AHL Playoffs Goalie Match-ups: West Division
I’m taking a look at each goaltending match-up in the first round of the AHL playoffs, one division at a time.
Western Conference – West Division
Chicago Wolves (1) vs. Milwaukee Admirals (4)
Chicago can get pucks in the net no problem, so the very solid tandem of Peter Mannino (26-5-1/2.34/0.921) and Drew MacIntyre is just icing on the cake. Both goaltenders have been around the block a couple of times in the pros, including playoff experience, so they know what’s in store and can prepare accordingly. And even if they falter, the rest of the team in front of them is good enough that the occasional bail-out shouldn’t be a problem. I would expect Mannino to get the start, even though he’s had fewer starts than MacIntyre, his record is quite a bit better. Either guy will get the job done though.
The Admirals’ Mark Dekanich (27-6-4/2.33/0.914) has had a “learning” year. A really rough patch early on led to being sent down to the ECHL for a week, which fired him up so much, he ended up earning ECHL Goalie of the Week and was called back to Milwaukee “cured.” Since then, he’s been money, and with the Admirals not having overwhelming scoring prowess, Dekanich has been pivotal. His back-up, rookie Chet Pickard has been finding his way as a pro this season and held his own, but this is Dekanich’s start for sure.
Texas Stars (2) vs. Rockford IceHogs (3)
The Texas Stars goaltending duo of Matt Climie and Brent Krahn (17-4-0/1.83/0.945) led their very capable expansion team to frightening dominance early in the season. Then Krahn went down with a sports hernia and things went downhill for a while as the team took a quick tour of the lower rungs on the standings ladder. But they righted the ship, and now Krahn and Climie are reunited and playing well at the right time. I’ve seen speculation of a Krahn start and with numbers like he has, it’s hard to argue, but I don’t think they could go wrong either way.
Seems the Blackhawks made the right call betting on Antti Niemi over Corey Crawford (24-16-2/2.67/0.909)). Crawford has been good but not great as the #1 goalie on this Rockford team, and behind him, Joe Fallon actually had slightly better numbers but was traded to Peoria for Hannu Toivonen, who will back up Crawford. Meanwhile, Toivonen hasn’t had much success in his 6 games with Rockford, so the series is Crawford’s to carry. My guess is this team, which has decent but not overwhelming scoring (and will not likely be getting any help from parent club Chicago any time soon), will put up a hard fight against Texas but won’t be able to score enough.