Let’s check in with some of the less covered teams that may be of interest to Oilers fans, or fans of local hockey in Edmonton:
Unfortunately, the Condors have fallen out of the Pacific division playoff race, and although they aren’t officially eliminated, there just isn’t enough time left in the season for them to get themselves back in the race. Their team has hit the skids from a playoff outlook standpoint (47 points in 52 games, 12 points back of the last playoff spot, despite having 2 fewer remaining games than the San Diego Gulls team they are chasing). Still, considering that the AHL exists as a developmental league for the NHL, and a plethora of recent Condors are making major contributions the Oilers’ playoff run, one could argue that Bakersfield has served its purpose this season.
Eight Condors are averaging at least 0.6 points per game this season (min 5 AHL games played). They are:
Josh Currie - 22 goals and 39 points (both team highs), in 52 gp (0.75 pts/g)
Tyler Benson - team high 27 assists, and 36 points, in 43 gp (0.84 pts/g)
Evan Bouchard - 33 points in 50 gp (0.66 pts/g). Also:
Bouchard is second among rookie d-men in scoring and has led all AHL d-men since Jan 1.— Ryan Holt (@CondorsHolty) February 19, 2020
Brad Malone - 31 points in 49 gp (0.63 pts/g)
Kailer Yamamoto - 16 points in 23 gp (0.7 pts/g) in the AHL, 21 points in 21 NHL games.
Markus Granlund - 15 points in 17 gp (0.88 pts/g)
Caleb Jones - 11 points in 14 gp (0.79 pts/g)
Tomas Jurco - 7 points in 8 gp (0.88 pts/g)
Of these eight players, two hold spots on the Oilers’ NHL roster (Jones, and Yamamoto, though Yamamoto will miss the next few weeks with a high ankle sprain). Jurco has been out, following his hip surgery in December, and Bouchard was just recently sent back down to Bakersfield, following a call-up to the big club, in which he sat in the press box. So was Benson, who did manage to play pretty well in Edmonton. Furthermore, Brad Malone missed last weekend’s games with an Illness, so only 2 of Bakersfield top 8 points-per-game scorers suited up for them last weekend (Granlund and Currie). The returns of Malone, Bouchard, and Benson should keep their games competitive down the stretch, but they’d still be hard pressed to chase down anyone without the likes of Yamamoto, Jone and Jurco. Though, to be fair, those players have only played a combined 37 games in the AHL this season. Maybe the Condors can get blazing hot down the stretch, but they haven’t really shown signs of being that team all season.
Edit: Granlund is now up with the big club.
The Thunder have lost four straight, and have amassed 50 points in 57 games. They currently sit in last place in the Mountain division, and are 10 points out of a playoff spot. They should be considered irrelevant to the ECHL’s Kelly Cup playoff picture.
Alberta Golden Bears
Shockingly, the first place Golden Bears lost two games to one, in their best of three Canada west semi-finals playoff series, to the UBC Thunderbirds, this past weekend, on home ice, at Clare Drake Arena.
On the other side for the Bears. A disappointing end to a 23-5 season, obviously not happy but in the two games they lost to UBC they outshot them 94-36...sometimes you tip your hat to a goalie. Yes, 94-36.— Dustin Nielson (@nielsonTSN1260) February 24, 2020
My CWUAA model gave the Golden Bear a 90.5% chance to win each game, this past weekend, which translates to a 97.5% chance of winning the best-of-three series, and an 81.9% chance of sweeping said series. This means that in 1000 simulations of this playoff series, the Golden Bears only would have been eliminated 25 times. But, that’s why they play the games.
Over the three games, the Golden Bears outshot the Thunderbirds 128-56, good for a 70% shot share, and a 72% shot share in losses alone.
My model projected the Bears to outscore the Thunderbirds by 3.2 goals per game, or 9.6 goals overall, over the course of three games (though it would have been hard to outscore the T-birds by that many goals, given that T-birds would have to win at least once to force a three-game series, and the Bears had an 82% chance of sweeping).
As it turned out, the Bears did outscore the Thunderbirds, 9-6, over the three games, but will still see their season come to end end before the Canada West finals, for the first time in nearly a decade. Had the Bears won the series, they would have qualified for the USports national championship tournament yet again, by virtue of making their conference finals. The last time the Bears failed to qualify for the conference finals was 2012.
This weekend, the UBC Thunderbird travel to Saskatchewan to take on the Huskies in a best-of-three series, for the CWUAA championship. My model gives the Huskies a 93.5% chance of winning the title.
NAIT face off against Grant MacEwan this weekend, for their final two games of the regular season. The Ooks have won six straight, and have locked up first place in the ACAC, with 46 points in 26 games. Following this weekend’s games, and regardless of the results, they will have a bye for the first round of the ACAC playoffs. Their goal differential on the year is +79, meaning their average game is slightly better than a win by a margin of three goals. They are a wagon.
Grant Mac obviously faces NAIT this weekend, but with a lot more on the line. They sit one point behind Red Deer College for second in the ACAC standings. The top two teams at season’s end get byes to the semi-finals. The Griffins may be in tough against the class of the league this weekend, but it’s still possible to catch RDC, who have a two-game set against fourth place SAIT this weekend.
My new ACAC model gives the Griffins a 36.2% chance of winning their road game against NAIT this weekend, and a 46.5% chance of winning on home ice. Over the two games it has NAIT in for 5.75 goals, and it has GMU in for 5.15, which comes out to a weekend supremacy midpoint of NAIT -0.6, and a projected goal total of 10.9.
I’ll continue to use this model to forecast the ACAC playoffs, starting next weekend.