AHL Playoffs Goalie Match-ups: East Division
I’m taking a look at each goaltending match up in the first round of the AHL playoffs, one division at a time. Here’s the Atlantic Division.
Eastern Conference – East Division
Hershey Bears (1) vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (4)
The Caps have mind-boggling goaltending depth, and that has benefited their farm team. But for Hershey, goaltending has simply been one part of a puzzle that has made Hershey really really really really good. If you base it on wins, they’re the best team in the history of the league with 60 wins (previous record was 57). Pick any of Braden Holtby, Jason Bacashiuha, or Michal Neuvirth (though he was injured last time I looked) and you’ve got goaltending you can rely on. Presumably rookie Holtby (25-8-2/2.32/0.917) who finished 4th among goalies in regular season, will get the start.
Either way, Bridgeport has to feel like they lost the lottery here. The defending champion Bears have steamrolled everything in their path and Nathan Lawson and Scott Munroe, the tandem that helped carry the Sound Tigers into the playoffs, will have their hands full. The duo have split the season fairly evenly with 36 and 40 games respectively and eerily identical stats:
- Lawson – 16-16-4/2.52/0.922
- Munroe – 19-16-4/2.52/0.920
Albany River Rats (2) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (3)
In a slightly less predictable match-up (sorry Bridgeport), the River Rats will more than likely have Justin Peters (26-18-2/2.54/0.917) starting the series, but have Justin Pogge backing him up, which is a pretty solid tandem as Pogge has come into his own this season. Peters has seen some time in the NHL this season and should be able to carry his experience into the playoffs with confidence.
Goaltending hasn’t been the strongest for the Penguins this season, and Adam Berkhoel eventually lost his job to rookie Brad Thiessen (14-14-1/2.45/0.914), who really caught on in February and has carried the load the last couple of months. John Curry has the majority of the starts for the season, but not lately, and this one may be a matter of the hot goalie getting the starts.