Wednesday, April 30, 2008

AHL Playoffs First Round

The first round of the AHL Calder Cup playoffs concluded last night. Here are the results:

Providence defeats Manchester 4 games to 0 Providence is Boston's farm team and Manchester is Los Angeles's farm team. Although this series was a four game sweep, it was closer than it would appear from that statistic as three of the games went to overtime. Providence was led offensively by Jeff Hoggan's 6 points and had strong goaltending from Tuukka Rask. Manchester's offence was led by Teddy Purcell. Their goaltending duties were shared by Jonathan Bernier and Jonathan Quick.

Portland defeats Hartford 4 games to 1 Portland is Anaheim's farm team and Hartford is the New York Rangers farm club. Jason King and Geoff Platt led Portland with five points a piece. Jean-Sebastien Aubin provided strong goaltending. Hartford was led by Pierre Parenteau who scored 5 points and Andrew Hutchinson who added four from defence. David LeNeveu provided their goaltending.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defeated Hershey 4 games to 1 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is Pittsburgh's farm team and Hershey is Washington's. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was led by playoff scoring leader Tim Brent who has 11 first round points and defenceman Alex Goligoski who has eight points, which is good for second in the first round. John Curry was the Wilkes-Barre goalie. Andrew Gordon chipped in five points to lead the Hershey offence but they suffered from poor goaltending from Frederic Cassivi who posted a .860 saves percentage.

Philadelphia defeated Albany 4 games to 3 The Philadelphia Phantoms are the Flyers farm team and Albany is Carolina's farm team. Philadelphia was led by the goaltending of Scott Monroe who posted a .952 saves percentage. Their top offensive player was Jared Ross who scored four points. Albany had strong goaltending as well. Michael Leighton posted an amazing .968 saves percentage in a losing effort and Bryan Rodney added six points.

Toronto defeated San Antonio 4 games to 3 The Toronto Marlies are the Maple Leafs farm team and San Antonio is Phoenix's. Toronto was lead by Ben Ondrus's five points and Scott Clemmensen's strong goaltending. San Antonio was led by seven points from Brendan Bell and six from Chad Kolarik. In goal, Josh Tordjman put up a .941 saves percentage in a losing effort.

Syracuse defeated Manitoba 4 games to 2 Syracuse is Columbus's farm team and Manitoba is Vancouver's. Syracuse was led offensively by Derick Brassard and Derek MacKenzie with Karl Goehring posting a .929 saves percentage in goal. Manitoba's offence was led by Brad Moran and Jason Jaffray (who was limited to playing in three games of the series due to injury). Cory Schneider was a solid goalie.

Chicago defeated Milwaukee 4 games to 2 Chicago is Atlanta's farm team and Milwaukee is Nashville's. Jason Krog led Chicago in scoring with six points (continuing his superstar season in the AHL). Ondrej Pavelec posted a .929 saves percentage in goal. Josh Langfeld posted six points (despite missing one game of the series) to lead Milwaukee offensively. Pekka Rinne provided goaltending.

Rockford defeated Houston 4 games to 1 Rockford is Chicago's farm team and Houston is Minnesota's. Rockford was led offensively by Kris Versteeg and had Corey Crawford post an amazing .955 saves percentage and playoff leading 1.10 GAA in goal. Nobody on the outmatched Houston Aeros managed more than two points, though their goaltending pair of Barry Brust and Nolan Schaefer performed well in goal.

In the second round, Providence meets Portland (due to early finishes of both of their first round series, this series is already underway), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton meets Philadelphia, Toronto meets Syracuse and Chicago meets Rockford.

Comments:
Leighton made headlines earlier this week for making 98 saves in a 5 OT game - and losing 3-2. I mean, 98 saves is astonishing at nearly any level.
 
Leighton was the best goalie in the AHL this year by a large margin. He had a .931 saves percentage and a 2.10 GAA. These numbers should show that he is clearly NHL capable. He turns 27 this summer, so he is not too old to get another NHL shot. His playoff performance a .968 saves percentage and a 1.18 GAA.

He is a UFA this summer. A smart GM ought to sign him up (he'd probably accept a two way contract and at any rate he would be cheap) and give him a serious shot to win an NHL job.
 
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