The Lake Erie Monsters are close to clinching their first ever AHL postseason berth. The Monsters defeated the Toronto Marlies 2-0 today with goals from Ben Walter and David van der Gulik while Jason Bacashihua turned aside all 21 shots. With the win, the Monsters have 90 points and sit in 3rd in the North Division, just 1 point behind both Hamilton and Manitoba. The Monster clinch a playoff spot with 1 more win or 1 regulation loss by Abbotsford (playing Grand Rapids tonight).
In the AHL, the playoffs are done correctly - the top 4 teams in the division play each other. The Monsters have actually clinched at least the 4th spot in the North...but the AHL has a wrinkle where the 5th-seed team in the West Division can bump the 4th-seed team in the North and there are team in the West that could still potentially do that. So, for now, the Monsters need to get to 3rd to clinch. Kind of complicated, but it makes sense. And I'll take that over the NHL's unoriginal 1-8 seed any day of the week.
Although the Monsters had lost the last two games before today, they recently finished up a franchise record 8-game winning streak. Today's scorers - Walter and van der Gulik (yes, lower case v & d) - have been very hot. Walter scored 14 points over the 8-game streak and van der Gulik had 12. Their linemate, Greg Mauldin, has also been hot with 10 points.