After earning a first round bye by merit of being first in the Pacific Division, the Calgary Wranglers are set to begin their quest for the 2023 Calder Cup by facing off against the Abbotsford Canucks.
The Canucks downed the Bakersfield Condors in two games in the best-of-three series to earn the honours of facing the best overall team in the AHL in the Wranglers. After winning the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the AHL’s best team, the Wranglers enter the Calder Cup Playoffs as strong favourites and Cup contenders.
Pacific Division Semifinals set to begin in Calgary
The Wranglers’ first taste of 2023 playoff action is set to start today (April 26). The divisional semifinals is a best-of-five series and with the Wranglers owning the top seed, they got to pick whether they’d start the series at home for Games 1 and 2, or finish the series at home in Games 3, 4, and 5.
The Wranglers opted to start the series at home to bring playoff hockey to the Saddledome once again. The team went an impressive 25–9–2–0 in the ‘Dome, so hoping to get ahead early in the series in front of a fired up Calgary crowd is absolutely the right play. That said, they’re not shabby on the road either with a 26–8–1–1 record.
With the AHL playoffs giving the higher seeded team the ability to pick their poison, it adds an element of strategy and mind games for some extra playoff flair.
The playoff series will span from April 26 through at least May 3, and can go until May 5 or 7.
- Game 1: Wednesday, April 26 in Calgary at 7:00 pm MDT
- Game 2: Friday, April 28 in Calgary at 7:00 pm MDT
- Game 3: Wednesday, May 3 in Abbotsford at 8:00 pm MDT
- Game 4*: Friday, May 5 in Abbotsford at 8:00 pm MDT
- Game 5*: Sunday, May 7 in Abbotsford at 8:00 pm MDT
The regular season series
In the regular season, the Wranglers and Canucks faced off 12 times, in which Calgary earned a 8–4–0–0 record. Conversely, the Canucks had a 4–5–2–1 record against the Wranglers, capturing some extra points in overtime and shootout losses.
|November 25, 2022||ABB @ CGY||ABB 1 – 5 CGY|
|November 27, 2022||ABB @ CGY||ABB 3 – 4 CGY (OT)|
|January 2, 2023||ABB @ CGY||ABB 5 – 2 CGY|
|January 4, 2023||ABB @ CGY||ABB 0 – 3 CGY|
|January 18, 2023||CGY @ ABB||CGY 3 – 2 ABB (OT)|
|January 20, 2023||CGY @ ABB||CGY 5 – 4 ABB (SO)|
|January 21, 2023||CGY @ ABB||CGY 5 – 3 ABB|
|February 13, 2023||ABB @ CGY||ABB 1 – 4 CGY|
|February 14, 2023||ABB @ CGY||ABB 4 – 2 CGY|
|April 12, 2023||CGY @ ABB||CGY 0 – 2 ABB|
|April 14, 2023||CGY @ ABB||CGY 1 – 4 ABB|
|April 15, 2023||CGY @ ABB||CGY 3 – 2 ABB|
Playoff series prognosis
This series has potential to be close as the Canucks are a solid team themselves. They had a 40–25–3–4 record in the regular season and have some momentum on their side after their quick dispatching of the Condors. In the two-game sweep, the Canucks won by final scores of 3–0 and 4–2.
Further, the regular season ended with the two teams playing each other three times where the Canucks won twice before the Wranglers capped off their regular season with a Kilpatrick-clinching win of their own.
When these two teams faced off in Calgary, the Wranglers won four of six games, outscoring the Canucks 20–14. When the two teams faced off in Abbotsford, again the Wranglers won four of six, but the Canucks actually outscored the Wranglers 17–16 in regulation and overtime.
The Wranglers taking the first two games at home where they’ve been outright dominant against a strong playoff team who has given them more trouble than not is a smart and strategic play by all accounts.
Pack the ‘Dome
This should make for an entertaining divisional semifinal chock full of high quality hockey. For everyone in Calgary seeking playoff hockey, do as Jakob Pelletier and Dustin Wolf has asked of you:
Photo from CalgaryWranglers.com.