[/url] stopped 22 of 27 shots faced in the loss. The shame of this game is that the Falcons actually outplayed Albany and got nothing for their efforts. I watched the final two periods on B2 Networks. Read my thoughts after the flip.
Game sheet from [url=http://ahl.leaguestat.com/stats/game-summary.php?game_id=1002083]TheAHL.com[/url]
Dirk Graham shuffled his forward lines more so tonight than any Falcons game I've seen this season. The result was pretty positive as the Falcons outshout Albany 37-27. It's a shame the defense and goaltending weren't as good in this game.
For those looking for a scouting report on Mike Ouelette from this game, I don't have one. If he got two shifts in the final 40 minutes of the game I'd be surprised. Much like Croxton's debut, you have to reserve judgement with Ouelette getting such a small amount of ice time.
The Falcons defense in this game was so incredibly Charminy soft. I'm not talking about a lack of hitting even, I'm talking about a complete and utter lack of challenging players at all coming out of the corners. The [url=doug-obrien]O'Brien[/url]/Atherton pairing fell asleep twice on the Rats' two goals to start the second period. On the first they got their wires crossed and allowed Petr Vrana to walk out from the right wing boards straight to the front of the net without a white jersey within a country mile of him. Vrana gave a short pass to Stephen Gionta in the slot who scored a point blank goal. The second came from a faceoff in the Rats zone which the Falcons lost, one of the defensemen fell down, and somehow it resulted in a 2-on-0 goal by Aaron Voros. Atherton was also directly responsible for the back breaking 5th goal when he once again lost the handle on a puck at the Rats blueline and allowed a breakaway which was cashed in by Gionta for the hat trick goal.
It's hard not to be impressed by Stephen Gionta, who had 3 goals and 1 assist in his pro debut. It's also hard not to be impressed by Nicklas Bergfors' 4 assist night.
Looking at the Falcons blueline, it needs to be almost completely gutted and revamped for next season. That's why on top of [url=andy-rogers]Rogers[/url] and [url=matt-smaby]Smaby[/url] being signed you're seeing the team actively talking about signing [url=vladimir-mihalik]Vladimir Mihalik
[/url] early. In my view, the veterans Rohloff and Schultz have been terribly disappointing. Things weren't helped tonight by Jared Nightingale whose skating proceeds at the same pace as the spreading of the teuctonic plates. What's worse, his decision making and recognition are equally slow.
Between the pipes it's hard to get too down on Gerald Coleman's performance. When you're facing breakaways and point blank opportunities from players who barely get a glove laid on them heading to the net, it's hard to keep a sparkling save percentage. Still, I was waiting to see Coleman make the kind of game saving stop you need to win games. Instead I saw him kick a cherry of a rebound to Ahren Nittle off a long left wing shot for Albany's winning goal. I don't get the fascination with Coleman, admittedly.
Up front, Jason Jaspers was very active in the offensive zone chugging away toward goal number 30. He got his 29th tonight and two helpers. He has two more games to try and get 30. [url=darren-reid]Darren Reid
[/url] was the second most impressive player in a Falcons uniform tonight, in my opinion. He's very active and a true pain in the rear end to play against. His goal was scored on a shot Jaspers fanned on which Reid collected at Doyle's right post and scooped the puck around Doyle and in from below the goal line in a display of deft puckhandling touch. He also was stirring trouble most of the game and at one point executed a move on Mark Fraser I can only describe as a "pile driver" into the boards behind Coleman's net.
[/url] was very strong in the second period but faded in the third. He showed an excellent ability to drive the net strongly and shield the puck with his body. His goal late in the 1st period came on a strong play by Jaspers at the end of a penalty kill to win the puck and steam up left wing joining Tarnasky out of the box on a 2-on-1 which Tarnasky finished on a one time backhand. It wasn't exactly a pinpoint top shelf finish, but it was Tarnasky's 13th of the season.
I was surprised there were no [url=marek-kvapil]Marek Kvapil
[/url] moments in this game.
Norm Milley and David Spina were also impressive for the Falcons.
Springfield has just two more games left in the season. I feel it's imperative for the team to get some good evaluation time in on Mike Ouelette over the weekend. Atherton has played a ton during his ATO and the team should have a good feel for what he can and can't do. I think he's a keeper who just needs some work on his decision making. They've also seen plenty of Nightingale, whose skating is ECHL level. Croxton could probably use some more evaluation time too.
Beyond that the club should have a pretty good feel about who is a keeper and who is dead weight in the organization. The good news is that the amount of dead weight is lessening little by little year by year. The bad news for Falcons fans is that improvement needs to begin to happen in exponential rather than incremental steps for a team with a fan base that hasn't tasted a serious playoff run in so long.