Half way through the season, the Falcons lineup bears a minimal resemblance to the one envisioned when the AHL season started 15 weeks ago. A nearly constant change of personnel due to injuries and callups by the Blue Jackets has had a substantial effect on the Falcons. They have persevered, and aren't in bad shape at all, considering how things might have turned out at the halfway mark of the season.
Currently on recall to the Jackets (technically) is John Moore. Although he had only played in five games for the Falcons, he's still viewed as on recall. Go figure. Also up with the big club as of today are: Dane Byers, Ryan Russell, Tomas Kubalik and David Savard. That would be four of the Falcons top 12 scorers.
Also missing significant time are/have been: Nick Drazenovic (concussion Nov. 27 - he thinks he'll be back next weekend), Nick Holden (missed about one month, came back for one game and hurt a shoulder...back out of the lineup again), Cody Goloubef (injured Dec. 3 vs. Connecticut - out until February), Maksim Mayorov and Cody Bass (both in playing for Columbus and dealing with injuries), Adam Mair (out injured for 18 games) and Anton Blomqvist (out injured for 27 games).
This week, the standings look like this:
AHL NORTHEAST DIVISION STANDINGS (as of 1/16/12):
Week 15 for the Falcons was another mixed bag. Another AHL 3 games in 3 days started off on Friday night at home against the Portland Pirates. The Falcons after having leads of 3-0 and 4-1, saw the lead evaporate in the third period when the Pirates tallied three goals, taking the game to overtime where Portland eventually prevailed in a shootout.
Saturday night was the return contest in Portland. The Falcons turned in a terrific 60 minute effort and handily took care of the Pirates 4-2. Argggh!
Sunday afternoon, the Birds were back at The Nest in Springfield taking on the Providence Bruins. The Falcons could never really get anything going in this one and dropped a 5-2 verdict to the Baby B's.
While the Falcons are running fifth in the five team Northeast Division, things aren't as bleak as they might seem at first glance. The Eastern Conference standings look like this:
1. Hershey Bears (WSH) 55 pts.
2. St. John's IceCaps (WPG) 50 pts.
3. Connecticut Whale (NYR) 44 pts.
4. Norfolk Admirals (TB) 49 pts.
5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT) 49 pts.
6. Worcester Sharks (SJ) 45 pts.
7. Manchester Monarchs (LA) 44 pts.
8. Adirondack Phantoms (PHI) 42 pts.
9. Albany Devils (NJ) 42 pts.
10. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI) 42 pts.
11. Portland Pirates (PHX) 41 pts.
12. Syracuse Crunch (ANA) 39 pts.
13. Springfield Falcons (CBJ) 39 pts.
14. Providence Bruins (BOS) 38 pts.
15. Binghamton Senators (OTT) 34 pts.
Current streaks of note: Hershey has gone 8-0-1-1 in their last 10, while Bridgeport has won 7 straight to vault up the ladder. At the other end, the Connecticut Whale have gone 0-4-1-1 in their last six, while the Manchester Monarchs have dropped six straight.
Perpetual powerhouse Hershey aside, the conference standings are as tightly bunched at the halfway pole as they've been for quite some time. The Falcons despite sitting at #13 are only three points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. They are just six points behind sixth place Worcester, and only five points out of the #3 seed overall (this season, like in the NHL, the three division winners will be seeded 1, 2 and 3 for the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs) as only five points separate them and division leading Connecticut.
Falcons Individual Stats:
|Martin St. Pierre||C||36||8||27||35||+8||34|
|Dane Byers X||LW||28||8||11||19||-6||71|
|Ryan Russell X||C||30||9||6||15||0||15|
|Tomas Kubalik X||RW||24||7||4||11||-4||20|
|David Savard X||D||23||2||9||11||+1||22|
|Ray Macias X||D||3||1||2||3||+3||0|
|John Moore X||D||5||1||1||2||-2||2|
|Manny Legace (with Springfield)||G||22||0||2||2||0||0|
|Oliver Gabriel X||LW||11||1||0||1||-5||0|
|Patrick Cullity (with Springfield)||D||9||0||0||0||+2||6|
|Chaz Johnson X||RW||1||0||0||0||0||4|
|Darcy Campbell X||D||3||0||0||0||0||2|
|Paul Dainton X||G||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|Chad Costello X||F||4||0||0||0||-1||2|
|Allen York X||G||5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Danny Taylor X||G||10||0||0||0||0||0|
Manny Legace checks in at 12th best goalie in the AHL. Legace's goals against average is 2.33, with a .919 save percentage.
Mark Dekanich in 3 games on his rehab assignment has a GAA of 3.83 and a save percentage of .876 so far. I'll be the first to admit that Dex has looked rusty in his return, but don't forget that up until nine days ago, he had played in only one game since last March 16th. It will take him some time to regain his All-Star form, but through it all, he has shown flashes of the talent that made his signing a high priority for the Jackets.
Transactions This Week:
Jan 9: Steven Delisle returned to the Chicago Express
Jan 9: Chad Costello released from his PTO
Jan 11: Tim Spencer released from PTO, signed to standard contract
Jan 12: Dane Byers recalled by Columbus
Jan 13: Trevor Bruess signed to PTO
Jan 15: Steven Delisle recalled from Chicago Express
The Falcons will spend the week preparing for another 3-in-3 next weekend. Friday the Birds return to Portland to take on the Pirates. Saturday, it's back at The Nest when the Albany Devils come to town for the annual "Red Sox Night". It's also "Don Orsillo Bobblehead Night". Orsillo is the voice of the Boston Red Sox on NESN, and was the Falcons first radio broadcaster back in 1994-'96. On a personal note, I'm a Yankees fan, so the "Red Sox Night" is usually one where I try to stay away from the MassMutual Center. Last season I had to be there, and it will be the same again this year. My own version of "taking one for the team", I guess. Sunday the weekend concludes for the Falcons on the road in Providence as the boys will look for a little revenge for the damage inflicted by the Bruins this past Sunday in Springfield.