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April 13, 2008 - Jeff Fishbein
A year ago, I predicted that the AHL West would dominate the playoffs in hockey's top minor-league system. It was a western team — albeit from the North division — who took home all the marbles.
This year, the smart money is on Providence, the Atlantic division champ that, going into the last game of the season (against the league's second-worst team, no less), won 55 games and scored a point in seven others.
But I'm still loving the Western Conference, with Chicago and Toronto at the top of the two divisions. I wouldn't rule out Manitoba, either. I expect the Atlantic finals to be a brutal series between the P-Bruins and Hartford; that could allow the winner in the East (the weakest division this year) to sneak into the finals; alternately, the Atlantic champ will handle the softer East opponent but be out of gas when the western team comes to town.
Hershey? We'll see.
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