Albany Devils Roundup Week 5
Welcome to Week 5 of your Albany Devils Roundup. Last week the A-Devils played two games, Friday at home against Connecticut and Saturday on the road against Adirondack. So, it was basically Devils vs Rangers and Devils vs Flyers this past weekend. Unfortunately, the Devils lost both - Friday in a shootout and Saturday in regulation. Despite going winless for the weekend, the on-ice performance was not exactly terrible throughout. We'll get into more details about that in the game recaps. Scott Wedgewood and Maxime Clermont both appeared once this past weekend in a losing role. So, it was an all-around winless weekend for our North American professional Devils prospects. There were some positives, as I hinted at before, so we will certainly discuss what went right and what went wrong for our Devils.
Bill Cain reported both Harry Young and Chris McKelvie were recalled from Trenton. Each appeared in one game with Trenton, which was the plan when they were initially sent down. Neither player had appeared with Albany (and still has not) but both are practicing with Albany once again.
Harry Young is practicing at defenseman again, after what seems to be a failed experiment to move him to wing this season. His appearance in Trenton was as a wing, so it would seem the staff has scratched the idea.
The Trenton Titans dropped both of their games last weekend. Niko Hovinen was the 4-2 loser on Friday, with Brian Haczyk scoring one of the Trenton goals.
Scott Wedgewood dropped the 2-1 decision Saturday night. Wedgewood stopped 24 of 26 shots in the loss.
Maxime Clermont appeared Saturday night for Elmira, and the Jackals were 3-1 losers. Clermont stopped 25 of 28 in the loss.
Eric Gelinas, Kelly Zajac and JS Berube all remain out indefinitely. Alexander Urbom is still day-to day with an upper body injury, as he did not appear in either game over the weekend.
Game Recaps and Thoughts:
F 11/2 Albany 1 Connecticut 2 (SO)
Official Albany recap, with Kowalsky and Sestito interviews.
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Friday was a rematch for the Devils, a chance to avenge their worst performance of the young season. If a game was decided merely by possession or chances created, the Devils would have won in a landslide. They dominated this game more or less throughout regulation and overtime and piled up forty-four shots through 65 minutes of play. Cam Talbot turned aside 43 of the 44 Devils shots as well as all 5 shootout attempts to earn the victory. Connecticut stole one this evening. The Devils inability to score continued. If you remember, Braden Holtby stopped 37 shots in a shutout victory for Hershey last Saturday. That means the Devils, over the two games, amassed a pretty stout total of 81 shots on goal, but could only score once. One would think this can't keep up forever, but for right now, scoring goals is a big problem for this Albany team.
The first period started off well for the Devils. About four minutes into the game, Mattias Tedenby used his speed to get around the Whale defender and slip a backhand past Talbot. For the sixth time in seven games this season, the Devils had scored first. The Devils kept the pressure on for the majority of the first period. They outshot the Whale 12 -6, and also outchanced them 5 - 2. Despite having only 2 scoring chances, the Whale put the puck in the net twice. One goal would count and one would not.
The disallowed goal occurred on a play where Jeff Frazee was trying to clear the puck. Instead, he turned it over directly to a Connecticut player, who fired a shot on net. The puck was tipped in front by a stick that looked to be about head high from the camera angle. It was ruled a high-stick, and the goal was waved off on the ice.
The play on which Connecticut actually scored and tied the game also happened as a result of a Devils turnover. There was a loose puck near the half boards in the Connecticut zone, and Adam Larsson pinched in to get it. It probably wasn't the best decision to pinch, since he arrived too late. As a result of that play, the Whale were able to spring Christian Thomas on a break. Thomas beat Frazee but hit the post with his shot.
Then, after it appeared they dodged a bullet, the Devils found themselves in harms way again before the puck even cleared the zone. Jacob Josefson turned the puck over trying to clear the zone. With the Devils already starting their push up ice, Connecticut had an easy set up for Christian Thomas on the far side of the goal, and this time he did not miss. The game was tied 1-1 late in the first. Connecticut finished the period with a grand total of 2 scoring chances, and both occurred on this one play.
Just before the end of the first, the Devils had a great opportunity to reclaim their lead. This would be the first of many failed opportunities to do so. Harri Pesonen had a great steal, and he passed the puck to Steve Zalewski who found Tim Sestito in front. Sestito could not score, and the period ended 1-1. Call it unlucky, or call it taking advantage of an opponents mistake, but the Whale went into the locker room dead even despite Albany both outshooting and outchancing them by a good margin.
Two scoring chances in the first period turned into just two shots the entire second period for Connecticut. Yes, the Devils dominated possession over the second period to the tune of 18 shots for to just 2 against. Scoring chances were an equally slanted 8 - 1 in favor of Albany. There were many chances at even strength to take a lead, but Talbot turned them all aside. Albany really deserved a bit better here. They actually had some decent chances come out of their one power play this period. They had a good opportunity to score short handed with Adam Henrique creating a 2-1 opportunity. Not to mention chance after chance at 5v5, where they completely dominated the run of this game. Tim Sestito had chances. Henrique and Tedenby were firing away to no avail. The Josefson line was piling up shots. Nothing was working for Albany on this day.
The third period just was more futility and frustration. It wasn't quite as dominant a performance for Albany in the third, but they still controlled the run of play. Sadly, I think the reason why they didn't dominate nearly as much starting out in the third, is that Albany spent six of the first twelve minutes on the power play. Albany had the man advantage over and over again and couldn't generate nearly as much pressure as they did at 5v5. It goes without saying that it's not good when your team is worse off on the power play than at even strength. The third period ended with the Devils leading in shots 11-7 for the period, but only outchancing the Whale by 3-2.
The Devils ended regulation on a power play, which carried over for around 1:30 in overtime. This stretch of 4-on-3 play was their best power-play of the night, as it produced 3 scoring chances. Bobby Butler rang 2 shots off the post during this stretch. The Whale were just trying desperately to stay afloat, a familiar position that they occupied for most of this game. Unfortunately, it worked.
The game went to a shootout, and, Frazee was beaten on the first Whale attempt, followed by nine combined saves for the two goaltenders. Albany failed on all 5 of their attempts, and lost the shootout 1-0. The five Albany shooters in order were, Tedenby, Wohlberg, Butler, Henrique, Josefson. By far the closest attempt was Butler's shot which went off the post. Three posts for Butler on this night, and a 1-1 tie for Albany.
The Devils managed to lose a game in which they outshot Connecticut 44 - 16 while outchancing them 20 - 5. Its tough to really fault anything about Albany's game on this night, except their inability to finish and their futility on the power play. If this game was replayed 10 times over in the exact same manner, I think the Devils would win the other nine times. Their lack of scoring was definitely an issue, as they are now second to last in the AHL in goals for. Going 0-7 on the power play did not helping the scoring woes. This was Henrique's best game in a while, same for Butler. Josefson had a bad turnover which led to the Whale's lone goal, but he was otherwise good. Anderson and Hoeffel were really good. Tedenby had a great game. Joe Whitney played in only his second game of the season so far, playing on the left of Wohlberg and Tedenby.
The defense was good this day, they didn't really face a lot of pressure anyway. Larsson made a mistake on the Connecticut goal. Other than that, the group did their job when called upon. The same for Jeff Frazee - he didn't face a lot of pressure, but made the key saves when he had to. He was beaten once on a play he really had no chance.
S 11/3 Albany 0 Adirondack 4
This was certainly not one of Albany's best games. The same problems which had plagued the Devils in their previous two losses all were front and center again Saturday night. A hapless power play and a general inability to put the puck in the back of the net were huge issues once again. Basically, the Devils special teams lost this game in my opinion. I mean, obviously, its tough to win any game in which you do not score. The Devils were not totally crushed at 5v5 in this game as the score might indicate. One again Keith Kinkaid's performance looks worse on paper than it actually was. Don't get me wrong - the Devils deserved to lose this game. They got blown out on the scoreboard when all things were said and done. They didn't get totally run over throughout the course of the game, however, and there were certainly moments when an opportune play could have drastically changed the outcome. Still, the Devils were shutout for the second time in three games and are going to find themselves in the losing column regularly if they cannot find the back of the net much more often moving forward.
For just the second time in eight games, the Devils would not score first. About 4 minutes into this contest, they found themselves on the power play. The Albany Devils power play has quickly become almost as woeful as the early season NJ Devils power play of 2011-2012. The only difference was that Albany had not given up any shorthanded goals...until Saturday. Brayden Schenn intercepted an errant Adam Larsson pass near the top of the zone, and outletted to Sean Couturier for a breakaway. Couturier beat Kinkaid, giving Adirondack a 1-0 lead.
The Devils had a few chances to tie this game before the period ended, but all-in-all, great scoring chances were not that prevalent during the first. One of the better Albany opportunities was a 2-on-1 break with Wohlberg and Tedenby. Unfortunately, Wohlberg couldn't score. Albany had just two scoring chance in the first period to Adirondack's three, and they were outshot by the Phantoms 11-6.
The second period was pretty evenly played in my opinion, at least at 5-on-5. The difference, once again, was the power play. The Devils failed to convert on their one chance with the man advantage, Adirondack did not. When Scott Parse went off for a trip just over 11 minutes into the second, the Devils had at least as many, if not more good chances to score than Adirondack so far in the period. Mike Hoeffel had a couple great chances. One was on a nice return pass from Josefson. The other was from right in front, where he couldn't convert and the rebound was just knocked away from Anderson at the last minute.
The Devils started off well in killing off the Parse minor. They had a couple of nice shorthanded opportunities from the duo of Henrique and Anderson. Then, it all changed in an instant. Kinkaid knocked down a point shot, but couldn't control the puck. I'm not sure if he saw the initial shot cleanly, as there was traffic in front from Rinaldo. After the initial shot, Corrente then zeroed in on cleaning up Rinaldo, and I guess he didn't see the puck leaking out towards the far side of the crease. He basically leveled Rinaldo right into Kinkaid. Keith then had no chance as Ben Holmstrom swept in and put the puck high into the open net.
The Devils were back on the power play late in the period, but couldn't score. The best chance was a potential Tedenby one timer from the high slot but he basically fanned on the shot. The second period ended 2-0 Adirondack. Scoring chances were 4-4 in the second period, and shots were 12-9 in favor of Adirondack.
Early in the third period, the Devils certainly attempted the comeback, and they were still very much in this game. Tedenby drew a penalty early in the third by possessing the puck down low and working back and forth behind the net. The Devils almost gave up a second short handed goal when a Larsson turnover near the point created an Adirondack breakaway. Kinkaid made a nice save to keep the game 2-0.
After another failed power play that went absolutely nowhere, frustration got the better of Adam Henrique. With Corbin MacPherson off in the box for a high stick, a chippy sequence ensued between Henrique and McGinn of Adirondack. Henrique hit McGinn and received a return slash from McGinn who objected to the play. When the whistle blew shortly afterwards at the Devils end of the ice, Henrique wasted no time going right after McGinn. A scrum ensued and Henrique, Dan Kelly, and McGinn were all hauled off to the box, leaving a 5-3 power play for Adirondack. Gustafsson scored for Adirondack on the 5-3, and I think it was probably a shot that Kinkaid would like back. Gustafsson beat him near post, and it looked like he had a clear line of sight on the shot. This was the only goal of the four that Kinkaid had a great chance at stopping.
For all intents and purposes, the game was over at this point, but Adirondack tacked on one more late goal for good measure. Phil DeSimone lost a draw to the right of Kinkaid, and the puck kicked out towards the goal . Shane Harper broke free all alone in front, corralled the puck and easily wrapped it around the sprawling Kinkaid for a 4-0 lead. Immediately following the goal, a huge scrum ensued and a fight involving Matt Corrente. I couldn't see exactly what Corrente did since the camera wasn't there, but he was tossed out of the game for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of a game. Final 4-0 Adirondack.
Clearly not a good game for the Devils. It wasn't quite as lopsided as the score indicated, at least not at 5-on-5 play. The Devils finished this game 0-7 on the power play, while Adirondack was 2-5. Adirondack also scored a short-handed goal. The poor special teams play of the Devils directly led to their loss on this day. It's tough to win any game with 12 combined power plays when you are a -3 on special teams.
Henrique had a really strong game. Despite not scoring, he put 6 shots on net. Also, he was involved physically. Yes, his frustration penalty led to the 3-0 defecit and putting the game away, but its good to see him engaged, and he is starting to create shorthanded scoring opportunities on the regular now.
The Josefson line was pretty quiet this game, although he did create a couple of nice opportunities for his linemates and possessed the puck well.
Butler followed up his good game Friday with a just ok game on Saturday.
Pesonen was a scatch in Saturday's game. He played on the fourth line Friday, which was a change, but he did pretty well. He took a pretty big hit late in Friday's game, so I'm not sure if he was held out as a coach's decision or an injury.
I liked what Mattias Tedenby did in this game for the most part. He missed a great one time chance when he couldn't get a shot on net. He was active in the zone, he drew a penalty. If he keeps playing like this I think he will appear on the scoresheet more often.
Darcy Zajac fought Cullen Eddy in the first period and won the fight. Other than that, he didn't do much, nor did Scott Parse. This was probably one of the least effective games by a Devils 4th line so far this season.
On defense, Adam Larsson did not have his best game. He had a good amount of power play time, and had a couple of bad turnovers. One led to a short-handed goal, the other time he was bailed out by Kinkaid.
Corrente was a little lost on the second Adirondack goal. MacPherson was decent again. Hrabarenka got 3 shots on goal in his return to the lineup, paired alongside Dan Kelly who was steady and physical once again.
Jay Leach managed to stay out of the penalty box all weekend. I mentioned last week that the Devils have taken a lot of dumb penalties which have hurt the team at times. Turns out, it's actually just Jay Leach for the most part taking the dumb penalties. Albany as a team is just 22/30 in penalty minutes per game at 15.75. They are tied for 24th out of 30 in minor penalties with 43. Despite not taking a penalty in either game last weekend, Jay Leach is still tied for the league lead in minor penalties with 8.
Keith Kinkaid was not outstanding this game, but he was once again better than his result and stat line might indicate. He probably would like the 5-on-3 goal back. He also made some really nice saves, including a great breakaway save and a really outstanding save on a 2-on-0 break after a Hoeffel turnover. He had no chance on the other three goals.
Clearly it was not the most successful week for the Albany Devils. The power play remained anemic and is now just 2-35 on the season, good for a 5.7 % conversion rate and 29th out of 30 in the league. This needs to improve. The penalty kill has been up and down after a horrid start to the season, but needs to be better and more consistent too. The 5-on-5 play by Albany has been pretty good overall of late. The team has still only scored 1 goal in their past 3 games, and this needs to change. I think it has to change soon if they can keep games at even strength and keep doing what they are doing in those situations. The specialty teams needs to get a lot better.
All stats are taken from theahl.com and echl.com
So, what do you think of this Albany team lately? Do you think they can break through and score some goals soon? What can they try differently on the power play? Will Keith Kinkaid have a game soon where the results will be more reflective of his performance? How about this Albany team as a whole? Who will step up for Albany in the upcoming games? Please leave your answers and any other questions or comments relating to the Albany Devils in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.