SPRINGFIELD FALCONS (8-1-2) AT WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS (6-6-0)
Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza | Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Tonight, 7:05 p.m.
The Falcons did well in handling their first test of the season, but now, they’ll need even more preparation as they embark on exam No. 2.
Nine of their first 11 games were played within the friendly confines of MassMutual Center in Springfield, and like all good teams do, they capitalized with a 6-1-2 record. Add in a pair of wins in their only two road games (at Providence, at Connecticut) and the Falcons own the American Hockey League’s best record and points percentage (.818).
Has playing all but two games on home ice helped Springfield to its franchise-best start? One could argue, but they are one of three AHL teams without a loss on the road. The Falcons’ next four contests – all away from The Nest – are going to be a sturdy barometer for where they stand after one-fifth of the regular season.
The last time Springfield faced the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the two hooked up for one of the most entertaining games of the young season. The Falcons jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, Wilkes-Barre answered back with two of its own in the second period, and Cam Atkinson eventually netted the game-winner in the third period after a brutal Penguins turnover.
After winning that game, the Falcons endured their only real hiccup: they dropped two of the next three (3-1 at home to Providence and a shootout loss to Hershey) and found themselves in a bad habit of taking far too many penalties.
Though they have cleaned it up in the discipline department of late, Springfield coach Brad Larsen has to know his club isn’t out of the woods yet: the Falcons are still giving opponents an average of six power plays per game, and they have been backed up by the AHL’s third-best penalty kill (89.6 percent).
Weber, a second-round pick of the Blue Jackets in 2007, did not register a point and was -5 in eight games with the Evansville Icemen (ECHL) prior to his recall.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Despite some scoring struggles for Springfield’s No. 1 line, the second line of Matt Calvert-Nick Drazenovic-Cam Atkinson has been red-hot. The trio combined for four of the Falcons’ five goals on Sunday afternoon and features three of the club’s five double-digit point scorers.
What are they doing so well? There a few answers, but more than anything, they are scoring goals in the “tough areas” of the ice; the Falcons scored four goals on rebounds in Sunday’s win and three of those came from the Calvert line. They’re going hard to the net, creating traffic and doing an excellent job of supporting the puck inside the offensive zone.
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