Tangly situation will be unknotted as AHL closes out regular season tonight

Brendan McCarthy
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IceCaps still don't know their first-round opponent; could be one of three teams

This is the time of year when many folks are using their math skills — or at least a calculator, maybe even an accountant — as they prepare annual tax returns.
Fans of the St. John’s IceCaps may find themselves considering similar techniques today as they attempt to figure out the IceCaps’ opponent in the opening round upcoming Calder Cup American Hockey League playoffs.

 

There are still three possible first-round partners for St. John’s as the AHL enters today, the last day of its 2013-14 regular season. It could be the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Albany Devils or Providence Bruins, with everything coming down to games involving those three clubs tonight.

The IceCaps, who beat the Worcester Sharks 6-0 Friday night in Worcester, Mass. (see separate story), also play today — against the Portland Pirates in Saco, Me. — but the result of that contest won’t have anything to do with determining who’ll they’ll play in the best-of-five first round. 

St. John’s (45-23-7) is locked into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, However, the fifth seed — which will provide that opening-round matchup of the IceCaps — is very much up for grabs.

Here’s the set-up:

• Wilkes-Barre lost 5-4 to the Binghamton Senators Friday, giving Binghamton first place in the East Division and the third seed in the conference. That leaves the Penguins with 92 points and sitting in fifth place in the conference standings, at least as of this morning.

• Providence, which beat the Manchester Monarchs 2-1 in overtime Friday, has 91 points. So does Albany, which was idle Friday.

• If Wilkes-Barre wins its final game tonight at Utica, N.Y., against the Comets, it will clinch the fifth seed. Even if they lose to Utica, the Penguins will get fifth with losses by both Albany, which is at home to the Springfield Falcons, and the P-Bruins, who take on the Sharks in Worcester.

• If Wilkes-Barre loses in regulation and both Albany and Providence win tonight, then the Devils and Bruins will be tied with 93 points, but Albany will get the fifth seed by virtue of the first tiebreaker, which is the team’s total regulation and overtime wins (ROW).

• If just one of Albany or Providence wins tonight, that winner will get the fifth seed … as long as Wilkes-Barre loses in regulation.

• If a scenario evolves whereby a single point or points earned in overtime or shootout losses comes into play and the Penguins end up tied with either or both the Devils and Bruins, then Wilkes-Barre will get the fifth seed, again because of that first tiebreaker — the Penguins have more total regulation and OT victories than either Albany or Providence.

• It’s conceivable that the Norfolk Admirals, who have 90 points after clinching the final available playoff berth in the Eastern Conference by beating Hershey 2-1 Friday, could finish tied with Wilkes-Barre (and possibly others) for fifth place. However, the Penguins would again prevail with the higher seeding because of the tiebreaker.

We know that’s pretty all tangly, but be assured the mystery will be unravelled tonight.

And there is one certainty even before these last few games are played: the IceCaps will open the post-season with two games on the road. Games 3, 4, and 5, the latter two if necessary, will be at Mile One Centre in St. John’s.

bmcc@thetelegram.com

 

 

Organizations: IceCaps, Penguins, Portland Pirates East Division Manchester Monarchs 2

Geographic location: Wilkes-Barre, Albany, Providence Worcester, Mass. Saco, Me. Binghamton Utica, N.Y. Worcester

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