Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 2

Antler Banter is back today with a look at the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs situation, but I'm going to add a key piece of business at the bottom as the HBIC Playoff Pool has finished another round so there's a new spreadsheet to be posted. I would like to point out that the series between the Rockford IceHogs and the Grand Rapids Griffins - two of the teams in Manitoba's division next season - has featured some epic off-ice awesomeness between the two teams' Twitter accounts as well as providing excellent on-ice action. We'll look at these new divisions that the AHL has set for next season, what implications it has on specific teams, and how the Moose factor in. I'll also post a bit of a request that seems to be gaining a groundswell in Manitoba as the Moose look to start building a roster for next season! Antler Banter is off and running for another week!

Calder Cup Stuff

One series is already done, another has a team on the edge of elimination, and the other two series are playing out. It's kind of fuunny to think that one series is done while another has only played three games, but that's the AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs for you. Nothing like a few scheduling quirks in minor-pro hockey to keep things off-balance, right?

Manchester has already booked their ticket for the Eastern Conference Final after dispatching the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in five games. The Monarchs are in a precarious situation as they won't play as an AHL team next season with the Los Angeles Kings moving their AHL affiliation to Ontario, California, so the players in Manchester are giving their fans a season to remember. Would it be embarrassing for the AHL to relocate the reigning Calder Cup champions? Has this situation ever happened in sports before? We might find out if the Monarchs continue to win.

The Hartford Wolfpack and Hershey Bears are going toe-to-toe in their series, and the Rangers' affiliate has jumped out to a 3-2 lead as the Bears are on the brink of elimination. Hartford has won a pair of overtime games in the series which is very un-Hershey-like. Hershey was nearly automatic a few years ago in the playoffs and in overtime, but their fate may change with Washington being eliminated tonight. The Bears could get a few players back from Washington that could change the dynamics of this series dramatically. Keep your eyes on this series as Game Six goes Friday night in Hershey. The Bears could have a completely different lineup.

Utica and Oklahoma City are battling in their series, and are currently knotted up at 2-2. Like the Monarchs, the Barons won't in Oklahoma City next season, so they're trying to make a deep run in the playoffs for their fans after it was announced they would fold operations as the Oilers move their AHL affiliation to Bakersfield, California next season. They still have to down Utica to make things interesting, but could the AHL have the first official "Last Year Final" between two teams that are relocating? I'm actually kind of rooting for Oklahoma City and Manchester to make the Calder Cup Final just to see if the AHL wears the egg on its face proudly.

In the fourth series that is ongoing, Grand Rapids jumped out to a 2-0 series lead before Rockford cut the deficit to one game on home ice. Teemu Pulkkinen has six goals and an assist in the three games thus far, but he had the only goal in Rockford for the Griffins thus far. Home-ice advantage in terms of getting the matchups the coaches want is certainly on display in this series. Game Four goes tomorrow, so tune in if you can. This series looks to be a beauty. And if you can't tune in, hit up Twitter. Why? Well...

Winning On Twitter

The IceHogs have gone above and beyond with their latest video. Check out this beauty.
Nothing like having a little fun with your opponents, right? Honestly, the IceHogs have one of the greatest Twitter accounts on the platform, so I highly encourage you to give them a follow if you have an account. They do Twitter well.

On the flip side, the Griffins have done their fair share of hilarious work on Twitter as these two teams make the Calder Cup Playoffs infinitely more entertaining via social media. Grand Rapids has asked honest questions like...
Again, if you're a Twitter person, follow these two accounts. You won't be disappointed.

Divisional Buddies

The Manitoba Moose will join forces in the newly-created Central Division in the Western Conference with the IceHogs and Griffins, but an old foe will jump to the Eastern Conference. The new realignment puts some strain on the Texas teams and the Charlotte Checkers in terms of in-division travel, but there are always growing pains in these sorts of changes. Here is the new alignment for the AHL.
The Moose will see less of their Canadian counterparts in the Eastern Conference-based Toronto Marlies and St. John's IceCaps, but they'll see the five new California teams a little more. The Moose will get to rekindle their IHL rivalries with the Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, and Milwaukee Admirals, so bring the hate for these teams that have a long history with the Moose.

All in all, the changes aren't that bad, but expect the AHL to look at ways to help the Checkers, Stars, and Rampage save a little cash in upcoming seasons regarding travel. There's a great distance between Texas and California, and even more between Manitoba and North Carolina.

Bring Back Jaff

While I have zero influence on the Moose and have no direct line to GM Craig Heisinger's desk, I think it should be fairly obvious that Moose fans, like their Jets counterparts, want to have a familiar face back in town. He was always a fan favorite here, and is approaching legendary status alongside players like Mike Keane and Jimmy Roy, so it should be elementary in having the Moose bring Jason Jaffray back to town.
The 33 year-old trails only Brett Hauer in a Moose jersey for points as a Moose, and that's not counting his time with the IceCaps. He was the team's captain in St. John's, and he definitely would look good with the "C" on here in Manitoba. Let's make that happen, Moose.

HBIC Playoff Pool

Round Three of the HBIC Playoff Pool is open! Download the spreadsheet here for Round Two! Fill it out and send it back to me WITH YOUR NAME AS THE NAME OF THE EXCEL DOCUMENT AND R3 AT THE END(ie. TeebzR2.xlsx) to this email address only!

Click here to download if you missed the link above.

You have until the puck drops on the Rangers-Lightning series on Saturday to fire in your picks. I will have the updated point totals posted tomorrow so you can determine whether the "RISK IT!" option is right for you. I just need to go through and ensure that I got things right like points earned, addition of numbers, and ensuring series points are added in. I'd say everything will be updated by noon tomorrow, so check back in on the leaderboard to see where everything has settled!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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