One of the side-effect benefits of the conference-based playoffs is that it presented the possibility of a conference final between two archrivals. It didn’t quite work out that way this year, obviously; instead, we got two rivalry matchups in the first round. Bridgeport-Hartford went quickly. Hershey-Penguins? That one sounded like a classic, right on down to a classic tonight. And the Pens survive. A power-play goal and a funky-bounce goal seconds apart gave WBS a 2-0 lead. Ryan Potulny scored early in the third, but the Penguins held on.

So Wilkes-Barre/Scranton against St. John’s; Norfolk against the Whale. In eight playoff series, the only two non-higher-seeds to lose? The two lower division champions, Chicago and Bridgeport. (Neither one had the third-best record in their conference, for the record.)

The Penguins actually had a better record than St. John’s, too, both in modern points-for-all terms (95-94) and in real terms (86-85), though the IceCaps had a very-slight edge in Pythagorean record and had a 39-37 edge in regulation/overtime wins. Should be a good series.

Two days until the conference semifinals.

Michael Fornabaio