Monday, May 12, 2014

Around the League: Chicago Down 2-0 Heading to Ontario; Gibson-less Ads in Trouble

Drew MacIntyre and the Marlies are up 2-0 on Chicago coming home to Ontario
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
While waiting for the Stars to get started on their games in Grand Rapids, it's time to take a look around the league at other series.

#2 Chicago Wolves v. #3 Toronto Marlies
Marlies lead 2-0
Game 3: Wednesday, May 14 at Toronto

The other remaining series in the West looked to be a great matchup on paper: the second and third seeded teams, Chicago and Toronto. Toronto entered the series having swept the Milwaukee Admirals in three games in the first round. Chicago needed all five games to take out the Rochester Americans. Perhaps that should have been a heads up of what was to come.

The AHL's Goalie of the Year, Jake Allen, was victimized repeatedly by the Marlies offense in Game 1. Toronto was up 3-0 on the home team five minutes into the second period on Friday. From there, each club added two goals for a 5-2 final.

In Game 2 on Saturday, the Marlies again earned a 3-0 lead. This time they marked their third of the contest by the fifteen minute mark of the first period. Chicago added a pair to draw within one, including a 6-on-4 goal in the final three minutes of the third period. Jerry D'Amigo would score on the empty net with 57 seconds remaining to settle the score at 4-2.

The Wolves are going to Ontario with their season on the line. If they can't win two of three, they will have played their final game in Allstate Arena, putting Toronto through to the West finals.

Chicago needs their best players to be their best players. Bastien winner Jake Allen should not be allowing four and five goals. Top rookie, Ty Rattie, has been held to just a single point in the series. Adam Cracknell, who was supposed to be a difference-making assignment from the Blues, hasn't scored a point yet in the two games.

All this being said, it is not impossible to come back from being down 2-0 after your first two home games. The Texas Stars lost to the Hershey Bears 4-2 in the 2010 Final after winning Games 1 and 2 in Hershey.

#4 St. John's IceCaps v. #8 Norfolk Admirals
St. John's leads 2-1
Game 4: Monday, May 12 at Norfolk

Due to wonky travel to Newfoundland, this series has three back-to-back sets. Game 3 this past Saturday is the only contest with an open date on either side. The series also got started a lot earlier than others in this round, leading to Game 4 being tonight. Game 5 is tomorrow. Depending on the outcome of tonight's game, the series could be decided by Tuesday evening.

After stunning Manchester in the opening round, the Norfolk John Gibsons Admirals drew another tough opponent in round two, the IceCaps. Gibson has faced insane shot volume in the series. He stopped 81 of 84 in two games in Newfoundland but took a loss in Game 2. Returning home to Norfolk, Gibson was recalled to Anaheim. He started against the Kings and shut them out for his first NHL playoff win.

Meanwhile, backup Brad Thiessen, a former Bastien winner and two-time Holmes winner, started game 3 in Norfolk. He was tagged with four goals and the loss to set the series at 2-1 St. John's.

Given the success of Coach Boudreau's bold move to put Gibson in against LA, I don't see him returning to Norfolk. This series might be over.

#6 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins v. #7 Providence Bruins
Series tied 1-1
Game 3: Wednesday, May 14 at Providence

The history on this series is pretty interesting. In case you missed it last year, these two clubs met in round two as well. Providence was up 3-0 in the series after outscoring the Penguins 14-8 in those three games. Unfortunately, they didn't save any of those goals for the last four games in the series as WBS came back to win the series after being down 3-0. In the four wins, the Pens outscored the P-Bruins 14-2, including two shutouts.

In this series, they've already split the first two games. Providence claimed the first game 4-0 behind a solid performance from goalie Niklas Svedberg. Game 2 saw quite a reversal as the Pens dominated with a final score of 6-1.

Recaps from Chirps from Center Ice on Game 1 and Game 2 here.

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