Monthly Archives: February 2012

Half and Half

To close out the month of February, the Devils hit the road for a 4 game swing through 3 cities, with Bridgeport bookending the trip. Not a bad showing, a 2-2 mark that helped catapult them into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, if just by a few points. Let’s rewind:

2/20 at Bridgeport: 3-0 L

The week began with a President’s Day matinee game in southern Connecticut against the Sound Tigers, a team that was ahead of the Devils by 3 points at the beginning of the day thanks to a 15 of 17 streak to begin the 2012 calendar year. Albany had plenty of chances to get on the board in the first period, thanks to three power play chances (including a 1:07 5 on 3), but could not get anything on Bridgeport goaltender Anders Nilsson. The other story from the first period was defenseman Alexander Urbom leaving the game with an injury, he did not return. Second period the Sound Tigers started to take over the game…Kael Mouillierat broke the scoreless tie 4 minutes into the period. Just over a minute later Tomas Marcinko boarded Tim Sestito and was given a major and game misconduct (Sestito was banged up but stayed in the game), earning the Devils a 5 minute power play chance which they could not capitalize on. Bridgeport took a 2-0 lead on a Blair Riley goal that bounced off the skate of Jeff Frazee and into the net. To add to the special teams misery (0 for 7 on the power play for the day; but a perfect 6 for 6 on the PK), Sean Backman scored a shorthanded goal 7 minutes into the 3rd for a 3-0 Bridgeport lead. Nilsson shut the door from there, stopping all 26 Albany shots. Frazee turned aside 35 of 38 shots in the loss.

2/24 at Syracuse: 3-1 W

The road trip continued west down the Thruway with another matchup against the Crunch (the third matchup in 13 days). Considering the near makeshift lineup on the ice for Albany after Monday’s injury filled contest in Bridgeport, they held their own quite nicely. Both goaltenders, Keith Kinkaid and Iiro Tarkki, kept both teams off the scoresheet in the first period, despite a 15-8 advantage in shots for Syracuse. Midway through the second, a somewhat controversial goal put the Crunch on the board first. While Dan Kelly was down after a hit, the referee for some reason did not call the play dead. Peter Holland would take advantage and score for a 1-0 lead. That lead would be short lived, however…with former Devil Mark Fraser off for boarding Steve Zalewski, Eric Gelinas came through on the power play yet again, getting one past Tarkki to tie it up at 1. That’s how it would stay until late in the third, thanks to some Syracuse penalty trouble. With under 90 seconds remaining in regulation, and on their fifth power play chance of the night, Mattias Tedenby (with of course help from Gelinas) puts one past Tarkki for a 2-1 Devil lead. Vladimir Zharkov would put the cherry on top with an empty netter 24 seconds later to seal it. Kinkaid turned in another solid performance, stopping 33 of 34 Crunch shots.

2/25 at Manchester: 3-1 W

Next stop, all the way back east to New Hampshire for the Devils only visit to the Monarchs this season. It started out as another goaltending duel, this time it was Jeff Frazee and Martin Jones. But unlike the night before, Albany outshot the opponent, this time by a 15-14 margin. Second period the Devils started to take control. Early on Eric Gelinas struck again on the power play, scoring his second PPG in as many nights to put Albany on the board first. Steve Zalewski would make it a 2-0 lead with an even strength goal 10 minutes later. Justin Azevedo would break up Frazee’s shutout bid with just 1 minute left in the period for a 2-1 game. Third period, things started to get interesting. Manchester would receive quite a few chances to tie things up, as referee Dave Lewis got just a little whistle happy with the Devils. The Monarchs received SIX power play opportunities–including 2 5 on 3 situations–but Frazee and the defense stopped everything, some by the slimmest of margins. With 59 seconds left in the game, Vladimir Zharkov would add his second empty netter of the weekend (I believe it’s his fourth in the last two weeks) to seal the 3-1 win. Frazee had an outstanding night, rebounding from the loss in Bridgeport…he stopped 38 shots and deservedly earned #1 star of the game honors. Joe Whitney added two assists (on both second period goals).

2/26 at Bridgeport: 3-2 L

While I was in New Jersey watching the big club lose to the Martin St. Louis show…I mean, the Lightning…Albany finished off the road trip right where it started, in Bridgeport. Another scoreless first period to start this one out between Keith Kinkaid and Anders Nilsson, with the Sound Tigers outshooting the Devils 15-10. Second period was all Devils, as they scored twice and outshot Bridgeport 12-7. Peter Harrold would get the Devils on the board first with another power play goal (per the Devils PR Twitter it’s their 10th power play goal in 10 games) for a 1-0 advantage. Late in the period Mike Hoeffel would give the Devils a 2 goal cushion. At this point I’m thinking (as I’m checking updates on the bus ride home from Newark) Kinkaid can take care of the rest. Well…not so fast. Third period was all Sound Tigers, and it started from a very unlikely source. Two and a half minutes into the 3rd period Trevor Gillies (yes, that Trevor Gillies) somehow got the puck past Kinkaid to put Bridgeport on the board. Under 4 minutes later, Aaron Ness would tie the game up at 2 on an even strength goal. He wasn’t finished, however…while on a power play 7 minutes later, he scored the go ahead goal to put Bridgeport up 3-2. Kinkaid stopped 31 of 34 shots in a losing cause, while Darcy Zajac assisted on both Albany goals. And I’m curious to find out how Myles Stoesz fared against Gillies in a first period fight…

Notes:

-Other than the busy Friday which saw three players shipped off to Minnesota for Marek Zidlicky (who I got to see make his Devil debut today), one additional roster move came down Saturday when Peter Harrold was reassigned to Albany after Zidlicky’s arrival. He did make it to Manchester in time to play Saturday night.

-Injury update: where to begin? Chad Wiseman sat out the weekend, still waiting to find out why. Alexander Urbom, Mike Banwell, and Tim Sestito were all banged up in Monday’s loss to Bridgeport, they sat out the weekend as well. Nathan Perkovich served his 3 game suspension and should return Friday night. No new updates on Jay Leach or Matt Anderson.

Looking Ahead:

Another 3 in 3 weekend to start off the month of March, but this time it’s all at home. Friday night Bridgeport visits for the third matchup in 11 days between the two teams. Saturday afternoon it’s another Time Warner Cable Cup matchup (with Tom on the shelf, the Sestito Cup is suspended indefinitely) against Adirondack (and hopefully they don’t bring the flu bug with them, apparently at least 3 players sat out over the weekend because of it), then Sunday afternoon another visit from Syracuse (apparently March is a big repeat the opponent month). After today the Devils have a slim lead over division rival Springfield for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, so every point counts as we go into the homestretch of the season.

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Game #55: Albany at Bridgeport

Location: Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, CT. Time: 3:00 PM.

Season Series:

Bridgeport leads 3-1.

Standings:

Albany, 26-20-5-3, 60 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Bridgeport, 29-18-3-3, 64 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 31 points (12 G, 19 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 31 points (12 G, 19 A); Steve Zalewski, 30 points (12 G, 18 A)

Bridgeport: Matt Donovan, 31 points (6 G, 25 A); Rhett Rakhshani, 26 points (9 G, 17 A); 2 tied with 24 points each

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 9-12-2, 2.68 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 15-13-1, 2.76 GAA

Bridgeport: Anders Nilsson, 14-6-2, 2.33 GAA; Kevin Poulin, 15-13-1, 2.77 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (both)

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @TheSoundTigers, @fornabaioctp (Bridgeport)

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Game #54: Albany at Manchester

Location: Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH. Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Manchester leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany, 25-20-5-3, 58 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Manchester, 28-26-0-3, 59 points, 2nd place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: 3 players tied with 29 points each

Manchester: Marc-Andre Cliche, 34 points (16 G, 18 A); Linden Vey, 34 points (16 G, 18 A); Brandon Kozun, 33 points (15 G, 18 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 8-12-2, 2.75 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 15-13-1, 2.76 GAA

Manchester: Jeff Zatkoff, 15-12-1, 2.64 GAA; Martin Jones, 13-14-2, 2.78 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); WGIR 610 AM (Manchester)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @MonarchsHockey (Manchester)

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An Annual Tradition Continues…

I wasn’t planning on an extra entry (considering it’s a game day), but the events of earlier today and this evening have prompted me to multi task…starting this during the 3rd period of the game in Syracuse. The day started off kind of normally…forward Stephane Veilleux was reassigned by New Jersey after only appearing in one game and then being a healthy scratch for the last three. Albany also brought up defenseman Eric Baier (bio here) from Trenton to fill in for the banged up Alexander Urbom and Mike Banwell.

Then came second period of tonight’s game. It had been common knowledge for the last few days that Minnesota Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky may possibly be traded to New Jersey. This of course got me nervous…nearly every year that the Devils and Albany have been affiliated, Lou tends to trade off a good Albany player or someone I followed for a veteran to boost the lineup up top. To name a few: Doug Gilmour for Steve Sullivan (probably one of the most popular players from the River Rat days of the mid-1990s); Alexander Mogilny for Brendan Morrison (my first NJ jersey was his #9 that my mom actually bought me for my birthday…two sizes too small but I still wore it anyway); Sean O’Donnell for Willie Mitchell (another favorite River Rat for me), you get the idea. Sure enough, my fear was realized. First announcement via Twitter was Zidlicky for Kurtis Foster…okay, I can deal with that. Then came the official announcement…not only Foster, but Veilleux, Nick Palmieri (both players I liked here), and two draft picks to the Wild in exchange for Zidlicky (official release here). Palmieri had been recalled on February 14th (same day as Veilleux), and had appeared in 3 games, not registering a point. He and Foster were mysteriously (at the time) healthy scratches for the Devils home game against the Canucks, while Veilleux was held out of the Albany-Syracuse game despite rejoining the team in time to go on the road trip. Hopefully this trade with Minnesota goes a little bit better than the last one back in June…which reminds me, I should check the stats in Switzerland to see how Noreau’s doing…

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Game #53: Albany at Syracuse

Location: Onondaga County War Memorial, Syracuse, NY. Time: 7:30 PM.

Season Series:

Syracuse leads 3-2.

Standings:

Albany, 24-20-5-3, 56 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Syracuse, 21-23-4-4, 50 points, 4th place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 29 points (12 G, 17 A); Steve Zalewski, 28 points (11 G, 17 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 28 points (10 G, 18 A)

Syracuse: Patrick Maroon, 53 points (24 G, 29 A); Kyle Palmieri, 46 points (30 G, 16 A); Peter Holland, 38 points (17 G, 21 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 8-12-2, 2.75 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 14-13-1, 2.82 GAA

Syracuse: Iiro Tarkki, 11-13-4, 2.77 GAA; Antero Niittymaki, 3-6-0, 3.06 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); The Score 1260 AM (Syracuse)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @SyracuseCrunch, @PSCrunchHockey (Syracuse)

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Wednesday Happenings…

A busy Wednesday today in Albany…here’s what’s new:

-Mid morning the Kalamazoo Wings announced that Harry Young was recalled to Albany for his second stint of the season. He appeared in two games in mid December, registering no points and 9 penalty minutes. He is likely filling in for Alexander Urbom, who left Monday’s game early in Bridgeport due to injury (no updates on how long he’ll be out).

-Earlier this afternoon the AHL announced that Nathan Perkovich was suspended for 3 games as a result of a hit Sunday afternoon against Binghamton. Late in the first period he hit B-Sens forward Mark Parrish, who had to leave the game with concussion symptoms. He only received a two minute roughing minor originally, but the Senators eventually sent the game tape to the league for review. He will sit out the weekend as the Devils have another 3-in-3 road swing through Syracuse and New England.

-Also earlier another Albany related suspension, this time for an opponent: Bridgeport forward Tomas Marcinko was given a 3 game suspension for boarding Tim Sestito during the second period of Monday’s game in Connecticut.

-And finally: Remember where you were 32 years ago today?

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Game #52: Albany at Bridgeport

Location: Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, CT. Time: 1:00 PM.

Season Series:

Bridgeport leads 2-1.

Standings:

Albany, 24-19-5-3, 56 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Bridgeport, 27-18-3-2, 59 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 29 points (12 G, 17 A); Steve Zalewski, 28 points (11 G, 17 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 27 points (10 G, 17 A)

Bridgeport: Casey Cizikas, 44 points (15 G, 29 A); Matt Donovan, 30 points (6 G, 24 A); Rhett Rakhshani, 26 points (9 G, 17 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 8-11-2, 2.74 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 14-13-1, 2.82 GAA

Bridgeport: Anders Nilsson, 13-6-1, 2.53 GAA; Riley Gill, 0-0-0, 0.00 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (both)

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @TheSoundTigers, @fornabaioctp (Bridgeport)

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Coming Home

Only 3 home games on the schedule this month for the Devils, and they were all scheduled in one week. They did manage a 2-1 record, but the way things started out…well, read below and you’ll see what I mean:

2/15 vs. Syracuse: 7-1 L

The week at home started off with a weekend rematch against the Crunch. The schedule may have said there was a game, but the boys must have forgotten. To be fair, it started off innocently enough. Midway through the 1st period the Crunch got a lucky shot on Keith Kinkaid that rolled slowly just past him and over the line for the early 1-0 lead (goal was credited to J.F. Jacques). 35 seconds later, the Devils would get the equalizer thanks to Darcy Zajac. Overall the period wasn’t so bad, the Devils did manage to outshoot the Crunch 13-10. Second period the Crunch took over the game and never looked back. Former River Rat Bryan Rodney opened the scoring 3 minutes into the period to put the Crunch ahead 2-1. Patrick Maroon added a power play marker 5 minutes later to boost the lead to 3-1, and Matt Smaby made it 4-1 under 3 minutes later. This prompted a change in goalies: Keith Kinkaid exits stage left, enter Jeff Frazee. He shut down the Crunch offense for the remainder of the period. Third period the Crunch blew the game wide open, as All Star Kyle Palmieri (for the last time he and Nick are NOT related) scored twice and Maroon added his second of the game to make it a 7-1 advantage. Despite the Devils outshooting the Crunch 31-29, they could not get anything going against newly acquired Crunch goalie Antero Niittymaki. The loss was the most lopsided one of the season.

2/18 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 3-0 W

The Devils were looking to rebound against one of the top teams in the conference, a Penguin team that had struggled a bit as of late. First period turned into a goaltending duel between Jeff Frazee and the Penguins’ Brad Thiessen…no scoring but the visitors did outshoot the Devils 9-7. In the second, more of the same on both sides, until Eric Gelinas finally broke the scoreless tie with just under 6 minutes left. Then with under 2 minutes left came the momentum shifter…fresh out of the penalty box after serving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (read: arguing with the refs again), Tim Sestito broke away towards the net, only to be (supposedly) brought down by Penguin (and former River Rat) defenseman Joey Mormina. He was awarded a penalty shot on the play, and made it a successful one for a 2-0 Devil advantage. Jeff Frazee shut the door on the Penguins after that, despite a few close calls. Gelinas added an empty netter late in the third period to seal the victory, only the second time in Devil history that they defeated the Penguins (both wins coming this season). The other headline of this game? Another big attendance day, over 8100 on hand (I detect a pattern…draw at least 8000, get a 3-0 shutout win) to witness this one.

2/19 vs. Binghamton: 4-2 W

The Devils wrapped up the brief February home schedule with a matchup against the Senators. First period it was Binghamton getting things rolling early against Keith Kinkaid. Pat Cannone and Mark Borowiecki (on a lucky bounce over Kinkaid’s shoulder and over the red line into the net) scored for a 2-0 B-Sen advantage. Then late in the first came another Devil hit knocking out a Senator (for the third time in seven games between the two teams this season), a hit by Nathan Perkovich knocked B-Sens captain Mark Parrish down for the count. He was able to skate off but did not return to the game. Second period, the Devils took over the game, outshooting the Senators 19-9 and scoring three times. Mike Sislo scored his eighth of the season just 5 minutes into the period to cut the deficit to 1. Steve Zalewski tied it during the Devils third power play chance of the period with 5 and a half minutes left, then Vladimir Zharkov gave the Devils the lead for good over two minutes later on a fluke shot that just trickled past former teammate Mike McKenna. Zharkov then added an empty netter (the fifth in the last six games for the Devils) with just seconds left in the game to seal the win. Kinkaid rebounded quite nicely after a shaky start on Wednesday and an equally shaky first period, stopping 27 of 29 shots, while Joe Whitney contributed 3 assists.

Notes:

-I am designating Myles Stoesz as the official yo-yo player of this year’s team. Wednesday he was reassigned to Trenton, where he did manage to get into 2 games. Saturday he was recalled to Albany so J.S. Berube could go down to the Titans to play in Elmira (he proceeded to produce a hat trick in an 8-1 Trenton win), but of course did not play in either weekend game. Berube was recalled earlier today and played this afternoon. Peter Harrold was recalled on Saturday just before the game and is playing in Montreal against the Canadiens (paired with Matt Taormina by the way).

-Injury update: Jay Leach and Matt Anderson, still out. Stephen Gionta has an ankle injury, no timetable on when he’ll be back. I should also mention that he became a father for the second time last week with the birth of son Noah. Chad Wiseman did sit out on Sunday, not sure as of yet what the situation is there.

Looking Ahead:

A busy four game road trip lies ahead for the Devils. It starts early tomorrow in Bridgeport for a Presidents Day matinee against the Sound Tigers. Then another 3 in 3 road weekend: Friday night it’s back to Syracuse to hopefully avenge the 6 goal thrashing from Wednesday against the Crunch. Saturday night they make their only trip to Manchester this season to face the Monarchs. Then Sunday afternoon it’s back to Bridgeport for the second time in 6 days. 2 big divisional games and 2 conference games…and standing one point out of a playoff spot. Here’s hoping Wednesday’s game was just a fluke and what we saw Saturday and Sunday continues.

And I should mention…next Sunday I (along with some other A-Devil season ticket holders) will be coming down to the Rock for Devils-Lightning. Very much looking forward to this trip and seeing everyone (okay, namely Adam Henrique), maybe meeting those that follow me (and others I follow).

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Game #51: Albany vs. Binghamton

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY. Time: 4:00 PM.

Season Series:

Binghamton leads 4-2.

Standings:

Albany, 23-19-5-3, 54 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Binghamton, 21-28-2-1, 45 points, 5th place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Binghamton: Rob Klinkhammer, 38 points (13 G, 25 A); Mike Hoffman, 36 points (12 G, 24 A); Corey Locke, 33 points (7 G, 26 A)

Albany: Steve Zalewski, 27 points (10 G, 17 A); Joe Whitney, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 25 points (8 G, 17 A)

Goaltending:

Binghamton: Mike McKenna, 13-14-0, 2.99 GAA; Robin Lehner, 8-16-1, 3.38 GAA

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 8-11-2, 2.74 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 13-13-1, 2.85 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); WBBI 107.5 FM (Binghamton)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @BSens_Hockey, @PSBSensInGame, @PSBJoyOnTheSens (Binghamton)

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Game #50: Albany vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY. Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Tied at 1.

Standings:

Albany, 22-19-5-3, 52 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 30-15-2-5, 67 points, tied for 1st place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Bryan Lerg, 40 points (21 G, 19 A); Colin McDonald, 39 points (12 G, 27 A); Ben Street, 37 points (17 G, 20 A)

Albany: Joe Whitney, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Steve Zalewski, 26 points (10 G, 16 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 25 points (8 G, 17 A)

Goaltending:

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Scott Munroe, 10-4-3, 2.64 GAA; Brad Thiessen, 20-13-2, 2.91 GAA

Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 13-13-1, 2.85 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 7-11-2, 2.88 GAA

Miscellaneous:

Stephen Gionta bobblehead giveaway (first 2000); Scooby Doo appearance; Scout Sleepover; $5/$10 tickets if you show a Time Warner Cable bill at the box office

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); 102.3 The Mountain (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @nafsnep, @WBSPenguins, @MikeOBrienWBS (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)

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