Calder Cup Playoffs: Western Conference Second round preview

Ah yes. We’ve reached that time of the playoffs when the second tier of the Calder Cup bracket is filled in and eight ousted teams call in their tee times at the local golf course. That’s right, people. We’ve reached the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

I know a lot of the Milwaukee fans have checked out of the post-season after the Admirals were eliminated by the Heat via a first round sweep (the pain is too great, I understand completely folks), but take comfort in the fact that your nemesis to the south was also knocked out of the playoffs.

With Chicago and Milwaukee making early exits, there are no teams representing the Midwest Division in the second round. Three of the advancing teams are from the West Division, including 1st seed Oklahoma City, 4th seed Abbotsford and 6th seed San Antonio. Second seed Toronto rounds out the Western Conference second round, and hails from the great white North Division.

Here is a quick look at the two series, as well as my prediction of who will advance. I’ve come to these conclusions after hours of quantified research, hundreds of pages of notes and countless sleepless nights… or perhaps its my lucky guesses after a morning cup of coffee…

Toronto (2) vs. Abbotsford (4)

How they got here? Toronto swept the North Division Rochester Americans (4-3, 4-3, 3-0), while Abbotsford, well… we don’t need to talk about it… but it was a sweep too… (6-2, 4-2, 4-2)

Scoring Standouts Heat forward Krys Kolanos tallied a whopping 8 points in three games, good for second among post-season AHL scorers. The Marlies are also represented in the top ten, with forward Jerry D’Amigo ranking seventh with 6 points.

Even Goaltending Toronto and Abbotsford have a goaltender in the top five, ranking 3rd and 4th respectively. Marlies goaltender Ben Scrivens and Heat goaltender Danny Taylor both have a 2.00 GAA.

Advantage Maybe its because I witnessed the number they did on the Admirals in person, but I’ve got to give the advantage to the Heat. The Kolanos line is a force to be reckoned with, and people like Greg Nemisz, Ben Walter and Clay Wilson have lit up the scoring stats as well. Danny Taylor’s not so bad either…

Prediction Abbotsford in 6

Oklahoma City (1) vs. San Antonio (6)

How they got here? Oklahoma City took their series against Houston in four games (5-0, 4-1, 0-1,5-2), while San Antonio took game five against Chicago to earn their spot in the second round (5-4, 4-3, 2-3, 1-3, 3-2)

Scoring Standouts San Antonio forward Jon Matsumoto leads the league in post-season points with 9 (3g-6a). No one from the Oklahoma City roster made the top ten, in fact, no one shows up until 18th with forward Mark Arcobello with 5 points (1g-4a).

Goaltending Matchup Oklahoma boasts one of the best goaltenders in the league in Yann Danis. Danis was ranked 2nd overall amongst AHL goaltenders during the regular season, and holds the 2nd position during the post-season with an impressive .924 GAA. Former Admiral Dov Grumet-Morris ranks 5th in the post-season with .892 GAA, but only  played in two games during the first round. Grumet-Morris played for Milwaukee during the 2007-2008 season.

Advantage Oklahoma had an outstanding regular season and is clearly a top contender for the cup this year. But there is something about San Antonio that makes me want to give them a slight advantage in my prediction. Then again, you can’t argue with the superb goaltending of Yann Danis.

Prediction San Antonio in 7

There you have it folks, my predictions for the Western Conference second round. And it didn’t even take an entire cup of coffee to get through. So tell me, what are your thoughts on the second round? I predict two upsets…


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