Second on the list as The Pink Puck checks in with the divisions around the AHL is the Northeast Division, part of the Eastern Conference. There is a pretty large discrepancy in the points of teams in the Northeast. At the bottom, the Hartford Wolf Pack have just 27 points. The Springfield Falcons top the division with double that at 54 points.
Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets)
The Falcons are coming off one of the best seasons they have had in a long time. They made the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-2003 season. After being swept in the second round of the playoffs by Syracuse, they felt like they had something to prove.
Over the offseason, the Falcons saw a number of changes come to their lineup. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault leads the team in goals, assists, and points as a returning forward. However, the next two leaders in points are Frederick St. Denis and Darryl Boyce, both veteran additions to the roster.
In additions to the changes up front, the Falcons have an entirely new goaltending duo. Last season’s starter Curtis McElhinney, who was absolutely phenomenal between the pipes, is backing up Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus this year. But Mike McKenna and Jeremy Smith have been more than holding up their end of the bargain.
Through the 37 games so far, Springfield is 25-8-1-3 for 54 points and the best winning percentage in the conference. They are the only team remaining in the league with a single digit in the regulation losses column.
Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils)
Albany is only in its fourth season as the Devils affiliate after the franchise moved from Lowell. They missed the playoffs during each of their first three seasons and are looking to change that this season. It would appear that through the first half of the season, they are poised to see post season action.
Third year forward Joe Whitney, out of Boston College, leads the charge in goals, assists, and points while he is on pace to have the best season of his professional career. Albany has had 9 players spend time both with them and in the NHL with New Jersey. As a result, they have had to make use of a number of ECHL players, but it has not stopped them from claiming second in the division.
Although the Devils appear to have cooled off slightly, going 4-4-1-1 in their last 10, they could pick back up at any point. At the end of November and into December, the team went on a 6 game winning streak.
The Devils have also played 37 and are 21-11-3-2 for 47 points. The Devils have finished their previous three seasons with a winning percentage under .500 but are now well over that mark. In addition, they have the fewest penalty minutes in the conference.
Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers)
The Adirondack Phantoms franchise is currently in it’s fifth season and looking to make the playoffs for the first time. This could also be their last chance. It has been announced that the team will move to Allentown, PA for the 2014-2015 season. Fans are hoping to see their team make the playoffs but also stay around for them.
Jason Akeson, an undrafted forward in his third season, continues to be a leading force in terms of offense. In second and third in scoring are Kris Newbury, a veteran that played primarily for Connecticut last season, and Brandon Manning, a defenseman who was also undrafted and is in his third year with the team. Not only are those two in the top three for points, they are tied for first in penalty minutes with 101. This is a team that can also be tough.
So far this season, the Phantoms have been incredibly streaky. They won their first game of the season before dropping the next 6. Following that, they went on a 6 game winning streak. Currently, the Phantoms have won 7 of their last 10 and are making a clear push to challenge the Albany Devils.
Through 35, Adirondack is 19-14-0-2 for 40 points. Although they are still 7 points out of second place in the division, they are hot right now. If this keeps up, the other teams in their division should be concerned.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NY Islanders)
The Sound Tigers are coming off a season having missed the playoffs. Although there were two teams ahead of them, they were only 5 points behind the team in eighth place and it could have gone either way at the end of the season.
This season did not start off very strong for Bridgeport with them winning only three of their first 10 games. Although they have had brief spurts of playing well, overall their play has not been anywhere near what they would need to see playoff action. In their last ten, they have been just 3-6-0-1.
Bridgeport has had a lot of adversity to deal with through call-ups and injuries. Seven players have played for Bridgeport and the Islanders, 5 of whom are still in the NHL. Ryan Strome is still the leading scorer despite being currently in the NHL. The Sound Tigers have already dressed 38 different skaters and 3 different goalies this season.
After 39 games, the Sound Tigers are 14-20-1-4 for 33 points. With their current skid, they really need to find a way to turn it around and find a new source of offense.
Hartford Wolf Pack (NY Rangers)
The Hartford Wolf Pack round out the Northeast Division at the bottom of the conference as well as the division. Last season, going by the Connecticut Whale, the team just missed the playoff being in the ninth position. Since joining the league in the 1997-1998 season, the team has only missed the playoffs twice: in the 2009-2010 season and last season.
This season, the Wolf Pack came out incredibly strong and looked like they were going to make a real push. After dropping their first game, they won the next five straight games. Between November 29th and December 21st, the Wolf Pack dropped nine straight games and generally seemed to struggle.
As the Rangers have struggled with their line-up, the Wolf Pack have struggled with that and with finding scoring. In addition to have a number of skaters going up and down, the Wolf Pack have been hurt by Chris Kreider and JT Miller spending so much time with the Rangers. They have also dressed 5 different goalies so far. The Rangers have struggled with Martin Biron retiring after the start of the season as well as Henrik Lundqvist being injured for a period.
After 36 games, Hartford is 11-20-0-5 for 27 points. In their last 10, the Wolf Pack are just 2-6-0-2 and are winless in their last 6 games. Looking to the second half of the season, the Wolf Pack will likely see if they can orchestrate a serious turnaround.