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GAME DAY: Falcons vs. Penguins

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

SPRINGFIELD FALCONS (2-0-0) VS. WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS (0-1-0)
MassMutual Center | Springfield, Mass.
Puck drops: 7 p.m.

THE RUNDOWN
If this were football, the saying would be "the best thing about 2-0 is the opportunity to 3-0."

Granted, the first time I heard that might have been from Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, but the point remains. For the Springfield Falcons, all that matters is tonight's game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the MassMutual Center. Not the following game, or last weekend's wins over St. John's and Adirondack.

The most important time is the present, and Brad Larsen has talked about staying focused until blue in the face -- but it's all worth it if the players buy in.

We're but two games into the AHL schedule but Springfield has been one of the league's impressive clubs so far. Larsen liked how the Falcons spread out the scoring in an eight-goal weekend and got contributions from each line, and is cautiously optimistic that it can continue as the season moves along.

Every coach likes his team on paper, but until the physical results come in, it's all talk.

Ryan Johansen made a good point: winning your first two games doesn't mean much in the grand scheme, but dropping both games on opening weekend would have set them back immensely. Making up ground in the standings is a tall task, especially with so many strong teams in the league this year.

Their fast start gives them momentum heading into the season's second weekend beginning tonight vs. the Penguins. Coming off a season-opening loss in Binghamton, the Baby Pens should fully prepared for tonight's tilt at The Nest after a lackluster performance last week.

Much like the Falcons, the Penguins' strength is on the blue line. Several of Pittsburgh's top prospects are playing in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, including Brian Dumoulin, Joe Morrow, Simon Despres, Brian Strait and Carl Sneep -- and that's just on the back end.

Eric Tangradi, a young power forward who's gotten a taste of the NHL level, is one of the go-to scorers for the Baby Pens along with winger Beau Bennett. They have a solid tandem in net, as well, with incumbent Brad Thiessen teaming up alongside offseason signing Jeff Zatkoff.


WHAT TO WATCH
The Falcons are trying to improve to 3-0-0 for the first time in franchise history, and while it's a nice token to have in their back pocket, they must approach tonight's game with a clean slate. Treat the game as if it's opening night all over again and clock in playing your game -- hard on the forecheck, pressuring the puck and making quick transition on the counterattack.


PROJECTED LINEUP
*NOTE: If there are any changes from last week, we will know closer to game time:

Audy-Marchessault-Johansen-Atkinson
Smith-Chaput-Collins
Calvert-Drazenovic-Kubalik
Craig-Joudrey-Bass

Moore-Prout
Holden-Savard
Erixon-Goloubef

McElhinney
Dainton

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