The Hershey Bears will wear a Caps-themed jersey against the Lehigh Valley...
2W’s Each for Caps, Bears, Royals – 3 Very Different Situations
Philipp Grubauer is on the wrong end of a goal scored by the Providence Bruins (M. Richter)
It was a busy day in the minors for the Caps affiliates, with both the Hershey Bears and Reading Royals taking the ice at home for playoff action. At the end of the night, the playoff numbers were the same for all three parts of the Caps organization – 2 wins on the books in their current series. However, the implications of those wins are very different.
In Hershey, the Bears lost their second game of the weekend to the visiting Providence Bruins (5-4 in regulation), allowing their best-of-five quarterfinals to go to a Game Five (scheduled for Wednesday in Providence). Hershey goal scorers: Joey Crabb (x2), Casey Wellman, and Tom Wilson (first pro goal!). Providence goal scorers: Carter Camper (x3, including Game-Winner), Graham Mink (former-Bear), Craig Cunningham.
In Reading, the news was better – a second win over the visiting Cincinnati Cyclones (3-2, single OT this time). Alex Berry had the game-winner, ending things a full sixteen minutes earlier than Friday’s series-opener. The win puts the Royals up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, just two wins away from the Kelly Cup Championships. While no guarantee, the odds are certainly looking good for the Royals, who won all three games they played against the Cyclones during the regular season.
At the risk of jumping the gun, should the Royals advance to the Championships, they would retain their home ice advantage. Neither of the top-seeded teams from the Western Conference have made it to the Conference Finals.
With their win on Saturday afternoon, the Caps improved to 2-0 over the New York Rangers, an enviable position going into their first away games of the playoffs. The Caps have made the most of their home ice advantage so far in this series, and it bodes well for them should they be able to maintain that edge as they get deeper into the first round. Unlike the Royals, their record against the Rangers in the regular season isn’t universally positive, but so far they’ve managed to put the past behind them admirably.
The Organization-Wide Picture
As was the case last year, the Caps are one of few teams to have an affiliate still active at all levels of playoffs at this point in the spring. Granted, this fact is likely aided by the small size of the ECHL – only 23 teams currently belong to the AHL’s farm league, as opposed to the 30 and 30 matchup of the AHL and NHL. Of those, some teams (such as the Bakersfield Condors) possess no formal affiliate, and merely foster players on a case-by-case basis.