It’s the stretch run of the American Hockey League season and that means we are fast approaching the AHL playoffs. Last night two teams came closer to their Calder Cup goals as the Providence Bruins and Hartford Wolfpack clinched spots in the eastern conference playoffs.
The two New England clubs are the fifth and sixth teams to clinch the playoffs in the east and there are now two spots up for grabs. The Bruins clinched after defeating the Worcester Sharks 5-1 and the Wolfpack topped the Springfield Falcons 5-0.
Currently Worcester holds the seventh seed for the eastern conference with 86 points, just one behind the Falcons. The Sharks can clinch a playoff spot tonight with just one point in their game against Providence or losses by both Springfield and Albany.
The Portland Pirates hold the eighth seed with 83 points, two ahead of the Falcons on the outside looking in. The Pirates can clinch tonight if they defeat the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins along with losses for Springfield and the Albany Devils.
Albany has 77 points and are fighting for that eighth seed, but it doesn’t look good unless they have a plethora of luck down the stretch.
Meanwhile, the Manchester Monarchs need to defeat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and a loss for the Penguins to the St John’s IceCaps to clinch the #1 overall seed in the east.
In the western conference just four teams have clinched; San Antonio, Utica, Grand Rapids, and Rockford. The other four are up for grabs.
The Texas Stars need just one point tonight against the Hamilton Bulldogs to punch their ticket tonight. The Oklahoma City Barons also have a chance to clinch if they win in regulation against the Chicago Wolves, win in overtime along with an Adirondack, a loss and losses for Adirondack and Hamilton, or Hamilton and Adirondack losses.
Lastly, the Chicago Wolves have a chance if they win tonight against the Barons, and losses for Adirondack and Hamilton, or an overtime loss along with regulation losses for Adirondack and Hamilton.
Toronto and Milwaukee are tied for the last playoff seed in the west with 79 points, but have no chance to clinch this afternoon. Hamilton and Adirondack are in the thick of it but are long shots unless they can catch the current #8 seed Toronto Marlies.
Recently the Calgary Flames recalled several prospects from Adirondack, hurting their playoff chances. Toronto currently also has several players playing in the NHL tonight.