The weekend kicked off on Friday night at The Nest, when the Connecticut Whale came to town. A late defensive lapse led the Whale to the tying goal with just over three minutes left in regulation. Wojtek Wolski, who opened the scoring in the first period, closed it out in overtime, giving the Whale the 3-2 overtime win.
Saturday night the Falcons paid a trip to Bridgeport, CT to take on the hottest team in the AHL, the Sound Tigers. This one started badly, was bad in the middle and continued to be bad in the end with the Falcons on the wrong end of an 8-1 shellacking.
After the heartbreaker on Friday and the blowout on Saturday, it was anybody's guess how the Birds would come out on Sunday afternoon when the Manchester Monarchs visited Springfield. Either proving that Bridgeport rivals the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s, or that Saturday night was just an aberration, the Falcons struck early and kept applying the pressure, skating away with a weekend saving 5-1 win.
This morning the standings look like this:
AHL NORTHEAST DIVISION STANDINGS (as of 2/13/12):
Throughout the first 18 weeks of an injury and callup marred season, I have been loyal and optimistic about this Falcons season. I remain so, but the time for .500 hockey is done. There are only 26 games left in the Falcons regular season. A season that started out with a reasonable amount of promise that an eight season playoff drought would mercifully come to an end.
A quick observation of the last few seasons of AHL hockey show the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference has gone to teams with 86-88 points in the standings. Those points were earned in an 80 game season. With this year's schedule reduced to 76 games, for argument's sake, let's split the difference and take 4 points away from those past years' totals.
That equation would require 82-84 points to capture the last playoff spot in the conference. The Falcons currently have 50 points with 26 games to go. Using these factors, the Falcons would need to earn a bare minimum of 32-34 points down the stretch to have a shot at the post-season.
With the Falcons having 26 regular season games remaining, the following is a breakdown of how many games left they have against each opponent:
St. John's (3)
In these days of parity, not just in the NHL, but also the AHL, there aren't any gimme's in this bunch. Quickly eyeballing these opponents, I could make a case that the Falcons should be able to pull off at least 13 wins. But then, there's that .500 number again. And that won't be enough. You may remember that last year's Falcons nearly went 0 for March, dropping 11 straight before picking up a "W" on the 26th of the month.
This year's team bears little resemblance to the one that took the ice at this time last year. Given the situation in Columbus, expect plenty of player movement before the trading deadline. Bruce Landon mentioned last week that in conversation with Chris MacFarland, the Blue Jackets assistant GM categorically told him that unlike last year, if there is any trade activity this year, it will be to help the Falcons and not strip the roster to fill out trades for the big club.
In my estimation, the Falcons will need at least 34 points over the last 26 games to break the playoff drought. It might be asking a lot, but something along the lines of 15-7-4 the rest of the way sure would be nice.
Falcons Individual Stats:
|Martin St. Pierre||C||48||9||35||44||+4||42|
|Ryan Russell X||C||30||9||6||15||0||15|
|Tomas Kubalik X||RW||33||8||6||14||-9||24|
|David Savard X||D||28||3||11||14||+1||38|
|Brett Lebda X||D||26||1||9||10||0||18|
|Nick Holden X||D||25||3||6||9||-2||14|
|Patrick Cullity (with Springfield)||D||20||1||4||5||+2||22|
|Greg Amadio (with Springfield)||D||10||0||2||2||-6||18|
|Mike Thomas X||RW||25||1||3||4||-6||16|
|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||28||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|
|Darcy Campbell X||D||3||0||0||0||0||2|
|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 is ranked at #30 among AHL goalies with at least 960 minutes played. Legace's GAA sits at 2.84, with a .902 save percentage.
Paul Dainton lowered his GAA to 2.89 and has a save percentage of .898
Transactions This Week:
Feb 8: Patrick Cullity (D) released from PTO, signed SPC
Feb 10: Brett Motherwell (D) signed PTO
Feb 10: Dalton Prout (D) recalled by Columbus
Feb 12: Brett Motherwell released from PTO
Feb 12: Dalton Prout returned by Columbus
Springfield embarks on the second of nine consecutive three-in-three's this coming Friday. First up, a trip to Hartford to take on the Connecticut Whale. Saturday, the Providence Bruins pay a visit to the MassMutual Center. The weekend concludes on Sunday afternoon when the Worcester Sharks come to Springfield. We'll have coverage of all three games here at The Cannon.