Falcons Q2 Report Card

The Springfield Falcons closed out the second quarter of their AHL season when they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Providence Bruins last Sunday. The loss was the Birds first regulation loss in 2012. The loss was not typical of most Falcons games in the first half, in that it was a contest that they were never in a position to win.

The Falcons played .500 hockey in Q2, with a record of 8-8-1-2 for the quarter. Added to their 10-9-0-0 first quarter, the Falcons check in at 18-17-1-2, good for 39 points through 38 games.

It would be easy to be disappointed with that record through the first half, but the Falcons, like the parent Blue Jackets, have not had their complete roster intact for most of the season. Even with the injuries and the callups, the Falcons are only four points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Further, they are only five points out of the Northeast Division lead, so all things considered, it's not too bad.

Springfield's home record continues to be an issue for the club. Having played 22 games at home, the Falcons are sub .500, at 9-11-0-2. Away from the MassMutual Center, the Falcons have posted a record of 9-6-1-0.

Alphabetically, here are the Springfield Falcons and their "grades". Grades are given to players with 25 games (65% of total played) or more:
(Note: Player's Name, Position, GP, G, A, Pts, +/-, PIM)

FORWARDS
Cam Atkinson RW
Q1 18 9 6 15 +5 10 Q1 Grade: A
Q2 17 12 4 16 +2 15 Q2 Grade: A
Total 35 21 10 31 +7 25
Cam continues to tear it up in his rookie season. The Falcons' lone representative at the upcoming All-Star game, Atkinson's 12 goals in Q2 are more than any other Falcon has for the entire season, with the exception of Alexandre Giroux who has an even dozen. His 9 PPG are tied for 2nd in the AHL, and his 31 points are good for a 4th place tie among AHL rookies.

Aaron Bogosian LW
Q1 16 2 0 2 0 14 Q1 Grade: C+
Q2 14 0 1 1 -1 8 Q2 Grade: C
Total 30 2 1 3 -1 22
Bogo has been a mainstay on the Falcons checking line. He's had some situations where he might have been able to bang home a goal, but the hockey spirits just weren't with him. Defensively, he is a reliable presence for the Falcons.

Dane Byers LW
Q1 18 4 6 10 -8 58 Q1 Grade: B+
Q2 10 4 5 9 +2 13 Q2 Grade: B+
Total 28 8 11 19 -6 71
Byers has spent much of Q2 shuttled back and forth between Springy and C-bus. At the time of writing, technically, Dane is still with the Jackets, but the practicality is that the Captain of the Falcons will be returning, after a brief suspension and presumably, a few shekels lighter. Byers physical style of play is a complement to his linemates, as he's quite capable of putting up some points.

Matt Calvert LW
Q2 19 6 7 13 +5 8 Grade: B+
Total 25 7 7 14 -1 14
Calvert was reassigned by the Jackets in early November, and has recently reasserted himself as a Falcons top 6 forward. Despite a nice second half last season with the big club, Calvert wasn't getting the quality ice time he needed to develop his game. The month of January has been very good so far for Matt. In the six games, he's 4-2-6 and regaining the form that got him called up in the first place.

Ryan Garlock C
Q1 19 1 6 7 -5 4 Q1 Grade: B
Q2 16 3 3 6 +4 13 Q2 Grade: B+
Total 35 4 9 13 -1 17
If the Falcons had a mid-season "Seventh Player Award", Ryan Garlock would be near the top of the list. Called on in just about every type of situation, he responds with quality minutes. Briefly promoted to the top 6, he even showed a bit of a scoring knack. Garlock's play has been steady and reliable.

Alexandre Giroux LW
Q1 9 6 4 10 +4 8 Q1 Grade: A
Q2 19 6 9 15 0 22 Q2 Grade: B+
Total 28 12 13 25 +4 30
A future AHL Hall of Famer, Giroux continues to excel as the Falcons #1 power forward. I am constantly amazed by the fact that Alex, on nearly every shift, manages to find open ice in the high slot. It's from there that he unleashes a cannon of a shot. Other teams have to know he's there, yet there's not much they are able to do to restrict him.

Andrew Joudrey C
Q1 17 2 3 5 +2 2 Q1 Grade: B
Q2 19 3 3 6 -3 4 Q2 Grade: B
Total 36 5 6 11 -1 6
A former captain of the Hershey Bears, Joudrey's leadership is evident on this year's ever-changing Falcons lineup. Joudrey, like Ryan Garlock, is relied upon as a checker and on the PK, executing effectively.

Wade MacLeod LW
Q1 19 1 8 9 -1 8 Q1 Grade: B
Q2 9 2 2 4 +3 0 Q2 Grade: B
Total 28 3 10 13 +2 8
The rookie out of Northeastern struggled with injury in December. Since his return, he's recorded a goal and an assist so far this month. Primarily a fourth line winger, he's another effective forward as his +3 rating for the quarter shows.

Martin St. Pierre C
Q1 18 5 16 21 +5 10 Q1 Grade: A
Q2 18 3 11 14 +3 24 Q2 Grade: B+
Total 36 8 27 35 +8 34
I suggested in my Q1 recap that St. Pierre would easily be my MVP of the first quarter. He remains a premier center not just on the team, but in the league. The other clubs have started to key on him in the second quarter. Last Sunday against the Bruins, he was constantly harassed and fouled, without any penalites called against his attackers. I mentioned it to him after the game to which he replied that it's "a little guy thing". Checking in at 5'9" and playing with his skill level, it's easy to see why he's become a target.

DEFENSE:
Dalton Prout
Q1 16 1 0 1 -4 14 Q1 Grade: C+
Q2 16 1 4 5 +3 17 Q2 Grade: B+
Total 32 2 4 6 -1 31
Prout has emerged as one of the Falcons most improved players during Q2. Both as a strong defender, and as a puck mover, the 2010 6th round pick of the Jackets has started to show a cannon of a point shot as well.

Brent Regner
Q1 18 1 5 6 -1 2 Q1 Grade: B
Q2 19 0 5 5 +8 8 Q2 Grade: B
Total 37 1 10 11 +7 10
On a defense that featured names like Moore, Savard, Holden and Goloubef to name a few, it's easy for Brent Regner to get lost in the shuffle. With the departures and injuries of those players, Regner has met the challenge of being a key member of the Falcons defensive unit. Brent is a good defender, yet occasionally gets caught deep in the offensive zone when trying to make a play. Quick on his skates, he manages to get back to cover the defensive end of the rink.

Teddy Ruth
Q2 18 0 1 1 -8 6 Grade: B
Total 27 0 2 2 -7 13
Ruth's exposure to defense while paired with fellow Illinois native, Brett Lebda, seemed to refocus his game. Now, paired usually with Regner, Ruth has stepped up his defensive game and has become a reliable blueliner for Springfield.

GOALTENDING:
The second quarter was dominated by the amount of play that veteran Manny Legace saw. In the 19 games, Legace was between the pipes in 15 of them. His won-lost record of 7-7-1 belies the fact that he continues to shine with an overall GAA of 2.33 and a .919 save percentage. As steady as ever, without Legace, the Falcons could be in a much, much worse situation. Manny's Q2 Grade: A

Due to my "25 game rule", some notable players were left off the list. Due either to callups or injury or simply missing most of the first quarter. In no particular order then, here are some of the remaining players who have contributed to the Falcons:

Nick Drazenovic - Suffered a concussion in the last game of Q1. He expects to return to the lineup this weekend.

Ryan Russell - Followed up a good first quarter with more of the same, earning himself a shot in Columbus.

Tomas Kubalik - Another key to the Falcons offense, currently with the Jackets.

David Savard - One of the Falcons top defensemen, on recall to the Jackets

Brett Lebda - Regardless of what many of the comments have drawn attention to, as in a tough run with the Maple Leafs, Lebda for his 26 games as a Falcon showed class, professionalism and yes, talent. As a fan, I wish him lots of success in Columbus.

Nick Holden - another mainstay on D, Nick was injured December 10th against Manchester. He returned last Friday night and injured his shoulder when he crashed into the end boards.

Cody Goloubef - A promising part of the Falcons blueline. Cody shattered a finger while blocking a shot against Connecticut on December 3rd. He has yet to return to the lineup.

Maksim Mayorov - Since his return from Columbus and injury, Maks has been a positive contributor to Springfield's offense.

Adam Mair - The veteran has fought injuries all season long. When he's healthy, he is one of the leaders on the team.

Tim Spencer - A high energy guy. At 6'6" and 235 pounds, he maintains law and order for the Falcons.

Anton Blomqvist - Recently returned to the lineup after missing most of the season due to injury. With Lebda officially signing with Columbus, more will be expected of the rookie defender.

That wraps up my second quarter look at the primary affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. In spite of the overall lack of continuity in the lineup, the Falcons are in a good position in the standings. Quarter three starts tonight, and with it starts a renewed push for the playoffs. Five hundred hockey isn't going to get the team anywhere though, and realistically, the team is going to have to start winning at home while continuing their modest success on the road.

Seven of the nineteen games in Q3 are within the Northeast Division, so those become crucial games for the Birds. Another eight are with schedule mainstays Portland, Providence and Worcester. Of the other four, three are against the Norfolk Admirals (two in Springfield, one in Norfolk). The Admirals are the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning and currently sport a record of 24-13-1-2. Their 51 points are second in the East Division, behind the Hershey Bears and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.

Finally, my overall Q2 grade for the Falcons: B. The third quarter is going to need to be an "A" to position themselves strongly going into the playoff stretch drive.



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