Ramblings, Vol. 41

(Photo Credit: John Saraya // Lake Erie Monsters)
(Photo Credit: John Saraya // Lake Erie Monsters)

Welcome to a work week which will not feature hockey. I know, it is a very sad thing to think about. Back on Thursday night the Allen Americans won the Kelly Cup for a second consecutive season. Saturday night saw the Lake Erie Monsters win the Calder Cup in sweeping style. And last night the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup to finish off the 2015-16 season of pro hockey in North America.

~Calder Cup Champions~

When I was into full-on numbers crunching to determine when the Milwaukee Admirals could clinch the Central Division title I completely overlooked the Lake Erie Monsters in my calculations. I had the Grand Rapids Griffins and Rockford IceHogs on the brain. Makes sense given their successes during the season but that entire time the Monsters were building for a run. And what a run.

The Monsters road to Calder Cup glory saw the following: a first round sweep of the Rockford IceHogs, a six-game series against the Grand Rapids Griffins, a sweep of the defending Calder Cup champions the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference Finals, and a sweep of the Hershey Bears to win the Calder Cup.

It’s an overall playoff run of 15-2 with the only team to earn wins against the Monsters being the team that eliminated the Admirals in the opening round. The Griffins won back-to-back games while facing elimination after the Monsters jumped out to a 3-0 series lead. The Griffins won 5-4 at home in Game 4 and -shockingly- 6-1 in Cleveland in Game 5. The Monsters wouldn’t lose again. That final hot run of the Monsters, from the regular season to the finish line, was a record of 27-5-1-0 in their last 33 games of the 2015-16 season.

Where do this year’s Calder Cup champion Lake Erie Monsters rank among past winners? Let’s just look at the records and a few stats of the Calder Cup winners in the past ten-years.

2006, Hershey Bears: 21 games… 16-5 record… goal differential of +37 (84 GF, 47 GA)… 21.0 power play percentage (34/162)… 83.8 penalty killing percentage (124/148)… 428 penalty minutes… Top Scorer: Tomas Fleischmann, 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists)… Top Goalie: Frédéric Cassivi, 21 games, 2.10 goals against average, 0.931 save percentage, 4 shutouts…

2007, Hamilton Bulldogs: 22 games… 16-6 record… goal differential of +23 (69 GF, 46 GA)… 15.4 power play percentage (20/130)… 86.9 penalty killing percentage (113/130)… 375 penalty minutes… Top Scorer: Corey Locke, 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists)… Top Goalie: Carey Price, 22 games, 2.06 goals against average, 0.936 save percentage, 2 shutouts…

2008, Chicago Wolves: 24 games… 16-8 record… goal differential of +23 (80 GF, 57 GA)… 24.3 power play percentage (34/140)… 83.7 penalty killing percentage (118/141)… 514 penalty minutes… Top Scorer: Jason Krog, 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists)… Top Goalie: Ondrej Pavelec, 24 games, 2.34 goals against average, 0.921 save percentage, 2 shutouts…

2009, Hershey Bears: 22 games… 16-6 record… goal differential of +22 (69 GF, 47 GA)… 21.6 power play percentage (24/111)… 80.4 penalty killing percentage (82/102)… 288 penalty minutes… Top Scorer: Alexandre Giroux, 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists)… Top Goalie: Michal Neuvirth, 22 games, 1.92 goals against average, 0.932 save percentage, 4 shutouts…

2010, Hershey Bears: 21 games… 16-5 record… goal differential of +24 (75 GF, 51 GA)… 22.3 power play percentage (21/94)… 82.2 penalty killing percentage (74/90)… 302 penalty minutes… Top Scorer(s): Alexandre Giroux, 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists)… Chris Bourque, 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists)… Top Goalie: Michal Neuvirth, 18 games, 2.07 goals against average, 0.920 save percentage, 1 shutout…

2011, Binghamton Senators: 23 games… 16-7 record… goal differential of +22 (81 GF, 59 GA)… 22.0 power play percentage (24/109)… 83.0 penalty killing percentage (73/88)… 231 penalty minutes… Top Scorer: Ryan Potulny, 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists)… Top Goalie: Robin Lehner, 19 games, 2.10 goals against average, 0.939 save percentage, 3 shutouts…

2012, Norfolk Admirals: 18 games… 15-3 record… goal differential of +29 (59 GF, 30 GA)… 12.6 power play percentage (13/103)… 93.3 penalty killing percentage (97/104)… 353 penalty minutes… Top Scorer(s): Alexandre Picard, 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists)… Trevor Smith, 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists)… Top Goalie: Dustin Tokarski, 14 games, 1.46 goals against average, 0.944 save percentage, 3 shutouts…

2013, Grand Rapids Griffins: 24 games… 15-9 record… goal differential of +19 (80 GF, 61 GA)… 19.8 power play percentage (20/101)… 87.0 penalty killing percentage (94/108)… 350 penalty minutes… Top Scorer: Tomas Tatar, 21 points (16 goals, 5 assists)… Top Goalie: Petr Mrázek, 24 games, 2.31 goals against average, 0.916 save percentage, 4 shutouts…

2014, Texas Stars: 21 games… 15-6 record… goal differential of +19 (70 GF, 51 GA)… 15.9 power play percentage (14/88)… 84.9 penalty killing percentage (62/73)… 217 penalty minutes… Top Scorer: Travis Morin, 22 points (9 goals, 13 assists)… Top Goalie: Cristopher Nilstorp, 19 games, 2.17 goals against average, 0.919 save percentage, 1 shutout…

2015, Manchester Monarchs: 19 games… 15-4 record… goal differential of +23 (68 GF, 45 GA)… 17.1 power play percentage (12/70)… 79.4 penalty killing percentage (54/68)… 188 penalty minutes… Top Scorer(s): Michael Mersch, 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists)… Jordan Weal, 22 points (10 goals, 22 assists)… Top Goalie: Jean-François Bérubé, 17 games, 2.30 goals against average, 0.898 save percentage, 0 shutouts…

2016, Lake Erie Monsters: 17 games… 15-2 record… goal differential of +21 (59 GF, 38 GA)… 24.2 power play percentage (15/62)… 84.7 penalty killing percentage (50/59)… 165 penalty minutes… Top Scorer(s): Oliver Bjorkstrand, 16 points (10 goals, 6 assists)… Lukas Sedlak, 16 points (9 goals, 7 assists)… Top Goalie: Anton Forsberg, 10 games, 1.34 goals against average, 0.949 save percentage, 2 shutouts…

Would you rate this year’s Lake Erie Monsters as the best Calder Cup winning team in recent memory? I have to say, I felt as if that 2013-2014 Texas Stars team was explosive but didn’t necessarily have the dominating playoff run that went down this year by Lake Erie.

An end note. This season attendance in the AHL has done phenomenally well. Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals saw a crowd of 19,665 fans fill the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland to watch the Monsters clinch on home ice. For perspective, the NBA Finals are going on at the moment at that exact same building and LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers brought in 20,562 fans for their Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors. That’s the AHL Calder Cup Finals battling it out with the NBA Finals strongly. What an awesome turnout in Cleveland. And it put a great final stamp to the 2015-16 AHL season as it was the first season in league history to average 6,000 fans in attendance for the regular season and playoffs.

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