This weekend capped off the opening round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. There were two game fives: (7) Providence Bruins vs. (2) Springfield Falcons – (7) Rochester Americans vs. (2) Chicago Wolves.
On Saturday the Bruins managed to pull off the upset of the Falcons by winning 6-3 on the road. Then the Wolves defeated the Amerks 4-2 in a series that saw neither team pick up consecutive wins. That means the second round playoff match ups will look like this:
Western Conference: (1) Texas Stars vs. (4) Grand Rapids Griffins, (2) Chicago Wolves vs. (3) Toronto Marlies.
Eastern Conference: (4) St. John’s IceCaps vs. (8) Norfolk Admirals, (6) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins vs. (7) Providence Bruins.
I don’t know about you guys but that Eastern Conference opening round sure was lethal! Every single division winner was eliminated in the first round. The Springfield Falcons went five games against the Providence Bruins. The Manchester Monarchs, who finished the regular season one point behind the Texas Stars for the best record in the entire AHL, wear defeated by the Norfolk Admirals in four games. And the Binghamton Senators lasted four games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before bowing out.
As four our lovely Western Conference – two of our divisional opponents made it through to the next round: Grand Rapids and Chicago. Each of the second round games from our Conference are going to be explosive. While I most want to see a Stars (offense) vs. Marlies (defense) West Final – it is still very much open. The Griffins will give the Stars a serious run for their money and I think the Wolves can play just as strong defensively as the Marlies.
The second round goes to a best-of-seven format, as it should be for all rounds, and here are my predictions: Texas in six games. Toronto in five games. St. John’s in seven games. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in five games.
Who do you think will make it to the AHL Conference Finals? How about all those opening round upsets out of the Eastern Conference? Do you already see a Calder Cup favorite from the second round?