Falcons to face "top dogs" in conference semifinals

Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 7:00 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

Earlier this week, Falcons coach Brad Larsen thought about the possibility of playing the "defending champions" of the American Hockey League and seemed genuinely excited about it.

While the Syracuse Crunch didn't technically win the Calder Cup a year ago, several players on its roster played for the Norfolk Admirals before the Tampa Bay Lightning switched AHL affiliations in the offseason. The Admirals' run, fueled by many of the brightest young prospects in the Lightning organization, was as impressive as it was dominant - with the Admirals going on a record-setting win streak en route to the postseason.

Some of the players at the core of Norfolk's championship run - Cory Conacher up front and Radko Gudas and Mike Kostka on defense - have moved on to different organizations or are now full-time NHL players with the Lightning. But there remains a dynamic, committed group with the Crunch and it showed in a third-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

The Crunch also spent several weeks atop the league standings before Springfield and the Texas Stars caught fire.

This conference semifinal series will be a big test for the Falcons, who are coming off a four-game triumph over the structured, disciplined Manchester Monarchs - a team they know very well. Springfield knows less about the Crunch having played only two regular-season meetings against one another, but all it takes is one look at the stat sheet to know that Syracuse can pretty much score at-will.

Springfield won 5-3 over the Crunch at the MassMutual Center on Feb. 1 - a game that featured the top two top teams in the Eastern Conference at the time) and Syracuse earned the season split with a 3-0 win at War Memorial three weeks later.

The series gets underway with two games this weekend at The Nest, beginning with Game 1 on Friday night. Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday night before the series shifts to Syracuse for three games next week, and if necessary, Games 6 and 7 will be played in Springfield.

For two pretty historic teams in the AHL, it's a bit surprising that this will be their first ever meeting in the playoffs.

Here's the series schedule:

Game 1 – Friday, May 10, 7 p.m. MassMutual Center

Game 2 – Saturday, May 11, 7 p.m., MassMutual Center

Game 3 – Wednesday, May 15, 7 p.m., War Memorial Arena

Game 4 – Friday, May 17, 7 p.m., War Memorial Arena

Game 5 - Saturday, May 18, 7 p.m., War Memorial Arena (if necessary)

Game 6 - Tuesday, May 21, 7 p.m., MassMutual Center (if necessary)

Game 7 - Wednesday, May 22, 7 p.m., MassMutual Center (if necessary)

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 2 2 1 0 3
M. Calvert 2 2 0 3 2
R. Johansen 2 1 1 -1 2
B. Dubinsky 2 0 2 0 2
D. Savard 2 0 2 1 2
B. Jenner 2 0 2 -1 2
D. MacKenzie 2 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 2 1 0 1 1
A. Anisimov 2 0 1 -1 1
C. Atkinson 2 0 1 1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 1 1 0 .905 3.00
 
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