AHL Report: March 3, 2014

With just 48 days remaining in the AHL’s regular season, things are starting to come together for the upcoming playoffs. Before you know it, teams will begin clinching spots and the postseason will be starting up.

For now, let’s take a look at how things are going.

The Manchester Monarchs – affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings – are the top team in the AHL with 80 points on the season. Manchester sits atop the Eastern Conference with 60 games played, the most of any team in the league. In fact, most teams have only played 55-57 games, so Manchester certainly has a bit of an upper hand.

The Grand Rapids Griffins sit atop the Western Conference with 75 points. Affiliates of the Detroit Red wings, the Griffins are second-best in the league and 11 points ahead of the Rochester Americans, who have two games in hand.

Currently, the Amerks are 7th in the Western Conference with 64 points and a 28-19-4-4 record. They’re on a two-game losing streak, falling to Chicago and Milwaukee in the past few days, and have one game left on their road trip before returning home to face Syracuse on Friday.

Leading the AHL in scoring is Texas Stars forward Travis Morin, who has 72 points (28-44) in 52 games. He’s set career highs in goals and points this season. Joining Morin among the top scorers is Binghamton Senators forward Mike Hoffman, who has set personal career highs across the board in goals (20), assists (37) and points. Stars forward Colton Sceviour leads the AHL in goals, with 31 on the season.

For the Amerks, it’s center Phil Varone leading the way with 44 points in 48 games. Varone has had an outstanding season that has also seen him make his NHL debut. Center Luke Adam leads the team in goals with 24, and is second on the Amerks in points scoring (42). Adam is the only current Amerks player averaging over a point-per-game, and he also leads the team with an outstanding 12 power play goals.

Rookie goaltender Nathan Lieuwen is ninth in the AHL in save percentage (.920) and fourth among AHL rookie goaltenders in that statistic. He’s also 12th in the AHL in goals-against average (2.37). Jake Allen of the Chicago Wolves is one of the top goaltenders in the league, with a 2.07 GAA and 0.925 save percentage.

The AHL regular season officially ends on April 20, with the Amerks playing their final game one day prior. (The only game on the 20th is a rescheduled meeting between Manchester and Portland).

The Amerks have 21 games remaining on the regular season schedule, including 10 at home. The rest of the season could be a crucial one, as 14 of their remaining games are against conference foes – including eight against teams that are currently in playoff spots.

Next up for the Amerks is a meeting with the Rockford IceHogs on March 4. The teams are just two points apart, sitting in sixth (Rockford) and seventh (Rochester) place, respectively, so Tuesday’s game is an especially important one.

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