title and first place in the Western Conference outright. No matter what happens, the Admirals will have home ice for the first round of the AHL playoffs. This weekend Milwaukee hosts Texas and Grand Rapids, sandwiched around a road game at Peoria. With all the new faces joining the Admirals in the past two weeks, Milwaukee coach Lane Lambert will be looking to get that point out of the way against Texas so he can be creative with his lines over the weekend.
Below Milwaukee and Houston in the Western Conference lies Hamilton, Manitoba and Lake Erie. All five of those teams have clinched playoff spots. That leaves three places up for grabs going into the final weekend. Sitting with 90 points each, Texas and Peoria seem likely to get in, leaving one final berth that five clubs get to fight for.
Oklahoma City owns the inside track, sitting at 87 points with three games left, followed by Chicago (86, 3 GR), San Antonio (85, 3 GR), Abbotsford (84, 3 GR) and Grand Rapids (82, 3 GR).
Some huge games tonight should go a long way in sorting things out. On the playoff bubble, Oklahoma City is at San Antonio, while Peoria hosts Chicago. The loser of Abbotsford at Grand Rapids will likely see their season end, while Texas can essentially clinch with two points against Milwaukee. Lake Erie must win at Rockford to have any chance of catching the Admirals.
So enjoy the game tonight Admirals fans, but I would suggest keeping one eye on the out of town scoreboard while you watch.
So Roundtable, who makes the playoffs and who gets left out? (I think Texas, Peoria and Oklahoma City get in, leaving Chicago and San Antonio out–a complete change from my predictions last week)
Which team would you prefer Milwaukee face in the first round of the AHL playoffs?