5:30 P.M. -- Springfield completes the season-opening weekend sweep, defeating Adirondack this afternoon by a 4-0 final at MassMutual Center. Curtis McElhinney makes 19 saves to record his 16th professional shutout.
4:40 P.M. -- Quite the hockey game going on here at The Nest, eh? Springfield scored three times in the middle frame and holds a 4-0 lead over Adirondack through two periods of play.
QUICK TAKE: Just as they did last night, the Falcons used an early second-period goal to jump start their attack. It looked pretty harmless; Dalton Prout just barely kept the puck in at the offensive blue line and appeared to try and dump it behind the net. His wrist shot hit something in front of the net - pretty sure it was a Phantoms stick - and redirected behind Cal Heeter just 30 seconds in.
Springfield has been the better skating club this afternoon and is being rewarded for it. They're playing their trademark downhill game and spending a lot of time in the attacking zone, making things relatively benign for Curtis McElhinney.
It's been a chippy game, too, with a couple of scraps including one from Michael Chaput. He had seen enough of Ben Holmstrom (I don't know what exactly caused it) and the two dropped the gloves near center ice before Chaput threw Holmstrom to the ice.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault's first goal as a Falcon was a missile from the left dot on the power play. Johnny Moore set it up perfectly with a touch pass from the center point and JAM beat Heeter short-side to make it 3-0. The Falcons kept pouring it on as captain Ryan Craig slam-dunked a nice centering feed from Cody Bass less than two minutes later.
The Phantoms open the third period on a power play for 1:32, and it starts in about 10 minutes.
3:40 P.M. -- Through 20 minutes of play at the MassMutual Center, the Falcons hold a 1-0 lead over the Adirondack Phantoms.
QUICK TAKE: This game has the makings of being a combustible affair already. We've had a fight, a ton of penalties and two 5-on-3 power plays that were successfully killed off by Springfield. You can tell the Phantoms lean heavily on Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn up front, and Phantoms head coach Terry Murray has not been shy in getting them on the ice as much as possible.
Their most dangerous moments were on the power play, and Brad Larsen's choice to match them up with John Moore and Dalton Prout has worked thus far. Much like last night's game, the Falcons haven't wasted much time exiting the zone and getting the puck headed toward the Adirondack zone.
Dalton Smith got dinged up early in the first period, but returned to the game after meeting with the club's medical staff. Couldn't tell if it was a hit to the head or an errant stick, but he was down on the ice briefly before skating off under his own power.
Second period action is set to begin in about 10 minutes.
1:55 P.M. -- Springfield head coach Brad Larsen spoke with JacketsTV before this afternoon's tilt with Adirondack:
11:30 A.M. --
It's never easy for a goaltender who's coming off an injury and playing his first regular-season game in almost nine months, but Curtis McElhinney answered the bell last night. He shook off some early rust and made 23 saves in the Falcons' win.
Read more about McElhinney's opening-night performance in this feature
11:15 A.M. -- JacketsTV was in the perfect spot to catch Ryan Craig's first goal of the season last night, which tied the game for the Falcons late in the first period:
10:45 A.M. --
We touched on it earlier, but Tim Erixon was mighty impressive in his Falcons debut. Assistant coach Nolan Pratt, who helps run the Springfield defense, was not shy in using Erixon as much as possible throughout the game. Erixon helped set up Ryan Craig's first goal of the year and also got the primary assist on Tomas Kubalik's 4-2 marker -- and both goals were created by Erixon's willingness to shoot the puck from the center point.Click here
to read yesterday's feature on Erixon, and watch his post-game reaction below:
10:00 A.M. --
While on the subject of team speed, here's a piece I wrote after last night's game about how the Falcons use their strengths to take opponents off balance. Read it here.
9:30 A.M. -- Good morning from a rainy and mild Springfield! What a night it was just a few hours ago at the MassMutual Center...The Nest was electric on opening night and the Falcons put on quite a show for the home crowd. In their 4-2 victory, the Birds had four different goal scorers and got a pair of assists from newcomer Tim Erixon.
Not only did the Falcons defeat a formidable opponent in the St. John's IceCaps -- who made it to the "final four" of the Calder Cup playoffs a year ago -- they did so in their own style. Head coach Brad Larsen has talked about details and structure throughout training camp and early in the season, but last night, it was all about Springfield's tenacity on the puck and establishing a high tempo.
It was entertaining and the fans seemed to respond. One guy they'll enjoy watching for a number of years got on the scoreboard last night, and that's Dalton Smith. The first-year pro (and second-round draft pick of the Blue Jackets) made a beautiful play walking off the goal line and backhanding the puck short-side on IceCaps goalie Eddie Pasquale, a tally that would stand as the game-winner.
Due to the afternoon start time, the game day blog will be a bit lighter today because of no morning skates. We hope to speak with Larsen prior to puck drop, so look for that interview both here on the blog and on JacketsTV.
Because I did not hear this song played once at the arena last night (has to be a first), let's kick off the morning with everyone's favorite: