Today in the A, I'm taking a look at the playoff picture. The AHL championship trophy is the Calder Cup and as a matter of historical fact, teams in Springfield have won the Cup seven times. The first three were a legendary run and to this day, the only three-peat in AHL history as the Springfield Indians won in 1959, 1960 and 1961. The Springfield Kings turned the trick in 1971. Then, among my proudest moments of fandom, I was present at the Springfield Civic Center (now the Falcons home known as the MassMutual Center) for victories in 1975, 1990 and 1991.
The Falcons are on an eight year playoff drought, however the playoffs go on. The first round matchups are all complete and in those we saw:
Portland Pirates (BUF) 4, Connecticut Whale (NYR) 2
Binghamton Senators (OTT) 4, Manchester Monarchs (LAK) 3
Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) 4, Norfolk Admirals (TBL) 2
Charlotte Checkers (CAR) 4, Hershey Bears (WAS) 2
Having the Bears lose gave Springfield fans a small reason to celebrate. Hershey had won the Calder Cup in the previous two seasons. One more would have tied that Indians record from '59-'61. Now the locals can breathe a sigh of relief for the next three years.
Hamilton Bulldogs (MTL) 4, Oklahoma City Barons (EDM) 2
Manitoba Moose (VAN) 4, Lake Erie Monsters (COL) 3
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH) 4, Texas Stars (DAL) 2
Houston Aeros (MIN) 4, Peoria Rivermen (STL) 0
Second round matchups and wins, current through Tuesday morning:
Portland 1 vs. Binghamton 3
This one is a huge upset in the making. Bingo qualified for the playoffs in an odd manner. The Atlantic division has seven teams. The Eastern division has eight. Eight team divisions automatically have their top four teams advance to the post season. Divisions with seven teams automatically qualify their top three teams. Binghamton got in because although they finished fifth in the Eastern, their point total was higher than the fourth place team (Worcester Sharks) in the Atlantic. For the playoff brackets, the Baby Sens then move over and qualify fourth in the Atlantic. Not too confusing, right?
Wilkes Barre/Scranton 1 vs. Charlotte 2
Hamilton 2 vs. Manitoba 0
Milwaukee 1 vs. Houston 1
Later this week, I'll take a deeper look at the conference semi-final matchups.