Picking Up the Pace in Springfield
The Springfield Falcons' days of leisure are officially over. After having their only Saturday/Sunday weekend off for the whole season, and playing five times in eighteen days things are starting to heat up. There were several roster moves today for the Falcons. Also today there was an announcement in the AHL that may be of interest to some Ohioans.
After the quiet portion of the schedule, the Falcons are about to embark on a run of ten games in sixteen days. Seven of those ten are against Atlantic Division rivals. It may be premature to say that November games are critical to a playoff run, but these division games are crucial to building a strong club as the season passes the one-quarter mark. After 13 games, the Falcons are third in the Atlantic Division (sixth in the Eastern Conference) with 15 points.
Matt touched on a couple of the roster moves earlier. Quickly recapping, the Jackets today sent Chad Kolarik to the Rangers in exchange for Dane Byers. I've enjoyed seeing Kolarik play for the Falcons. Skating on the first line, he's had a good first month of the season. I've seen Byers several times over the last three seasons (Dane missed most of the '08-'09 season due to injury). He is a gritty type player, with a knack for scoring. Dane simply wasn't going to be one of John Tortorella's guys. He accepted his demotion to Hartford and continued to play "Dane Byers Hockey". I anticipate this to be a good trade for both teams.
Another move that Matt mentioned was the recall of Michael Blunden. Also playing on the first line, he's been Springfield's right place, right time guy all season. I'm looking forward to seeing him get some ice time in Columbus! Now that I've mentioned two-thirds of the Falcons' first line, take a look at the other third, leading scorer Tom Sestito (from Wednesday's game vs. Portland):
In a couple of other moves, the Falcons have signed former Falcon, Nick Tarnasky to a Pro Tryout Agreement. Nick played for Springfield from 2004 to 2006 during the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliation. With the Lightning and the Panthers, he's played in 245 NHL games with 13 goals, 17 assists and 297 penalty minutes.
The last roster move was the release of goaltender Dan Taylor from his PTO. Taylor has been fine in goal for
Springfield. In 4 games, he had a record of 2-2-0 with a goals against average of 2.35 and a save percentage of .929. The move gets the Falcons back to their original tandem of Gustaf Wesslau and David LeNeveu. Here's Wesslau in his first game with the Falcons, a shootout win over Syracuse from last Friday night:
Both videos are from the Springfield Falcons website.
The announcement of interest to some hockey fans in Ohio is the multi year extension of the affiliation between the Colorado Avalanche and the Lake Erie Monsters. There had been speculation that the Blue Jackets' short term agreement with Springfield was due in part because they may have wanted to have their affiliate a little closer to home. Hopefully today's announcement will end that speculation.