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Calder Cup Playoff Preview, Round 1: Toronto Marlies (2) vs Rochester Americans (7)

04/16/12

Image courtesy of TheAHL.com

In true “we’re a member of the Buffalo Sabres organization” fashion, the Rochester Americans (and several other AHL clubs) waited until the last possible day to make the playoffs. While the odds were certainly stacked in their favor following their end-of-season win over Lake Erie, which eliminated LEM from playoff contention, there was still sitting around and waiting to do in order to find out position and opponent and such. The Amerks finished in 7th place, meaning they will face Western Division rivals, second place Toronto Marlies. For you (with some help from my awesome brother-in-law (who’s WAY better at stats than I am)), I have a lovely little playoff primer for the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup between the Rochester Americans and the Toronto Marlies.

First things first – the important stuff! As part of their effort to reduce the number of 3-in-3 and 4-in-5 series during the regular season, the AHL reduced the number of regular season games to 76, and moved the quarterfinal round of playoffs to a best of five series. The Amerks and Marlies will begin their series in Toronto. The schedule looks like this:

Game 1: 4/19 Rochester @ Toronto (7pm)
Game 2: 4/21 Rochester @ Toronto (3pm)
Game 3: 4/23 Toronto @ Rochester (7:05pm)
Game 4: 4/25 Toronto @ Rochester (7:05pm) (if necessary)
Game 5: 4/28 Rochester @ Toronto (3pm) (if necessary)

The Amerks and Marlies faced off ten times in the 2011-12 season, with the chips not really falling in Rochester’s favor – Rochester’s record against the Marlies was 3-4-3-0 overall, scoring 22 goals to Toronto’s 26. However, every single game was decided by only one goal, so (with the exception of the March 31 shutout) it’s not really like the Amerks were not in the games. They just weren’t as in as the Marlies were. While I can’t really find a “reason” that the Amerks performed so poorly against the Marlies, I also don’t necessarily think it’s because the Marlies are just better than the Amerks. If that makes sense. They are nearly matched in lots of categories (or, you know, the three I really paid attention to). Toronto averaged 29.1 SOG over ten games, while Rochester averaged 29.0. Rochester outweighed Toronto in PIM per game, notching 13.3 minutes a game to Toronto’s 12.3. However, Rochester’s total does include a Marcus Foligno 10 minute misconduct from a game on January 13. These are two teams for whom no love is lost. They like to get physical, they like to grind on each other, and it’s very common for David Leggio to bring his sassy pants against Toronto.

Speaking of Rochester’s Leggio, it’s likely that he will play in all playoff games, barring any unforeseen circumstance, since his back up hasn’t played one game yet, and there is no word on what is up with Drew MacIntyre. Leggio went 5-4 in the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs for Portland, while DrewMac posted an 11-9 record in the 2011 playoffs for Hamilton. The two goaltenders listed on Toronto’s clear day roster are Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens, neither of whom have played in a playoff series.

The playoffs start a whole new season, which I really hope means that Rochester will bring their A game. As always, I will keep you posted on Twitter as the series progresses, and I hope to see you at Game 3 on April 23, where a large chunk of the BBG crew will be hanging out! There has been rumblings on Twitter, via Rochester-native and Amerks forward Derek Whitmore, regarding a white out for Monday’s game. Unlike the NHL, where this is a bizarre tradition, it makes sense in the AHL, where the home team still rocks the white sweaters. I think it’s an excellent idea to white out Rochester’s barn. Let’s white it out and pack the house, lovers – LET’S GO AMERKS!!!

Image courtesy of Amerks.com

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