The St. John's IceCaps will have to wait until today, the final day of the 2011-12 American Hockey League regular season, to find out who they will be facing in the Calder Cup playoffs. However, the IceCaps could have a say in determining who that opponent will be.
St. John's, which lost 3-1 to the Falcons in Springfield, Mass., Saturday night, closes out its 76-game regular season this afternoon in Manchester, N.H., against the Monarchs, who happen to be one the three teams the IceCaps could play in a best-of-five opening-round playoff series. St. John's will be the second seed in the AHL's Eastern Conference, meaning it will be matched up with the seventh-seeded club.
An IceCaps' regulation-time win today (4:30 p.m. NT) would ensure the Monarchs could finish no higher than eighth, and perhaps out of the post-season picture altogether. A Manchester victory and a loss by the Syracuse Crunch to the Albany Devils would clinch the seventh seed for the Monarchs, who would then host the first two games of a conference quarter-final against St.John's next weekend in southern New Hampshire. A Syracuse win today would clinch seventh place — and a date with IceCaps — for the Crunch.
Also in the picture are the Portland Pirates, who like the Monarchs, have 81 points, one fewer than Syracuse. A Portland win over the Bruins in Providence today, combined with regulation losses by Syracuse and Manchester, would give seventh place to the Pirates.
Here's the Eastern Conference standings, plus other relevant information, heading into today, with regards to those three teams:
7. Syracuse Crunch , 82 points, 28 non-shootout wins, play the Albany Devils today in Albany
8. Manchester Monarchs, 81 points, 32 non-shootout wins wins, play the IceCaps today in Manchester
9. Portland Pirates, 81 points, 31 non-shootout wins, play the Providence Bruins today in Providence
Note: Overtime and shootout results today in games involving these teams could complicate matters, but keep in mind that total wins, excluding shootout wins, constitute the first tie-breaker...
Eric O'Dell had the only goal for the IceCaps (43-23-8) in their Saturday-night loss to the Falcons, scoring in the final two minutes of the game. St. John's goalie David Aebischer faced 29 shots ... Alexandre Giroux, Daniel New and Boone Jenner, the latter two with their first pro goals, tallied for Springfield (36-34-6), which will miss the playoffs for a ninth straight year ... Defenceman Julian Melchiori made his professional debut with St. John's in the game ... The IceCaps' list of scratches Saturday included defencemen Derek Meech and Paul Postma and forwards Marco Rosa and Brock Trotter ... Kilbride native Luke Adam had the game-winning goal in the third period of the Rochester Americans' 2-1 win over the Lake Erie Monsters Saturday. The result doesn't guarantee a playoff spot for the Americans, but was nonetheless crucial, since only two points separate the fifth-place Americans and the ninth-place Houston Aeros in the Western Conference heading into the final day of the regular season ... The remarkable run of the league-leading Norfolk Admirals continued Saturday with a 3-2 overtime win against the Binghamton Senators. it was a 27th straight victory for Norfolk. An Admirals loss would have been a huge upset; the Senators may be the defending Calder Cup champions, but in the AHL, fortunes can change drastically year-to-year - Binghamton will finish dead last in the overall standings this season ...