After a horrible start to the season the Whale returned home to play Hershey and Providence. The Whale lost their first four games and were off to a dreadful start at 1-3-1-0. After a first win in Albany the team would play Hershey, who historically has not been an easy opponent for the Whale.
It was clearly a defensive shortage that kept the Whale from winning earlier. The Whale had played horribly defensively allowing 25 goals in five games. Certainly some of the reason for the defensive failings were that two rookie goaltenders were running the show. Jason Missiaen had an 88% save percentage and Scott Stajcer was worse with an 83% save percentage. It appeared that Cam Talbot was needed to turn things around.
Then finally on Friday night Cam Talbot returned to his starting position in Net. Talbot was the Whale’s starting goaltender after he took the job from Chad Johnson late last year. Talbot helped the Whale polish off Bridgeport in the playoffs with a sweep he played fantastic and left no room for doubt that he was the main man in net for the Whale. Talbot had played well in the playoffs and this past weekend it was like he never missed a beat. He stopped 26 of 27 shots from Hershey. Talbot had the Bears from Hershey shut out for his first two periods. He was sharp, the goal he eventually let in was a long high shot that probably hit a player or two before it went in.
The team played well in front of Talbot and they prevented rebounds from playing a factor. The play was mostly kept in the Hershey end and the pressure was as well. The Whale really played like they knew a win was needed.
The game was close though and not until Ryan Bourque scored an empty net goal was the victory sealed for the Whale. The Whale had played a very solid game and would have to quickly turn around and play Providence the following Saturday.
Saturdays game against Providence was not a close one the Whale jumped on Providence chasing goalie Michael Hutchinson with 4 goals just half way through the game. They had beaten Hutchinson 4 times on only 13 shots.
Once again Talbot proved that maybe goal tending was the issue in the Whale’s poor start to the season. Talbot stopped 37 of 40 shots. 40 shots are no small order but he kept Providence at bay the whole game. The Whale would eventually win 6-3 and start their first game winning streak of the season.
The team will play the Devils in Albany this Friday and then return to play their biggest geographical rival the Springfield Falcons. The Whale play the Falcons 12 times this season. Springfield has not made the playoffs since 2002 but this year that streak could fall. Jonathen Audy Marchessault played for the Whale last season and was tied for the team lead in scoring but the Rangers decided not to sign J.A.M. He was quickly signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets and He is already off to a quick start with Springfield. J.A.M. has two goals and 5 assists in his first seven games. The Whale will have to keep tabs on him on Sunday.
The XL Center is up for a new lease holder. The current lease holder AEG will bid for the right to control the XL Center and also the Bushnell will bid. The bids are reviewed by the Capital Region Development Authority. AEG currently runs the Whale and the XL Center, they are the second largest entertainment management company in the world.
The Bushnell currently runs Rentschler Field and also is a local company within Hartford. Both companies will find out the results of their bids before the lease expires in August.