2015-16 First Half: By The Numbers

With the overtime loss to Hartford on Wednesday, we have officially reached the halfway point for the 2015-16 season.  Before starting the second half on Friday, let’s take a look back at the progress made by the Devils over games 1-38:

Record: 23-9-6-0, 52 points, .684 percentage.  2nd place in North Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference, 3rd overall in AHL (but slotted 5th behind division leaders).

Home: 15-2-2-0

Away: 8-7-4-0

 

Team Leaders:

(top 3 skaters; x-inactive)

Goals: Mike Sislo (16), x-Reid Boucher (14), Corey Tropp/Matt Lorito (10)

Assists: Matt Lorito (23), Mike Sislo/Marc-Andre Gragnani (15), x-Joe Blandisi (14)

Points: Matt Lorito (33), Mike Sislo (31), x-Reid Boucher (26)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+20), Seth Helgeson (+11), x-Reid Boucher/Dan Kelly (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond/Ben Thomson (60), Dan Kelly (53), x-Joe Blandisi (47)

Power Play Goals: Mike Sislo (11), x-Reid Boucher (6), x-Joe Blandisi (5)

Power Play Assists: Matt Lorito (15), Marc-Andre Gragnani (11), Brandon Burlon/Mike Sislo/x-Joe Blandisi (7)

Shorthanded Goals: Mike Sislo/Jim O’Brien (1)

Shorthanded Assists: Dan Kelly (2), Blake Pietila (1)

Game Winning Goals: Mike Sislo (4), x-Reid Boucher/Paul Thompson (3), Matt Lorito/Jim O’Brien/Blake Pietila/Brian O’Neill (2)

Shots on Goal: x-Reid Boucher (116), Mike Sislo (108), Paul Thompson (70)

Wins: Yann Danis (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.68)

Shutouts: Yann Danis (4)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.935)

 

Individual/League Leaders:

Points: Matt Lorito tied for 6th (33), Mike Sislo tied for 8th (31)

Power Play Goals: Mike Sislo 1st (11)

Power Play Assists: Matt Lorito 2nd (15)

Power Play Points: Matt Lorito 3rd (19), Mike Sislo 4th (18)

Shots: x-Reid Boucher 2nd (116)

Plus/Minus: Vojtech Mozik 5th (+20)

GAA: Yann Danis 5th (2.24)

Wins: Yann Danis tied for 5th (16)

Minutes: Yann Danis 5th (1580:20)

Shutouts: Yann Danis tied for 2nd (4)

Points, Rookie: Matt Lorito 1st (33)

Assists, Rookie: Matt Lorito 2nd (23)

Power Play Goals, Rookie: x-Joe Blandisi tied for 3rd (5)

Power Play Assists, Rookie: Matt Lorito 2nd (15)

Power Play Points, Rookie: Matt Lorito 2nd (19)

Shooting Percentage, Rookie: x-Joe Blandisi 3rd (24.1%)

Power Play Assists, Defensemen: Marc-Andre Gragnani 3rd (11)

Plus/Minus, Defensemen: Vojtech Mozik 4th (+20)

 

TEAM STATS (with league rankings)

Attendance: 3,016/game (29th)

Penalty Minutes: 594, avg 15.63/game (10th)

Power Play: 23.0% (2nd)

Penalty Kill: 88.6% (1st)

Goals For: 2.87 (tied for 14th)

Goals Against: 2.21 (3rd)

Shots For: 29.63 (17th)

Shots Against: 25.29 (2nd)

 

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The Weekly Primer, Issue 16

Quick Hits:

The Devils begin the week with a 23-9-5-0 mark, good for 51 points and a percentage of .689.  They remain in second place in the North Division, 13 points behind first place Toronto.

The injury list is growing smaller, with Brandon Burlon (lower) expected to return to the lineup this week.  Max Novak was forced to return earlier than expected due to callups.

Just announced: After sitting as a healthy scratch since his recall on Friday, Brian O’Neill has been sent down by New Jersey.

Wednesday, 1/20 vs. Hartford

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 2-1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 19-19-2-0, 40 points, .500 pct, 6th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Chad Nehring, 25 points (12 G, 13 A); Marek Hrivik, 21 points (6 G, 15 A); Ryan Bourque, 20 points (8 G, 12 A); Magnus Hellberg, 13-10-2, 2.57 GAA; Jeff Malcolm, 4-3-0, 2.28 GAA

Notes: The Wolfpack come in on a 5 game winning streak, including a 3-2 overtime win in Providence on Monday; this is the 4th of a 5 game road trip that ends on Saturday in Bridgeport; this is the Wolfpack’s first visit to the Capital Region this season, the final two games of the series are all in Albany.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfpackAHL

Friday & Saturday, 1/22 & 1/23 vs. St. John’s

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM Friday, 2:00 PM Saturday.

Season Series: St. John’s leads 2-1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 17-14-5-3, 42 points, .538 pct, 4th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Bud Holloway, 35 points (11 G, 24 A); Michael McCarron, 27 points (13 G, 14 A); Charles Hudon, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Eddie Pasquale, 5-3-2, 3.09 GAA; Zachary Fucale, 9-8-2, 3.19 GAA

Notes: After finishing a 1-5 homestand, the IceCaps are on the road for their next 6 games, starting in Bridgeport on Wednesday; their lone victory last weekend was Sunday afternoon against Toronto; forward John Scott, who was famously voted an NHL All Star captain (and will be allowed to do so in Nashville next weekend), was acquired by Montreal from Arizona and assigned to St. John’s on Saturday; defenseman Mark Barberio, who has been on recall to Montreal since December 27th, was named an AHL All-Star, along with rookie Michael McCarron; busy Saturday downtown: it’s Rod Pelley bobblehead day and a hockey doubleheader, with RPI-Union playing in the nightcap.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @IceCapsAHL

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Week 15 Recap: Shutout to Soul Crushing

The Devil week started out very promising, then…everything came crashing down, so to speak.  A 3 point out of 6 week, depending on the schedule and/or the opponent, can either be positive or…so much more.  The latter would fit this week.

1/13 vs. Rochester: 4-0 W

Seth Helgeson

Seth Helgeson

The week began with a visit from Rochester…and former Calder Cup winning goaltender Robin Lehner, down from Buffalo on a conditioning stint.  And it was the most unlikeliest of players who got the home team on the board first…on a deflection in front, what looked like a goal from Corey Tropp was actually credited to Pierre-Luc Leblond, who scored his first in over a calendar year for the 1-0 lead.  Matt Lorito would double the lead with his 9th late in the second period.  Then Albany would put the game away in the third, as Brian O’Neill (3rd) and Reid Boucher (14th on a power play) would score 6:17 apart.  And Scott Wedgewood would take care of the rest, as he stopped all 19 Amerk shots to pick up his first shutout of the season and his fifth straight win, and Albany picked up their 11th straight win on home ice.  Mike Sislo added two assists, while O’Neill and three other Devils each had helpers.

Celebrating 11 in a row!

Celebrating 11 in a row!

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Corey Tropp-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Chris McKelvie-Ryan Kujawinski-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 9.  Shots on Goal: 39.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

Thursday: Good news for Albany’s roster crunch, as Paul Thompson was sent down to make room for Tuomo Ruutu’s return from injured reserve.  In his first NHL stint, he appeared in 3 games without getting a point.

Friday: More roster maneuvering: Jim O’Brien and Marc Andre Gragnani were sent down, but in their place Reid Boucher and Brian O’Neill were recalled, joining the parent club in Arizona.  O’Brien and Gragnani appeared in 4 games each, but with no points.

1/15 at Providence: 5-2 L

With a depleted forward corps, it was due east to Providence to take on the Bruins, who came into the night with a 9 game home winning streak of their own.  Seth Helgeson would get the visitors on the board first with his second goal of the season in the first.  Chris Casto would tie things up during the second.  Early in the third, Noel Acciari’s 5th goal early in the third would put the Bruins ahead 2-1, but 27 seconds later Matt Lorito’s 10th goal of the season would quickly re-tie the game.  Then late in the period Providence would shift it into high gear…on the Devils second too many men call of the game, Alexander Khokhlachev would score on the ensuing power play to break the tie.  Just over a minute later, he would assist on a Brandon DeFazio goal for a 2 goal cushion.  And to finish it off, an empty netter by Seth Griffith with one minute remaining, handing the Devils their first regulation loss of 2016, snapping their point streak at 8.  Yann Danis stopped 34 of 38 shots.  Lorito and three other Devils each had assists.

The Lineup:

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Corey Tropp

Ryan Kujawinski-Graham Black-Paul Thompson

Chris McKelvie-Blake Pietila-Max Novak

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre Luc Leblond

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Jim O’Brien, Marc Andre Gragnani

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 15.  Shots on Goal: 33.  Shots Allowed: 39.

Highlights: Video here via AHL Live.

1/16 at Utica: 1-0 L (OT)

Raman Hrabarenka

Raman Hrabarenka

To finish off the week, it was back to Utica for the second time in 17 days, as the Devils looked to extend their all time winning streak against the Comets.  And from the beginning, it appeared Utica did not want to see that happen.  It took Albany a majority of the first period to even get one shot on goal, while the Comets peppered Scott Wedgewood with 17 of them.  But no one was able to score.  In the second period, more of the same…Devils did manage to get six shots while Wedgewood stopped all 10 he saw in the middle 20.  A repeat of the same in the third…only six more Devil shots (when they actually could manage to get in the offensive zone that is), while Wedgewood was practically standing on his head in stopping all 13 Comet chances.  Even with a 3 on 3 overtime, early on neither side could break through.  But finally, with 1:55 standing between the Devils and their possible first shootout of the season…heartbreak for Wedgewood, as the Comets 44th shot of the game off the stick of Carter Bancks made it in, earning Utica the OT win and breaking the winless curse after 10 all time meetings.  Wedgewood deserved so much better in stopping a career high 43 shots, but the rest of the team had nothing to show for it.  The Devils actually had more penalty minutes (18) than shots (14), but special teams did manage to kill off all 6 Utica power plays.

Marc Andre Gragnani

Marc Andre Gragnani

The Lineup:

Jim O’Brien-Ryan Kujawinski-Corey Tropp

Mike Sislo-Matt Lorito-Paul Thompson

Max Novak-Graham Black-Blake Pietila

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie

Dan Kelly/Corbin McPherson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Reece Scarlett, Pierre Luc Leblond

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 6 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 18.  Shots on Goal: 14.  Shots Allowed: 44.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

Scott Wedgewood is the obvious choice this week…63 saves on 64 shots over two games, including his first shutout of the season and seemingly being the only player to show up Saturday night.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (16)

Assists: Matt Lorito (23)

Points: Matt Lorito (33)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+20)

Penalty Minutes: 2 tied with 60

Wins: Yann Danis (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.53)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.944)

The Vault:

Before he was a Devil…Chris McKelvie was a fighting Whale.

Up North with the Thunder:

A good week for Adirondack as they picked up back to back shutout victories over Norfolk on Tuesday and Reading on Saturday.  Greg Wolfe picked up an assist in Tuesday’s 1-0 win.  Ken Appleby stopped all 36 Royal shots on Saturday to pick up his 13th win and 3rd shutout of the season.  Joe Faust scored his second goal of the season on a power play while Wolfe added another assist.  The Thunder hit the road for four of their next five, starting in Elmira on Sunday afternoon before heading to Reading on Monday.  After a home game Friday with Manchester, they then head to New Hampshire for an additional two game set with the Monarchs on Saturday and Sunday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Good news for Albany…it’s the beginning of a 5 game homestand.  On Wednesday Hartford finally makes their first visit of the season.  Then St. John’s comes in for a two game set on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Also coming up this week…the halfway point of the schedule. Look for a first half numbers wrapup on Thursday.

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The Weekly Primer, Issue 15

Quick Hits:

The Devils begin the week with a 22-8-4-0 mark, 48 points and a .706 percentage.  They remain in second place in the North Division, 12 points and .083 percentage points behind first place Toronto.

It was quite the week for Mike Sislo: Monday and Wednesday, he was playing in New Jersey.  Thursday, he was named an AHL All Star.  Friday, he was reassigned to Albany and scored twice, adding an assist for good measure.  Saturday, another goal and two assists.  All of that was worthy enough for AHL Player of the Week honors on Monday, the first Devil to win the award this season.

Injury front: It appears Blake Coleman (shoulder) is done for longer than expected, as he tweeted Tuesday he is having surgery.

Wednesday, 1/13 vs. Rochester

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Tied at 1.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 17-16-2-1, 37 points, .514 pct, 6th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: 2 players tied with 23 points; Nathan  Lieuwen, 9-6-1, 2.97 GAA; Andrey Makarov, 6-7-2, 3.09 GAA; Robin Lehner, 1-1-0, 3.04 GAA

Notes: Robin Lehner, on a conditioning assignment from Buffalo, is expected to make his third start tonight; the Amerks finished 2-1 over a 3 in 3 last weekend, defeating Hershey and Binghamton before losing to Syracuse at home Sunday afternoon; team captain Cal O’ Reilly is Rochester’s lone All Star representative; the Amerks will face the Senators in a home and home series this weekend before hosting Syracuse Monday afternoon.

Listen: AHL Live, Fox Sports 1280

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @AmerksHockey

Friday, 1/15 at Providence

Where: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Devils lead 2-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 16-15-5-1, 38 points, .514 pct, 5th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: 2 tied with 31 points; Malcolm Subban, 10-8-3, 2.65 GAA; Zane McIntyre, 6-6-3, 2.93 GAA

Notes: The Bruins have won their last 9 on home ice, dating back to December 4th against Portland; Providence is riding an overall 4 game winning streak into the weekend; the team is just .1% ahead of Albany for the overall power play lead (24.6%); forward Seth Griffith, the AHL Player of the Month for December, is the lone Bruin going to the AHL All Star Classic.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @AHLBruins

Saturday, 1/16 at Utica

Where: Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 3-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 16-15-3-2, 37 points, .514 pct, 5th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Hunter Shinkaruk, 27 points (15 G, 12 A); 2 tied with 19 points; Richard Bachman, 6-6-2, 2.54 GAA; Joe Cannata, 9-8-2, 2.67 GAA

Notes: The Comets have dropped six straight, its only standings point coming on December 30th, an overtime loss in Albany; they will host Toronto on Wednesday and travel west to Syracuse on Friday; forward Hunter Shinkaruk is the lone All Star representative; the Devils are 9-0 all time against the Comets.

Listen: AHL Live, WKLL 94.9 FM

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @UticaComets, @CometsInGame

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Week 14 Recap: Almost Another Lucky Seven

Four forwards lost to New Jersey, leaving just the bare minimum of skaters needed.  A 3 in 3 weekend.

No problem for these Devils, who extended one win streak, had a second one snapped, and saw a lot of goals cross the line.  The result?  Five out of six points and a stranglehold on second place in the division.

 1/8 vs. Syracuse: 6-4 W

Joe Blandisi

Joe Blandisi

Back on home ice for the first time in 2016, the Devils faced off against the Crunch for the fourth time this season.  Well, namely former first round pick Jonathan Drouin, who was making his 15-16 Crunch debut after being sent down by Tampa Bay the weekend before.  But it would be another recent send-down that would make the first move…just 12 seconds into the second Devil power play of the game, Mike Sislo would score his league leading 10th power play goal (14th overall) for a 1-0 lead.  But Drouin would not be denied, as he scored a pretty goal less than two minutes later to tie it up.  But just as quickly, Corey Tropp would score his 9th for a 2-1 advantage.  With less than a minute to go in the first period, it would be Drouin again tying the game up.  In the second, there would be a goalie switch due to illness (Kristers Gudlevskis would leave early in favor of Adam Wilcox) and Rod Pelley (with his 3rd of the season) and Syracuse’s Jeff Tambellini would trade goals midway through the period to keep the game deadlocked going into the final stanza.  In the third, Tambellini would score his second to give the Crunch a 4-3 lead.  But the home team would come through in the clutch, as Sislo’s second power play goal of the night and a tally by Matt Lorito just 1:04 apart would put Albany back on top.  Reid Boucher would score into an empty net for the icing on the cake, clinching the Devils’ 9th straight home ice win and 5th straight win overall.  Yann Danis stopped 19 of 23 shots and picked up win #16.  Joe Blandisi would contribute 3 assists, while Reece Scarlett had two helpers of his own.

It's a captains duel!

It’s a captains duel!

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Joe Blandisi-Corey Tropp

Graham Black-Blake Pietila-Chris McKelvie

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Brandon Burlon, Max Novak, Blake Coleman, Ryan Kujawinski

Power Play: 2 for 6.  Penalty Kill: 2 for 2.  Penalty Minutes: 21.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 23.

Highlights:

Saturday: With another forward in New Jersey (this time Jiri Tlusty) going down with an injury, Joe Blandisi was recalled for the second time this season, and just in time for a 4 game road swing for the parent club.

1/9 vs. Lehigh Valley: 4-2 W

Blake Pietila

Blake Pietila

Less than 24 hours later…back at it, as the former Northway rivals the Phantoms made their only visit to the Capital Region all season.  With three forwards on recall to New Jersey, someone else had to step up offensively…who knew it would be Seth Helgeson?  His first goal of the season came halfway through the first period to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.  Joe Rehkamp would tie the game up for the visitors early in the second period.  After that, the top power play in the league would take over once again.  Just eight seconds after the first power play of the day began, Blake Pietila would score his 6th of the season to put Albany ahead 2-1.  Then on a 5 on 3 advantage late in the period, Brian O’Neill would score his second of the season for a 3-1 lead.  Mike Sislo would add on to the lead early in the third with his 16th of the season.  The Phantoms would cut the lead to 4-2, but were shut down the rest of the way.  With New Jersey GM Ray Shero in attendance, Albany would take their 10th straight on home ice and 6th in a row overall.  Scott Wedgewood won his fourth straight start in net, stopping 26 of 28 Phantom shots.  Reece Scarlett would recover from a bout in the first period that saw him miss 17 minutes, but he still managed two more assists.  Sislo and Matt Lorito also had two helpers.

Hockey Hugs after a job well done!

Hockey Hugs after a job well done!

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Corey Tropp

Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski-Chris McKelvie

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak

Power Play: 2 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 23.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 28.

Highlights:

1/10 at Hartford: 4-3 L (OT)

It was back to the Connecticut state capital for the second time in 8 days, as Albany made its final visit of the season to Hartford to face the Wolfpack.  And just like last Saturday, the Devils would find themselves in a hole in the first…Marek Hrivik would score 5 minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead.  But on a very pretty goal later in the period, Corey Tropp’s tenth of the season would tie it up.  Dan Kelly would break the tie early in the second period with his second goal of the season…but Hartford would answer midway through the period and tie it up on a Chris McCarthy tally.  The seesaw battle would tip back into the Devils favor late in the second on a power play goal by Ryan Kujawinski for a 3-2 lead.  But once again the Wolfpack would answer and early in the third, Josh Nicholls would tie it up with his first professional goal.  That would be one of just two Hartford shots given up by Albany for the final 20 minutes.  The game would get to overtime, but it didn’t last very long…former Union captain Mat Bodie would score the winner on the first shot taken 19 seconds in to give the Wolfpack the win and halt the Devils win streak at 6.  Yann Danis would stop 15 of 19 shots.  Reece Scarlett would have another two assists, while three other Devils each had helpers.  And not one Devil would serve time in the penalty box, as only two minors were called the entire game, both on Hartford.

The Lineup:

Brian O’Neill-Matt Lorito-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Graham Black-Corey Tropp

Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski-Chris McKelvie

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak

Power Play: 1 for 2.  Penalty Kill: None.  Penalty Minutes: 0.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 19.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

There were several deserving candidates for this honor…but I’m going to split it between Mike Sislo and Reece Scarlett, who both had 6 point weekends.  Scarlett doubled his season total for points in one weekend, which is quite impressive.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Mike Sislo (16)

Assists: Matt Lorito (22)

Points: Matt Lorito (30)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+19)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (60)

Wins: Yann Danis (16)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.89)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.927)

The Vault:

With narration by Doc and Chico and a cameo appearance by David Clarkson, we’re going back to 2008 and one of many PL3 classics…considering his opponent is now a Phantoms assistant coach, it’s a perfect tie-in for this week.

Up North with the Thunder:

Not a bad week for Adirondack, as they took 2 out of 3 on home ice.  In a 5-2 win over Manchester on Wednesday, Alex Carrier would score his 3rd goal of the season, while Greg Wolfe contributed one assist.  Carrier would assist on the lone goal Friday in a 5-1 loss to South Carolina.  Ken Appleby returned to the net Saturday and picked up a 4-2 win over the Stingrays, stopping 22 of 24 shots, with Carrier assisting on a late empty netter.  The homestand continues on Tuesday when Norfolk comes to visit, followed by Reading on Saturday before traveling to Elmira on Sunday afternoon.

This Week’s Schedule:

A three game in four day week awaits.  Wednesday the Devils return home to take on Rochester.  Then it’s on the road for Friday and Saturday: Friday night in Providence for the second time this season, then back to Utica on Saturday to face the Comets.

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The Weekly Primer, Issue 14

Quick Hits:

The Devils begin the first full week of 2016 with a 20-8-3-0 record, good for 43 points and a .694 percentage.  They remain in second place in the North Division, 13 points behind first place Toronto.

Injury update: All should be available for the weekend with the exception of Blake Coleman (shoulder) and Max Novak (hand).

Congrats to Mike Sislo (1st) and Yann Danis (3rd) on being named to represent the Eastern Conference/North Division at the AHL All-Star Classic!  Full rosters can be found here.  Other Devil/River Rat notables named? Joe Whitney (Bridgeport/Atlantic), Matt Taormina & Mike Angelidis (Syracuse/North), and Michael Leighton (Rockford/Central).  Former Devils captain Jay Leach will be coaching the Atlantic Division group, representing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

BREAKING: New Jersey’s morning skate had quite a few new faces with injuries hitting the big club. Sislo was sent down, while Mike Cammalleri and Tuomo Ruutu were placed on IR. In their place? Paul Thompson, Jim O’Brien and Marc Andre Gragnani were summoned, with Thompson looking to make his NHL debut tonight.

Friday, 1/8 vs. Syracuse

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 3-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 14-13-5-1, 34 points, .515 pct, 5th place in North Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Jeff Tambellini, 21 points (12 G, 9 A); Anthony DeAngelo, 20 points (3 G, 17 A); Tye McGinn, 19 points (12 G, 7 A); Kristers Gudlevskis, 6-6-1, 2.48 GAA; Adam Wilcox, 2-3-4, 3.40 GAA

Notes: The game will mark the season debut for former first round draft pick Jonathan Drouin, reassigned to Syracuse by Tampa Bay on Saturday; former River Rat and Crunch captain Mike Angelidis was named one of the playing captains for the AHL All Star Classic on Tuesday; Syracuse is coming off a sweep at the hands of the Marlies last weekend, including an overtime loss and overcoming a 0 shot second period in Sunday’s game; the Crunch are also kicking off a 3 in 3 weekend, returning home on Saturday to host Hershey before traveling to Rochester Sunday afternoon.

Listen: AHL Live, ESPN Radio Syracuse

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @SyracuseCrunch

Saturday, 1/9 vs. Lehigh Valley

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 5:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 1-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 17-16-2-1, 37 points, .514 pct, 5th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Nick Cousins, 29 points (8 G, 21 A); Petr Straka, 25 points (17 G, 8 A); Andrew MacDonald, 22 points (5 G, 17 A); Anthony Stolarz, 12-7-3, 2.18 GAA; Jason LaBarbera, 4-7-0, 2.91 GAA

Notes: The Phantoms are coming off a split with Portland in Maine last weekend; forward Sam Gagner, loaned to Lehigh Valley by the Flyers on December 30th after not being claimed on waivers, has one assist in 3 games; Petr Straka leads the AHL in goals; this is the lone road game for a 3 in 3 weekend for Lehigh Valley, as they host Wilkes-Barre on Friday night and Binghamton Sunday afternoon; Anthony Stolarz and Nick Cousins are the All Star representatives for the Phantoms.

Listen: AHL Live, Fox Sports 1470

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @LVPhantoms

Sunday, 1/10 @ Hartford

Where: XL Center, Hartford, CT.

When: 3:00 PM.

Season Series: Albany leads 2-0.

Know Your Opponent:

Record: 14-18-2-0, 30 points, .441 pct, 7th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers/Goaltending: Chad Nehring, 23 points (12 G, 11 A); 2 tied with 16 points; Magnus Hellberg, 8-10-2, 2.73 GAA; Jeff Malcolm, 4-2-0, 2.18 GAA

Notes: This game marks the last of a 5 game homestand for the Wolfpack, who are 0-2 after losing to Albany and Wilkes-Barre last weekend; like all Devils opponents this weekend, Hartford has a 3 in 3 weekend, hosting Springfield on Friday and Bridgeport on Saturday; second leading scorer Jayson Megna was recalled to the Rangers on Monday; the crease is a little more crowded with goaltender Cedrick Desjardins being recalled from a stint in Manchester on Wednesday; defenseman Ryan Graves is the lone Hartford All-Star representative.

Listen: AHL Live

Tweet: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfpackAHL

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Week 13 Recap: New Year, Same Dominance

The calendar may have turned over to a new year, but it’s the same story for the Devils…another perfect week in the books!

12/30 vs. Utica: 3-2 W (OT)

Rod Pelley

Rod Pelley

For the last home game of 2015, the Devils played host to the Comets, who came into the night on a 8 game road winning streak…meanwhile Albany had won their last seven in a row on home ice, so…something had to give.

Reece Scarlett would get the hosts on the board early in the first period with his first goal of the season.  But the Comets would tie it up later in the period on a power play goal by Blair Jones, a rare misstep for the #1 penalty kill in the league.  But the Devils would take the lead back early in the second on Jim O’Brien’s 5th of the season.  Things would calm down offensively after that (but things would get physical on quite a few occasions), and going into the third, Albany appeared to be back to their old defensive selves, only allowing the Comets one third period shot through most of the last twenty minutes.  But on their second shot…it would find its way from the stick of Hunter Shinkaruk to behind Yann Danis and into the net, tying the game at 2 with 5:24 remaining in regulation.  The game would go into overtime (earning Utica its first ever point against Albany in 8 tries), and O’Brien would send everyone home happy just 58 seconds into the extra frame with his second goal of the evening.

Danis would pick up win #15 with another outstanding effort, stopping 24 of 26 shots and picking up #2 star honors.  And it was yet another balanced offensive attack, as five different Devils would contribute assists.

Jim O'Brien

Jim O’Brien

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Joe Blandisi-Corey Tropp

Paul Thompson-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly/Vojtech Mozik

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Yann Danis/Scott Wedgewood

Out: Seth Helgeson, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, Raman Hrabarenka

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 13.  Shots on Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 26.

Highlights:

12/31 at Utica: 4-1 W

Scott Wedgewood

Scott Wedgewood

To finish off the 2015 calendar year, the Devils headed west on the Thruway to finish off a home and home with the Comets.  Utica got off to the early 1-0 lead on their third power play of the first (yes, third…it was that kind of start) period, but Jim O’Brien would tie things up shortly thereafter with his third goal in two days.  Second period the Devils would take over the contest and not look back…Reid Boucher would break the tie with 4 and a half minutes left in the second with his 11th goal of the season.  Graham Black’s second of the year would provide a much needed insurance cushion with 7 and a half minutes to go in the third, then finally Paul Thompson would put the exclamation point on a third straight win with an empty netter.  The win also extended the Devils all time winning streak against Utica to 9 games.  Scott Wedgewood drew the starting assignment and played well, stopping 24 of 25 shots in picking up his third win.  Thompson and 4 other Devils would each have helpers.  The game also marked the return of Raman Hrabarenka to the lineup for the first time since he was hurt November 13th in Providence.

Brian O'Neill

Brian O’Neill

The Lineup:

Paul Thompson-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Matt Lorito-Joe Blandisi-Corey Tropp

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Dan Kelly/Vojtech Mozik

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Reece Scarlett/Raman Hrabarenka

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Seth Helgeson, Blake Coleman, Marc Andre Gragnani, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, Max Novak

Highlights:

1/2 at Hartford: 4-3 W

Typical Devils-Rangers.

Typical Devils-Rangers.

The Devils started off the 2016 portion of the schedule with their second trip east of the season to Hartford to take on the Wolfpack.  Albany found themselves in a 2-0 hole midway through the first period after Pierre-Luc Leblond was called for a double minor due to a high stick.  Chad Nehring and Ryan Bourque would score 1:21 apart, showing a rare misstep for the penalty killing corps.  But it didn’t take long for the Devils to begin their rally…Matt Lorito would score on the power play three minutes later to cut the lead in half.  Reid Boucher would tie it up late in the second period with his 12th goal of the season.  It looked like Albany would put the game away during the first half of the third period after Corey Tropp (on a power play) and Lorito would score within 3:23 of each other for a 4-2 advantage…but the Wolfpack would cut the lead to one goal with 7:17 to go in regulation.  After a flurry of activity and a late Devil power play, Albany would hold on for a come from behind 4th straight win.  Scott Wedgewood survived a shaky first period and picked up his third straight win, stopping 30 of 33 shots.  Joe Blandisi would add two assists, while Boucher and 5 others each had helpers.  After finishing the first period down 19-5 in shots, the Devils would outshoot Hartford 26-14 over the final forty minutes.

A 4th straight happy celebration...

A 4th straight happy celebration…

The Lineup:

Paul Thompson-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Matt Lorito-Joe Blandisi-Corey Tropp

Chris McKelvie-Graham Black-Reid Boucher

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre Luc Leblond

Dan Kelly/Vojtech Mozik

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Out: Seth Helgeson, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Blake Pietila, Ryan Kujawinski, Raman Hrabarenka

Power Play: 2 for 5.  Penalty Kill: 1 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 11.  Shots on Goal: 32.  Shots Allowed: 33.

Highlights:

My Player of the Week:

There were several quality candidates for this week’s honor but…Jim O’Brien and his 3 goal/4 point week get the nod.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Reid Boucher (12)

Assists: Matt Lorito (18)

Points: Matt Lorito (25)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+17)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (58)

Wins: Yann Danis (15)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.87)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.926)

The Vault:

Early in the 2009-10 season, Martin Brodeur’s backup would beat the Bruins 2-1.  Here’s his postgame interview:

Up North with the Thunder:

It’s been an up and down week for the boys in Adirondack, as they went 2-2 over a busy week.  Tuesday they dropped a 3-1 decision to Greenville at home, then defeated Reading in a shootout on New Years Eve.  They started off 2016 by being shut out 5-0 to the Royals in Pennsylvania on Saturday before returning the favor Sunday afternoon 3-2.  Ken Appleby went 1-1, winning the shootout on Thursday (26/27 saves) and taking the loss on Saturday (26/31).  He is now 11-7-1-1 with a 2.41 GAA and a .916 save percentage.  Joe Faust and Alexandre Carrier appeared in all 4 games and were both scoreless (Carrier did have a fighting major on Sunday), while Ben Johnson appeared in just two games before sitting out the road trip in Reading.  Greg Wolfe notched a goal and an assist in 4 appearances.  On tap this week: the start of a 5 game homestand, as Adirondack hosts Manchester on Wednesday and a two game set against South Carolina Friday and Saturday night.

This Week’s Schedule:

It’s the first 3 in 3 weekend of 2016, but it’s a relatively easy one travel wise.  Friday night Albany hosts the Crunch for the third time in a month.  Saturday afternoon Lehigh Valley comes in for their only visit of the season.  Then it’s back east to Hartford on Sunday afternoon to take on the Wolfpack for the second time in 8 days.

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