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goes in-depth around the AHL and publishes the Official Aeros.com
Power Poll. Comments are welcomed. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (1)
Four of the Baby Pens leading scorers are in the NHL, along with their top goalie and their coaching staff. How has that affected Wilkes-Barre/Scranton? Very little. While a 6-3-0-1 mark in their last 10 makes the Pens look near human, they put up seven goals in less than a nine-minute span against second-place Hershey on Monday. The Pens are 5-0-0-1 against the Bears, who trail them by seven points. The next closest team? Norfolk at 32 points 21 behind WBS. The Baby Pens are 14-1-0-1 on the road. Dany Sabourin has picked up where Marc-Andre Fleury left off when he went to Pittsburgh. The former Flames prospect is 12-1-1 with a 1.95 gaa.
2 Houston (4)
In the late 1990s, the IHLs All-Star format was one team, against representatives from the rest. That rendition could have reappeared this season. Houston has a legitimate six All-Star possibilities on its roster, with the top two scorers in the AHL, four of the top 20, two of the top four rookies, the leading goalie in wins and a two-time Eddie Shore Winner as Defenseman of the Year in the AHL. The Aeros knew looking at their schedule theyd want to build a lead going into a second half heavy on road games. Houston expects to win every night at Toyota Center. Houston is 14-2-1-1 at home this season, and 20-2-1-3 in the last 26 regular-season games there and 28-4-1-3 in the last 36. The Aeros dont play outside the state of Texas until January 22 in Chicago to begin a four-game road trip.
3 Portland (3)
Imagine if Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry hadnt started the year in Anaheim. The rookie pair has posted 49 points (16-33=49) since coming down, with Getzlaf playing in 12 games and Perry 13. Rookie goalie Nathan Marsters has come back to Earth a bit, at 11-4-0 with a 2.74 gaa, but when your team is averaging 3.60 gpg theres some wiggle room. The Pirates signed Aeros 2003 Calder Cup champ Dieter Kochan for insurance in net, and look for the veteran, who began the season overseas, to see more action as the season progresses.
4 Hartford (10)
Many of the names have changed in Connecticut, but the results are very familiar. The Pack is 9-0-1-3 in its last 12 and is part of a thrilling three-team race in the Atlantic with Portland and Manchester. Top goalie prospect Al Montoya has come back from a hand injury, and hes 8-1-0 with a 2.20 gaa. Former Aero Robert Gherson continues trucking along with a 6-1-2 mark with a 1.84 gaa. You never know whos going to beat you when you play the Pack. Eight players have at least 18 points for Hartford.
5 Manchester (2)
The biggest news out of Monarchs land has been going seven straight games without overtime, after needing OT or the shootout in 15 of their first 22 games. Every point is going to be vital in the aforementioned Atlantic race, which should be too close to call come April. Los Angeles has kept a steady stream of Monarchs heading cross-coast to and from Manchester.
6 Milwaukee (7)
The Ads had their share of ups and downs lately when they lost both goalies Brian Finley and Pekka Rinne to the Nashville Predators. But both are back, although they have combined to give up 18 goals in the last four games. Kris Beech has been back-and-forth to Nashville, and replacing his scoring wont be easy if his departure is permanent.
7 Grand Rapids (5)
Grand Rapids has six count em six wins when trailing after two periods. Playing with that kind of fire will only last so long with the veteran-laden Manitoba team breating down the Griffins necks. Seemingly left for dead 10 days ago after losing five straight, Grand Rapids has stormed back with four straight wins. With Omaha, Hamilton and Chicago up next on the slate all at home the Griffins could have quite the winning run on their hands.
8 Hershey (6)
The Bears could very well have been higher, if not for the uninspiring 8-1 loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Monday. It will be interesting to see how Hershey responds if the Baby Pens still pull away. The Bears are 14 points clear of third place Norfolk, and this is the time of the year that if a team is alone in the standings, complacency can occur. Eric Fehr will give the Aeros tandem of Roman Voloshenko and Patrick OSullivan quite the run for their money for Rookie of the Year. Hersheys plus-21 third-period ratio is second-best in the league.
9 Manitoba (8)
The Moose is enjoying an unreal 12-day break around the holidays, going from December 17-29 without a game. It may have come at a good time, as Manitoba had dropped three of five, allowing an uncharacteristic seven goals two times. The Moose has red-hot Toronto and then Rochester for two games apiece at MTS Centre coming out of this break.
10 Iowa (17)
The Stars jump up seven spots this week and 12 from two polls ago on the heels of a six-game winning streak. With former Aero Mike Smith overseas for a tournament, Dan Ellis won five straight, allowing only eight goals in the process. Smith and Ellis are one of just three goalie tandems in the league each allowing 2.50 gpg or fewer.
11 Toronto (24)
Speaking of jumps, a five-game winning streak has the Marlies up 13 spots in the poll. Toronto is 9-2-0-0 in its last 11. A two-game series this weekend in Manitoba, combined with a road trip through Texas and the Midwest in the middle of January will help the Marlies find out just how good they are.
12 Syracuse (14)
Injuries? Theyve had them. Call-ups? That too. But the red-hot Crunch has gone 12-4-2-1 in its last 19 after a 4-7-0-0 start to the season. NHL veteran Andy Delmore hasnt let a reassignment to the AHL put a damper on his spirits. The blueliner has 27 points (5-22=27) in only 23 games.
13 Norfolk (18)
The last power poll pled with the Admirals for more consistency, and theyve done just that. Norfolk has ripped off a 7-1-1-1 mark in its last 10. The Ads have put up 33 goals in their last six wins. Norfolks defense is in the top 10 of the AHL, but its especially stingy in the third period, allowing 20 goals tied for the league lead.
14 Rochester (11)
Theres not a team out there that can complain as much about injuries and call-ups as the Amerks. Top two scorers Jason Pominville (19 goals in 18 games) and Derek Roy (20 points in eight games) are still in Buffalo, Chris Taylor (13 points in eight games) is out until at least February, and Florida-contracted players Greg Campbell and Anthony Stewart are with the Panthers. Rochester has used three goalies in the last four games alone. But, a lot can be forgiven with a 23.6 power play percentage. The Amerks are in a tough stretch of six road games out of seven, including two games in Manitoba and one at Toronto.
15 Providence (19)
The Baby Bs have done exactly what they needed to do with the games in hand win them. Providence is 7-2-0-0 in its last nine games, including a pair of shootout victories. Eric Healey and Nathan Robinson supplied the other five game-winning goals. Tim Thomas has started in net for 11 straight games for Providence, which plays eight of its next 10 games on the road.
16 Springfield (13)
Seemingly in fine shape a month ago, the Falcons have lost their last three and are nearly out of the final playoff position in the Atlantic. Springfield allows 3.63 gpg. That needs to go down to continue into contention for the final three months of the season.
17 Peoria (9)
The Rivermen plummet eight spots thanks to seven losses in their last eight games. Patrick Lalime has kept Peoria in the last two games after Houston put up seven on the former NHL All-Star earlier this month. The St. Louis Blues routinely run out four or five players expected to play the entire season in Peoria.
18 Omaha (12)
Maybe the Knights who have a league-high seven shootout losses should try to swing a trade for San Antonio shootout specialist Karl Goehring. Points are hard to come by in the West Division, and at the end of the season Omaha might need a few shootout wins for that final playoff spot. Calgary recalled defenseman Richie Regehr from the Knights on Tuesday.
19 Philadelphia (12)
The Phantoms are an unthinkable 9.8 percent on the power play, which makes it easy to realize why the defending Calder Cup champs are in trouble. Philly has scored more than three goals just once in the last month. Former Aeros teammates Dan Cavanaugh (2-5=7) and Marc Cavosie (0-2=2) have combined for nine points, with each appearing in 23 games.
20 Chicago (20)
Another team that could use Goehrings shootout heroics. Ironically, the Wolves tried to bring Goehring back from Europe but San Antonio got him off waivers. Each of Chicagos last three losses has come in OT or a shootout, and they have seven total such losses this season. Former Aero Billy Tibbetts has six points (4-2=6) and 39 penalty minutes in nine games with the Wolves.
21 Binghamton (22)
The Senators defense is still struggling, allowing almost four goals per game. But Binghamton has managed to win four of its last five. The Sens .300 road winning percentage is second-worst in the league behind only Albany (.250).
22 Lowell (20)
The Lock Monsters are 0-5-0-2 in their last seven, and they are 3-10-0-2 in their last 15. Colorados goaltending issues havent helped Lowell much, as Vitaly Kolesnuk and his 10-8-0 with a 2.80 gaa has spent much of the last month with the Avalanche.
23 Bridgeport (21)
Home ice advantage? The Sound Tigers are 6-9-0-1 at the Arena at Harbor Yard. Wade Dubielewicz has played 11 of the last 12 games for Bridgeport. The Sound Tigers have scored two goals or fewer in eight of their last nine games.
24 Hamilton (23)
The Bulldogs are just 2-3-0-0 since ditching the Aeros 7-1 earlier this month. Hamiltons 6-9-0-1 home mark wont cut it.
25 Cleveland (25)
The Barons won four of six earlier this month to seemingly turn things around, but theyve lost their last four, allowing 20 goals in the process.
26 San Antonio (27)
Any steps forward the Rampage took winning five of seven were possibly erased in the 7-1 loss to Houston on Monday. The good news for San Antonio is that it gets two more cracks at the Aeros in the next 10 days. The Rampage has plenty of time left to make up ground, but remember the yearly month-long rodeo road trip.
27 Albany (26)
The River Rats have dropped seven of eight to fall to an AHL-worst 9-21-2-0. Albany ranks in the bottom five of the league in both scoring and defense.