Falcons Weekly Recap: Week 18

Week 18 of the American Hockey League season brought some modest progress for the Springfield Falcons. Based not so much on the Falcons play, but that of those around them. The Falcons went 1-2-0 for the week. Their jump into third place in the Northeast Division was aided by both Albany and Adirondack spinning their tires. Connecticut finally ended their 0 for 2012 streak, winning three straight since our last weekly report.

The week on the ice for Springfield started with the fifth of a five game road trip at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, RI. The Baby B's scored at 1:12 of the first period and outplayed the Falcons for most of the night, finishing with a 4-1 win in what was a very physical hockey game.

Saturday night, the Falcons returned to the MassMutual Center for the first time since January 21st. The Norfolk Admirals (currently a comfortable 5th in the Eastern Conference standings) made their annual pilgrimage to Springfield for games on Saturday and a return match on Sunday. Saturday night, the Falcons wore commemorative Calder Cup sweaters (being auctioned on eBay), and for the second night in a row, surrendered a goal on the opponents first shot of the game. This time, Norfolk lit the lamp just 37 seconds into the first period. The flow of play, and the shots on goal through the middle of the second period indicated a solidly played game. Unfortunately for the Falcons, starter Manny Legace gave up goals on 4 of Norfolk's first 9 shots, wrapping this one up early. Paul Dainton came in and stopped the bleeding somewhat, but the damage was done and Norfolk spoiled Springfield's homecoming, 6-1.

Dainton returned to the Springfield cage for the Super Sunday matinee against the Admirals. The third game in a row was physical(a recurring theme) and after two periods Norfolk maintained a 2-1 lead. Springfield roared back with three unanswered third period goals by Patrick Cullity (1st), Maksim Mayorov (5th) and Martin St. Pierre (9th). Dainton held the Admirals scoreless in the frame, giving the Falcons a satisfying 4-2 win to close out the week.

This morning the standings look like this:

AHL NORTHEAST DIVISION STANDINGS (as of 2/7/12):

Team GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
Connecticut (NYR) 47 22 16 4 5 53 140 138
Bridgeport (NYI) 46 23 18 3 2 51 137 135
Springfield (CBJ) 47 22 22 1 2 47 136 145
Albany (NJD) 45 19 18 5 3 46 115 137
Adirondack (PHI) 46 22 22 1 1 46 128 136
Teddy Ruth was suspended by the AHL for two games for his cross check to the head of Cory Conacher in Saturday night's game. The Admirals had just opened up a 5-1 lead when a post-goal battle started in front of the Falcons net. Front and center in the brawl was Ruth, who either through frustration or simply the heat of the moment put a big two hander across the head of the Admirals' rookie All-Star. Ruth sat out Sunday's return encounter and will miss Friday night's tilt with the Connecticut Whale.

All three games over the three days featured a lot of ancillary stick work. Historically, and I can't say if statistics would verify this, it seems that this type of play finds its way into more games at this time of the season. Could it be the mad dash for a shot at the playoffs? Players overtired from the grind of a long season that is now well into the second half?

There has been some speculation about possible player movements, initiated by the Blue Jackets. In one place or another, anybody and everybody is available on both the Jackets and the Falcons rosters. Last Tuesday, Garry Brown published a column on MassLive about the Falcons fighting for their playoff lives. The comments that followed bordered on heated in places.

Friends in Columbus, know this - we feel your pain. Let me put it this way: the last time we had playoff hockey here in Springfield, my oldest son was nine weeks old. Next week, he will be nine years old. By the same token, we don't need to rehash the playoff experiences of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

After a summer full of excitement and anticipation, the winter has given way to anger and disappointment. Among the questions that could be asked are: Did Scott Howson underestimate the chemistry of his acquistions? Was Blue Jackets Pro Scouting to blame for some recent high draft busts? How high up the front office ladder goes the responsibility for such an underwhelming first decade? The questions, I suppose, are endless. We, as fans, despite our thoughts and musings can simply wait patiently for some resolution to all of this. And we, as intelligent people, should realize that the Columbus Blue Jackets are not just a "team", but a for-profit business that ultimately will reap its greatest rewards by being successful on the ice.

Falcons Individual Stats:

Player Pos. GP G A Pts. +/- PIM
Martin St. Pierre C 45 9 32 41 +3 38
Cam Atkinson RW 44 24 13 37 +4 27
Alexandre Giroux LW 37 15 17 32 +2 44
Dane Byers LW 37 10 14 24 -6 83
Nick Drazenovic C 25 6 16 22 -6 16
Matt Calvert LW 34 10 11 21 -4 26
Andrew Joudrey C 44 7 9 16 +2 10
Brent Regner D 46 1 15 16 +5 16
Ryan Russell X C 30 9 6 15 0 15
Wade MacLeod LW 37 3 12 15 0 12
Tomas Kubalik X RW 30 8 6 14 -7 22
David Savard X D 28 3 11 14 +1 38
Ryan Garlock C 44 4 9 13 -3 23
Maksim Mayorov LW 23 5 6 11 -2 6
Brett Lebda X D 26 1 9 10 0 18
Nick Holden X D 25 3 6 9 -2 14
Cody Goloubef D 23 0 8 8 -8 29
Dalton Prout D 41 3 4 7 -2 41
Cody Bass C 12 2 5 7 0 35
Patrick Cullity (with Springfield) D 17 1 3 4 +2 14
Teddy Ruth D 35 1 4 5 -14 33
Mike Thomas X RW 25 1 3 4 -6 16
Adam Mair C 20 0 4 4 -3 41
Greg Amadio (with Springfield) D 7 0 1 1 -5 14
Aaron Bogosian LW 36 2 1 3 -4 31
Ray Macias X D 3 1 2 3 +3 0
Tim Spencer LW 20 2 0 2 +1 42
John Moore X D 5 1 1 2 -2 2
Manny Legace (with Springfield) G 26 0 2 2 0 0
Oliver Gabriel X LW 11 1 0 1 -5 0
Brett Motherwell X D 2 0 1 1 -1 2
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 9 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 15 0 0 0 +2 17

GOALTENDING:
Manny Legace is ranked at #21 among AHL goalies with at least 900 minutes played. Legace's GAA sits at 2.66, with a .906 save percentage.

Paul Dainton sports a GAA of 3.00 and a save percentage of .895

Transactions This Week:
Jan 29: Andrew Joudrey recalled by Columbus
Jan 29: David Savard recalled by Columbus
Feb 2: Chris D'Alvise recalled from Stockton (ECHL)
Feb 3: Allen York reassigned by Columbus, to Chicago (ECHL)
Feb 3: Andrew Joudrey returned by Columbus

The Falcons will encounter another "threefer" this weekend. The opener will be on Friday night at home when the Connecticut Whale will be in town for a 7:30PM faceoff. It won't get any easier as the weekend progresses, as the Birds head into Bridgeport, CT on Saturday night for a clash with the Sound Tigers. Bridgeport has been one of the hottest teams in the AHL, having gone 12 games in a row before dropping one in regulation time. The weekend wraps up with a Sunday matinee back at The Nest in Springfield when the Manchester Monarchs pay their first visit of 2012. Game time is 3PM for that one. This could well be the weekend that separates the men from the boys with three huge games against three tough opponents.

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