Falcons Weekly Recap: Week 20

Week 20 of the AHL season was another up and down experience for the Springfield Falcons. It's getting to the point in the season where the "we should have won that one" games are now must wins. Put another way, Jim Bouton stated in his epic tome, Ball Four: "It's nut cuttin' time."

On the ice, the Falcons played 40 minutes of good hockey on Friday in Hartford. Those pesky final 20 minutes came back and bit the Birds. The Whale tallied three times in the final period to put the ribbon on a 6-3 win. Back home on Saturday, the Falcons played some inspired, outstanding hockey when they beat the Providence Bruins 4-1.

Sunday afternoon, the Worcester Sharks came to The Nest. Two first period goals by the visitors stood up as the Falcons mustered only 16 shots on goal for the game, falling 2-1 to the Sharks.

From a standings perspective, the loss to Worcester was especially hard to take. It was a four pointer, with the Sharks clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A Falcons win would have left Springfield just two points behind in the race for eighth. Now, the Falcons are five points back with 23 games remaining.

This morning the standings look like this:

AHL NORTHEAST DIVISION STANDINGS (as of 2/20/12):

Team GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
Connecticut (NYR) 53 26 17 5 5 62 160 151
Bridgeport (NYI) 51 28 18 3 2 61 155 140
Albany (NJD) 52 24 20 5 3 56 134 153
Springfield (CBJ) 53 24 25 2 2 52 152 166
Adirondack (PHI) 52 24 25 2 1 51 144 153

I haven't included the Eastern Conference standings lately, so here's the big picture as far as playoff races go (top three qualifiers are divisional leaders):

1. St. John's IceCaps (WPG) 72 points
2. Norfolk Admirals (TB) 69
3. Connecticut Whale (NYR) 62
4. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) 69
5. Hershey Bears (WSH) 67
6. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI) 61
7. Manchester Monarchs (LAK) 58
8. Worcester Sharks (SJ) 57
9. Albany Devils (NJD) 56
10. Providence Bruins (BOS) 56
11. Portland Pirates (PHX) 54
12. Springfield Falcons (CBJ) 52
13. Adirondack Phantoms (PHI) 51
14. Syracuse Crunch (ANA) 48
15. Binghamton Senators (OTT) 45

It might be easy to look at the conference standings and think the Falcons are right in the thick of things. The biggest wild card to the annual playoff push is the looming trade deadline. The NHL deadline is February 27th at 3PM. The AHL deadline extends to March 6th, before Clear Day rosters must be filed with the league office.

Last season, the Binghamton Senators were on the outside looking in, when Ottawa management loaded up on experienced AHL veterans. The Sens slid into the playoffs on a hot streak and ran the table on their way to the Calder Cup championship.

Bruce Landon mentioned two weeks ago that Blue Jackets Assistant GM Chris MacFarland assured him (and Falcons fans) that if the Jackets make any Falcons moves at the deadline this season, it will be to improve the Birds.

You may recall last season that the Falcons lost key members Dane Byers and Tom Sestito in trades. Those two moves took the heart and soul out of the Falcons and the Birds went on a massive losing streak, eliminating them from the playoff hunt.

Falcons Individual Stats:

Player Pos. GP G A Pts. +/- PIM
Martin St. Pierre C 51 10 38 48 +5 44
Cam Atkinson RW 50 29 16 45 +4 31
Alexandre Giroux LW 43 18 22 40 +4 52
Dane Byers LW 43 13 14 27 -7 94
Matt Calvert LW 40 11 11 22 -8 26
Nick Drazenovic C 25 6 16 22 -6 16
Tomas Kubalik X RW 36 8 10 18 -8 26
Brent Regner D 52 1 17 18 +3 16
Andrew Joudrey C 50 8 9 17 -1 10
Wade MacLeod LW 43 4 13 17 +2 19
Ryan Russell X C 30 9 6 15 0 15
David Savard X D 28 3 11 14 +1 38
Ryan Garlock C 50 4 9 13 -3 25
Maksim Mayorov LW 29 5 7 12 -4 8
Brett Lebda X D 26 1 9 10 0 18
Nick Holden X D 25 3 6 9 -2 14
Cody Goloubef D 29 0 9 9 -8 31
Cody Bass C 17 3 5 8 0 37
Dalton Prout D 45 3 4 7 -1 46
Patrick Cullity (with Springfield) D 23 1 5 6 0 26
Teddy Ruth D 40 1 5 6 -17 35
Greg Amadio (with Springfield) D 13 0 3 3 -4 27
Aaron Bogosian LW 38 2 2 4 -3 33
Mike Thomas X RW 25 1 3 4 -6 16
Adam Mair C 23 0 4 4 -3 43
Ray Macias X D 3 1 2 3 +3 0
Tim Spencer LW 21 2 0 2 +1 42
John Moore X D 5 1 1 2 -2 2
Manny Legace (with Springfield) G 31 0 2 2 0 0
Oliver Gabriel X LW 11 1 0 1 -5 0
Brett Motherwell X D 3 0 1 1 -2 4
Chris D'Alvise C 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chaz Johnson X RW 1 0 0 0 0 4
Darcy Campbell X D 3 0 0 0 0 2
Chad Costello X F 4 0 0 0 -1 2
Trevor Bruess RW 5 0 0 0 -4 5
Mark Dekanich G 5 0 0 0 0 0
Allen York X G 5 0 0 0 0 0
Paul Dainton G 12 0 0 0 0 2
Steven Delisle D 6 0 0 0 +2 8
Danny Taylor X G 10 0 0 0 0 0
Anton Blomqvist D 17 0 0 0 +2 17

GOALTENDING:
Manny Legace is ranked at #27 among AHL goalies with at least 1020 minutes played. Legace's GAA sits at 2.74, with a .906 save percentage.

Paul Dainton is 6-4-0, with a 3.19 GAA and an .886 save percentage.

Transactions This Week:
Feb 16: Chris D'Alvise was returned on loan to Stockton of the ECHL.

The Falcons return to the ice for the third of nine consecutive "three-in-three's" this Friday night when the white hot Bridgeport Sound Tigers come to Springfield. Bridgeport has gone on a 16-1-1 tear since the start of 2012.

The weekend continues on Saturday night when the Falcons close out their current four game homestand against the Connecticut Whale. The Falcons head up to Portland, ME for a 4PM tilt on Sunday to close out the busy weekend. We'll have coverage of all three games here at The Cannon.

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