With the AHL schedule finally starting to balance out so that some teams haven't played a dozen more games than others, there are some impressive things happening in the minor professional ranks as AHL teams prepare their players for the Calder Cup Playoffs and, ultimately, a roster spot in the NHL. There are also a number of teams that have put up some impressive numbers thus far. Knowing this, let's take a look into the AHL this week.
- While the Texas Stars have the most points in the AHL right now, the Rochester Americans are still steamrolling through their competition. The Amerks have an impressive 0.853 winning percentage, and have compiled a 14-2-1-0 record through 17 games thus far. After opening the season 1-1-1-0, the Amerks have gone 13-1 with that lone loss coming at the hands of the Portland Pirates.
- How are the Amerks doing it? Balanced scoring, great goaltending, and solid defensive efforts. The Amerks have nine players in double-digits for scoring, and have six players with five goals or more. Czech goaltender Alexander Salak has been outstanding for Rochester, putting up a record of 11-1-0 this season, adding an outstanding 1.88 GAA and .938 save percentage to back up that record. After a sub-par season last season, Rochester is back with a vengeance this season.
- One team who has turned their fortunes around is the Grand Rapids Griffins. After starting the season 1-4, the Griffins have gone 11-1-0-0 in their last ten games. With the least number of games played in the North Division, leap-frogging both the Abbotsford Heat and the Manitoba Moose shouldn't be a problem if the Griffins can continue their hot streak. Former Toronto Marlies Jeremy Williams and Kris Newbury are leading the Griffins in scoring, while goaltender Daniel Larsson is leading the charge with his 7-2-0 record.
- The Manitoba Moose got some added firepower this week as the Anaheim Ducks sent forward Erik Christensen to Winnipeg for a reconditioning stint. That move was followed by the Vancouver Canucks reassigning forward Matt Pettinger to the Moose as well. All of a sudden, the Moose are flush with talented centermen. Christensen, wearing #17, scored in his Moose debut last night against the Hamilton Bulldogs, helping the Moose to a 5-3 win over their North Division rivals.
- The Boston Bruins made a couple of moves to help bolster the Providence Bruins this week. First, they reassigned Brad Marchand to the P-Bruins, and they followed that move up by placing Trent Whitfield on waivers with the purpose of sending him to Providence as well. I'm not sure how Whitfield's stock has dropped since he was with St. Louis, but he clearly isn't fitting into Boston's plans.
- Corey Locke of the Hartford Wolf Pack continues to lead the AHL in scoring, having posted 29 points in 19 games. Alexandre Giroux is on his heels as he has 24 points in 14 games. Brandon Bochenski of the Norfolk Admirals leads the AHL in goal-scoring with 12 goals in 21 games. Goaltender Brent Krahn of the Texas Stars has the best GAA at 1.20 this season. His 0.964 save percentage is also tops in the AHL.
- The Hershey Bears are leading the AHL in attendance. The Bears are averaging 9097 fans per game in their seven home games thus far. The Manitoba Moose sit second with an average of 6885 fans per game, while the Grand Rapids Griffins sit third with 6412 fans per game. On the flip side, Lowell draws the least amount of fans with 2001 per game. Toronto is second with a mere 2695 fans showing up to watch the Marlies. It shocks me that a city that boasts how it can support a second NHL team won't even come out to watch the future Leafs play. Then again, Toronto doesn't support anyone unless they are named the "Maple Leafs".
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!