Falcons Have a Fun Night at XL Center

Going into Sunday, the Springfield Falcons, over the 15 years they have been visiting the XL Center, had defeated the Whale in regulation a grand total of 16 times in 77 trips.

So it’s a bit of an understatement to say that the big house in downtown Hartford has not treated the guys from up I-91 real well.

You’d never know it if you had only seen Sunday’s game, though, as the Falcons just about couldn’t do anything wrong, right from the first drop of the puck, in what would end as the first game in franchise history in which the Whale have given up as many as 10 goals.

It was kind of a funny game, in that there were significant stretches of play in which the Whale had the Falcons hemmed in their own end, in contrast to some other blowout losses the Whale has sustained over the years, in which I can remember them being dominated from start to finish.  Aside from the two goals they did score, however, which came 4:53 apart, one late in the second period and one early on in the third, the Whale were not able to translate any of their good offensive-zone pressure into goals.  The Falcons, on the other hand, scored more often than not when they got set up in the Whale zone, or when they got speed generated through the neutral zone.

The Whale were riding a four-game winning streak coming into Sunday’s 10-2 blowout, but, as BlueshirtsUnited.com’s Jim Cerny, who saw Friday’s shootout win in Albany, pointed out today, you could see the seeds of Sunday’s disaster being sown in that game.  I would say it even goes back to the previous game, last Saturday’s 6-3 win over Providence, as the Whale were outshot 40-23 in that one, and, were it not for a combination of good fortune and active goaltending, could have ended up with a much different result.

I don’t think anybody saw 10-2 coming, but the Whale had definitely been giving up way too many offensive chances and spending much too much time in their own zone.

Make no mistake about it, Springfield has a real good team, especially with veteran Curtis McElhinney giving them the kind of goaltending he has so far (just 13 goals-against in eight games).  And it didn’t hurt the Falcons to have two ex-Whale guys, Jon Audy-Marchessault and Tim Erixon, who were clearly very motivated to come in and do well against their old team.  You add Audy-Marchessault to what parent club Columbus already had in the pipeline, like Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert and Tomas Kubalik, and that’s a heck of a group of young guns up front.  The blueline, too, is so brimming with prospects that gritty veteran Greg Amadio can’t even get in the lineup.  The rest of the division is going to have to hope that the NHL gets going soon and that a good number of these young legs shuffle off to Columbus.  The Whale have to play these guys another 11 times, for crying out loud.

For the Whale, I imagine it’s back to the drawing board this week, and that might be a good thing.  Cam Talbot’s return seemed to energize the group during that winning streak, but clearly his fine play was covering up some significant issues, and Sunday certainly exposed those in no uncertain terms.  I’m sure there will be lots of X’s and O’s work during practice this week and, since General Manager Jim Schoenfeld witnessed the eight-goal defeat Sunday, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if there were a roster move or two as well.

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One Response to “Falcons Have a Fun Night at XL Center”

  1. Fred E Anderson Says:

    The NHL Lockout hasn’t done the Whale any favors. For sure, the Falcons, for one, will be depleted when the NHL goes back into action. Hopefully we can hang on until that time.

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