by PuckStopsHere on 12/15/09 at 03:07 PM ET
When I last wrote about the AHL standings the Rochester Americans (Florida Panthers affiliate) had taken a bit of a lead. They have been caught by a couple teams. The Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings affiliate) and the Texas Stars (Dallas Stars affiliate) have passed them in the standings. Manchester has the league lead with 43 points in 31 games. Texas is next with 42 in 30 games. Rochester has 39 points in 27 games and maintains the top winning percentage, but has fewer games played at this point.
None of these teams have anyone among the top scorers in the league. Rochester’s top scorers are Jamie Johnson and Chris Taylor who have 22 points in their 27 games. They have two players with higher per game scoring rates in Jeff Taffe (17 points in 18 games) and Michal Repik (18 points in 22 games) who have been called up by the Florida Panthers. Manchester’s top scorer with their team is Gabe Gauthier with 19 points in 31 games. Called up are Corey Elkins (19 points in 30 games), Andrei Loktionov (17 points in 20 games) and Oscar Moller (18 points in 25 games). Texas does not have any high scoring call ups missing, but has been led by Greg Rallo and Aaron Gagnon who have 18 points apiece. All of these teams have deep offences that are among the top scoring teams in the AHL, but none are lead by top scorers. Rochester and Manchester have been weakened by NHL call ups.
The success of each of these teams is linked to top goalies. Alexander Salak has a .928 saves percentage and a 2.22 GAA for Rochester. Jonathan Bernier has an even better .942 saves percentage and 1.96 GAA for Manchester. Texas has had a successful platoon of Brent Krahn .958 saves percentage and 1.41 GAA in 12 games and Matt Climie .931 saves percentage and 2.15 GAA in 16 games. Each of these players has been among the best goalies in the AHL.
The depth of these AHL leaders are being tested with NHL call-ups. Their fortunes could significantly be changed if there was a goaltender called up from any of these teams. All have goalie deserving of call-ups - especially Manchester with Jonathan Bernier.
My prediction is that the health and NHL success of the big league affiliates will determine which of these teams remains atop the AHL standings. It will likely be the one with the least significant call-ups. It is possible that call-ups hurt all of these teams, thus allowing somebody from a little further back (such as the Hershey Bears - Washington Capitals affiliate) to take over the league lead.
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