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.
The Wolves 3-2 win over Milwaukee on Sunday was their fourth straight one- goal decision and 31st one-goal game this season; Chicago’s 31 one-goal games are tied with Milwaukee for the most in the Western Conference but its 19 one-goal victories are the most in the AHL (19-6-4-2).
Chicago posted a 4-3 come-from-behind shootout win over Milwaukee on Sunday to enter the All-Star break on a high note; the Wolves sit in second place in the Midwest Division with 59 points and a 27-16-3-2 record through 48 games, five points back of Grand Rapids with one game in hand.