A few notes on this Sunday morning, the last day of the AHL’s regular season.
–It really is coming down to the final day. Sometime around or before 6 p.m. PT on Sunday, the Reign will finally know who they’re facing in the Calder Cup Playoffs starting next week. It all revolves around San Jose’s 3 p.m. game against the Stockton Heat. The Barracuda need just one point to clinch the last available playoff spot, something they failed to earn against the Heat on Saturday night in a 5-4 road loss. They’ll get a chance on SAP Center home ice this afternoon. If the Barracuda (30-26-8-3, .530 winning percentage) fall again, the top-seeded Reign will face Central Division #5 crossover seed Charlotte (36-32-3-5, .526) in the first round.
Oddly enough, it feels like neither team wants to face the Reign. San Jose has lost five of their last six games and Charlotte lost five straight to end the regular season.
The team’s communications head Joey Zakrzewski said on Saturday’s Reign game radio broadcast that as soon as the Reign know their opponent the full first round schedule will be released. As of now, we only know Ontario’s home games:
Game 1 on road) TBD
Game 2 on road) TBD
Game 3 at home) Thursday, April 28, 7 p.m.
Game 4 at home) Friday, April 29, 7 p.m.**
Game 5 at home) Sunday, May 1, 3 p.m.**
–It’s been quite the week for goalie Peter Budaj who won the AHL’s outstanding goalie award on Monday and picked up yet another honor on Saturday, the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award.
Similar to the NHL’s Jennings Trophy, the award is given to the goaltender(s) with at least 25 games played on the team which allows the fewest goals per game in the regular season. Ontario surrendered just 2.03 goals per game, good for the sixth-lowest total in AHL history.
The 33-year-old Budaj finished the season leading the league in every important goaltending statistic: wins (42), goals-against average (1.75), save percentage (.932) and shutouts (9).
After making 22 consecutive starts, Budaj was given a well-deserved night off in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Gulls, a game that had no bearing for the team.