The Norfolk Admirals were the first number eight seed in seven years to upset a number one seed. Now it’s time to do it again to another higher seed, the number four team, The St John’s IceCaps, minor league affiliate of Winnipeg Jets. St John’s beat the Albany Devils in four games in the first round (Again- best of five first round) to advance to the semi-finals.
In the second round, the AHL moves to a seven game format. But being the AHL, they have to do things different than the NHL. Travel costs make it impossible to do a 2-2-1-1-1 game format. Instead we get a 2-3-2 format with the higher seeded team getting the first two and last two games.
Norfolk’s Complete Second Round Playoff Schedule:
Game 1 – Tue., May 6 – Norfolk at St. John’s, 6:00
Game 2 – Wed., May 7 – Norfolk at St. John’s, 6:00
Game 3 – Sat., May 10 – St. John’s at Norfolk, 8:00
Game 4 – Mon., May 12 – St. John’s at Norfolk, 7:15
*Game 5 – Tue., May 13 – St. John’s at Norfolk, 7:15
*Game 6 – Fri., May 16 – Norfolk at St. John’s, 6:00
*Game 7 – Sat., May 17 – Norfolk at St. John’s, 6:00
Norfolk vs St. John’s
Season Series: Non-Existent. Another place where the AHL is different is teams don’t play every team in the league. In fact, teams don’t even play every team in their conference. Norfolk has played St John’s in previous seasons, but did not this season.
St John’s was third in the league for offense in the regular season. They only managed to get nine goals in the four games versus Albany in the first round. AHL Veteran Andrew Gordon found his stride getting a Hat Trick and total of four points. Regular Season Point leader Jason Jaffrey was held to two assists.
Norfolk was 22nd in the league for offense in the regular season. Norfolk as well did not have a highly offensive first round, only getting seven goals in four games. Defensemen Sami Vatanen led the way with three assists. Maxime Sauve scored back to back game winning goals.
Advantage: St John’s
Norfolk’s young offensive talent will get the scoring going, but if the Veteran talent of Andrew Gordon, Jason Jaffrey, and Jerome Samson can get on the score sheet if might be hard for the Admirals to outscore St John’s.
St John’s was tenth in defense in the regular season. They are tied with Norfolk in the playoffs with only letting six goals in in four games.
Norfolk boasted the number four defense in the regular season. Sophmore Sami Vatanen has been the heart of the defense with getting power play, penalty kill, and even strength time.
Norfolk has veterans Garnet Exelby, Jesse Blacker, Steve Eminger, and Nolan Yonkman that have the talent and skill to shut down the veteran offense of the IceCaps.
St John’s goaltender Michael Hutchinson went 3-1 in the first round with a 1.51GAA. Coming in at number three in the playoffs with a 0.952 SV%.
Norfolk rookie sensation goaltender John Gibson also went 3-1 in the first round. He ranks just ahead of Hutchenson at number two in the playoffs with a 1.42GAA and 0.947 SV%
While Gibson and Hutchinson are the #2 & #3 goalies of the playoffs, Gibson has been a steady hand since coming back from the NHL.
St John’s has the 12th best PP (out of 16 teams) in the first round scoring on 2 of 19 man advantage opportunities. St John’s penalty kill ranks tenth, letting in 4 goals on 21 PKs.
Norfolk’s power play only converted on once in the first round, but also only had 10 PPs to try. On the other hand, Norfolk’s regular season stellar penalty kill continued into the post season. They came in at number two in the first round killing 16 of 17 penalties.
Norfolk did not get as many opportunities on the PP as St John’s did in the first round, so we won’t really know if the Power play will make a difference for Norfolk, BUT the penalty kill is beyond amazing and can make or break this series.
Prediction: Norfolk in 6
This isn't me being biased (well maybe a little, like 55% biased) but just on paper you can see why I am going with Norfolk in 6. If the Admirals sit back on their heels for one period like they did in Game 3 vs the Monarchs, the IceCaps can capitalize and take the game.
I'll leave you again with this fun fact: the last time the Admirals played the IceCaps in the playoffs was a third round/best of 7 series in 2012. Admirals went on to win it all that year- just sayin!