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Pirates/Senators Calder Cup ADF Series Preview

04/26/11
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The Portland Pirates defeated the Connecticut Whale in 6 games to advance to the Atlantic Division final! They’ll take on the Binghamton Senators, who advanced by eliminating the Manchester Monarchs in game 7 overtime.

You can listen to Mark Jeanneret call all the games live on News-Talk WLOB 95.5FM’s streaming web player.

The Pirates won their Atlantic Division semifinal series by winning all three of their games played at home at the Cumberland County Civic Center and the clinching game on the road at the XL Center. They looked very vulnerable at times, but fought through injuries, call-ups, and undisciplined play to triumph in the first round.

There is a chance that the Pirates may start their series versus the B-Sens sans Mark Mancari, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Matt Ellis, and Jhonas Enroth as the Sabres and Flyers are set to play the seventh and final game of their Stanley Cup quarterfinal series tonight. If the Sabres win, it’ll be up to their coaching staff and the injury situation whether or not Mancari or Ellis return to Portland. With how effective he’s played, Gragnani won’t be going back to Portland if the Sabres still have games to play. And Enroth isn’t going anywhere. If the Sabres lose, all four players would likely be immediately returned to the Pirates in time for puck drop on the series.

The B-Sens may have needed 7 games to get by a strong Monarchs team, but they are very dangerous. They have in their lineup Corey Locke, the AHL’s 2010/2011 regular season scoring leader, and four other 50-point scorers. They outlasted the Brayden Schenn-powered Monarchs by doing exactly that – outlasting them.

It’ll be a test for the Pirates to be able to handle the Senators with how inconsistent and sloppy they played at times versus the Whale. Part of the reason the Whale may have had the Pirates off their game for long stretches of time was their physicality, which helped them rack up over 1,700 penalty minutes in the regular season. The Senators, whether through lack of goonery or pure discipline, clocked in with just over 1,200 penalty minutes – least in the conference. By comparison, the Pirates clock in at just under 1,300 penalty minutes which is good for third-least in the conference.

Both the Pirates and B-Sens have deep rosters with talent and grit to spare. One thing is sure about this series – it’s going to be a battle of attrition. Do the Pirates have the advantage with Kevin Dineen standing behind the bench? They very well might. It’s become an foregone assumption in Portland that this is likely his final season coaching an AHL squad.

The series starts tomorrow inside the CCCC at 7PM in Portland.

Pirates beat the Senators in 7

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