In true blue Seattle fashion, the Kraken’s AHL affiliate can’t do anything easy. They had a Game 4 so aggrivating I nearly threw my laptop across the room in losing it by a measely SINGLE GOAL…but they got up tonight, they got their act together, and played some absolutely phenominal Firebirds hockey against their inaugural season boogeyman.
They hold their heads high as Divisional champs. Now they gotta take the West.
A quick word on the AHL Playoff Format:
I’ve already talked about it twice, but the gist is “Best of 5”.
Let’s talk about how they did it in Five Games.
How they did it:
Setting the tone early with a blowout win in Game 1:
Look, a Game 1 may not mean much in the long run, but if you play it well enough it can be a major difference maker. The Firebirds didn’t outshoot the Wranglers, but they outchanced them badly in Game 1 and never trailed in the series from that point on.
The law firm of Lind, McKenna & McCormick remaining white hot:
If you pour water on Kole Lind, Max McCormick and Jeremy McKenna right now, it will just burst into steam. They’re playing out of their minds right now; with Kole Lind keeping his unbelievable AHL Playoff leading point pace rolling through these five games, now all the way up to 17. He’s gotta share the playoff goal-scoring lead however, with his buddy McCormick following alongside with 7 goals in 13 playoff games. Absolutely unbelievable work they’re putting in.
McKenna meanwhile, just seems to find the perfect play. He had a rough middle of the series, but found a place in Game 5:
Two of them, actually!
Woe be to any AHL team thinking you’re getting away from this law office.
Hitting the Wrangler’s defense where it hurts:
Because AHL stats are slightly easier to come by than in the NHL, I want to show you a goal location chart from all five games…layered on top of each other. I’m sure you’ll notice something the Firebirds decided Dustin Wolff couldn’t handle:
Which is of course, being right up his nose.
The Firebirds slammed the Calgary defense (though let’s be clear, they took their lumps as well) and got the vast majority of their goals by being active in attacking the net.
Joey Daccord and Ryker Evans’ Overtime heroics in Game 3:
Game 3 in this series was long. It’s already becoming a bit of a theme in these playoff times, but triple OT is a hard ask for any team; with both sides looking like they were skating through sand with a packed house.
Joey Daccord left that game a hero with a 60 save performance and man of the game award. And Ryker Evans? Well he did the nicest thing in the world.
He let everybody go home. Nearly 5 hours of hockey is a lot not just for fans and players, but for those poor Acrisure Arena workers. There’s only so many 8-dollar beers and 4 dollar bags of popcorn you can sell before you run out.
Evans himself has been having an excellent playoffs, he’s just been given a contract and he aims to make good on it, it seems!
Jesper Froden coming up clutch in Game 5:
The opening goal and two big assists in Game 5 I would call a pretty successful re-integration into the Coachella locker room, I’d say. He was playing his heart out tonight and rewarded justly.
An instant classic Game 5:
Game 5 had everything. It was slow to start, but then once the Birds and the Wranglers got their first goal, they did everything possible to play the fastest game imaginable. Neither side did much defending, as both teams combined for 74 shots on goal, but neither side gave an inch either.
Both sides had three shots in OT.
Only one in Deep Blue made it count. It would be Andrew Poturalski who would be the decider.
Let’s. Go. Firebirds.
Can I watch the Western Conference Final?:
You can! The AHL has it’s own streaming service called AHLtv. You can either pay for individual games for $10, or the whole playoffs (which is rapidly shrinking) for about $30.
Alright, so who are they facing?
Well, unlike last time, the potential elimination game that would’ve decided their opponent was not won by the Milwaukee Admirals, and so they go to their own Game 5 on Sunday night. After that, it’s either the Texas Stars or the Milwaukee Admirals.
I can only hope either team is ready.
Because the Firebirds will be.