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San Jose Barracuda Calder Cup Playoffs Preview

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Twitter.com/theahl
Twitter.com/theahl

An eighth seeded San Jose team is taking on the top seeded team picked by most experts to win the Cup in the first round of the playoffs.

No, this isn’t a Flashback Friday to the 1994 Western Conference Quarterfinals when the San Jose Sharks shocked the hockey world by upsetting the Detroit Red Wings. Rather, it is the AHL Calder Cup Playoff series between the San Jose Barracuda and the Ontario Reign (AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings), whom the Barracuda went 3-6-3 against in the regular season, that starts tonight at SAP Center.

For the Barracuda to defeat the Reign, whom won the Calder Cup last season as the Manchester Monarchs, three is the key in both wins and goals for this best of five series. In the 12 regular season meetings, the Barracuda won their three games when they scored three or more goals, all of which occurred at SAP Center. In the other nine meetings, the Barracuda were shutout twice, scored two goals three times and scored one goal four times.

Scoring three or more goals each game will be a challenge for the Barracuda as Reign goaltender Peter Budaj, who went 9-2-0 against the Barracuda in the regular season, led the AHL in goals-against-average (1.75), save percentage (.932), wins (42), minutes played (3574:33) and shutouts (nine).

While Budaj posted impressive regular season numbers, the Barracuda did gain some confidence back on March 30 at SAP Center when they chased Budaj out of net after 30:25 of action by scoring three goals on 12 shot attempts en route to a 3-1 victory.

Getting the call in net for the Barracuda to oppose Budaj will be goaltender Aaron Dell, who went 3-2-2 against the Reign in seven starts and stopped 236 of 250 shots faced in eight appearances, which was punctuated by a 50-save performance in a 4-2 win at SAP Center on Feb. 10. For the season, Dell finished eighth in goals-against-average (2.42), fourth in save percentage (.922) and 10th in shutouts with four.

Offensively, the Barracuda will need forwards Ryan Carpenter and Barclay Goodrow to get on the score sheet as they each had two points on a goal and an assist in 11 and nine games against the Reign respectively. Carpenter, who was named Barracuda team MVP, led the team in regular season scoring with 55 points on 18 goals and 37 assists while Goodrow registered 39 points on 20 goals and 19 assists.

In addition to Carpenter and Goodrow, the Barracuda will look to get continued and consistent scoring from forwards Bryan Lerg (21-30-51), John McCarthy (16-29-45), Nikolay Goldobin (21-23-44), Trevor Parkes (18-23-41), and Jeremy Langlois (12-22-34), all of whom registered four or more points against the Reign (Lerg led the way with eight points on three goals and five assists in 11 games).

Special teams wise, the Barracuda will need to get their power play on track as they went 5-for-45 (11.1%) against the Reign and were 24th overall in the AHL at 15.4%. On the penalty kill side, the Barracuda only surrendered six Reign power play goals on 42 attempts (85.7%), which was a bit higher than their 19th ranked penalty kill of 82.4%.

Lastly, two players that could be x-factors for the Barracuda are defenseman Matt Tennyson, who will be seeing his first action against the Reign all season, and forward Jeremy Morin, who only played in the final three games against the Reign after being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs shortly before the NHL Trade Deadline.