Manchester Monarchs vs. Norfolk Admirals
Manchester is the top seed in the Eastern Conference but deferred home-ice advantage to start the 2-3 best-of-five series at home. Bold? Possibly, but Manchester is the much better team. The teams played four times this season and split the series 2-2.
Monarchs in four.
Springfield Falcons vs. Providence Bruins
Springfield was very good against Providence this season, going 6-2-0-2 in ten meetings. Mike McKenna is also a veteran goalie I like in this series.
Falcons in four
Binghamton Senators vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Binghamton could have gotten a nice boost in this series if Mike Hoffman was sent down. However, the 67-point scorer would have to clear waivers and that’s probably not worth the risk for Ottawa.
Senators in five.
St. John’s IceCaps vs. Albany Devils
These teams didn’t meet during the regular season and both teams finished the regular season strong in their final 10 games, combining for just four losses in regulation. Albany has been playing playoff-style hockey for the past three weeks just to get in, but St. John’s will have the all-important Games 4 and 5 at home.
IceCaps in five.
Texas Stars vs. Oklahoma City Barons
This is a playoff rematch from last season and the teams played 12 times this season. So its fair to say, they know each other very well. However, there are a couple x-factors in this series: does Mark Arcobello return for Game 2? How is Brett Ritchie’s health? Who starts in goal for Texas?
Texas in four.
Chicago Wolves vs. Rochester Americans
Chicago unseated Grand Rapids as the Midwest Division champion late in the regular season and Jake Allen is one of the best goalies in the league. Meanwhile, Rochester had to fight and claw its way to the seven seed.
Chicago in three.
Toronto Marlies vs. Milwaukee Admirals
Toronto and Milwaukee played twice this season and the Admirals won both games. Milwaukee also starts at home and surged late in the regular season with a 7-3-0-0 record in its final 10 games.
Milwaukee in four
Grand Rapids Griffins vs. Abbotsford Heat
Grand Rapids should have been the second seed in the Western Conference and was battling for the conference supremacy for most of the season. However, they were caught in the final three weeks of the season by Chicago and dropped into the 4-5 matchup. Abbotsford is a team without a home next season and likely playing its final playoff series, just like the Houston Aeros did against Grand Rapids last season.
Grand Rapids in four.