DENVER – With the 2019-20 AHL season officially cancelled as of May 11, AHL Editor and Colorado Eagles correspondent C.C. Hawkley did a little hypothesizing, taking a stab at who he thinks would have advanced in the Calder Cup Playoffs from the AHL’s Western 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 another layer of postseason prediction.
(Seeding is based off of teams’ position in the standings as of March 12. The second round on consists of best-of-seven series.)
CENTRAL DIVISION FINAL
(1) MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS vs. (2) IOWA WILD
2019-20 Regular Season Series
|Nov. 19||Iowa||Milwaukee||6-5 (SO)|
MILWAUKEE PROS AND CONS
Pros: Getting to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs has bode well for the Admirals. Since 2003-04, Milwaukee has advanced to round two a total of four times. The results? A trip to the Calder Cup Finals in both 2004 and 2006, with the Ads lifting the Cup as AHL Champions in the former appearance.
Cons: Iowa has had Milwaukee’s number in the last two regular seasons (and in their very brief postseason history, as well). In 2018-19 and 2019-20 combined, the Wild went 7-2-2 against the Admirals. In their one and only playoff match-up, Iowa defeated Milwaukee in five games during the 2019 Central Division Semifinal.
IOWA PROS AND CONS
Pros: If any team can give Milwaukee a true test in the postseason, it is the Iowa Wild. Both teams were 1-2 in the Western Conference, and with league-leading scorers Gerry Mayhew and Sam Anas guiding an offense averaging 3.04 goals per game, Milwaukee’s defense has their work cut out for them.
Cons: Milwaukee was ahead in every major regular season team category over Iowa: goals for per game, goals allowed per game, power play success rate, and penalty kill percentage. And, as stated in their first round series prediction, Milwaukee also boasts the best combined goals allowed per game in the AHL at 2.24.
Anyone paying at least a shred of attention to the AHL Central Division knows this series is going to be a slobberknocker. With both teams above average in both their home and away records, it will be no surprise when the Admirals and Wild take a road game or two from each other during this second round match-up. Iowa will take this series in seven games, but not after Milwaukee give everything they have, leaving the Wild beat up and drained heading into the Western Conference Final.
NHL 20 SERIES SIM – GRAND RAPIDS (3) vs. CHICAGO (4)
Ever the contrarian, NHL 20 chose the Griffins and Wolves over powerhouses Milwaukee and Iowa in the Central Division Final. It only took five games to settle this series, with Chicago winning all but Game Three. The “underdog” four seed rolls into round three for their second straight Western Conference Final appearance.
PACIFIC DIVISION FINAL
COLORADO EAGLES (2) vs. SAN DIEGO GULLS (4)
2019-20 Regular Season Series
|Nov. 1||San Diego||San Diego||5-4|
|Nov. 2||San Diego||San Diego||5-2|
|Dec. 7||San Diego||San Diego||4-3 (OT)|
|Dec. 13||Colorado||San Diego||2-1 (SO)|
COLORADO PROS AND CONS
Pros: Colorado was beginning to pick up steam before the season was unceremoniously cancelled in mid-March. In their fifteen games played in February and March, the Eagles went an impressive 11-4-0.
Cons: While the all-time AHL record between Colorado and San Diego is nearly .500, the Eagles record when playing them on the road is much lower. Since their introduction into the league in 2018, Colorado has gone 2-4-1 (.286 win percentage) against San Diego.
SAN DIEGO PROS AND CONS
Pros: The Gulls have exemplified postseason prowess in their five AHL seasons. Making the playoffs in three out of their first four campaigns, San Diego has made it to the second round twice and the third round once. With their parent club Anaheim Ducks finishing outside of the NHL playoff race, expect reinforcements to further help the Gulls in round number two.
Cons: San Diego was out shot by their opponents in 33 of their 57 regular season games, going 16-12-5 (.485 win percentage). With the Eagles ahead on a shots for per game average (32.25 vs. 31.56) and the Gulls allowing an average of 33.68 shots for per game, it gives Colorado a chance to steal a game or two should the shots be in their favor.
San Diego taking four out of five regular season games against Colorado is a glaring stat that’s hard to ignore. Residing in the top three for AHL regular season attendance during their first four seasons, the 8,500 to 9,000 fans the Gulls average at Pechanga Arena gives an big home advantage to San Diego. The Eagles will split their first two home games before the Gulls take two of three in San Diego and, eventually, Game Six and the series in Loveland.
NHL 20 SERIES SIM – STOCKTON (3) vs. SAN DIEGO (4)
The gaming console went with the Heat over the Eagles in the Pacific Division Final against the Gulls. After San Diego took the first two games and a 2-0 series lead, Stockton fought back, shutting out the Gulls in Game Three (3-0) and Game Four (2-0) before allowing only one goal in Game Five (4-1). With the final two games heading back to San Diego, the Gulls seized the series yet again, winning Game Six (5-2) and Game Seven (2-1) to punch their ticket to the Conference Final yet again in 2020.
Stay tuned to The Sin Bin for our “What If” 2020 AHL Calder Cup Conference Finals match-ups! Follow C.C. on Twitter for his continued coverage of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. And, don’t forget to follow the rest of #TeamSinBin on social media via Facebook and Twitter!