SPRINGFIELD FALCONS (6-1-2) vs. CONNECTICUT WHALE (4-4-1)
MassMutual Center | Springfield, Mass.
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Short memories are often a valuable asset in sports, but the Connecticut Whale
won’t soon forget what happened on their home ice last weekend.
The Falcons put a pretty good hurtin’ on their rivals from down I-91, dropping 10 goals on the Whale at XL Center in Hartford and chasing Cam Talbot from the net in the first period. After three goals on 11 shots that came rather easily, Connecticut made a goaltending change – but it didn’t get any better.
Springfield scored seven times on backup Jason Missiaen, including four straight in the third period after the Whale closed to within 6-2. The 10 goals scored by the Falcons were the second-most in franchise history, second only to the 14 tallies they put up against the Providence Bruins in 1999.
And tonight, the Whale is going to try and erase the embarrassment of Sunday’s affair.
The rematch takes place at the MassMutual Center as the Falcons continue their home-heavy schedule in the season’s first six weeks. They’ll play more road games in the final weeks of November, but have yet to lose away from Springfield and own one of the best home records in the American Hockey League.
Perhaps the better question for the Falcons is: how do you follow up a 10-goal performance?
One of their focal points is going to be on discipline: after giving opponents six (and sometimes seven) power plays per night in October, the Falcons gave Connecticut four man advantages on Sunday but they were of little consequence.
Springfield head coach Brad Larsen and his assistants have talked about careless penalties ad nauseum, and making sure the Falcons don’t give away momentum by putting themselves in the penalty box at the wrong times.
Another item they’ll hone in on is limiting opportunities for the Whale’s skill players. There are some big names on the roster, including Chris Kreider, JT Miller, Kyle Jean and Christian Thomas – all of whom are capable of scoring at-will and changing the dynamic of a game.
With the last change and choice of match-ups on home ice, you can expect to see a lot of John Moore and Dalton Prout(either together or on different pairings) skating against the Kreiders and Millers tonight.
The Falcons like Moore’s ability to use his speed to close gaps on players and transport the puck out of danger, and combined with Prout’s relentless physical game, it’s never an easy night for the opposition.
Look for Curtis McElhinney to get the call in net for Springfield, and at the other end, it wouldn’t surprise me if Connecticut coach Ken Gernander went back to Talbot tonight.