FTHN’s AHL Weekly Review: Week 4
Part of what makes the AHL so unique is the fact that rosters can change in the blink of an eye. If an injury happens in the NHL, a recall is made from an AHL roster. When an NHL player returns from an absence, a reassignment back to the AHL is often in the cards.
This week the AHL really started to feel like the AHL as many NHL squads made calls of reinforcement to their minor league affiliates. Things have started to get interesting as the new AHL season has now entered November.
There were a whole host of call-ups as those playing well in the AHL made their way up to their respective NHL teams. Among the more notable of those recalled were Steve Bernier (Albany to New Jersey), 19-year-old Bo Horvat (Utica to Vancouver), Dylan McIlrath & Conor Allen (Hartford to NY Rangers), Tyler Kennedy (Worcester to San Jose), Jason LaBarbera (Norfolk to Anaheim), and Markus Granlund, Michael Ferland, and Sven Baertschi (Adirondack to Calgary).
Whether it’s because of significant injuries, as was the case of McIlrath and Allen with the Rangers, or just plain good play, like in the case of Granlund and Ferland (really a mixture of the two), the time has come for these guys and more, to show what they have up in the big show. And for the teams they’re leaving behind, they must carry on and quickly restructure in their absence.
With the roster changes that come with call-ups and reassignments comes the rebuilding of chemistry both on offense and defense, and when certain lines on certain teams must essentially start again from scratch, it can also shake up the standings.
State of the Standings
The Eastern Conference has remained generally the same, with the Albany Devils still at the helm (6-1-1-1), closely followed by Providence (6-2-1-0) and Hershey (6-4-0-0), while Binghamton (3-5-2) and Norfolk (4-5) are still rounding out the bottom. The Western Conference, however, is looking a little different today than it was this time last week. Here at FullTilt, we’ve been focusing a lot on the Milwaukee Admirals and their solid play up to this point. While the Admirals (7-2-0-0) are still arguably the team to beat in the west, they no longer have the top spot in the west. In fact, they’ve dropped two spots in the point race and now have the third most points in the west.
Currently sitting atop the AHL’s Western Conference with 16 points are the Utica Comets (7-1-2-0). The Comets have been the beneficiaries of tremendous goaltending on the part of Jacob Markstrom, who came within minutes of setting the AHL shutout streak record, and have also gotten offensive contributions across the board from Cal O’Reilly, Dustin Jeffrey, and Brandon DeFazio.
Just one point behind Utica are the Rockford IceHogs. The IceHogs are coming off a very strong week in which they earned another three wins; one against Grand Rapids and two against San Antonio. With the wins, Rockford improved its record to 7-2-0-1 and now sit in second place in the west.
And while the top of the west has shuffled a bit, the bottom has remained very much the same. Just like weeks past, the Iowa Wild and the Charlotte Checkers are both still bringing up the rear not just of the west, but of the entire league.
Both the Wild and the Checkers earned wins this week, however the Wild still lost another two, while Charlotte lost one. The Wild are now a measly 2-7-0-0 and Charlotte is 3-6-0-0. There really isn’t much else to say, other than that it can’t get all that much worse for both of these teams.
Of course the only stats that truly matter at the end of the day are wins and losses, it’s also important to recognize the individuals who have played well on a weekly basis.
Yesterday, the CCM/AHL players of the month were announced, and winning the top honors for October was Binghamton Senators defenseman Chris Wideman. Wideman has played in all ten of Binghamton’s games this season, and has recorded seven goals and six assists, totaling 15 points. His 15 points puts him second overall in scoring in the AHL. Additionally, Wideman now has a nine-game point scoring streak, and scored four goals and had an assist in three games this past week alone. He has certainly been the bright spot for an otherwise struggling Binghamton team.
Kris Newbury has also continued his electrifying play for the Hershey Bears. In three games this weekend, Newbury picked up another four points (2-2-4), and now sits atop the AHL with 15 points in 10 games. At 32, Newbury will more than likely never be a full-time NHLer. While that is never any hockey player’s goal, it’s at least nice to see him doing well for himself in the AHL, and helping the young kids who are still developing, and coming up through the Capitals organization.
And finally, Jacob Markstrom. We mentioned Markstrom already, but his play this season is really worth another mention. Markstrom of course had a shutout streak that lasted 2:38:08, but his other numbers aside from that are undeniably impressive across the board. In four starts this season, Markstrom is 4-0-0-0, with 3 shutouts, a 0.99 GAA, and a .963 save percentage.
I’ll leave it at that.
That will do it for this week’s Full Tilt AHL round up. As is the case every week, there are great performances, and there are those that wish to be forgotten. Here at FullTilt, we’ll keep tabs on all of them, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Be sure to check back next week to find out who’s hot and who’s not across the American Hockey League.