A Turnaround the Wrong Way

After a perfect three-in-three weekend the week before, the Whale put up an 0 for 3 this past weekend.

They did get one point, in Saturday’s overtime loss to Syracuse, and they led that game 3-0, and had 1-0 and 2-1 leads in Friday’s 4-2 defeat in Providence, but finished the trio of games with a 5-0 thud of a loss to Springfield.

That makes two home losses to the Falcons by a combined margin of 15-2, as this year’s Springfield crew laughs in the face of the eternal difficulties that their forbears have always faced at the XL Center.

Sunday was a much more competitive game, which admittedly is not saying much, than the 10-2 drubbing the Falcons laid on the Whale in their first trip to Hartford.  Connecticut outshot Springfield 34-28, including a combined 24-14 in the first and third periods, and the Whale Blog Photo 12-03-12certainly had their share of good chances against Falcon goalie Curtis McElhinney.  McElhinney was very sharp, though, and the Whale managed to find a couple of posts and crossbars as well.

Springfield just seems to be coming into the Whale’s den with a ton of confidence, which is a 180-degree turn from how things used to be.  Might have something to do with the presence of the two ex-Whale, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Tim Erixon, and them coming in fired up to play well in their old barn and send a message to their old organization.  Whatever it is, 15-2 is a pretty good statement in two games.

The one that really hurt was Saturday, when the Whale had the Crunch, mostly made up of the roster that won the Calder Cup in Norfolk last year, on the ropes, only to “take their foot off the snake”, as the late, great E.J. McGuire, the Wolf Pack’s first coach, used to put it, and see the snake rise up quickly and bite them.

The Falcons are a real quick team, but the Crunch might be even quicker, and the Whale hurt itself with a couple of costly turnovers in the third period, allowing Syracuse to make the best use of that speed going in transition.  Richard Panik did the most damage, scoring twice, after ending the Whale’s season last year with an overtime breakaway goal in the decisive Game Six of Connecticut’s series with Norfolk.  After the Crunch tied it at three, overtime was all Syracuse, with Mark Barberio, the AHL’s Defenseman of the Year last year, who only had three minor penalties on his stat sheet prior to that, scoring the winner late in the extra session, after the Crunch again took the puck away in the neutral zone.

I’m sure that the Whale looked at this current stretch of their schedule, in which they are playing seven out of eight games at home, as a chance to go on a good run.  The first two games of it have now been losses, however, so you can bet that there is a sense of urgency inside the Whale locker room to turn the momentum back around.  And, as the difference between last weekend and this weekend showed, that can happen quickly in the AHL, for good or ill.


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