Falcons Weekly Recap: Week 23 and a Look Ahead

Mirroring their checkered season, the Springfield Falcons turned in a 1-1-1 week, keeping pace with a crowded block of teams fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference of the AHL.

The on-ice week started with the Birds on the road in Manchester, NH taking on the Monarchs. The depleted Falcons offense never got on track, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Monarchs. Saturday night the Falcons returned to the MassMutual Center in Springfield for the first time in two weeks, hosting the Syracuse Crunch. After holding leads of 4-1 and 5-2, the Falcons held on long enough to prevail in a 6-5 barnburner. Lots more after the jump:
Cody Bass earned the First Star honors in the game. Bass returned to Columbus this week, finally succumbing to season ending shoulder surgery on Thursday. When the Blue Jackets signed Bass as a free agent last summer, he was fresh off of winning the Calder Cup as captain of the Binghamton Senators. Bass' reputation as a leader on and off the ice was known all around the league, and his joining the Jackets organization was yet another positive move in what had shaped up, at the time, as a summer full of positives. Bass spent some time up top with the Jackets this season, adding some muscle to the lineup in times of need. What should have been an ordinary practice on December 19th ended up with Bass' shoulder a complete mess. It was shortly after that that Scott Howson said:

Cody Bass was injured in practice on Monday and looks like he will need season-ending shoulder surgery. This is very disappointing as Cody has played well both here and in Springfield. He has tremendous character and does the right things both on and off the ice and his loss will be felt throughout the organization.
True to his nature, Bass returned to the lineup three weeks later, only to suffer another injury, which kept him out until mid-February. Playing in 11 games since then, Bass recorded 3 goals and an assist in adding much needed stability to the Falcons lineup. Coach Rob Riley addressed Bass' contributions to the young Falcons lineup when he said this to Garry Brown:

"Cody prolonged his season by more than a month, with his career and his next contract on the line. He didn’t think about that. All he thought about was being there for his team," Riley said.

"Is he our most valuable player? What he brought to this team certainly would put him in there for consideration. He does everything a player can possibly do. He’s a good 5-on-5 player. He’s excellent on faceoffs. He kills penalties, blocks shots and he scored on a penalty shot to beat Syracuse (last Saturday night)."
The weekend concluded with the Sunday afternoon shootout loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The game and the suspension to the Penguins' Steve MacIntyre was well documented here earlier in the week. The shootout loss closed out the week with the Falcons again playing .500 hockey.

Even though on the calendar, we're into Week 24 of the season, there has been a lot going on,so I'm including it here. Early in the week, a transaction was announced that sent Allen York back to Springfield. York then, backed up Curtis Sanford on Wednesday night in Edmonton. York's return to Springfield was necessitated by Paul Dainton flying out mid-week on family business. It was later tweeted by Aaron Bogosian that Dainton's father had undergone successful lung transplant surgery in Toronto.

With York being summoned back to the Jackets, the Falcons were looking at the upcoming three-in-three, with only a questionable Manny Legace to tend the twine. Enter Mike Clemente on an ATO. Clemente, from Brown University, had skated a few practices last week with the Providence Bruins (Brown is in Rhode Island, btw) when they were struggling through a goalie shortage of their own. If he sees ice time, Clemente will be the Falcons seventh netminder of the season. How far we've come from the training camp plan of Sanford and York here for the season!

Here are the Eastern Conference standings as we head into another wild weekend:

AHL EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS (as of 3/16/12):

Pos. Team GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
1. Norfolk Admirals (TB) 64 43 18 1 2 89 230 165
2. St. John's IceCaps (WPG) 61 38 16 5 2 83 208 172
3. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI) 60 32 20 3 5 72 185 173
4. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) 63 36 20 2 5 79 201 192
5. Hershey Bears (WSH) 61 31 20 4 6 72 200 181
6. Connecticut Whale (NYR) 61 31 20 5 5 72 182 169
7. Manchester Monarchs (LA) 63 31 29 0 3 65 166 181
8. Albany Devils (NJD) 61 27 24 6 4 64 155 176
9. Worcester Sharks (SJ) 60 26 23 4 7 63 157 164
10. Adirondack Phantoms (PHI) 62 30 29 2 1 63 168 174
11. Portland Pirates (PHX) 61 28 27 3 3 62 174 207
12. Syracuse Crunch (ANA) 62 27 27 4 4 62 196 199
13. Springfield Falcons (CBJ) 62 28 28 3 3 62 175 193
14. Providence Bruins (BOS) 63 27 29 3 4 61 156 182
15. Binghamton Senators (OTT) 62 24 34 2 2 52 164 198

I may have teased this for most of the past month or two, but tonight really starts the Falcons "must win" drive if the team is to make the Calder Cup playoffs. As you can see from the standings, only four points separate 7th through 14th place in the East.

The Falcons' three opponents this weekend: Portland, Connecticut and Providence. The only home game is tonight against the Pirates. On paper, the games tonight and Sunday afternoon in Providence are winnable "musts". Saturday's game in Hartford becomes the wild card of the weekend. The Whale are 6-4 in their last ten games. In those ten, the Whale have dropped decisions to Portland, Providence and yes, Springfield.

Falcons Individual Stats:

Player Pos. GP G A Pts. +/- PIM
Martin St. Pierre C 60 10 46 56 +4 50
Alexandre Giroux LW 52 23 25 48 +2 52
Cam Atkinson X RW 50 29 16 45 +4 31
Dane Byers X LW 50 14 16 30 -11 102
Matt Calvert LW 48 13 13 26 -7 42
Brent Regner D 61 2 23 25 +3 20
Nick Drazenovic C 28 6 18 24 -8 16
Tomas Kubalik X RW 45 10 12 22 -12 38
Wade MacLeod LW 52 7 15 22 +1 21
Nathan Longpre - season totals F 45 9 10 19 +7 10
Maksim Mayorov LW 35 8 11 19 -1 8
Andrew Joudrey C 59 8 11 19 -4 10
David Savard D 34 3 13 16 +2 55
Ryan Russell X C 30 9 6 15 0 15
Ryan Garlock C 58 4 9 13 -6 29
Cody Bass C 23 5 6 11 -3 43
Cody Goloubef D 38 0 11 11 -12 37
Brett Lebda X D 26 1 9 10 0 18
Nick Holden X D 25 3 6 9 -2 14
Dalton Prout D 54 3 6 9 -5 50
Patrick Cullity - season totals D 37 1 6 7 -4 51
Adam Mair C 29 2 4 6 -3 51
Teddy Ruth D 45 1 5 6 -20 37
Greg Amadio - season totals D 49 0 6 6 -11 185
Aaron Bogosian LW 45 2 2 4 -5 52
Mike Thomas X RW 25 1 3 4 -6 16
Ray Macias X D 3 1 2 3 +3 0
Tim Spencer LW 23 2 0 2 +1 42
John Moore X D 5 1 1 2 -2 2
Curtis McElhinney X G 25 0 2 2 0 0
Manny Legace (with Springfield) G 32 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
Chaz Johnson X RW 1 0 0 0 0 4
Mike Spillane X
G 1 0 0 0 0 0
Darcy Campbell X D 3 0 0 0 0 2
Chris D'Alvise X C 3 0 0 0 0 0
Chad Costello X F 4 0 0 0 -1 2
Trevor Bruess X RW 5 0 0 0 -4 5
Mark Dekanich X G 5 0 0 0 0 0
Allen York G 5 0 0 0 0 0
Steven Delisle D 6 0 0 0 +2 8
Danny Taylor X G 10 0 0 0 0 0
Anton Blomqvist D 19 0 0 0 +1 17
Paul Dainton G 21 0 0 0 0 4

("X" indicates not currently on roster)

GOALTENDING:
In the words of Bruce Landon, the goaltending situation is a "mess".

With Paul Dainton potentially out for the weekend ahead, Manny Legace's condition will apparently prevent him from playing this weekend also. This will leave Allen York and Mike Clemente to handle the goaltending in potentially the biggest weekend of the season.

Transactions this week:
Mar. 3: Curtis McElhinney (G) assigned by Columbus
Mar. 6: Mike Spillane (G) released from PTO
Mar. 8: Maksim Mayorov (LW) recalled by Columbus
Mar. 9: Chris D'Alvise (C) recalled from Stockton (ECHL)
Mar. 10: Dane Byers (LW) recalled by Columbus
Mar. 10: Jake Morley (LW) signed to ATO
Mar. 11: Maksim Mayorov returned by Columbus
Mar. 13: Chris D'Alvise returned to Stockton
Mar. 14: Mike Clemente (G) signed to ATO
Mar. 14: Allen York (G) assigned by Columbus

The Falcons play just one game at The Nest this weekend. It's tonight when the Portland Pirates come to town for a 7:30 faceoff. A special promotion is "Everybody's Irish" night. Special guest is Benjarvus Green-Ellis of the New England Patriots, who will drop the puck in the ceremonial faceoff before the game.
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