Welcome to Week 7 of your Albany Devils Round-up. The Devils played a pair of games in St. Johns on Friday and Saturday night. They were also in action early in the week, as they hosted Norfolk for a Veterans' Day matinee last Monday. All in all, it was a good week for Albany. They only won one of three, but the two losses were both in the shootout, so they collected 4 of a possible 6 points on the week. Oh, did I mention Albany scored some goals too? A total of 12 goals over three games this past week, after only scoring 18 goals over their first 10 games. Also, the power play found some life over the weekend against one of the weaker penalty kills in the league. So, definitely some positives from an Albany club which is no longer the lowest scoring team in the league. We'll get into some more details about the Albany games after updating the injury report and the ECHL players' activity.
Maxime Clermont got the opportunity to play two of the three Elmira games last week, and it looks like he played pretty well. On Wednesday night, Elmira lost in overtime to Reading, 2-1. Clermont made 23 saves in the overtime loss. On Saturday night, Clermont stopped 26 of 27 shots when Elmira defeated Trenton 5-1.
Unfortunately, Scott Wedgewood did not travel with Trenton to Elmira. He remains out with a head injury. Earlier in the week, Lou Lamoriello said that Wedgewood was "fine", but I don't think that response from Lou, or a lack of descriptive injury updates from the Devils in general, would surprise anyone. I don't think if he was badly injured Lou would say "He's fine", however, so I do think Wedge will be back relatively soon. Gulitti will probably have an update soon.
Brian Haczyk played in both games against Elmira this weekend, but only had one shot on goal each game and did not register a point. He seems to be in the lineup every night for Trenton, so that's good that he is getting regular ice time.
Alexandre Carrier did not play in either game for Trenton.
The Devils assigned Harry Young (who is listed again as a forward) to Kalamazoo of the ECHL. Young was with Albany, but did not appear in any games. Hopefully he can see some regular ice time with Kalamazoo. He has already played 2 games this past week, registering an assist and 17 penalty minutes.
Mattias Tedenby sat out last Monday's game again with an illness. He returned this past weekend and played both games against St. Johns.
Eric Gelinas is very close to returning to the ice. He has already returned to practice. I believe he traveled with the team to St. Johns, but did not play. If everything remains status quo, I expect him to play this weekend.
Kelly Zajac and J.S. Berube remain out.
Dan Kelly and Mike Sislo were both scratches for the last three games. Not sure if either one is dealing with an injury, or if they are both healthy scratches.
Albany Game Recaps and Notes:
Monday 11/12 Albany 4 Norfolk 5 (SO)
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/QckIHbosskE?list=PLqhW7RYz9x8zw7JMgrIT1Uq_NWLn9OTfs&hl=en_US" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Pesonen-D Zajac- DeSimone
Monday afternoon's home contest against Norfolk was an exciting game. It was a back and forth game which was pretty tightly contested. The Devils managed to take a 2-1 lead into the third period, only to fall apart over a disastrous 4 minute opening stretch. Norfolk scored 3 goals over a 2:31 stretch to take control of the game. Behind by two, the Devils fought back valiantly and managed to tie the game late in the third period when things seemed quite bleak. Unfortunately, the full time expired and the Devils lost in a shootout, but it was still good to see some offense out of this Albany team. Outside of their complete unraveling at the beginning of the third period, the Devils played pretty well.
Early in the first period, the Devils penalty kill was tested several times. Joe Whitney sat in the box for a hooking penalty, and Henrique and Sestito were on for the kill. Henrique, who started to really stand out on the penalty kill over the past several games, kept up the great work. He was excellent again in shorthanded situations. After about 45 seconds defending in the zone, Sestito tripped up a Norfolk player near the blue line, and the Devils faced a 5-on-3 situation for about 1:10. They managed to kill off the remainder of the penalties and didn't really allow the opposition many chances. I believe there were just 1 shot and 1 scoring chance for the entirety of the power play time.
Some shots were exchanged, but there weren't many dangerous scoring chances early on for either team. The first goal went to Norfolk, and it came on a bad bounce for the Devils. Luca Caputi took a centering pass from Ryan Lasch and he was looking to find Chris Wagner streaking down the center of the ice. The centering pass from Caputi deflected off Alexander Urbom's stick and directly into the Devils net.
Just about two minutes later, the Devils returned the favor. Steve Zalewski threw a puck towards net which deflected off the skate of Sami Vatanen. Initially, I thought the puck went directly into the net, but Wiseman must have gotten a tip or a skate deflection in front, because he was credited with the goal. The first period ended with the score tied 1-1. There were quite a few shots taken on both sides, with Albany leading that category 13-10. Despite the number of shots, neither team had that many dangerous scoring chances over the course of the first period.
The second period began with the Devils on a power play, but they couldn't really get anything going with the man advantage this game. Matt Anderson had a decent opportunity on a shot from about 15 feet away which was easily handled by Frederik Anderson. The first good chance of the period for Norfolk went to Patrick Maroon. Maroon had a great backhand chance on a rebound just three feet in front of the Devils net but Frazee made the save.
About 8 minutes into the period, there a Devils power play was cut short by Harri Pesonen taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I am not really sure what Pesonen did, but getting off the power play and into 4-on-4 action was just what the Devils needed. Just moments later, Brandon Burlon made a great outlet pass up ice to Zalewski, who found Sestito streaking in towards the net on the opposite side. Sestito roofed a backhand to give Albany a 2-1 lead.
The second period remained pretty even back and forth, with each team getting a few more good chances towards net than they had in the first. Matt Anderson and Mike Hoeffel had a high quality chance to extend the lead. Anderson skated in and created a shot from about twenty feet away. Frederik Andersen made the save, but a dangerous rebound leaked out through the front of the crease. Hoeffel was the first man on the scene. There was an Admirals player there, but it was Hoeffel's puck, and a pretty wide open net. He kind of shanked on the shot, and the puck rolled along the ice towards the net in a direction that allowed Andersen to make a sprawling save. The second period would end 2-1 Devils; they registered the only goal despite being outshot 14-12 in a fairly even second period.
From the puck drop in the third period, the wheels just came completely off the bus for Albany. Things went sour right on the first shift. The Devils were unable to clear the zone, and Devante Smith-Pelly, working down low behind the goal, found Peter Holland alone in the slot, and Holland fired a one timer past Frazee from about 5 feet. The score was tied 2-2, but the Albany troubles were just beginning.
About 90 seconds later, concurrent penalties were called on two Devils at different parts of the ice. Jay Leach was called for a hook, which I can't really argue with. Leach had lost his footing and while going down to the ice, he decided to use his stick like a vaudeville hook and haul down the Norfolk player in front of him. At the same time, Jacob Josefson was called for roughing on a different part of the ice. Now, the Josefson play was out of the view of the camera, so I can't really see what happened. I could see before the camera panned away that the Josefson play began as he was hauled down to the ice by a Norfolk player. So, I'm not saying Jacob didn't deserve a roughing call - I couldn't see what he did afterwards. But, based on how that exchange started, it really looked like they should have equaled that one out. Anyway, that did not happen, and two Devils were off to the box for a full 2 minute 5-on-3.
As good as the Devils PK was in this game up to this point, it was equally bad this time out, if not worse. The first penalty lasted all of three seconds. The sequence went something like this for Norfolk: faceoff win, pass, pass, one-time shot, goal Kyle Palmieri. Literally 3 seconds off the clock, and the score was now 3-2 Norfolk, and Albany was facing 1:57 still of a shorthanded 5-on-4 situation.
The only good thing I can say about the next penalty kill is that it took Norfolk longer than 3 seconds to score this time. It took Norfolk almost a minute to once again find Kyle Palmieri for a one timer from about 4 feet in front of the net. He roofed the shot over a helpless Frazee. 3:11 had elapsed in the third period, and the Devils had turned a 2-1 lead into a 4-2 deficit. Needless to say, things did not look good for an Albany team that didn't even average 2 goals a game.
The Devils certainly seemed deflated by this stunning turn of events. Still, they fought as best they could, but didn't make any headway into their two goal deficit. Things started to feel especially bleak when Tim Sestito took an elbowing penalty with about 7:30 left in the game. The Devils were still down two goals, but Josefson and Anderson quickly changed the momentum for the Devils and brought hope back to the Albany side.
To start the kill, Josefson and Anderson worked the puck down low in the Norfolk zone. The two of them stayed battling around a loose puck in the crease. They never quit on the play. Frederik Andersen was unable to cover, Norfolk was unable to clear, and Anderson tapped one in for a dirty goal. This was exactly the type of goal an offensively starved Devils team needed. Still, they trailed by one due to their horrendous unraveling at the start of the period, and time was running out.
Just a couple minutes later, Bobby Butler had what looked like a great chance right in front but he couldn't score. With just about 3:30 remaining, Henrique and Garret Klotz both sat for coincidental roughing minors. Initially, my thought was that the Devils lose out big time by losing Henrique in that exchange. Someone forgot to tell the Devils, because before I had time to finish that thought, they cashed in once again on the 4-on-4 play. Off the faceoff, Wiseman and Urbom got the puck around to Larsson at the point. Larsson fired a shot past some traffic in front and into the back of the net. The game was tied 4-4, and we headed to overtime. The Devils, trailing by two for most of the period, outshot the Admirals 13-6 in the third.
In overtime, the Devils actually found themselves shorthanded once again. They had to kill off an Adam Henrique goaltender interference penalty, which they did. The overtime period was pretty evenly matched despite the penalty to the Devils. Neither team scored despite 5 shots apiece, and we were off to another shootout.
This shootout would be no kinder to the Devils than the other two before them. Joe Whitney, the third Albany shooter, would score the only goal for the Devils. Norfolk would get goals from their third and fifth shooters, Peter Holland and Patrick Maroon, to secure a 5-4 shootout victory. The Devils shooters in order were Anderson, Butler, Whitney, Josefson, Larsson.
I thought that despite that disastrous ~4 minute stretch to start the third period, Albany played well for most of the remainder of the game. The penalty kill was very good overall. Despite giving up those 2 goals early in the third, they stopped the other 7 Norfolk power plays for a 7/9 success rate on the game. The Devils also scored a shorthanded goal which got them back into the game. The power play finished 0/3 and didn't really get much going.
Adam Henrique was dominant on the penalty kill once again in this game. He is really playing a nice physical game, and he is killing penalties like we saw him do in New Jersey last year.
Joe Whitney and Bobby Butler are both doing well along with Henrique. That line has become very tough to play against.
Josefson was really good once again. He piled up 6 shots on goal, and Matt Anderson had 7.
Unfortunately, Jay Leach was back with Adam Larsson again. This trend continued throughout the week, so despite my excitement about their split last week, it was short lived. Good to see Larsson on the scoresheet, this time with a goal.
Frazee had a good game. It's tough to really fault him on the goals against. The first was a fluky deflection off Urbom. On the other three goals, Norfolk had players all alone with space right in front of him.
Despite losing this game, it was good to see the Devils not put their tail between their legs and go away after falling behind. Giving up 3 goals in 3 minutes to start the third, or any period, is entirely unacceptable. There were some serious breakdowns during this one stretch of play. The team was clearly rattled by the sudden turn of events, yet they never gave up. Some scrappy, tough play and some hard work got them back in the game. They deserve some credit for fighting back late and tying the score. It was the type of game that you can leave feeling good about because of the effort and one point salvaged.
Friday Nov 16 Albany 3 St Johns 4 (SO)
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/TL9LBG4G2c8?list=UUl5gvZ32U5BPJHSfyo9D_lw&hl=en_US" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
This game was a tough go for Albany early on. Apparently, due to bad weather, they did not arrive in St. Johns until just a couple of hours before game time. Struggling a bit to find their legs, it is not surprising that they pretty much got run over during the early portion of the game. The first period was a scoreless affair, and shots actually went 7-6 in favor of Albany. It took them almost 7 minutes, however, to register their first shot on goal, and they were lucky not to be scored on during this stretch. St. Johns had numerous opportunities; all were either missed wide or high, or turned aside by Kinkaid.
The Devils obviously evened things out a bit before the period ended, but they still escaped the first, in my opinion.
Early in the second period, the Albany luck would run out. The Devils got run over to start the second in similar fashion to how they started the first. Albany would fall behind 1-0 less than two minutes into the period, as Raymond Sawada would score for the Ice Caps from Maxime Macenauer. Around 8 minutes into the period, St. Johns would extend their lead to 2-0. Carl Klingberg would skate in and fire a wrist shot towards Kinkaid from the right circle. I am not sure if Zalewski got his stick on the puck and changed the direction of the shot. If not, I think Kinkaid would want this one back, as he had a clear line of sight on the play. Regardless, St. Johns was buzzing. Their play on the ice was deserving of a second goal, and they got one.
Just a minute later, Keith Kinkaid made a breakaway save to keep the game 2-0. Shortly after, the Devils established some zone presence in the St. Johns side of the ice on a good shift from the Henrique line. Jay Leach fired a shot from the point through heavy traffic and into the back of the net. The score was now 2-1. Leach's first of the year, and assists to Larsson and Whitney. The Devils would take just a one goal deficit into the locker room despite being pretty markedly outplayed over the course of the first forty minutes.
In the third period, a different Devils team emerged from the locker room. I think they realized or were told by Kowalsky that they had an opportunity to lay it all out there for 20 minutes and perhaps steal a victory. An inspired Devils team found themselves bolstered by a suddenly rejuvenated power-play. Facing one of the worst penalty kills in the league, the Devils had threatened a bit with the man advantage earlier in the game. Finally, they would cash in.
Adam Henrique, operating on the Devils power play, took the puck and skated into the zone. He was able to carry in between the circles and fired home a wrist shot past the St. John's keeper Mark Dekanich. Finally, the Devils had ended the power outage, and more importantly, they had tied the game. The Devils had stolen momentum away from St. Johns, and play continued in Albany's favor over the next several minutes. Zalewski drew a hook on a dangerous loose puck out in front of the goal. Despite threatening a couple of times on that power play, the Devils could not score.
Unfortunately, momentum is a fleeting thing, and all it took was one bad turnover in transition to turn things back in the Ice Caps direction. Zach Redmond would score a really nice goal on some precision tic-tac-toe passing from Eric O'Dell and Ivan Telegin. Kinkaid really had no chance on the play, and once again, the Ice Caps had the lead, 3-2.
Albany, however, would not give up. They would not go away quietly, as they seemingly tied the game, before actually tying the game just moments later. First, there was a play where Hoeffel threw a puck on net from all the way near the boards, pretty much straight down the goal line. The puck found its way into the back of the net, and the play was initially ruled a goal on the ice. After a video review, the call was reversed, and the goal was waved off due to incidental contact with the goalkeeper.
I really was not too happy with this call at all. First, I didn't think there was much contact at all on the play. If there was contact, it seemed that the Devil player in the crease was actually tripped by the stick of the St. Johns defender heading to the net. He lost his balance and then gathered himself to continue through the crease, but the trip definitely affected his line. I was pretty angry at the time about the disallowed goal. On the highlights, you can even hear the St. Johns announcer, who is self-admittedly a huge homer, saying he is surprised the goal was disallowed.
Despite this minor setback, the Devils would not be kept down. Late in the third, Sestito was tripped up going to the net. Apparently, the referees called the penalty on the wrong St.Johns player. The announcers were livid and did not stop complaining about this penalty for the rest of the game. But, whether or not the right player was sent to the box, you can clearly see Sestito tripped by a St. Johns player's stick as he tried to pivot near the crease.
The Devils would cash in on this power play just before the man advantage expired. Off of a faceoff in the zone, Tedenby would pass across to Anderson who would find Josefson in the high slot, right in between the circles. Josefson ripped home a one timer, and the game was tied 3-3. Overtime was not very eventful either way, and we headed to a shootout.
Mattias Tedenby would open the scoring for the Devils in the shootout. He was the first skater, and he converted the opportunity. Burmistrov (who shot first) had already converted for St. Johns, so it was 1-1. As usual, the Devils would not be able to score again on the shootout. As usual, the opposition would get a tally from their fifth shooter to defeat Albany, now 0-4 in shootouts on the season. Devils shooters in order were Tedenby, Anderson, Whitney, Butler, Henrique.
This was sort of a tale of two games for Albany. After pretty much getting run over in the first and second periods, they came out strong and dominated play for most of the third. St. Johns was on their heels for most of the third. Yes, it was another loss for Albany, but they once again got a point. Also, they fought back once again, tying a game late in the third period. The power play, which had scored twice all season, scored twice on Friday.
Adam Henrique had a really good game once again. So did Joe Whitney and Bobby Butler. This line has developed some real chemistry and is tough to play against. Henrique had a goal scored among three shots on goal for the game. Butler had three shots, and Whitney two shots and an assist.
Josefson continued to play well. He got back in the goal column, burying a chance late in the third to tie the game. Anderson and Hoeffel were Josefson's linemates again, and they both played well too. Josefson had three shots on goal and a goal scored, and Anderson had four shots on goal and an assist on Josefson's goal. It seems the top 6 in Albany has been pretty consistent of late. The Josefson line had been good for a while, but now that the Henrique line seems to be set, it gives the Devils a very tough 1-2 punch.
The third line of Wiseman-Zalewski-Tedenby was on the ice for all three goals against. I'm not going to point any fingers specifically, because I can't say for certain what happened, but it's never good when your line is on the ice for all three goals against. The third goal against was a direct result of a turnover by the forwards, I remember that much. I think it was Zalewski who made the bad pass leading to the transition goal by St. Johns.
Fourth line was pretty quiet in this game overall. Sestito drew the penalty that led to the tying goal late in the game.
Larsson and Leach both had good games. Urbom and Hrabarenka were probably the weakest of the three defense pairings. Burlon and McPherson were both good. Corbin McPherson has become a regular in the lineup lately, and has been pretty steady so far. Brandon Burlon had another good game.
Keith Kinkaid had a good game. I mentioned the second goal as one he may want back. If it was not deflected, he had a clear look at it. He didn't really have any chance on the other two goals. The first was a great individual effort by Sawada, and the third was some nifty passing to a wide open Redmond.
Saturday 11/17 Albany 5 St Johns 3
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/0IbWyUZMonk?list=PLqhW7RYz9x8zw7JMgrIT1Uq_NWLn9OTfs&hl=en_US" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Saturday night's game against St. Johns had a very different feel than Friday's contest. The start was pretty much the reverse of the previous game. The Devils were the better team to start, and dominated the play over the first half of the first period. By the time St. Johns snapped out of it about 12 minutes into the game, the Devils already had built a 2-0 lead.
The first goal for the Devils came just about 5 minutes into the game. Albany was already dominating the play, and during an offensive zone possession, Burlon fired a point shot. It was redirected by Josefson in front of the net, and the score was 1-0 Albany.
Not even one minute later, the Devils would extend their lead on a very nice transition goal. Jay Leach made a very good outlet pass to Darcy Zajac who skated in between the circles, froze the defender and ripped one top shelf for a 2-0 Albany lead. This was like a whirlwind of early activity. The Devils were absolutely running over St. Johns. It was good they had the two goal lead, but they kept plugging for more.
There was a play where the Devils nearly made it 3-0, but once again, a goal would be waved off. Just as the Devils were finishing a penalty kill, Henrique found Darcy Zajac with an outlet pass. Zajac skated in and took a shot, which was denied by the keeper. Josefson, fresh out of the box, skated in behind the play and found a loose puck, which he shot into the goal. The play was whistled dead, and the call was goaltender interference.
It's funny how momentum can change so easily during the course of a game. Off the ensuing faceoff, St. Johns got a shot on goal from Klingberg in the left circle. Frazee fumbled the rebound, and it dropped out into the crease, where a waiting Telegin slammed it home to cut the St. Johns defecit to 2-1. Just like that, a game which could have easily been 3-0 was now 2-1, and momentum shifted back in the direction of St. Johns. Besides the goal, St. Johns had just 3 other scoring chances, all of which occurred on the same sequence. They were pretty much run over for the rest of the period by the Devils, who deserved to be up by more than just a goal.
The second period saw a little bit of a role reversal. It was St. Johns who applied the pressure early on. On one sequence, they had two great scoring chances go just wide or over the net. On another play shortly after, Frazee coughed up another juicy rebound, but St. Johns was unable to convert, and the score remained 2-1 Albany. A penalty by St. Johns would change the momentum once again.
The Devils newly invigorated power play took just 20 seconds to convert on this man advantage. Larsson scored on a beautiful one timer from the point off a feed from Henrique. The secondary assist went to Joe Whitney on the play. Just like that, the score was 3-1, and the Devils had re-established their two goal lead.
Just seconds after the Devils goal, Mike Hoeffel was sent off for a trip, and Albany was back on the kill. This kill was a bit harried, as St. Johns had several good chances. Somehow, none ended up in the back of the net. Technically, the Devils killed off the penalty, but St. Johns literally scored just 3 seconds later, capitalizing off of their best power play of the evening. Once again, the Albany lead was reduced to one goal and the score was 3-2.
Penalties 30 seconds apart on Aaron Gagnon of St. Johns and Raman Hrabarenka led to about 1:30 of 4-on-4 play. Hrabarenka took a hook defending a very dangerous shorthanded opportunity by St. Johns, an opportunity that the Devils are lucky didn't end up in the back of the net. After the near miss, the Devils proceeded to score their third 4-on-4 goal over the last two games. Henrique found Bobby Butler skating into the St. Johns zone with space. Butler got in on the break, and made no mistake, beating the keeper and extending the Devils lead to 4-2.
For the remainder of the second period, St. Johns pushed the play towards the Devils end of the ice. They nearly broke through on a power play late in the second. With David Wohlberg in the box for hooking, St. Johns had a goal waved off because one of their players interfered with Frazee in the crease.
St. Johns could have easily gotten right back in this game with any one of several late second or early third period opportunities. Just a few seconds into the final period, Tedenby was sent off for a trip. St. Johns nearly struck again when Redmond somehow hit the post on a loose puck right in front of a pretty wide open net. The Devils killed the Tedenby minor, but were right back on the kill when Zalewski was sent off for a high stick seconds later. The Devils killed this penalty too. In fact, they killed off all eight St. Johns man advantages, as the Albany PK was a stellar 8-8 on the evening.
Almost halfway through the period, the Devils finally put the game out of reach. Darcy Zajac (who happens to wear #23) pulled off a perfectly executed Clarkaround to give Albany a 5-2 lead. Still, St. Johns kept up the pressure for the remainder of the game. Jason Gregoire scored with just under 7 minutes remaining to keep things somewhat interesting, but the Devils would manage to turn away all further efforts from the Ice Caps and walk away with a 5 -3 victory, and a successful road trip.
Great job by the Devils special teams for the second game in a row. For the 2 game series in St. Johns, the power play was 3/9. This same power play was 2/50 leading up to the weekend. It's definitely a good sign that the man advantage was no longer a disadvantageous situation for the Devils. Granted, St. Johns owns one of the worst penalty kills in the league (26/30), but the goals were timely and you could see some level of confidence develop. Hopefully they can carry some of that confidence into their upcoming games, because they're going to need it. They face two of the best penalty kills in the league next weekend, Syracuse (3rd) and Wilkes-Barre / Scranton (4th).
Devils penalty kill was outstanding over the weekend series (11/11) and for the week in total (18/20). They are definitely killing penalties with confidence and have an aggressive, attacking PK which is very effective most of the time.
I know I mentioned this before, but Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson both have their games going now. Henrique, after a slow start to the season, is finding his game here. You could see him stepping up on the PK and gaining confidence out of that. His physical game is really up a notch too. This is good to see. Also, its no coincidence that Whitney and Butler are playing well too. The addition of Whitney to that line has gotten results. I mentioned in last week's round-up that I thought Whitney had played his way into a regular spot alongside Henrique, and that seems to be the case. Not to give him all the credit, but they have some level of comfort together now and definitely compliment each other well. They look pretty tough to play against on most shifts. Henrique finished with two assists and 3 shots on goal. Butler had a goal among 4 shots, and Whitney finished with an assist and 5 shots on goal.
Josefson, I can't say enough good stuff about what he's been doing lately. After a brief scoring drought, he put up 2 goals and 1 assist over 3 games last week. Josefson added another goal Saturday night among 4 more shots. Matt Anderson, who has been a shot machine so far, was held without on Saturday. He did, however, have an assist. Josefson has been firing his shot at will and with good success. He is averaging about 2.5 shots a game so far.
Mike Hoeffel hasn't really done anything exceptional, but his game isn't fancy and he knows that. He's doing a pretty good job for the most part as a power forward, and he helps create space for Josefson and Anderson.
Darcy Zajac had a great game Saturday. I know we always talk about Tim Sestito and his energy infusions, but I just love the energy Darcy brings to the table on a nightly basis. When he is in the lineup, the fourth line is usually active and effective. The puck seemed to be finding his stick on Saturday, and he took advantage. He scored one goal with a sick wrist shot and another using his effort and determination on the Clarkaround, which would have made David himself proud.
Harri Pesonen seems to be pretty well settled into the left wing role on the fourth line now.
Mattias Tedenby returned from illness to play in both games over the weekend, but didn't do anything particularly great outside of his shootout move Friday night.
The Devils forwards have been generally tougher to play against of late, and they are finally scoring goals. Some guys, like Mike Sislo, haven't seen the ice in quite a while. Phil DeSimone as well. David Wohlberg, when he does get a rare chance, doesn't seem to make a huge impact on the game. Should the Devils shorten up their bench now that they have some better play out of their forwards and the offense is clicking? Or, do they need to keep shuffling the lineup at the bottom to keep everyone getting some game action? I would like to see a little bit of both. I'm hoping to see no more than one or maybe two forwards swapped in and out on a nightly basis. Perhaps they can eventually option a couple of guys to ECHL teams if they are not seeing the ice.
Jay Leach doesn't usually get on the scoreboard, but he had a three point weekend, with one goal and two assists. Good to see Leach appearing on the score sheet in more than the penalty column, but now they will never split up him and Larsson.
Adam Larsson is really playing well of late. It's fun to watch him out there. He is skating with confidence and is producing offensively too. He had 2 goals and 2 assists in the 3 games played last week.
Brandon Burlon should have won himself a regular role on this blue line with his play over the past week. We'll see what happens, though, because things are about to get even more crowded with Gelinas coming back. It seems like there are already eight guys on the back line that Rick Kowalsky wants to get on the ice with some regularity. Hopefully Burlon is not one of the odd men out.
Hrabarenka was in for the two games in St. Johns and Corrente was out. I think Hrabarenka is going to have a harder time seeing the ice with Gelinas back.
McPherson's play has been pretty steady too of late. Dan Kelly didn't play at all this past week and he's someone Kowalsky seems to like in the rotation too. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. With Jay Leach all but guaranteed a nightly spot in the lineup, it seems there are two spots left to split between 5 defenders - Corrente, Burlon, McPherson, Kelly, and Hrabarenka.
I thought Jeff Frazee, despite stopping 42 shots on Saturday, was just ok. He really seemed to be fighting the puck all night. He gave up a lot of rebounds. Some proved costly, many others did not. It just never seemed like he was comfortable, or he wasn't seeing the puck very well or something. I give him credit for doing enough to secure the victory under heavy duress at times, but he certainly wasn't doing himself any favors at times with his rebound control.
Keith Kinkaid can't buy a win. He outplayed Frazee over the weekend despite dropping another shootout on Friday night.
All stats taken from theahl.com and echl.com
The Road Ahead:
It's a busy weekend upcoming for Albany. They have three games in three nights, (Friday at Rochester, Saturday vs Syracuse) culminating in a Sunday afternoon contest vs Wilkes-Barre / Scranton at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall. I, for one, am most excited about the Atlantic City game, as I just got my tickets last week. I will finally be watching our boys play live.
If anyone is interested in going, there are still tons of tickets available ranging in price from $15 to $35.
Well, that concludes our Roundup for this week. What do you think of the Devils recently found offensive touch? Are you surprised, or do you think it was bound to happen? How about the crowded Albany blue line? Who will see the ice with regularity? Who do you want to see more / less often? Now that the Devils have gotten some consistency and some good tough games out of their forwards, how should they handle that rotation moving forward?
Please discuss your thoughts about these questions, and also any other comments or questions you might have about the Albany Devils. Thanks for reading.