5 Key Insights About the Calder Cup Rematch

Vince Carbonneau
June 15, 2024  (10:30)

Calder Cup logo
Photo credit: THE AHL

Firebirds Ready for Calder Cup Rematch

Last spring, the Coachella Valley Firebirds advanced to the American Hockey League's Calder Cup Final after playing 19 games over four rounds. This spring, they received a first-round bye for winning the Pacific Division, then won three series in 12 games, compiling a 10-2 record to once again win the AHL's West Conference and earn a spot in the league championship for the second year of the Coachella Valley franchise.
The title series kicks off Friday in Hershey, PA, with a 4 p.m. puck drop. To mark the Firebirds' journey so far, here are seven key things to know about the 2024 rematch of the 2023 AHL final:
1. Reducing the Drama and Getting Healthy

Firebirds/Kraken coach Dan Bylsma has been focused on getting his team back to the Calder Cup Final with minimal drama and ensuring they stay healthy. Unlike last year's dramatic run with series going to the maximum games, this year, the Firebirds have had shorter series and more time to recover. «We've been fortunate to win in fewer games and come out pretty intact. We've got some bumps and bruises but had time to get healthy,» Bylsma said.
2. Shane Wright's Status

The main exception to the team's overall health is rookie Shane Wright, named to the 2023-24 AHL Top Prospect Team. Wright has missed the last six games with a lower-body injury but has been practicing with the team and could return to the lineup soon. He recorded five points in the first six postseason games.
3. Series Format is 2-3-2 Best-of-Seven

The AHL's final series follows a 2-3-2 format to reduce travel time and expenses. The Firebirds start with two games on the road in Hershey, followed by three games at home, and if necessary, the final two games back in Hershey. Both teams were strong on the road during the regular season, with Coachella Valley having a .792 winning percentage and Hershey at .736.
4. Playing the Long Game

Coach Bylsma and his staff prepare for each series to potentially go the full seven games. «We're planning on playing seven, and we're going to play each one accordingly,» Bylsma stated. After losing Game 4 of the Western Conference final, the team quickly refocused and clinched the series in Game 5, demonstrating their resilience.
5. Depth Scoring for Coachella Valley

Ten Firebirds players have scored seven points or more during the 12-game playoff run, with a mix of veterans and younger prospects contributing. Devin Shore leads with 11 points, and John Hayden has scored the most goals with seven. The team's depth allows different players to step up as heroes in each game. «How well the team's playing gives everyone an opportunity to be a hero,» Bylsma commented.
The Firebirds' depth, strategic approach, and overall health position them well for the upcoming Calder Cup Final rematch.
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5 Key Insights About the Calder Cup Rematch

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