The Colorado Avalanche are not the only team in the state enjoying an extension on their season as their AHL affiliate the Colorado Eagles qualified for the playoffs as well. While the feat is a large accomplishment for an Avalanche farm club, which had not seen the postseason since the 2010-11 season, the Colorado Eagles extend their playoff streak to 16 straight seasons and in each year of their existence.
It came down to the wire as the Eagles did not clinch until the last game of the season in a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Barracuda but then they also needed help from the San Diego Gulls to defeat the Tucson Roadrunners and keep them one standings point behind. One hour after the Eagles did their part they learned that Tucson indeed had lost 4-3 and thus clinched a playoff berth.
The Eagles ended up as the fourth seed in the Pacific division with a 36-27-5 record and will face the division winner Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate Bakersfield Condors at 42-21-5 in a best-of-five series. Should the Eagles move on the remaining series shift to a best-of-seven. Despite not holding the home ice advantage the Eagles will open at home which has been a major strength for them this season with a 21-9-3 record. The season series between the teams split 4-4 and both even home and away.
First round schedule is as follows
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 19 – Bakersfield at Colorado, 9:05
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 20 – Bakersfield at Colorado, 9:05
Game 3 – Tue., Apr. 23 – Colorado at Bakersfield, 10:00
*Game 4 – Sat., Apr. 27 – Colorado at Bakersfield, 10:00
*Game 5 – Sun., Apr. 28 – Colorado at Bakersfield, 8:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern
It was an up and down season for the Eagles which saw the team in and out of a playoff spot several times. Losing their leading scorers Andrew Agozzino and AJ Greer to Avalanche recalls hurt their offensive production but it was a low scoring squad in general. The Eagles finished with the lowest number of goals scored in the division with 191 and also ended the season with the worst power play in the league at 13.8%.
Where the Eagles made up the difference was in their team defense and gave up the second lowest number of goals in the division with 205. Goaltender Pavel Francouz was a big part of this with a .918 save percentage good for fifth in the league and an all-star nod. The penalty kill was sixth best in the league at 84.1% contributed as well.
While there was an increased emphasis on a more veteran roster as the playoff push began there still are a couple Avalanche prospects excepted to dress for the postseason. Martin Kaut and Logan O’Connor experienced solid rookie campaigns and were among the top six in forward scoring with Nicolas Meloche holding down a top four spot on the back end. Shane Bowers and Nick Henry each joined on try-out agreement after recently signing Entry Level Contracts for next season and have seen minutes in a bottom six capacity. Hopefully with the playoff experience soon to come this can be the nucleus to begin for next season’s Colorado Eagles.