AHL Power Rankings: Week 23

Week 23 of the American Hockey League season is upon us, with less than 20 games remaining for almost every AHL club. Eight points separate the second and eighth seeds in the Eastern Conference, with the Hershey Bears still in the hunt. In the Western Conference, Oklahoma City and Charlotte are on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Texas and Grand Rapids are the two clear favorites in the West. Look for your favorite team below.

1. Texas Stars (36-16-3-5)

The Stars have the second best winning percentage in the AHL (.667) and don’t look like they’ll be stopping anytime soon. They enter this week on a seven game point streak (6-0-0-1) and have just one regulation loss over their past ten games.

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th vs. Charlotte, 15th and 16th at Chicago

Jyrki Jokipakka (Ross Bonander/THW)

Jyrki Jokipakka (Ross Bonander/THW)

2. Manchester Monarchs (39-16-26)

L.A.’s AHL affiliate has the best record in the league and has won three straight games. Forward Jordan Weal has contributed big time for the Monarchs, eighth in scoring with 54 points on the season.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th vs. Bridgeport and 16th at Worcester

3. Grand Rapids Griffins (37-18-2-3)

Last year’s Calder Cup champions are still playing well despite multiple call ups to the Detroit Red Wings, going 7-3 in their past ten games. They trail the top seeded Texas Stars by one point in the Western Conference with 16 games remaining.

Upcoming Schedule: March 13th at San Antonio, 14th and 15th at Oklahoma City

4. St. John’s IceCaps (36-19-1-3)

The IceCaps are currently the hottest team in the AHL on a nine game point streak (8-0-0-1). Three home matchups against the AHL worst Portland Pirates presents a big opportunity to improve their playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference.

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th, 14th and 15th vs. Portland

5. Chicago Wolves (35-18-4-2)

The Wolves have effectively dug themselves out of a first half struggle to reach the fourth seed in the Western Conference. They enter this week following two wins last weekend and they have a game in hand on Texas and Grand Rapids.

Upcoming Schedule: March 15th and 16th vs. Texas

6. Toronto Marlies (34-19-2-3)

The Marlies have been consistent for the majority of the season and are almost a sure lock to reach the postseason. If they hold on to their division lead they’ll enter the playoffs as the third seed.

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Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Rochester and 16th vs. Hamilton

7. Springfield Falcons (36-18-1-5)

The Falcons have rebounded after some struggles in February, entering the week on a two game winning streak. Forward Andrew Joudrey is tied for first in the AHL with three shootout-winning goals.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th vs. Albany and 15th vs. Providence

8. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (32-20-3-5)

Probably the team with the most recalls to the NHL, the Penguins enter this week on a four game point streak (3-0-0-1). Captain Tom Kostopoulos is fifth in the league with 13 power play goals on the season.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th vs. Hamilton and 15th vs. Norfolk

The Hershey Bears faced the W-B/Scranton Penguins for the second night in a row on Saturday. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

The Hershey Bears faced the W-B/Scranton Penguins for the second night in a row on Saturday. (Annie Erling Gofus/The Hockey Writers)

9. Norfolk Admirals (32-19-1-7)

Anaheim made some big moves at the NHL trade deadline; yet, the Admirals continue to climb up the Eastern Conference standings. They grabbed the division lead this weekend, including a home win over the Hershey Bears.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Binghamton, 15th at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and 16th vs. Norfolk

10. Rochester Americans (30-20-5-4)

The struggling Abbotsford Heat has given the Americans a shot at attaining home ice advantage in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. They face a tough matchup against three playoff teams this week.

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th vs. Binghamton, 14th vs. Toronto and 15th at Binghamton

11. Milwaukee Admirals (27-19-6-6)

The Admirals hold a two point edge in the eighth seed of the Western Conference, just above of the Oklahoma City Barons. Michael Liambas is second in penalty minutes with 226 on the season, trailing Norfolk’s Zach Stortini for the league lead.

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th vs. Iowa, 14th vs. Rockford and 15th vs. San Antonio

12. Providence Bruins (32-21-1-7)

Victimized by seven shootout losses this season, Boston’s AHL affiliate has played far better than their record shows. Providence goaltender Niklas Svedberg leads all AHL net minders with six shootout wins on the campaign.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th vs. Worcester, 15th at Springfield and 16th vs. Hartford

13. Albany Devils (30-19-3-7)

New Jersey’s AHL affiliate has played great under their organization system, currently holding the eighth and final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the Hershey Bears. Goaltender Keith Kinkaid is fourth in the AHL with 21 wins this season.

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Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Springfield, 15th vs. Hartford and 16th vs. Syracuse

14. Rockford IceHogs (30-24-5-3)

The IceHogs have a four point cushion on non-playoff teams, currently holding the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Rockford’s Jeremy Morin is fourth in the league with 204 shots on goal this season.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Milwaukee

15. Binghamton Senators (33-20-1-4)

The Senators have struggled mightily of late, just like the Hershey Bears did recently, going winless in their past six games (0-5-0-1). The promotion of forward Mike Hoffman to the NHL likely has a lot to do with Binghamton’s struggles. The winger contributed 67 points in 51 games for the Senators this season, 2nd behind the Stars’ Travis Morin.

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th at Rochester, 14th vs. Norfolk and 15th vs. Rochester

16. Abbotsford Heat (33-21-5-2)

Abbotsford, like Binghamton, is struggling, but to a far greater extent. They’re 0-6-1-1 in their past ten games and have fallen to fifth in the Western Conference. Two games against Utica this weekend after a week of practice could produce a recovery.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th and 15th vs. Utica

17. Oklahoma City Barons (28-24-1-7)

The Barons trail a playoff spot by just two points, but have played two more games than the Admirals, who currently hold the eighth seed. Goaltender Richard Bachman is 2nd in the AHL with 1105 saves this season, trailing the Marlies’ Drew MacIntyre for the league lead.

Upcoming Schedule: March 11th vs. San Antonio, 14th and 15th vs. Grand Rapids

18. Hershey Bears (30-22-3-4)

After climbing to the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Hershey Bears struggled over the past two weeks, dropping to ninth in the Eastern Conference. They ended a long losing streak Friday night in Norfolk with a win over Anaheim’s AHL affiliate.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Syracuse, 15th vs. Adirondack and 16th vs. Norfolk

19. Utica Comets (26-26-3-4)

Since having one of the worst records in the league to begin the season, the Comets have finally reached the .500 mark. They’ve won four straight games, but still trail a playoff spot by seven points with 17 games left on the docket.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th and 15th at Abbotsford

20. Worcester Sharks (27-27-3-1)

Like Utica, the Sharks are on the outside looking in regarding playoff positioning. They trail a playoff spot by 12 points and have 18 games remaining, unlikely even with their current three game winning streak.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Providence, 15th at Bridgeport and 16th vs. Manchester

21. Charlotte Checkers (29-27-1-2)

After two big road wins in Hershey last weekend, the Checkers continue to play well. They enter this week following another win and trail a playoff spot by five points. Forward Zach Boychuk is ninth in AHL scoring with 53 points in 52 games, averaging just over a point per game.

Jared Staal Photo Credit: ( Gregg Forwerck/Charlotte Checkers)

Jared Staal Photo Credit: ( Gregg Forwerck/Charlotte Checkers)

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th at Texas, 15th and 16th vs. Lake Erie

22. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (26-27-2-4)

After some positive play in February, the Sound Tigers have regressed, winless in their last four games (0-3-1-0). Forward Chris Langkow is first for the rookie class with three shorthanded assists.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Manchester, 15th vs. Worcester and 16th vs. Adirondack

23. Hartford Wolf Pack (25-28-0-6)

The Rangers AHL affiliate has climbed out of the cellar in the Eastern Conference, but should be focusing on taking steps to improve next season. Defenseman Danny Syvret is 17th in blue line scoring with 30 points in 59 games during the 2013-14 season.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th vs. Adirondack, 15th at Albany and 16th at Providence

24. Lake Erie Monsters (25-27-0-6)

Trailing a playoffs spot by ten points, Colorado’s AHL affiliate will look for positives heading into the summer. Defenseman Matt Hunwick is 18th in blue line scoring with 29 points, Toronto’s T.J. Brennan leads all defensemen with 59 points in 58 regular season contests.

Upcoming Schedule: March 15th and 16th at Charlotte

25. San Antonio Rampage (24-25-3-6)

Two points separate the bottom four teams in the Western Conference and the Rampage could easily end up with the worst record in the West. Their penalty kill ranks 23rd in the league at 79.9%.

Upcoming Schedule: March 11th at Oklahoma City, 13th vs. Grand Rapids, 15th at Milwaukee and 16th at Iowa

26. Syracuse Crunch (23-26-4-5)

Syracuse is the lone team in the East Division that isn’t competing for a playoff spot. They’re 24th in the AHL averaging 2.40 goals per matchup.

Brett Connolly (Credit: stat19/flickr)

Brett Connolly (Credit: stat19/flickr)

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th vs. Hershey, 15th vs. Hamilton and 16th at Albany

27. Iowa Wild (23-25-6-4)

Minnesota’s AHL affiliate has underwhelmed drastically in their first season in Iowa, falling to 14th in the Eastern Conference, just one point above last place Hamilton. They’re last in offensive efficiency, averaging 2.36 goals per game.

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th at Milwaukee and 16th vs. San Antonio

28. Hamilton Bulldogs (25-28-1-4)

Sitting last in the Western Conference, the Bulldogs haven’t found many positives this season. Like Iowa, the Bulldogs have been ineffective offensively, 28th in scoring averaging 2.40 goals per contest.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 15th at Syracuse and 16th at Toronto

29. Adirondack Phantoms (24-30-1-3)

The Phantoms once were in contention for a playoff spot, but their lowly play in 2014 has been well documented. Goaltender Cal Heeter has been strong for the majority of the season, but has received no help from the Phantoms’ 29th ranked offense.

Upcoming Schedule: March 14th at Hartford, 15th at Hershey and 16th at Bridgeport

30. Portland Pirates (21-28-2-8)

Phoenix’s AHL affiliate is the worst in the league and are just 2-7-0-1 over their last ten contests. They’re allowing a league worst 3.59 goals per game.

Upcoming Schedule: March 12th, 14th and 15th at St. John’s

You can follow Matthew on twitter @m_speck and email him at mspeck21@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.

Matthew Speck

Matthew Speck

Matthew Speck covers the Washington Capitals organization for The Hockey Writers. He's credentialed for Washington's AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, and covers most home games. Matthew also covers high school sports for the Lebanon Daily News. You can email him at mspeck21@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.
Matthew Speck

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