This is part of an occasional series leading up to the start of the Coachella Valley Firebirds’ inaugural season in October in which we explain the ins and outs of the desert’s new pro hockey team, the American Hockey League and the Firebirds’ parent organization the Seattle Kraken.
Well Coachella Valley Firebirds fans, this is happening. We’ve got a full season schedule now. When you look at the American Hockey League standings the Coachella Valley Firebirds are listed, part of the Pacific Division.
Our pro hockey team exists. The Firebirds are two and a half months away from playing games.
And as football coach Herm Edwards said incredulously, “We play to win the game. That’s what’s great about sports. You play to win.”
So if our Firebirds are playing to win, we might as well go into the season thinking playoffs. So that brings me to today’s AHL lesson.
What does it take to make the playoffs in the AHL?
I’ll answer that question with a pop quiz. There are 32 teams in the AHL. How many of them do you think will make the playoffs?
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I don’t even need to play the Jeopardy! music, because whatever number you guessed, you’re probably wrong.
The answer is 23. That’s right, somehow 23 of the 32 teams in the AHL make the playoffs to battle it out for the Calder Cup (AHL version of the Stanley Cup). An odd number?
The AHL is broken into four divisions. The largest is the 10-team Pacific Division which includes the Firebirds. The top seven teams in the Pacific Division make the playoffs. So those are some pretty good odds. Our Firebirds have a 70% chance to make the postseason. Not bad.
The Atlantic Division has eight teams, six of which make the playoffs. The North and the Central Divisions each have seven teams, five of which make the playoffs. So that’s how you get to 23 teams, seven plus six plus five plus five.
Can the Firebirds win it all in their first season? Sure. The last 11 Calder Cups have gone to 10 different teams. We understand the transitional nature of an AHL team, so it’s not like last year’s winner — The Chicago Wolves — are going to bring back the same squad.
How does a 23-team postseason work? Well it’s pretty simple. Here’s the explanation from the AHL website: First Round match-ups will be best-of-three series. The top two teams in the Atlantic Division, the top three teams in each of the North and Central Divisions, and the first-place team in the Pacific Division receive byes into the best-of-five Division Semifinals, with the First Round winners re – seeded in each division. The Division Finals will also be best-of-five series, followed by best-of-seven Conference Finals and a best-of-seven Calder Cup Finals series.
Got it? Good.
Shad Powers is a sports columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.
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Hey Firebirds fans. Have a question? Is there something you want to know about the Coachella Valley Firebirds or the AHL or the Kraken or Acrisure Arena. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll do our best to get an answer for you.