The Whale made their climb to make the playoffs a little bit harder over this past weekend. They slapped together a bad road trip this past weekend. They got beat in Binghamton by a score of 3-0. It was the eighth time the Whale had been shut out this season. The lack of offense at certain times has been a constant story line for the Whale this season. Their roster has been turned over, players have left and come, some by way of trade, some by the NHL season starting but none of the changes have helped the Whales' offense.
On Saturday the Whale played Adirondack and they usually have success against the baby Flyers. They started out well building a 3-1 lead, but heading into the third period the Whale eventually lost that lead. The Whale lost in regulation to the Phantoms 4-3. Lets be honest here, it's one thing to lose to Binghamton but it’s completely another to lose a game against a team that you consistently beat, and losing with a 3-1 lead is even worse.
The Whale were dealing with back to back losses as they headed into Providence to play at the Dunkin Donuts Center. An arena that they haven't played well in this year, they are 0-3 in Providence. Cam Talbot had taken both losses on the weekend he would get a rest here as Missiaen would play in net on Sunday. The Whale bounced back and fought hard in Providence they beat the Bruins backed by Missiaen's 35 save performance. The Whale won 4-2 with goals from Mike Vernace, Nick Palmeri, Brandon Mashinter and Andrew Yogan. The Whale got the two points they needed to stay within the top eight in the Conference. They have 64 points but are still in a tight race with teams close behind them and teams not too far in front of them.
We are coming down to the wire and there are two critical home games this weekend. Saturday Manchester comes to the XL Center for the last time this season. If the Whale do not win Saturday then they really will have their hands full on Sunday. The Springfield Falcons are coming in on St. Patrick's Day, the Falcons have been in first place for most of the year and they sit second in the conference behind Syracuse. The Whale has been out scored by the Falcons 29-16 in the 8 games they have played. The Whale have only one home victory against the Falcons this year.
Their will be some luck on their side. I tweeted to the Whale to see if they would wear their road green jerseys on Sunday for St. Patrick's Day. They said yes and they will be wearing the road greens. Maybe that will bring them luck?
There are two Whale players having great seasons. Kris Newbury is fifth in the AHL in scoring with 18 goals and 35 assists for 53 points. Defenseman Logan Pyett is eighth in league scoring for defenseman within the AHL. A continued effort from these two players could be very critical to the Whale making a playoff run. Newbury usually has a great year this year is no different, keeping out of the penalty box will help the Whale. Newbury currently has 114 penalty minutes this season.
After these two home games the Whale will be down to just seven road games left. The really tricky part of making the playoffs is going to be how the Whale finishes the season. The Whale will end this season with a five game road trip ending in Portland on April 20.
The Whale are at 64 points and are tied for the eighth seed. They are going to need to get into the 80's in points if they want to guarantee a playoff spot.
The pressure is on Coach Ken Gernander as his team is in danger of missing the playoffs for the second time in four years.