Barracuda, Griffins Clash In AHL Western Conference Finals

© John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks

The NHL's San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings had disappointing ends to the 2016-17 season, but their AHL affiliates, the San Jose Barracuda and Grand Rapids Griffins, respectively, are within sight of a championship.

The teams will kick off the Western Conference Finals in San Jose, CA, on Saturday as the Barracuda look to keep their impressive season going.

San Jose finished with its best win percentage in its 11-year AHL history, dating back to when the team was previously known as the Worcester Sharks between 2006 and 2015.

The Barracuda are entering their first-ever third-round series and are likely facing their toughest opponent yet. The Griffins have made it to the third round for the third time since the 2012-13 season, when they won the Calder Cup.

San Jose's strong season saw it finish first in the Pacific Division and second overall in the AHL. As the No. 1 seed, the Barracuda have lived up to expectations so far, defeating the Stockton Heat and San Diego Gulls.

The Barracuda went 2-0-0 against the Griffins this season, with a 4-1 win in the first meeting at the hands of two Nikolay Goldobin goals, who was dealt at the NHL trade deadline for the Vancouver Canucks' Jannik Hansen. The Griffins lost 1-0 in a shootout during their second matchup.

San Jose's Ryan Carpenter currently leads all postseason skaters with seven goals, 13 points, and a plus-8 rating. The 26-year-old scorer has become an unlikely MVP candidate for the Barracuda's playoff run and carried his injury-riddled team over San Diego in round two.

[tweet url="https://twitter.com/sjbarracuda/status/864223492299935744" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
Undersized Rourke Chartier posted 17 goals and 35 points in his 67-game rookie year with San Jose. While the 21-year-old is without a goal this postseason, his six assists are tied for second. He missed San Jose's last three games against San Diego but is expected to be ready for Game 1 against the Griffins.

Grand Rapids' Tyler Bertuzzi was built for the playoffs. The 22-year-old's 11 points and 1.25 points per game are second to only Carpenter for players who have skated in at least four postseason games. In 31 playoff games over the past three seasons, Bertuzzi has 19 goals and 30 points alongside a plus-16 rating. 
 
Since returning from his two-game stint with the Red Wings, Evgeny Svechnikov has been nearly a point-per-game player for the Griffins. Drafted No. 19 overall in 2015, the 6-foot-3, 20-year-old winger is learning fast in the AHL. Wrapping up a strong rookie season can help him earn a full-time spot with the Red Wings next season.

Grand Rapids visits San Jose on Saturday, May 20, for Game 1 at 9 PM ET and Game 2 the following day at 8 PM ET.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.

Wisconsin Men's Hockey Skates To 7-3 Win Over Michigan

University of Wisconsin Athletics image_handler.jpeg

Release provided by University of Wisconsin Athletics

MADISON, Wis. – Freshman defenseman Josh Ess scored 33 seconds into the game, and Wisconsin (8-5-1, 3-2-0 Big Ten) never looked back in its 7-3 victory over Michigan (6-4-1, 2-2-1 Big Ten) on Friday at the Kohl Center.

Michigan State’s Mitchell Lewandowski Thriving In Freshman Year

Michigan State Athletics DOiT1otWsAAYzkP.jpg

By Jacob Messing

When Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos announced his recruiting class last November, he wasn’t aware he’d never coach it.

Anastos stepped down after his sixth season, believing his five-year plan from 2011 wasn’t seeing progress. One of the consequences was not getting to see how his final recruiting class panned out, including current leading scorer Mitchell Lewandowski.

No. 7 Minnesota Hoping To Roll Past Lowly St. Cloud State

University of Minnesota Athletics DOx8pz0VQAAT63p.jpg

By Jacob Messing

When the 2-10-0 St. Cloud State Huskies visit Minneapolis this weekend, they’ll be crashing head-first into a veritable steam engine train. The Minnesota Golden Gophers are not only ranked in the top 10, posting a 9-4-1 record over the year, but the hosts are also riding on the fuel of two consecutive series sweeps.

FloHockey will stream the battle live when the puck drops for the first game, Friday at 7 PM EST, and the second game, Saturday at 5 PM.

Wisconsin Men’s Hockey Inks 8 In Early Signing Period

University of Wisconsin Athletics image_handler.jpg

Press release via Wisconsin Athletics.

MADISON, Wisconsin – Head coach Tony Granato and his Wisconsin men's hockey coaching staff announced Thursday the signing of eight individuals to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period.

No. 17 Michigan Gaining Momentum Ahead Of Trip To No. 9 Wisconsin

University of Michigan Athletics 2017 Michigan Hockey

By Jacob Messing

The battle of the Great Lakes between newly ranked Michigan and top-10 Wisconsin could be over in the first 20 minutes — and not because of a blowout.

Drop The Hammer: Legal And Not-So-Legal NHL Hits

© Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres

By Jacob Messing

Last week, FloHockey brought you a collaboration of some of the biggest hits from the past couple weeks.

High And Wide: Rangers, Rivals, and Roughed-Up Ducks

© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks

By Jacob Messing

The Red Wings lost their first shootout in 14 games, the New Jersey Devils continue to win, and Auston Matthews has missed three straight games.

The New York Rangers began the season 1-6-1, an excruciatingly slow start as goaltender Henrik Lundqvist struggled to make up for his team’s defensive lapses and lack of scoring.

Michigan State Splits With No. 7 Wisconsin In Big Ten Men’s Hockey

Michigan State Athletics Michigan State Spartans 2017.jpg

By Jacob Messing

It was the worst of games, it was the best of games.

Michigan State’s series with Wisconsin was a tale of two days for the Spartans, who on Friday lost a wild 6-3 shootout to the Badgers only to turn around and smash a 2-0 shutout of their opponents at home in East Lansing, Michigan.

Badgers Suffer Setback Against Spartans, Fall 2-0 In Series Finale

University of Wisconsin Athletics Wisconsin Badgers 2017

EAST LANSING, Mich.— The No. 7/10 Wisconsin men’s hockey team will head back to Madison with a series split, falling to Michigan State, 2-0, in the weekend finale on Saturday night.

Wisconsin Scores Season-High Six Goals Against Michigan State

University of Wisconsin Athletics image_handler.jpeg

Release provided by University of Wisconsin Athletics