The Calder Cup conference finals are set to kick off tonight as the final four and the best of the best of the AHL are set. The final four consist of the Toronto Marlies, Texas Stars, St. Johns Icecaps and Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins. The Marlies and Stars will kick off the Conference Finals with their game tonight.
Today we’re going to briefly break down the conference final match-ups.
Toronto Marlies Vs. Texas Stars
After two straight series sweeps to begin the Calder Cup, the Marlies have their first big challenge in the post season against the regular season champs. As good of the Marlies have been, they’ve also gotten pretty lucky and one has to think that luck will eventually run out. The Marlies go into this series 7-0 but are facing a team that was second in goals for during the regular season. Drew MacIntyre will have his work cut out for him and will need to be better than when these two met in the regular season and he spotted just a .908 save percentage.
Both MacIntyre and Christopher Nilstorp have been solid throughout the playoffs for their teams, however one has to crack at some point. Which goaltender blinks first and which team provides their netminder with scoring help?
The Stars have the added benefit of having the league’s best player on their roster with Travis Morin, however he only has 10 points in 9 playoff games.
The Marlies have been hot but the Stars were just as hot, if not hotter, to end the regular season with their 12-1-1 record. They’re 7-2 in the post season which isn’t too bad.
St. Johns Icecaps and Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins
Both these teams are coming into this series a little tired. The Penguins finished a 7 game series, while the Icecaps had a 6 game battle in their series.
The Icecaps have the edge in goaltending due to the hot play of Michael Hutchinson who is 7-3 with a 1.77 GAA and .941 SV%.
On offence Eric O’Dell is riding a league-high four-game goal streak and has six goals during that span. His seven goals are tied for second overall. While Penguins rookie Conor Sheary had five goals and three assists in the last series, collecting all eight points in the final six games. He has scored in two straight and three-of-four.
The key to this series will be scoring the first goal. The IceCaps have scored first in all but one game this postseason in which they’re 7-2. The Penguins have just two wins in five tries when their opponent gets on the board first.
The Calder Cup Conference finals will get underway on Friday night and after 8 wins, we’ll have the AHL’s final 2 teams!