The Wolves dropped the opening two games of the Western Conference Semifinals to the Marlies at Allstate Arena last week and now hit the road to Toronto for Games 3-5 (if necessary) looking to shrink the 2-0 deficit; Chicago is 2-7 all-time when starting off a postseason series with consecutive losses and 1-2 when doing so on home ice, with the pair of series victories coming in 2000 and 2002, both championship seasons.
Starting off the 2014 Calder Cup playoffs strong, the second-seeded Wolves closed out the Western Conference Quarterfinals with a 4-2 win over Rochester in a decisive Game 5 on Sunday and move on to the Western Conference Semifinals to face third-seeded Toronto; this will be the 13th time in 16 postseason appearances that Chicago has made it to the final eight teams, posting an 8-4 series record in the first 12 instances and 8-2 under head coach JOHN ANDERSON.
After going 1-1 in Rochester to open the Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Wolves return to the comfort of Allstate Arena looking to capture two more games and the first round against the Americans; Chicago has not split on the road to open a postseason series since 2002 and is 4-3 all-time when doing so, including three rounds during the 2002 Calder Cup playoffs during which they posted an .857 winning percentage (12-2) at home to claim the championship.
The Wolves, the Western Conference’s 2nd seed and Midwest Division champions, finally learned their playoff fate on Saturday night and will face the 7th-seeded Rochester Americans in the best-of-five first round; Chicago has never faced Rochester in the postseason, but split this season’s two-game series and are 6-7-1-0-0 all-time against the Amerks.
The Wolves close out their regular-season schedule this week with three games against division opponents while continuing to chase Grand Rapids for the Midwest Division title, sitting 4 points back with a game in hand; Chicago clinched the 16th playoff berth in team history on April 5 and needs 1 point to ensure home-ice advantage for the Calder Cup playoffs.
By claiming three points against Milwaukee last week (1-0-0-1), the Wolves clinched the 16th playoff berth in the team’s 20-year history; additionally, Chicago reclaimed the Amtrak Rivalry trophy from the Admirals for their fourth win in five seasons since its inception in 2009-10.
With two wins last week, the Wolves now need just three more points to clinch their 16th playoff berth in franchise history; Chicago has nine games (5H/4A) remaining in the regular season and plays all of them against Midwest Division opponents as they sit six points behind Grand Rapids with two games in hand for the top spot.
Chicago continued to gain ground in the Midwest Division last week by earning five of six points, including two on Sunday against first-place Grand Rapids to split the season series 5-5-0-0; following Wednesday’s and Saturday’s contests against Lake Erie, the Wolves will exclusively face intra-division opponents to finish the regular season as they play Milwaukee four times and Rockford and Iowa each three times.
Chicago’s franchise-record home point streak ended at 17 this weekend with a 3-0 loss to the Western Conference-leading Texas Stars on Saturday at Allstate Arena, closing out a 15-0-2-0 run that began on Dec. 8; the Wolves bounced back to earn a point on Sunday, avoiding their first back-to-back home regulation losses since Nov. 23 and 27.
The Wolves are down to the last 17 games (11 home, six away) of the season and will face Midwest Division opponents in 13 of those, including when they close out the season with a streak of 10 intra-division tilts; the Wolves are 18-9-2-2 against Midwest foes this season after going 13-22-4-3 against them last year.
With two more wins at Allstate Arena this weekend, the Wolves have not lost at home in regulation since Dec. 7, going to 15-0-2-0 to push their home point streak to 17 games; this mark surpasses the old franchise record of 16, set from Dec. 30, 2009 to March 7, 2010.