By some miracle, the San Jose Barracuda still have not been eliminated from Calder Cup Playoff contention. With the addition of Alexander “Sasha” Chmelevski and Ivan Chekhovich, the team appears to have been reinvigorated, winning every game in the month of April. Somehow, the final spot in the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division remains unclaimed, albeit currently occupied by Anaheim Ducks’ affiliate, the San Diego Gulls.
The San Diego Gulls have two games remaining, both against the Arizona Coyotes’ affiliate team, the Tucson Roadrunners. The Roadrunners have clinched the AHL Pacific Division, and the Gulls lost their previous game against the Roadrunners in a 4-0 shutout. If the San Diego Gulls earn a single point, they will clinch the final spot.
But what if they don’t?
Enter: the San Jose Barracuda.
Okay, enter the San Jose Barracuda and the Stockton Heat. The ‘Cuda and the Flames’ affiliate currently have an identical point total and the same number of remaining games, but their final match is against each other. While it is possible for one of the Barracuda or the Heat to catch and the Gulls’ standings spot, a three-way tie is impossible. As such, I will only be focusing on how the Barracuda could catch the Gulls. Flames fans, just pretend I’m saying “Heat” the whole time. It’s basically equally true.
The AHL is weird in that some teams in the Pacific Division play a reduced schedule of games: the California and Arizona-based AHL clubs play a 68 game season, while every other AHL team plays a full 76 game season. As such, standings in the Pacific Division for are decided by point percentage for purposes of playoff qualification. This is how the Texas Stars clinched before the remaining three California-based teams; it is impossible for Texas to possess a lower point percentage than each of San Diego, San Jose, and Stockton. That said, the three aforementioned clubs all play the same number of games, so we can discuss their standings in relation to each other in terms of points.
San Diego currently sits at 76 points. If San Jose wins their two remaining games in any fashion and San Diego loses its remaining two games in regulation, the Barracuda will catch and tie San Diego at 76 points. Enter the AHL’s tiebreakers which are, in order:
Between two teams:
a) percentage of games won (excluding shootout wins)
b) points in season series between teams
c) goal differential
d) goals scored in season series between teams
e) intra-conference points percentage
Since San Diego and San Jose both play the same number of games, we can just use ROW (Regulation and Overtime Wins) by itself to determine which team would have Tiebreaker A. The San Diego Gulls currently sit at 32 ROW. Since the Gulls will clinch with a single point, let’s just assume they lose the next two games in regulation and sit at 32 ROW at the close of the season. The San Jose Barracuda currently sit at 31 ROW. To have this tiebreaker, the San Jose Barracuda must win both of their remaining games in regulation or in overtime (Bakersfield has already been eliminated, and a win in any fashion over Stockton would result in more points than Stockton). If San Jose wins both in shootout, San Diego has this tiebreaker. If San Jose wins both, but wins one in shootout, we move to Tiebreaker B.
Tiebreaker B is points in season series between teams. This season, the San Jose Barracuda have already finished their series against the Gulls and hold a 4-3-1 record, meaning they gained nine points in match ups against the Gulls. The Gulls’ record against the Barracuda is 4-4-0, meaning they gained eight points against the Barracuda. Thanks to the loser point from an overtime loss on February 10, the Barracuda have this tiebreaker over the Gulls, rendering every other tiebreaker unnecessary.
So there you have it. It is possible for the San Jose Barracuda to qualify for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs, provided that the Barracuda win their remaining two games (at least one of which in regulation or overtime) and San Diego loses its remaining two games in regulation. If this somehow comes to fruition, San Jose would be the fourth seed in the Pacific, and would face the Tucson Roadrunners in the first round of the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs.