There is just about a month to go in the AHL’s regular season, and the mad dash to the Calder Cup Playoffs is on. Things look pretty set out East, as the top contenders are well-separated from the bottom feeders. But right now, a team that looked completely out of the race could be starting a late charge for the eighth seed.
Here is how this week’s rankings are shaping up.
1. Binghamton Senators (36-20-1-4)
The Senators broke their six-game losing streak with wins in all three of their matchups this week. Mark Stone had his first two-goal game of the year in a 7-3 win over Rochester on Sunday. Binghamton is currently holding on to the East Division lead by one with 77 points (second-place Wilkes/Barre Scranton has 76) and sits in the third in the conference.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday, March 19 at Albany, Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22 at Norfolk
2. Grand Rapids Griffins (39-18-2-4)
The Griffins went 2-0-1 this week to improve to 8-2 in their last 10 games, and Andrej Nestrasil helped the team out with three goals in two contests. They are tied with the Texas Stars at 84 points apiece in the Western Conference. A weekend series with Iowa should help them gain some extra buffer in the standings.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday and Saturday at Iowa, Sunday at Chicago
3. Texas Stars (38-17-3-5)
Texas was powered this week by goalie Jack Campbell, who had a 24-save shutout against Chicago on Saturday. Campbell is currently 8-1 with a 1.10 GAA and .957 save percentage. The Stars score 3.5 goals per game and give up just 2.7 each night. Despite their close conference race with Chicago, they lead the Abbotsford Heat by nine points in the West Division.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday at Iowa, Friday and Saturday vs. Oklahoma City
4. Springfield Falcons (38-18-1-5)
Denny Urban posted his second consecutive three-point game as the Falcons beat Albany 6-4 on Friday. They have now won their last four games and sit six points off the Eastern Conference lead. Springfield will now have to face a Worcester team that is heating up down the stretch and two of the conference’s top playoff contenders.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Worcester, Saturday vs. Manchester, Sunday vs. St. John’s
5. St. John’s IceCaps (38-20-1-3)
The IceCaps are one of the more underrated teams in the conference, but have solidified themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Former Calder Cup champion Andrew Gordon leads the team with 21 goals and has scored five points in his last six contests. St. John’s has only lost once in its past 10 games.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Hartford, Saturday at Bridgeport, Sunday at Springfield
6. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (34-20-3-5)
The Penguins are on a four-game winning streak and have been strong in the month of March after a disappointing February. Goaltender Peter Mannino, who was sent to the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL earlier in the season, has won three consecutive starts. He shut out the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday and only had to stop 12 shots in doing so.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Syracuse, Saturday vs. Utica, Sunday at Albany
7. Worcester Sharks (30-27-3-1)
As the season winds down, the Sharks could be a team to watch. The Eastern bottom-feeder has won six straight games. Goalie Harri Sateri made 25 saves to shut out the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Satruday, and Travis Oleksuk tallied three points as Worcester took down conference leaders Manchester by a score of 5-1 on Sunday.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday vs. Springfield, Saturday vs. Hershey, Sunday at Providence
8. Toronto Marlies (36-19-2-3)
The Marlies won both of their games this week and have a 7-3 record in their last 10 games. Spencer Abbott had both goals in Friday’s 2-1 win over Rochester and holds the team scoring lead with 66 points. Toronto is third in the Western Conference, but has played 60 games, three less than Texas and Grand Rapids.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday at Lake Erie, Saturday vs. Milwaukee, Sunday vs. Abbotsford
9. Manchester Monarchs (40-17-2-6)
Manchester holds the Eastern Conference lead and the league’s best winning percentage at .677. In a 7-0 victory against Bridgeport on Friday, Brian O’Neill had a hat trick, while Zach O’Brien had four points. Two of the Monarchs’ next three games will be against teams hoping to land the final playoff spot in the East.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Springfield, Saturday vs. Hershey, Sunday vs. Worcester
10. Abbotsford Heat (34-22-5-2)
The Heat have won just once in their last 10 games and had trouble with the Utica Comets this weekend, winning one of two games against a team that has no hope of the posteason. In Friday’s 3-1 victory, goalie Olivier Roy picked up his first win in net since February. Lowly Hamilton is next on the schedule, but that is just one game in a six-game road trip.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday and Saturday at Hamilton, Sunday at Toronto
11. Albany Devils (32-20-3-7)
Goalie Scott Wedgewood made a combined 36 saves in two shutouts to earn AHL Player of the Week honors, but the Devils’ playoff spot doesn’t look like a sure thing right now. They are playing .500 hockey and are tied with Norfolk for 74 points. Tough games with Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this week could affect their position in the East playoff race.
— Albany Devils (@AlbanyDevils) March 17, 2014
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday vs. Binghamton, Saturday at Syracuse, Sunday vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
12. Charlotte Checkers (31-28-1-2)
The Checkers are in 10th in the West, but their 65 points puts them just four points out of the last playoff spot. They went 2-1 this week to improve to 7-3 in their last 10 games. Zach Boychuk leads the team with 56 points, and with Chris Terry on recall to Carolina, Aaron Palushaj should have no problem picking up the slack, as he has 55 points on the year.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday at Norfolk, Friday and Sunday vs. San Antonio
13. Milwaukee Admirals (29-20-6-6)
Milwaukee is tied with Rochester at 70 points and holds the sixth seed in the West. The Admirals have four wins in their last five games, including a 4-2 victory over San Antonio on Saturday in which Joe Piskula had three points. They should pick up more points this week against two teams who are not in playoff contention.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Hamilton, Saturday at Toronto, Sunday at Utica
14. Chicago Wolves (35-19-5-2)
The Wolves are still in fourth place in the conference but have lost three times in their last five games. They are still scoring close to three goals per game while allowing 2.5. One of Chicago’s bright spots is its penalty kill, which is fifth in the AHL with an 86.3 percent success rate. Alexandre Bolduc and Taylor Chorney are tied for first with two shorthanded goals each.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday vs. Rockford, Saturday at Rockford, Sunday vs. Grand Rapids
15. Hershey Bears (31-23-4-4)
The Bears’ playoff chances could come down to the final weeks of the season, as they are in ninth place in the East with 70 points, four out of the last spot. Ryan Stoa, who played his 100th game for Hershey on Sunday against Norfolk, is fifth on the team with 35 points.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Providence, Saturday at Worcester, Sunday at Manchester
16. Norfolk Admirals (33-21-1-7)
A 1-2 week saw the Admirals get shut out against the Penguins and lose by two goals to East Division leaders Binghamton. However, Emerson Etem had three points on Sunday to help the Ads redeem themselves with a 3-2 win over Hershey. The team will now play its next five games at home.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday vs. Charlotte, Friday and Saturday vs. Binghamton
17. Oklahoma City Barons (29-26-1-7)
The Barons are back out of the West playoff picture and dropped both games against the Griffins this week. However, they beat San Antonio 5-2 on Tuesday and got three points from Brad Hunt and Anton Landers. They currently have 66 points, three points behind eighth-place Rockford, which has 69.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday and Saturday at Texas
18. Iowa Wild (25-25-6-4)
The Wild have 60 points and are 12th place in the West, so they’re not entirely out of the playoff race, but their chances at getting in are slim. However, they are on a three-game winning streak, and Johan Gustafsson has been in goal the whole way. He made 58 saves on a combined 61 shots in Iowa’s two wins this week.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday vs. Texas, Friday and Saturday vs. Grand Rapids
19. Providence Bruins (33-22-2-7)
The sixth-place Bruins are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have 75 points, which puts them between WBS and Albany in the conference standings. Rookie Seth Griffith has posted 13 points in eight games in March, and he has moved to 43 points overall to rank second on the team.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday vs. Hershey, Sunday vs. Worcester
20. Rochester Americans (30-22-6-4)
Rochester is on a four-game losing streak after going 0-2-1 this week. Kevin Porter managed three points on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Americans from losing to the Senators 7-3. The team scores 2.9 goals per game and gives up that same amount.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday and Sunday at Lake Erie
21. Syracuse Crunch (24-27-4-6)
The Crunch picked up points in two out of three games this week but are likely going to finish the year in the East’s bottom heap. Lightning prospect Brett Connolly continues to perform and has seven points in his last eight games. Syracuse will have to look forward to rebuilding for 2014-15 in this last month of the season.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Saturday vs. Albany, Sunday at Adirondack
22. Rockford IceHogs (30-24-5-4)
Rockford lost its only game of the week against Milwaukee on Friday despite two-goal games from Brad Mills and Jeremy Morin. It now sits in eighth in the West by a thread and has Oklahoma City and Charlotte breathing down its necks for the final postseason spot. The IceHogs give up 3.4 goals per game and have a .500 record in their last 10 games.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Chicago, Saturday vs. Chicago
23. Utica Comets (27-27-3-4)
The Comets took a game from the fourth-place Abbotsford Heat this week, but they have had trouble being consistent all season. They are in 11th in the West with 61 points but are not considered favorites for the eighth seed. Alex Friesen has scored five points in six March games, while Benn Ferriero leads the team with 21 goals.
— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) March 16, 2014
Upcoming Schedule: Friday vs. Adirondack, Saturday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Sunday vs. Milwaukee
24. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (27-29-2-4)
The Sound Tigers were shut out on back-to-back nights against Manchester and Worcester. They were able to salvage the weekend on Sunday with a 5-4 win over Adirondack in which Jeremy Langlois and Andrew Clark each had three points. Bridgeport had lost six in a row before Sunday, and it is pretty much out of the East playoff picture.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday at Hartford, Saturday vs. St. John’s, Sunday vs. Portland
25. Lake Erie Monsters (26-28-0-6)
After missing all of February, David van der Guilk has scored five points in six games in March. However, it hasn’t been enough to help the Monsters, who are 14th in the Western Conference despite winning three of their last five games. One of the team’s problems is an offense that scores just 2.5 goals a game, but they are also 17th in the AHL on both the power play and the penalty kill.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday vs. Toronto, Friday and Sunday vs. Rochester
26. Portland Pirates (22-30-2-8)
The Pirates dropped two out of three games against the IceCaps this week. In Friday’s 7-4 win, which marked just the second time this season Portland has beaten St. John’s, Jordan Martinook had three points. The Pirates are surrendering nearly four goals per game at a 3.6 average.
Upcoming Schedule: Sunday at Bridgeport
27. Hartford Wolf Pack (26-29-1-6)
The Wolf Pack have a 2-3 record in their last five, but managed three out of a possible six points this week. Danny Syvret had points in two out of three contests and is fifth on Hartford with 32 points. The Wolf Pack rank in the bottom 10 of the league on both the power play and the penalty kill, where they are 27th and 24th, respectively.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday vs. Bridgeport, Friday vs. St. John’s, Saturday at Adirondack
28. Hamilton Bulldogs (26-30-1-4)
After a four-goal loss to the Penguins on Friday, the Bulldogs turned things around on Saturday with a win against Syracuse following a nine-round shootout. Mike Blunden, who scored the only goal against WBS and the shootout winner, is third on the team with 29 points. Hamilton’s inconsistency has sent it to last place in the Western Conference.
Upcoming Schedule: Wednesday vs. Abbotsford, Friday vs. Milwaukee, Saturday vs. Abbotsford
29. San Antonio Rampage (25-28-3-6)
The Rampage had a demanding week and picked up just one win in four games. They were held to two goals or less in three of those contests. San Antonio is now 2-8 in its last 10 after a string of promising play in February. With Vincent Trocheck in Florida, Bobby Butler has led the offense with 19 goals and 38 points.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday and Sunday at Charlotte
30. Adirondack Phantoms (24-32-1-4)
Adirondack has the AHL’s worst winning percentage at .434 and will start the new week on a six-game losing streak. The one bright spot from their prior week was Kyle Flanagan’s three-assist performance against Bridgeport on Sunday. The Phantoms will end their time in Glens Falls still in search of their first playoff spot since the 2008-09 season, when the team was still based in Philadelphia.
Upcoming Schedule: Friday at Utica, Saturday vs. Hartford, Sunday vs. Syracuse
Alison is currently covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL for The Hockey Writers after writing about the NHL’s New Jersey Devils from 2011-2012. She is currently employed for the fast growing sports website Bleacher Report as a quality editor and hopes to one day have a media relations career with a professional hockey team. Follow her on Twitter @AlisonM_110.