With the AHL season officially cancelled as of May 11, The Sin Bin’s Toronto Marlies correspondent Zack Power and Colorado Eagles beat reporter C.C. Hawkley contributed to their hypothetical 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs picks based on the league standings when the season was ended.
If you missed the previous three rounds of picks, here are the links to catch up before we dive into the main course.
EASTERN CONFERENCE (Zack)
WESTERN CONFERENCE (C.C.)
Now, without further ado, here’s Zack Power with his “What If” 2020 Calder Cup Finals prediction!
2020 CALDER CUP FINALS
IOWA WILD vs. BELLEVILLE SENATORS
2019-20 REGULAR SEASON SERIES
Iowa and Belleville did not play each another in 2019-20.
IOWA PROS AND CONS
Pros: There’s no doubt in my mind that Iowa was one of the top teams in the AHL this season.
Iowa’s power play is amongst some of the best in the league, coverting nearly 22% of their chances, putting them fifth in the AHL. Led by Gerry Mayhew, Sam Anas, Luke Johnson, and Brennan Menell, Iowa’s top dogs have been able to control the AHL leaderboard in power play goals, assists and total points.
The dominance doesn’t end there for Anas and Mayhew, who the sit number one and three respectively in the AHL in points. Scoring 39 goals in 49 games, Mayhew has been able to more than contribute to the Wild’s scoring touch, making up for their nearly 20% of Iowa’s goals. And the set-up players? Give credit to Anas and Menell, who positioned one and tied for second, respectively, in the AHL in assists.
Iowa isn’t a one-trick pony, either. In the blue paint, Kaapo Kahkonen has been a juggernaut. Recording a fat 0.927 SVS% and a cool 2.07 GAA, Kahkonen has proved himself to be a goaltender that a team can rely on. Kahkonen leads the AHL in shutouts with seven on the year.
Cons: One thing that Belleville has up on Iowa is goals for. Belleville has scored an astounding 234 goals during the season, while Iowa is nearly 40 markers behind at 194.
Additionally, Iowa’s time in the box could spell the end of their 2019-20 campaign. With an average of 14 penalty minutes per game, Belleville’s more modest 12.8 PIMs per game could be a deciding factor. Iowa’s Mayhew has the most minor penalties in the AHL, topping at 34 for 68 PIMs.
For the Wild, who is with home ice during the series, one thing they have to look out for is their opponent’s road record. While in their opponent’s barn, the B-Sens recorded a 23-5-3 record. And when they are travelling, that’s also when the brick wall appears, letting up only 77 goals (2.48 GAA). Belleville has a home GAA of 3.75.
BELLEVILLE PROS AND CONS
Pros: On the same note, there no denying that Belleville was a powerhouse in the East this past year.
While the star power is more than present on the Wild, Belleville also has a sturdy line-up. Backed by rookies Josh Norris and Alex Formenton, the Senators have been able to gun their way to first place in the North Division. Norris sits number one in the AHL amongst rookie points, while Formenton positions himself at number two. Further, Norris is nipping at the heels of Wild rival Mayhew, scoring 31 goals in 56 games. Meanwhile, Formenton sits with 53 points in 61 games.
Additionally for the B-Sens, they carry a club card for most goals for. Marking 234 total tallies, no team has more goals in either the first, second or third periods. Along with that dominance, no team has scored more short-handed goals then Belleville this past year, reaching 18 goals when on the penalty kill.
Finally, Belleville is a team that has been able to push back on their opponent like no other. While being outshot, Belleville has a 19-9-4 record. The positive record goes a long way while their opponent Iowa is second in the league in shots for per game, averaging 32.76.
Cons: The Senators have been a team that is strong on the road yet weak at home. Running a 15-15-2 record, the Senators have let up more goals than they’ve scored at home. Furthermore, Belleville has a home penalty killing squad marking in at 27th in the league.
As mentioned before, Belleville is a team that’s able to stay out of the box more than their opponent, but they’re not without their faults. While Formenton has been lighting the lamp, he’s also been inking the penalty sheet. No other rookie has been whistled more than Alex, sitting 31 times through his 61 games with the Senators. For Belleville, it’s an extra jab in the heart when one of your star players is in the penalty box.
Finally for the Canadian squad along Ontario 401, it’s simple — they don’t have home-ice advantage. Staying at your own home in between games is priceless. For Belleville, not having home ice against a team who has a strong hockey market is a hurdle that they’d surely do without.
It’s clear that Belleville has been hot as of late. Last going off, they were a force to be reckoned with. The Senators are a team that ran an 8-6-1 record through there first 15 games, while Iowa published a 9-3-3 record in their first 15.
The series within itself is a match of consistency versus erratic. Like I mentioned in my last article, the Senators are a team built like the 2019 St. Louis Blues. Making a complete 180-degree turn on the year has been outstanding on the club.
Moreover, Belleville was also rocked with a tough series against Hershey.
While the glass slipper fits this Cinderella Story for Belleville, it’s not their year. For this Canada vs. USA final, I picked Iowa to take it in six games.
Zack Power regularly covers the AHL’s Toronto Marlies for The Sin Bin. Follow him on Twitter for all the latest Marlies news and notes!
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