Monthly Archives: April 2012

Preseason Plan…In the Postseason

Finally something to blog about! Had to happen sooner or later…

I got some news in my email a little over an hour ago from the Devils…NHL preseason is coming back to Albany for the second year in a row. On September 26th, New Jersey will face off against the NY Rangers (not sure who the designated “home” team is just yet) at the Times Union Center. Tickets officially go on sale Saturday morning, with prices ranging from $19.50-$52. So at least Albany hockey fans will have something to look forward to in, oh, 5 months.

Meanwhile, this year’s Devils and Rangers are still in the playoffs, both playing pivotal Game 7s this evening in Florida and in New York City. If both teams advance, they would not face each other in the second round. New Jersey would face either Washington (fresh off knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champs Boston in 7) if Ottawa wins or Philadelphia if the Rangers win.

Finally, Kalamazoo starts their Eastern Conference final against Florida (who knocked off Timo Pielmeier and Elmira) on Friday night in Michigan. The league preview can be found here.

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Devils Year 2 Review, Part 3: What I Learned

For the third and final installment of my year in review, I thought I’d share with everyone a few memories and things I learned during the course of this season, mostly off the ice (but some on). And I even have pictures! And here we go…

One of my favorite group photos, from the Holiday Skate: Kinkaid, Sislo, Burlon, Zalewski

-This bunch of guys we had here in Albany were so easy to get along with. I can actually say I didn’t have any personality or attitude issues with anyone, which is kind of rare.

-Trying to tell the difference between the Sestito brothers (well, other than the obvious)? It’s pretty easy. Tom communicates with his fists, Tim with his mouth. A majority of his penalty minutes pretty much came from arguing with the refs. And watch where that elbow’s going!

-Thanks to a member of the In Lou We Trust staff, I had a new Twitter trend: #Free (insert name). It all started when poor Brandon Burlon just couldn’t get into the lineup to save his life, with so many defensemen on the roster at the time. Hence #FreeBurlon was born. And it actually worked in getting him into the lineup. Of course we had to break it out again late in the season (and by the way…I did mention to Brandon the #FreeBurlon campaign, he’s all for it!) after he was left off the Clear Day roster. I further expanded the #Free hashtag to include Myles Stoesz, the forever extra forward, and to whoever was a healthy scratch for seemingly no reason.

-The other Twitter hashtag trend I started? #BlameKoharski. Seriously, it needs no explanation. Partially to blame for the March collapse. It also had a spinoff, #BlameBrown (exhibit A: the events that conspired on April 6th in Adirondack).

-Later in the season one of my what I like to call “color commentators” came up with a new term for when Albany and their opponents got into a shoving match…the association meeting. This fight is NOT an example of one. But this little get together in Adirondack is, just to give you an idea of what I’m tweeting about.

-It just wasn’t the same with Louis Robitaille gone. Yeah, I said it.

-“What’s up?”–Alexander Urbom anytime you say hello to him.

-Very excited to have another Zajac in the fold with the addition of Kelly. Another trend from March: the Kelly Zajac ATO Watch. We knew it was coming, it was just a matter of when Union’s successful run would come to an end. I doubt he and Darcy would ever be on the same line though…

-You can’t stop the Norfolk Admirals, you can only hope to contain them. And hope they start to crack. At least I thought by games 19 and 20 of the streak they were…

Not that I needed an introduction, Matt. (from 11/11 autograph session)

Brad Mills putting that Yale education to good use. (Holiday Skate 12/11)

Now a few things I learned in my many travels during the season:

Geez, one guy's elbow goes a little too high and...(in Binghamton)

Just because your team has won their last 28 in a row...(in Norfolk)

-To a small percentage of fans in Binghamton and Norfolk…and all of Adirondack: Stay classy. And to the group of Phantom fans screaming by the bus two weekends ago…how’s the golf course?

-If you live in Upper Saddle River, NJ, it’s your lucky day: You can buy a car from Jack Daniels. I wonder if you get free booze with every test drive…

-Driving on Interstate 88 to Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre became so much more tolerable this year. Sure I lost a hubcap off my car on one trip, but I can get gingerbread Timbits!

-Of course one of my favorite trips again was to Wilkes-Barre in February. Even though Tux stole my bag, some random tall guy kept following me around booing me, the Devils lost, and I barely won $20 at the casino…but hey there was a Sonic and a Tim Hortons stand…and I found a Krispy Kreme on the way home…

-Most interesting souvenir? It’s a tie, both from Binghamton: first, I picked up a team/animal calendar with proceeds going to a local animal hospital. As a hockey girl, nothing melts your heart more than players holding cute little kittens. The other was actual jersey nameplates. I seriously never saw them sold separately like that before.

-Then there was two days in Norfolk…

Waking up to this every morning did not suck.

-After surviving 20+ hours round trip on a bus, I give hockey players a lot of credit for getting through these long bus rides. Sleeping was definitely not an easy activity, let alone getting comfortable in your seat (and I’m a lot shorter than the average player).

-I want a Dunkaccino! Blame the movie Jack and Jill for that line. Every Dunkin Donuts we passed someone yelled “Dunkaccino!”

-If you’re on a bus going through Maryland, make sure the bus driver goes through the Weigh Station. Or you’ll be sitting behind a random Walmart at 4:30 in the morning.

-Albany (or anywhere in upstate NY, for that matter) needs, needs a 7-Eleven. That is all.

And did I mention…

I miss the beach...

With Year 2 in the books, I just want to thank everyone for a fun year, despite not playing in the postseason. And nice to finally meet a few of those who have been following me (or I’m following them) on Twitter and from the blog as well. Looking forward to Year 3 in 12-13 and hoping for a little more success!

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Friday Notes…

Offseason, day 5 for me. At least the weather is cooperating for now…but anyway, a few things to pass on:

-Wednesday afternoon came the first official signing for 2012-13: forward Kelly Zajac signed a one year AHL deal for next season. After signing an ATO on April 10th, he played in the final 3 Devil games of the season, going scoreless.

-With New Jersey in the playoffs, we all wondered who would be the select few that would serve as Black Aces. I figured anyone that had played with the big club earlier in the year had the best chance. Today it was announced that there will be a total of 17 (yes, 17) players that will continue to skate in Albany if needed: Jeff Frazee, Keith Kinkaid, Matt Anderson, Mike Hoeffel, Brad Mills, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Mattias Tedenby, Steve Zalewski, Vladimir Zharkov, Brandon Burlon, Matt Corrente, Eric Gelinas, Dan Kelly, Jay Leach, Matt Taormina, and Alexander Urbom. Basically anyone on a NHL deal got on the list (which could explain the absence of Joe Whitney and someone like Darcy Zajac).

-Congrats to Adam Henrique for being nominated for the Calder Trophy for NHL Rookie of the Year! He does face some pretty good competition in Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog. The winner will be announced June 20th at the annual NHL Awards show in Las Vegas.

-Kelly Cup Playoff Update: Kalamazoo can clinch a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals tonight with a win (and a 4 game sweep) of South Carolina. Meanwhile Timo Pielmeier and his mates in Elmira can fall victim to an upset by Florida with a loss tonight (the Everblades lead the series 3 games to 1).

Stay tuned, because in about an hour you’ll see Part 3 of my season in review…

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Devils Year 2 Review, Part 2: Fun With Numbers

For part 2, time for some fun with numbers (in random order)!

4,286: Attendance for the home opener on October 8th.

8,114: Highest attendance mark, on February 18th against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

1,304: Lowest attendance mark, on October 9th against Bridgeport.

3,435: Average home attendance.

6: Most goals scored in one game, accomplished twice: 11/19 at Hershey and 3/21 vs. Worcester.

8: Most goals allowed in one game, 12/26 at Binghamton.

54: Most penalty minutes in one game, 10/15 at Worcester

2: Combined penalty minutes between Albany and Norfolk on 11/4. (As the saying goes: God bless you, Jeff Smith.)

2: Hat tricks by a Devil: Stephane Veilleux on January 18th vs. Norfolk, Joe Whitney on January 21st at Springfield

43: Number of players to appear in at least one game.

4: Number of goalies to start at least one game.

16: Number of rookies to appear in at least one game.

15: Number of players to play at least one game in Albany and New Jersey.

8: Number of AHL cities I attended a game (Albany, Adirondack, Binghamton, Syracuse, Springfield, Worcester, Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk).

54: If I counted right, number of games I attended this season. Not counting one extra trip to Adirondack in October for a matchup with Norfolk.

2: Season series sweeps (Hamilton 2-0, Providence 4-0).

11:47: Time it took for the Devils to tie (and eventually defeat in OT) Norfolk on January 6th after trailing 4-0 to begin the 3rd period.

3: ECHL affiliates the Devils utilized for callups (Kalamazoo, Trenton, Elmira)

4: Wins against Norfolk. They did all come before the streak of course…

0: Wins in Binghamton. I should know, I was there for all 4 of them.

46: Most shots in one game, a 6-5 win against Worcester on March 21st.

16: Goals by rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas, which tied him for the league lead among defensemen.

8: Power play goals by Gelinas, tied for 2nd among league defensemen.

2: Successful penalty shots (Mike Sislo 10/9 vs, Bridgeport, Tim Sestito 2/18 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)

3: Unsuccessful penalty shots (Matt Anderson 11/27 at Springfield, Matt Corrente 3/10 at Adirondack, David Wohlberg 3/30 vs. Providence)

2: Penalty shots against, all stopped (Jeff Frazee 11/25 at Rochester, Keith Kinkaid 2/12 at Providence)

13: 1 goal losses in regulation. I think a chunk of them were in March.

4: Empty net goals by Vladimir Zharkov. 3 were in one weekend alone.

If I think of any more, I’ll add them to the list. Stay tuned later this week for the final part, what I learned…

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Devils Year 2 Review, Part 1: The Stats

For the first part of the second annual Year in Review, let’s look at the team/individual stats for the year, along with some league rankings:

TEAM STATS:

Record: 31-34-6-5, 73 points. Home: 18-13-4-3. Road: 13-21-2-2.

Leading Point Scorers (top 5): Joe Whitney (44), Steve Zalewski (41), Vladimir Zharkov (39), Eric Gelinas (37), Matt Anderson (31)

Goals Leader: Steve Zalewski (19)

Assists Leader: Joe Whitney (29)

Plus/Minus Leader: J.S. Berube & Dan Kelly (+6)

Penalty Minutes Leader: Tim Sestito (127)

Power Play Goals: Eric Gelinas (8)

Short Handed Goals: Vladimir Zharkov (3)

Game Winning Goals: Tim Sestito (5)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (17)

Shutouts: Keith Kinkaid (3)

Minutes: Keith Kinkaid (2346:50)

Save Percentage: Jeff Frazee (.906)

Goals Against Average: Jeff Frazee (2.67)

Full listing of individual stats can be found here: Skaters. Goalies.

LEAGUE RANKINGS:

Record: 31-34-6-5, 5th place in division, 14th in conference, 28th overall.

Attendance: 3,435 average, 30th.

Penalty Minutes: 1,252 minutes for an average of 16.47 per game. 11th.

Power Play: 14.4%, tied for 28th.

Penalty Kill: 80.0%, tied for 27th.

Short Handed Goals: 7, tied for 15th.

Goals For/Game: 2.50, 28th.

Goals Against/Game: 2.97, tied for 22nd.

When I was setting up this list, I used last year’s categories as an example. Now while these stats here aren’t exactly impressive, they are all an improvement on last year’s numbers. I had noted last season the team’s lack of discipline and how it cost the special teams in the end. This year, without a true enforcer (or in this case 2 of them), the PIMs dropped off considerably, by about 700. That’s a pretty big difference. In turn, there was a slight improvement in special teams stats…moving up about 2-3 slots. Baby steps!

Another big improvement was the goals against average…last year it was a dead last 3.54, this year it dropped down to 2.97. Great sign for the future depth of goaltending in the organization…and with the possible addition of Scott Wedgewood next season, it has potential to go down lower. But now offense is sorely needed, as goals for dropped off by about 0.2. That can partially be attributed to Adam Henrique’s graduation to New Jersey and Matt Anderson missing a chunk of the season due to injury. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed during the offseason.

Stay tuned later this week for Part 2: Fun With Numbers…

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Crossing The Finish Line

Hard to believe, but we have reached the end of the regular season in the Capital District. The Devils may have been eliminated from Calder Cup contention earlier in the week, but there were still 3 games left on the schedule–all at home–to make a statement to close the season out. And…not much of a statement. Reviewing the final 3 in 3 of the season:

4/13 vs. Norfolk: 5-1 L

To start the final weekend, what better than on Friday the 13th to face off against the team on a 25 game winning streak? Last two meetings the Devils played them tough, actually taking the lead a couple of times before finally succumbing and becoming victim 19 and 20 of the streak. Friday night…well, it was no contest and it showed. Norfolk came out of the gate flying, scoring three times in the first on Keith Kinkaid and outshooting Albany 7-1 through the first half of the period, 13-7 overall. More Admirals in the second, as the visitors added another goal for an insurmountable 4-0 lead. Kinkaid would exit due to injury with 12 minutes left in the second in favor of Jeff Frazee. The Devils started to wake up a little during the period, keeping Norfolk off the board after the goalie switch and holding the Admirals to 7 shots. Third period Norfolk added a 5th goal to essentially add insult to injury. The Devils thought they had broken up Jaroslav Janus’s shutout bid a couple minutes after that, but an interference call on Vladimir Zharkov erased the score. Zharkov made up for it with under 6 minutes left in the game, scoring a power play goal to break up the shutout. The Devils showed life during the third, but against a team like Norfolk, it was just too little, too late…and the streak went up to 26. Frazee did not do too badly in relief, stopping 8 of 9 shots in just over 31 minutes.

4/14 vs. Providence: 4-2 W

The Devils were hoping for the rebound against the Bruins, a team they had gone 3-0 against this season. Unlike the night before, it was the home team that came flying out of the gate in the first, outshooting the visitors 19-11. Darcy Zajac got the scoring underway 7 and a half minutes in, but the Bruins hung in and tied it up 10 minutes later. Second period was all Devils, despite being outshot 10-7. Mattias Tedenby broke the tie just 1:16 into the period, then Tim Sestito gave the Devils a 2 goal cushion with about 2 minutes to go on the clock. Third period the Bruins tried to make things interesting, getting to within 3-2. But Mike Sislo scored an insurance goal with 7 minutes left in the game to seal it. Jeff Frazee was sensational in net, stopping 34 of 36 shots (including a couple of game savers) and earning #2 star honors. Nathan Perkovich contributed two assists for the winners.

4/15 vs. Syracuse: 2-1 L

On the final day of the season, the Devils had a chance to play spoiler against the Crunch, a team starting the day battling with Manchester and Portland for the final two Eastern Conference spots. Maxime Clermont, recalled the day before from Kalamazoo to take the injured Keith Kinkaid’s spot, drew the final net assignment against a goalie the Devils had their issues with all season series long, Iiro Tarkki. Much like a few of the previous matchups, it became a goaltending duel. But Mattias Tedenby broke the scoreless tie with 5 seconds to go in the first on a power play tally for a 1-0 Devil lead. Second period, the Crunch came back. John Mitchell tied the game up just 3 minutes into the second period, then Ducks prospect Emerson Etem notched his first pro goal 10 minutes later for a 2-1 lead. Tarkki made that lead stand up…nothing was getting by him. He really rose to the occasion during the third, as the Devils outshot Syracuse 13-2, but nothing more into the net. With the win and a Portland loss, the Crunch clinched a playoff spot, finishing in 7th. Clermont did not have a bad day in net–stopping 21 of 23 shots–he just couldn’t get the offensive support needed to get his second AHL win. Brandon Burlon and Matt Anderson each had an assist, and Reid Boucher made his AHL debut, going scoreless but getting 4 shots on goal.

Looking Ahead:

Well…there’s no games to look ahead to in Albany, but New Jersey and Kalamazoo are still alive. The parent club is in their first round series against Florida, while the Wings are in a second round battle against South Carolina. I’ll be keeping an eye on those, along with those in the Calder Cup playoffs (just submitted my Calder Cup Challenge entry…let’s see how far back I finish this year). Over the course of this week I’ll be putting out the 3 part Year 2 in Review, with stats, fun with numbers, and another year of what I learned. And I also plan on doing the Free Agent Tracker again this summer, along with any breaking news, pertinent links, and whatever else I may find interesting.

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Game #76: Albany vs. Syracuse

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

Season Series:

Syracuse leads 6-3.

Standings:

Albany: 31-33-6-5, 73 points, 5th place in Northeast Division, 13th place in Eastern Conference

Syracuse: 36-29-5-5, 82 points, 4th place in East Division, 7th place in Eastern Conference

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 44 points (15 G, 29 A); Steve Zalewski, 41 points (19 G, 22 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 39 points (16 G, 23 A)

Syracuse: Patrick Maroon, 74 points (32 G, 42 A); Peter Holland, 60 points (23 G, 37 A); Kyle Palmieri, 58 points (33 G, 25 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 12-19-2, 2.67 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 17-20-3, 2.94 GAA; Maxime Clermont, 1-0-0, 1.99 GAA

Syracuse: Iiro Tarkki, 23-17-4, 2.49 GAA; Igor Bobkov, 2-1-1, 2.68 GAA

Miscellaneous:

Regular Season Finale

Following Along?

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

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

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Game #75: Albany vs. Providence

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

Season Series:

Albany leads 3-0.

Standings:

Albany: 30-33-6-5, 71 points, 5th place in Northeast Division, 14th place in Eastern Conference

Providence: 34-33-3-4, 75 points, 4th place in Atlantic Division, 12th place in Eastern Conference

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 44 points (15 G, 29 A); Steve Zalewski, 40 points (19 G, 21 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 39 points (16 G, 23 A)

Providence: Carter Camper, 47 points (18 G, 29 A); Josh Hennessy, 39 points (19 G, 20 A); Craig Cunningham, 35 points (19 G, 16 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 11-19-2, 2.69 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 17-20-3, 2.94 GAA; Maxime Clermont, 1-0-0, 1.99 GAA

Providence: Michael Hutchinson, 12-14-1, 2.37 GAA; Adam Morrison, 0-0-0, 0.00 GAA

Miscellaneous:

Military Appreciation Night

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @AHLBruins (Providence)

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Saturday Notes…

A few things to share…

-Catching up from the other day, the Devils picked up another amateur tryout, 2011 draft pick Reid Boucher. He just completed his first season with Sarnia of the OHL, putting up 50 points (28 G, 22 A) and an additional 3 points in 6 playoff games. He did not get into the lineup last night, but I would expect him to make an appearance before the weekend is out.

-Goaltender Maxime Clermont has rejoined the team after an apparent injury to Keith Kinkaid during last night’s loss to Norfolk. It’s his first callup since mid October, filling in while Kinkaid was on recall to New Jersey. He did make one start, on October 23rd in Providence, earning a 3-2 overtime win. He had been backing up in Kalamazoo (currently in a second round playoff series against South Carolina), netting 13 wins in 31 appearances with a 3.42 GAA.

-Now obviously there is no chance for a playoff berth, but let’s figure out what kind of position the Devils could finish in tomorrow evening. As of now, they stand in last place in the division and 14th place in the conference with 71 points. The good news is they cannot drop any lower, as Binghamton sits in 15th with 64 points and 1 game left to play. Division wise, they clinched the basement, as Springfield has 76 points with 1 game to play. The highest possible finish they could have is 12th, but that depends on how Worcester and Providence (tonight’s opponent) do in their last 2 games. At least it’s a small improvement from last season.

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Game #74: Albany vs. Norfolk

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

Season Series:

Albany leads 4-3.

Standings:

Albany: 30-32-6-5, 71 points, 5th place in Northeast Division, 14th place in Eastern Conference

Norfolk: 52-18-1-2, 107 points, 1st place in East Division, 1st place in Eastern Conference

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 44 points (15 G, 29 A); Steve Zalewski, 40 points (19 G, 21 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 38 points (15 G, 23 A)

Norfolk: Cory Conacher, 75 points (35 G, 40 A); Tyler Johnson, 67 points (31 G, 36 A); Trevor Smith, 64 points (24 G, 40 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 11-19-2, 2.71 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 17-19-3, 2.87 GAA

Norfolk: Dustin Tokarski, 31-11-0, 2.24 GAA; Jaroslav Janus, 21-8-2, 2.41 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); 102.1 FM The Game (Norfolk)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @NorfolkAdmirals, @AdsGameUpdates (Norfolk)

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