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 first 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. First round is a best-of-five series.)

ATLANTIC DIVISION

(1) PROVIDENCE BRUINS vs. (4) HARTFORD WOLF PACK 

2019-20 Regular Season Series

Date Home Team Winner Score
Nov. 15 @Providence Providence 4-3 SO
Nov. 16 @Hartford Hartford 5-2
Dec. 8 @Providence Hartford 4-1
Jan. 3 @Providence Hartford 3-1
Mar. 1 @Hartford Providence 3-2
Mar. 11 @Hartford Hartford 3-1


PROVIDENCE PROS AND CONS

Pros: Providence won their previous 12 games before the stoppage, with their last loss coming on February 9. One of the team’s key fixtures, Brendan Gaunce, aided the squad by scoring five game-winning goals during the run.

Cons: For the Bruins, one of their biggest downfalls would be their chances on the power play. Ranking at 26th overall, and 28th at home, the home-ice advantage would be no treat for a team that can’t convert at home.

HARTFORD PROS AND CONS

Pros: The goaltending tandem for the Wolfpack has been nothing short of sensational. Rookie netminder Igor Shesterkin was running a stellar .934 save percentage and a killer 1.90 goals against average. Additionally, their backup Jean-Francois Berube has had nothing to fret over with a .902 save percentage and a 2.61 goals against average.

Cons: Hartford’s games on the road have been less than ideal. Sporting a 10-14-8 away record on the season, the Wolfpack not having home-ice advantage in the series could be the death of them. Shesterkin had also been called up to the New York Rangers since January 29.

SERIES PREDICTION

While Hartford has bite in them and their season turnaround has been phenomenal, when Providence is hot, their hot. For the P-Bruins, we believe that they’ll be able to continue their fiery step into the playoffs, and squash Hartford in four games.

NHL 20 SERIES SIM

Providence took Game One with a shutout (2-0) and never looked back. It may have taken overtime in Game Two for the Bruins to win 5-4, but Providence more handily won Game Three (4-1) to sweep the Hartford Wolfpack out of the Atlantic Division semifinals.

HERSHEY BEARS (2) vs. CHARLOTTE CHECKERS (3)

2019-20 Regular Season Series

Date Home Team Winner Score
Nov. 15 @Hershey Charlotte 3-0
Nov. 16 @Hershey Hershey 2-1
Jan. 14 @Charlotte Charlotte 4-1
Jan. 15 @Charlotte Charlotte 5-4
Feb. 25 @Hershey Hershey 6-1
Mar. 1 @Hershey Charlotte 6-3

 

HERSHEY PROS AND CONS

Pros: Hershey’s last 10 games have been strong, boasting a 6-3-1 record. Additionally, they have a home record of 21-8-3. Having home ice in this series would be a huge plus in their game.

Cons: For the Bears, they’re a team that takes their foot off the gas in the third period. Hershey registers the least amount of shots in the third period at 520. For comparison, Charlotte has 583 shots in the third period.

CHARLOTTE PROS AND CONS

Pros: One thing Charlotte doesn’t lack is talent. The Checkers have one of the better skilled teams in the league. Something that amazed me in the season was Charlotte’s ability to get in their opponent’s head, forcing the other team to conform to the Checkers’ style of play. Additionally, Jake Bean is number one in rookie points and is labelled as one of the better defensive set-up men in the AHL. His 38 points on the year have helped them tremendously over the season.

Cons: A big hit taken for Charlotte is the loss of Morgan Geekie, who is currently rostered with the Hurricanes. Geekie has 42 points (22 goals, 20 assists) on the season, making him one of the best in the league.

SERIES PREDICTION

While it would have been a hard-fought series (and maybe one of the most physical), Charlotte wouldn’t be able to control Hershey, especially without their leading scorer Geekie. That’s why The Sin Bin Simulator boots Charlotte in five.

NHL 20 SERIES SIM

At home in the Giant Center, the Hershey Bears earned a Game One victory by a score of 3-2. After that, it was all Charlotte. The Checkers burned off three wins in a row (4-2 in Hershey, 3-2 and 6-2 back in North Carolina) to earn themselves a match-up with Providence in round number two.

NORTH DIVISION

BELLEVILLE SENATORS (1) vs. BINGHAMTON DEVILS (4)

2019-20 Regular Season Series

Date Home Team Winner Score
Oct. 11 @Belleville Binghamton 2-1
Oct. 12 @Belleville Belleville 5-4
Nov. 22 @Binghamton Belleville 6-3
Nov. 29 @Binghamton Belleville 6-2

 

BELLEVILLE PROS AND CONS

Pros: Belleville’s road record has been the best in the North Division, if not the best in the AHL. Running a 23-5-3 road record, the Senators have been a powerhouse in their opponent’s barn. Having a strong fight on the road will be crucial after games one and two at home, providing a good footing for a home-ice affair in the late stages of the series.

Cons: Having the best road record surprisingly has its downside: the home record. Going 15-15-2 while at home, the Senators have the worst home record out of all the first-place teams and most of their division. Having home-ice in this series would be no treat for Belleville.

BINGHAMTON PROS AND CONS

Pros: Binghamton’s last 10 games have been outstanding. Boasting a 9-1-0 record and winning their last seven in a row, the Devils have come up clutch in the drive for a playoff spot.

Additionally, Binghamton was far outside a playoff spot before pivoting into their winning ways. The Devils were on the bottom of the North Division in the first weeks of February.

The Sin Bin ranked the Devils 30th in the AHL Power Rankings for Week #5

Cons: Binghamton is also one of those cases of taking their foot off the gas. Like Hershey, their third period is the worst, only scoring 44 goals in the final frame (marking them 30th in the AHL). When up against a tough team like Belleville, taking it easy in the third isn’t an option.

SERIES PREDICTION

Having both teams come up clutch in the latter part of the season, we gave Belleville the series win in five games (with a few overtimes along the way).

NHL 20 SERIES SIM

Spoiler alert: this was the only Eastern Conference semifinal match-up to go all five games. Binghamton took some extra time in OT to earn a Game One win (4-3). The victories would go back and forth from there: Belleville in Game Two (3-2), Devils with the shutout in Game Three (3-0), the Senators in Game Four (4-3 in overtime), and back to Binghamton in Game Five (4-2). The Devils scrape and claw to earn a second round bid.

ROCHESTER AMERICANS (2) vs. UTICA COMETS (3)

2019-20 Regular Season Series

Date Home Team Winner Score
Oct. 19 @Utica Utica 7-1
Nov. 2 @Utica Rochester 6-0
Nov. 16 @Utica Rochester 4-3
Dec. 21 @Rochester Utica 4-3
Dec. 31 @Utica @Utica 3-2
Feb. 16 @Rochester Rochester 3-2
Feb. 26 @Rochester Utica 3-2
Mar. 4 @Rochester Utica 3-2

 

ROCHESTER PROS AND CONS

Pros: Rochester averages some of the least penalty minutes per game. Averaging less than 10 PIMs per game, the Americans have been able to play the game cleanly. Killing penalties is a losing proposition. When down a man, it’s time that could have been used to get clean shots on goal.

Cons: A stat that blew my mind a bit. In the first period, they’ve registered 721 shots on goal, making them number one in the league in SOG. By the time the third period rolls around, their shot total drops down to just 589. Staying competitive for 60 minutes will be key.

UTICA PROS AND CONS

Pros: For Utica, who’s without home-ice advantage, their away record is an astounding 18-10-2, topping their 16-12-3 record at home. This positive record is a part of their 210 goals for, topping their interstate opponent by close to 30 tallies.

Cons: No team has been scored on short-handed more than Utica. Giving up 15 short-handed goals, they’ve become an easy target for their opponent. For the Comets, having more power play chances than their opponents (54-40) may not be something to be excited over.

SERIES PREDICTION

For this upstate New York duel, we chose Utica to finish in four games.

NHL 20 SERIES SIM

While Zack picked Utica to win in four, the Playstation 4 went the other way. The Comets did pick up Game One (3-1), but Rochester rattled off three wins in a row (2-1 in overtime, 4-3, and 2-1) to surge into the next round. The Amerks face off against the Binghamton Devils in the North Division Final.

Stay tuned to The Sin Bin for our “What If” 2020 AHL Calder Cup Divisional 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!

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