It’s inevitable that an AHL team should reflect upon their NHL kin in one way or another. Some share their winning ways, some share their heartbreaking losing streaks, and others play the opposite their big brethren. This season, the Springfield Falcons have been doing what their NHL counterparts cannot.
While the Columbus Blue Jackets remain locked out, the Falcons have soared to the top of not only the Eastern Conference but the entire league. The 32 points they’ve won put them above the Syracuse Crunch in the conference and the Abbotsford Heat overall. What’s even better is that their road record stands at 6-0-1, which comes a heartbeat away from two eight-game road win records from 1996 and 2005.
The secret to their success lies in the players the Blue Jackets sent to Springfield on the eve of the lockout. Cam Atkinson has been on fire, having a goal-a-game streak for the past four games and a streak of nine points in five games. Also having a hot game is Tim Erixon, who is one of the products of the Blue Jackets’ trade for Rick Nash and is experiencing the best season of his short career with four goals and 14 points in 22 games.
Another factor to the Falcons is Curtis McElhinney. He’s having an impressive season, with a 13-2-2 record, 1.92 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in 18 games. Saturday night’s game against the St. John’s IceCaps was his shining moment, as he made 46 saves in the game. That’s close to the season-high 50 saves by the Worcester Sharks’ Harri Sateri. McElhinney is a good example of giving a player a second chance, as he was signed to the Blue Jackets from free agency over the summer after a disastrous season with the Portland Pirates. If the Blue Jackets were looking for depth in net, they’ve found it.
The Falcons are, no pun intended, flying high. If they can keep it up, they’ll make their big brothers in Columbus proud.