AHL Conference Finals Preview

Given up on the NHL playoffs yet? Don’t worry, the AHL still has plenty to offer with its Conference finals, especially for fans of the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks. All of their affiliates are in action over the next week and a half.

 

Western Conference

In the Western conference, the San Jose Barracuda will face the Grand Rapids Griffins with games starting in San Jose on Saturday 20th. This is unknown territory for the Barracuda who’ve never made it past the second round in this, or any of their previous incarnations.

San Jose beat the Stockton Heat in the first round 3-2 (first round is a best of five series) with some high scoring games. In the second round, best of seven, the Barracuda lost their opener to the San Diego Gulls in overtime but then won the next four to take the series and advance to the conference final.

The Grand Rapids Griffins are no strangers to the playoffs, having qualified for the last four, and winning the Calder Cup in 2013 under head coach Jeff Blashill. The Griffins, under Todd Nelson, have had an easier route to the conference final. They swept the Milwaukee Admirals in three games in the first round, although two of those games were decided in overtime.

The Griffins faced the Chicago Wolves in the second round and like their next opponents, won the series four games to one to advance.

Watch out for Ryan Carpenter and Tyler Bertuzzi. Carpenter has 13 points from seven goals and six assists, while Bertuzzi leads the Griffins with 10 points (five goals and five assists).

Schedule

Saturday May 20th. San Jose 18:00

Sunday May 21st. San Jose 17:00

Wednesday May 24th. Grand Rapids 19:00

Friday May 26th. Grand Rapids 19:00

Further games if required will be played on the 27th, 30th and 31st of May.

 

Eastern Conference

With game seven wins on Wednesday night, both the Providence Bruins and Syracuse Crunch punched their tickets to the Eastern conference final. The Bruins won the cup in 1999, but haven’t made it past the second round since then.

Both rounds played so far have gone to deciders. In the first round the Bruins traded wins with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins but won in five with two goals by rookie Danton Heinen. In the second round, the Hershey Bears put up a strong fight, leading the series twice. The Bruins however fought back and won games six and seven to tie and then win the series.

Their opponents the Syracuse Crunch lost their first playoff game against the St. John’s IceCaps but won games two, three and four to advance to the semi-final. There they met the Toronto Marlies and marched to a two game lead, including an 8-5 win in game two. The Marlies then tied the series before the two teams then traded wins. Syracuse won game seven comfortably with a 6-3 thrashing to keep the playoff dream alive.

The Crunch have made the cup final just once, losing out to Grand Rapids in 2013, so it’s possible we could see a replay of that final should results go the right way.

Keep an eye on Heinen, his 12 points (five goals, seven assists) lead the playoffs for rookies. Erik Condra has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) for the Crunch and is also one to watch.

Schedule

Friday May 19th. Providence 19:05

Sunday May 21st. Providence 19:05

Wednesday May 24th. Syracuse 19:00

Friday May 26th. Syracuse 19:00

Further games if required will be played on the 27th, 30th and 31st of May.

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