Falcons Week 25 and a Look Ahead

Week 25 of the schedule for the Springfield Falcons started off with a lot of promise. A big home ice 3-2 shootout win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers opened the latest three-in-three for the Birds. The Falcons ever evolving lineup changed once again for Saturday night's game in Glens Falls, NY against the Adirondack Phantoms. For the first time, possibly all season, the Falcons had too many healthy "veterans" (an AHL rule), and had to scratch one of them. Adam Mair, who has really found his game over the last few weeks, drew the short straw and sat.

In another frustrating show of minimal offense, Michael Leighton shut down Springfield, with the Phantoms taking a 3-1 decision. After the game came a four hour bus ride to Wilkes-Barre, PA for Sunday afternoon's game against the Penguins. This was a rematch from two weeks ago in Springfield and there was surely bad blood remaining between the two teams. Greg Amadio and Geoff Walker dropped the mitts just two seconds into the game. This was the only fighting major of the day however, and the two sides went on to play a pretty good hockey game. Bad news for the Birds was the fact that the Pens scored four unanswered goals to erase a 3-1 Falcons lead, giving them a 5-3 victory.

The weekend then, left the Falcons faithful with yet another weekend of disappointment. Speaking for myself, the disappointment is not directed at any one player or coach. Being faced with adversity like this, dating all the way back to training camp, these men have all gone above and beyond in trying to make lemonade out of these lemons. No, my disappointment comes with what might have been. Whittier's words sum up perfectly this hockey season for the Springfield Falcons. Perhaps to a lesser extent, also that of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Last summer after it appeared that Scott Howson ran the table on his way to building both an NHL playoff-worthy club as well as one here in the "A", I can say with no hesitation that this has been the single most bizarre season that I have ever seen an organization endure. The big concern now, is when and at whom the finger points. The easy money would be on Scott Howson to not survive, but in my estimation, the multitude of problems on and off the ice this season were the workings of more than just one executive. The CBJ wagon at this point in a long and painful season is being held together with band-aids and bubble gum. Despite a nice win over the Red Wings on Wednesday night, there is no consistency among the Jackets. Yes there are guys who go out there and bust their backside every night. However, there are also some who while great one night, are shaky at best the next time out.
"For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these "it might have been."
-John Greenleaf Whittier, "Maud Muller" (1856)

Standings, schedule and stats after the jump:

AHL EASTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS (as of 3/30/12):

Pos. Team GP W L OTL SOL PTS GF GA
1. Norfolk Admirals (TB) 69 48 18 1 2 99 250 171
2. St. John's IceCaps (WPG) 67 39 20 5 3 86 217 188
3. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI) 67 34 24 3 6 77 203 199
4. Hershey Bears (WSH) 68 38 20 4 6 86 226 194
5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) 68 39 22 2 5 85 213 201
6. Connecticut Whale (NYR) 67 33 23 6 5 77 196 189
7. Syracuse Crunch (ANA) 68 32 27 4 5 73 219 216
8. Manchester Monarchs (LA) 69 35 31 0 3 73 185 192
9. Adirondack Phantoms (PHI) 68 33 31 2 2 70 183 192
10. Portland Pirates (PHX) 68 31 29 3 5 70 193 229
11. Albany Devils (NJD) 68 29 28 6 5 64 172 199
12. Providence Bruins (BOS) 68 31 30 3 4 69 173 193
13. Springfield Falcons (CBJ) 68 31 31 3 3 68 191 209
14. Worcester Sharks (SJ) 66 28 27 4 7 67 178 186
15. Binghamton Senators (OTT) 69 27 37 3 2 59 186 220

Missing out on last week's recap, as I updated the standings there were a few things that jumped out at me. First, the Norfolk Admirals. Since losing in Springfield on February 5th, the Ads have gone 21-0. Friends, those are games, not goals. They have won twenty-one games in a row. I just look and shake my head at that. And, much as I hate to say it, major props to them for the streak - the longest in the history of the AHL. One more thing, in their last seven games, Norfolk has outscored their opponents 20-6.

Streaks are the order of the day over the last two weeks. The Hershey Bears have improved their lot, going 7-0-1 in their last eight. The big mover was the Syracuse Crunch, also sporting a 7-0-1 mark in their last eight to vault from 13th all the way up to seventh place. The Adirondack Phantoms (3-0-1) and the Providence Bruins (4-0-0) also have both seen a resurgence of their playoff bids.

And then there are the Falcons. Sixty-eight games into the season, and still playing .500 hockey. This morning, the Falcons find themselves in sole possession of 13th place in the conference. They are trailing eighth place Manchester by five points for the last playoff spot. The first word that comes to my mind is "bleak". Springfield has eight games left on the regular season schedule, and not a gimme in the bunch. Their final eight looks like this:

March 30th: at Bridgeport
March 31st: vs. Providence
April 1st: at Worcester
April 4th: at Bridgeport
April 7th: at St. John's
April 8th: at St. John's
April 13th: vs. Adirondack
April 14th: vs. St. John's


Much as I hate to say it, the Birds need all 16 of those points. Even at that, 84 points will be cutting it close for that last playoff spot.

Falcons Individual Stats:

Player Pos. GP G A Pts. +/- PIM
Martin St. Pierre C 66 10 49 59 0 52
Alexandre Giroux LW 58 24 26 50 -4 58
Cam Atkinson X RW 50 29 16 45 +4 31
Matt Calvert LW 54 16 18 34 -4 52
Dane Byers LW 53 15 17 32 -12 104
Nick Drazenovic C 34 11 20 31 -6 16
Brent Regner D 67 2 25 27 +1 24
Wade MacLeod LW 58 7 17 24 +2 25
Tomas Kubalik X RW 50 11 12 23 -16 42
Maksim Mayorov LW 41 9 13 22 -1 8
Andrew Joudrey C 65 9 11 20 -3 10
Nathan Longpre - season totals F 51 9 10 19 +6 10
David Savard D 37 3 13 16 +3 55
Ryan Russell X C 30 9 6 15 0 15
Ryan Garlock C 64 4 10 14 -8 36
Dalton Prout X D 60 4 8 12 -3 52
Cody Bass C 23 5 6 11 -3 43
Cody Goloubef D 44 0 11 11 -16 39
Brett Lebda X D 26 1 9 10 0 18
Nick Holden X D 25 3 6 9 -2 14
Patrick Cullity - season totals D 43 1 8 9 -4 53
Adam Mair C 32 3 4 7 -3 58
Greg Amadio - season totals D 55 0 7 7 -14 198
Teddy Ruth D 48 1 5 6 -19 39
Aaron Bogosian LW 47 2 2 4 -6 57
Mike Thomas X RW 25 1 3 4 -6 16
Ray Macias X D 3 1 2 3 +3 0
Tim Spencer LW 25 2 0 2 0 49
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 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
Jake Morley X LW 3 0 0 0 0 0
Mike Clemente G 4 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 24 0 0 0 0 4

"X" indicates not currently with team

GOALTENDING:
Manny Legace remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury. Paul Dainton and Mike Clemente have performed admirably for the Falcons. At the risk of repeating myself, these guys are going to have to be lights out the rest of the way if the Falcons hope to make the second season.

Transactions since March 17:
March 17: Dane Byers returned from Columbus
March 19: David Savard recalled by Columbus
March 19: Allen York recalled by Columbus
March 29: Trent Vogelhuber (RW) signed to an ATO
March 29: Sean Collins (C) signed to an ATO
March 29: Jake Morley (LW) released from ATO
March 29: David Savard returned by Columbus
March 29: Dalton Prout recalled by Columbus

Also, on the injury front, Tomas Kubalik is shut down for the season after suffering a shoulder injury which required surgery this week. He is back home in the Czech Republic recuperating. Also, Greg Amadio dislocated a finger in the Wilkes-Barre game. Amadio is a warrior, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least to see him in the lineup tonight against Bridgeport.


I'll be keeping an eye on the AHL playoff races here at The Cannon!

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