TORONTO – With the 2019-20 AHL season officially cancelled as of May 11, Toronto Marlies correspondent Zack Power did a little hypothesizing, taking a stab at who he thinks would have advanced in the Calder Cup Playoffs from the AHL’s Eastern Conference.
In addition, we ran the second round through a digital simulation as well. Utilizing Playoff Mode on NHL 20, every series was simmed game-by-game for an another layer of postseason prediction.
(Seeding is based on teams’ position in the standings as of March 12. The second round on consists of best-of-seven series.)
(1) PROVIDENCE BRUINS vs. (2) HERSHEY BEARS
2019-20 Regular Season Series
PROVIDENCE PROS AND CONS
Pros: Though the power play has been less than ideal for the P-Bruins (ranking 26th overall), what has been stellar is their penalty kill. Ranking fourth in the league, Providence has been able to kill off more than 85% of their penalties. Additionally, the Bruins have been able to stock up the second most short-handed goals, providing 17 on the season.
Cons: In the Calder Cup Playoffs, resilience is key. For the Bruins, they can be labelled as one of the least-resilient teams in the AHL. When trailing after two periods, Providence has a 1-14-3 record, ahead of only San Antonio. This same downward spiral is evident when trailing after one,with Providence posting a 3-11-2 record.
HERSHEY PROS AND CONS
Pros: The Bears are on the top of many AHL leaderboards, but one of the most prestigious is their record when scoring first. The Bears have won 27 of 35 — 80% of those games — when finding the first mesh. Hershey also has the third-most first goals in the AHL.
Cons: For Hershey, who’s without home-ice advantage, one of their losing qualities is their goals for/against on the road. On the road, they have 86 GF and 82 GA. For a top-tier team going against one of the best in the league, the Bears need to be able to shut down Providence’s offence and solve their defence in the same breath.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best match-ups in the AHL. I said jokingly with my AHL Editor that, “There’s simply nothing wrong with these two teams.” That in mind, I believe both squads are going to give their opponent a run for their money. Seven games is the lucky number, and an overtime winner from Hershey will be the decision.
NHL 20 SERIES SIM – PROVIDENCE (1) vs. CHARLOTTE (3)
The Playstation 4 did not select the Hershey Bears to advance, instead opting for the Charlotte Checkers to meet the Providence Bruins in the Atlantic Division Final. Like Zack, NHL 20 also predicted this series to go the full seven games, but with a slightly different result — Charlotte’s Morgan Geekie scores the Game Seven, game-winning goal in overtime to advance the Checkers to their second straight Eastern Conference Final.
BELLEVILLE SENATORS (1) vs. UTICA COMETS (3)
2019-20 Regular Season Series
BELLEVILLE PROS AND CONS
Pros: The Senators have some of the best rookies in the AHL. Scratch that, they have the best. Headed by Josh Norris and Alex Fromenton, both sit one-two among 2019-20 AHL rookies. Formenton has a cool 53 points (27 goals, 26 assists), while Norris is top-dog in rookie goal-scoring at 31.
Cons: One of the most interesting stats to come across: Belleville has the third-most goals against in the middle period. Letting up 77 goals, only Canadian rivals Toronto and Manitoba have given up more in the midway period.
UTICA PROS AND CONS
Pros: Like B-Sens, the Comets have scorers at the top as well. Reid Boucher sits number two in the league for points scored. Having potted 34 goals and 33 assists, Boucher has found himself as a leader not only in the locker room but on the ice as well. Having help offensively can be crucial against a top team like Belleville.
Cons: Out-shooting your opponent is, in many cases, a good thing. But, in the case of Utica, it’s turned into a 50/50 ticket. Going 11-11-0 when leading on the shot sheet, the Comets actually have a better record when being out-shot by their opponent (20-11-5) than they do when the roles are reversed. Being able to pour shots on a goalie is always a plus, but turning them into goals and wins is another.
With Belleville as the juggernaut they are, this surely spells doom for the Utica Comets. I use my first sweep card on the Comets, with Belleville cleaning house in four games.
NHL 20 SERIES SIM – ROCHESTER (2) vs. BINGHAMTON (4)
The computer decided that neither Belleville nor Utica was worthy enough to grace the second round in digital land, with the Americans and Devils making the North Division Final in their stead. After Binghamton wins Game One in overtime (3-2), Rochester rattles off three wins in a row to push the Devils to the brink of elimination. However, in dramatic fashion, Binghamton earns three straight victories in response, taking the series after a Game Seven road victory by a score of 3-1.
Stay tuned to The Sin Bin for our “What If” 2020 AHL Calder Cup Conference Finals match-ups! Follow Zack on Twitter for his continued coverage of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. And, don’t forget to follow the rest of #TeamSinBin on social media via Facebook and Twitter!