Saturday's Morning Skate 4/19

Saturday, April 19, 2014
Eastern Conference Playoff Outlook 

The top four seeds are set, with Manchester, Springfield, Binghamton and St. John's leading the way in that order from first to fourth. The Penguins are currently in fifth place with 92 points. Both Albany and Providence trail the Pens by one point in sixth and seventh, respectively. Norfolk is two back of the Penguins in 8th place, but can only finish as high as sixth in the conference as the Penguins own the first tiebreaker, regulation/overtime wins.

For the Penguins, it's simple. A point of any kind today will guarantee the Pens the 5th seed and a date with the St. John's IceCaps regardless of what Albany and Providence do in their respective games.

If the Penguins lose in regulation, they can be passed by either of those two teams if they win their game. The AHL website's daily playoff primer has an extensive chart with every possible scenario but to simplify it here:
Any point by Pens against Utica OR if both Albany/Providence lose in any way (regulation/OT/SO), Pens finish 5th and face St. John's in the first round.
If Pens lose in regulation to Utica AND one of Albany/Providence win their season finale tonight, Pens finish 6th and meet Binghamton in the first round.
If Pens lose in regulation and BOTH Albany and Providence win, Pens finish 7th and take on Springfield in the first round.
For those unfamiliar with the AHL playoffs, the first round Conference Quarterfinals in the AHL is a best-of-five series.

Eastern Conference Standings

*1. Manchester - 105 points, 0 games left
*2. Springfield - 100 points, 1 game left
*3. Binghamton - 94 points, 1 game left
4. St. John's - 97 points, 1 game left
5. PENGUINS - 92 points, 1 game left
6. Albany - 91 points, 1 game left
7. Providence - 91 points, 1 game left
8. Norfolk - 90 points, 1 game left

The East Division was settled last night as the Binghamton Senators held off a late flurry by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to claim the East Division title. In fact, with Norfolk's win over Hershey, eight teams in the Eastern Conference have earned a berth in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Friday Night Around The East Division

Binghamton - 5, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton - 4 

The BSens clinched the East Division with a win much more dominant than the final score shows. The home team jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second period, much thanks to Jean-Gabriel Pageau's pair of goals early in the middle fame, but the never-say-die Penguins made a game of it in the third.

After a pair of late second period goals by Adam Payerl and Bobby Farnham gave the Pens some life, the duo of Andrew Ebbett and Chuck Kobasew dominated the third period. Ebbett and Kobasew set each other up for a goal apiece and Kobasaew's 11th goal in 12 AHL games with 2:36 left made it a one-goal game.

The Pens outshot the BSens by a 26-7 count in the final twenty minutes but credit goaltender Andrew Hammond for some key saves in the waning moments to preserve the win.

Norfolk - 3, Hershey - 1

In southern Virignia, the Admirals knocked the Bears out of the postseason with a regulation win. 

Tyson Strachan brought Hershey even at 1-1 in the first period, but goals by former Bears forward David Steckel in the 2nd period and Max Friberg late in the third period proved too much for Hershey, who rarely misses the postseason but will not compete for the Calder Cup this year.

Rochester - 5, Syracuse - 1

In Rochester, the Americans handled the Crunch after jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Andrey Makarov stopped 22 of 23 shots for the Amerks, who got goals from five from different players.

Jonathan Marchessault got the Crunch on the board early in the third period, but the four-goal deficit was too much to overcome in the final frame. One season after reaching the Calder Cup Finals, the Crunch will have an early summer after a rough year riddled with injuries and call ups, among other things.

East Division Standings (Conference Position)

1. Binghamton (3rd) - 94 points, 1 game remaining
2. PENGUINS (5th) - 92 points, 1 game remaining
3. Norfolk (8th) - 90 points, 1 game remaining
4. Hershey (9th) - 86 points, 1 game remaining
5. Syracuse (12th) - 73 points, 1 game remaining


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