Tag Archives: AHL

Getting Defensive

A very interesting week for Albany, in their latest 3 in 3 weekend.  What started out as possibly a long weekend finished off with two dominating performances, and warranting some attention from the league.  More importantly, the 4 out of 6 points earned kept the Devils in playoff contention, lowering the magic number to finally break into the postseason further.  And a few new names making their way onto the team leaders list!

3/14 at Springfield: 6-4 L

The end of the 5 game New England road swing came Friday night in Springfield, with a matchup against the first place Falcons.  Jean-Francois Jacques put the hosts on the board midway through the first.  Then some franchise history less than four minutes later…on a power play, Joe Whitney scored his 21st to tie the game at 1, and give him the franchise record for career points with 141, passing Stephen Gionta.  He added point #142 with an assist on Harri Pesonen’s 10th goal less than two minutes later for a 2-1 Devil lead.  Former Devil Matt Taormina would re-tie the game on an early second period power play.  Mattias Tedenby and Tim Sestito would then score less than five minutes apart to give Albany a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.  That’s when the wheels completely came off and the train derailed off the tracks.  Patrick McNeill scored on a power play 4:28 in to cut the deficit to 4-3.  Trent Vogelhuber would tie things four minutes later.  Then while on a 4 on 3 opportunity (Sestito off for roughing and then Raman Hrabarenka took a costly hooking call while trying to stop a breakaway), Jacques would score his second of the night to put the Falcons up 5-4.  Ryan Craig would add an insurance goal late for a two goal lead.  Keith Kinkaid took the loss, stopping 22 of 28 shots.  Six Devils would add assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-David Wohlberg

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Mike Hoeffel

Extras: Stefan Matteau, Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Brandon Burlon

Extras: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

3/15 vs. Hartford: 2-0 W

Finally back on real home ice for the first time since February 23rd, the Devils played host to the Wolfpack.  After an uneventful first period that saw a combined 8 shots (4 on each side), the Devils locked it in for the second.  Harri Pesonen scored his 11th of the season to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.  As for the Wolfpack?  They only managed 3 shots on goal…that they didn’t get until 1:30 was left in the period.  Rod Pelley would add an insurance goal (one that was almost disallowed after the net was pushed off around the time the puck went in) with just over 6 minutes to go in regulation.  And Hartford finally remembered how to shoot the puck, throwing 16 shots at Scott Wedgewood in the period, but nothing would get by.  Wedgewood finished with 23 saves for his second shutout of the season and a #1 star.  Three Devils added assists.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Alexander Urbom/Brandon Burlon

Extras: Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

3/16 vs. Syracuse: 3-0 W

The weekend concluded with a visit from the struggling Crunch, a team Albany had not seen since way back on November 16th.  Much like the day before, it was quite an uneventful first period…until Raman Hrabarenka scored on a power play late in the period for a 1-0 advantage.  After a scoreless second that saw Albany outshoot the visitors 15-4, the Devils locked it down in the third.  Mike Sislo would score an insurance marker, his 20th of the season, with 5 minutes left in regulation, then added an empty netter with 22 seconds to go.  Scott Wedgewood barely broke a sweat in posting his second straight shutout, only facing 13 Syracuse shots.  Kelly Zajac added two assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Darcy Zajac-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Extras: Reece Scarlett, Brandon Burlon

Conference Standings:

Still a tight race in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference:

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton–76

6. Providence–75

7. ALBANY–74

8. Norfolk–74

9. Hershey–70

The Devils get the nod over Norfolk due to 3 more regulation wins.  The magic number to clinch a playoff berth stands at 25.  They are at a pace to finish at 90 points, which would put them no higher than sixth place.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

While waiting for my actual choice to hit YouTube…here’s a quick one from Tim Sestito from Friday evening:

My Player of the Week:

Back to back shutouts (the first Devil goaltender to do it in franchise history and the first in Albany since 2009), a scoreless streak at 126:05 and counting…yeah, Scott Wedgewood was a pretty obvious choice this week.

And the AHL agreed, as earlier today he was named the CCM AHL Player of the Week.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney/Mike Sislo (21)

Assists: Kelly Zajac (27)

Points: Joe Whitney (47)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (89)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.37)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.910)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

Not a good week for the Jackals, as they dropped all three games to Reading (twice) and Cincinnati.  Riley Boychuk and Artem Demkov missed all three due to injuries.  Harry Young amassed 7 penalty minutes against Reading in Wednesday’s loss.  Going into this week they stand at 22-30-3-5 on the season, good for 12th in the Eastern Conference.

And finally, a Maxime Clermont sighting!  He made a relief appearance for Orlando on Friday evening in Evansville during a 7-1 loss.  He played the second and third periods, stopping 15 of 19 shots.  He backed up in Saturday’s win over the IceMen.  Overall he stands at 6-9-0-1 with a 3.46 GAA.  The Solar Bears start the week 36-19-2-2, 4th in the Eastern Conference.

Injury Update:

Finally, Darcy Zajac returned to the lineup on Sunday after sitting out since October 19th.  Reece Scarlett (soreness?) sat out the weekend after taking a hit last Friday night in Portland.  Cam Janssen (unknown) hasn’t been seen since February 8th.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games, but not back to back to back for a change, and two games with some serious playoff implications.  Wednesday the homestand ends with a visit from Binghamton.  Saturday night the Devils travel west for a rematch with Syracuse.  Then one last trip to Atlantic City on Sunday afternoon to take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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Snowed In Thursday Update

While waiting out the latest snowstorm to hit the area (I’m looking at, oh, at least a foot by tomorrow morning…sigh), time to get everyone up to speed as the season resumes tomorrow night in Atlantic City:

-While his teammates were enjoying a three day vacation, Joe Whitney was up in St. John’s to take part in the AHL All Star festivities, going up against Farjestad BK of the SEL.  Tuesday night the AHL contingent won the Skills Competition 18-17, needing a shootout to clinch the win.  Whitney took part in the second round of the Puck Control Relay, teaming with Cody Goloubef (Springfield) and Brenden Kichton (St. John’s); teamed up again with Goloubef and Frederic St. Denis (Springfield) in the Pass and Score competition; and scored on Farjestad netminder Frederik Pettersson-Wentzel in Round 3 of the Breakaway Relay.

-In the actual game Wednesday night, the AHL All-Stars beat Farjestad BK 7-2.  Rockford’s Brandon Pirri (also a former RPI Engineer for one season) took home MVP honors with two goals and an assist.  Whitney was his linemate for a good portion of the night, he and Binghamton’s Mike Hoffman each notched two assists.  Farjestad’s player of the game?  None other than former Albany River Rat Christian Berglund, despite being held scoreless (he did lead Farjestad with 5 shots on goal).

-Thursday it was back to work for the remaining Devils, and there were two somewhat new faces on ice: Darcy Zajac, who hadn’t been seen since October after getting hurt during the Norfolk trip, was back on ice for the first time since then.  And with Keith Kinkaid out for at least the weekend, another backup goaltender was brought in…and he’s a familiar face to Devils fans.  Johan Hedberg (otherwise known as MOOOOSE), who had been working as a special assignment coach (sitting with goaltending coach Dave Caruso for a handful of games), was signed to a PTO agreement, and there is a chance with the 3 in 3 schedule this weekend that he may get into a game.  His last on ice appearance was back on April 27th, a 4-0 loss to the Rangers.  After that, he was bought out after Cory Schneider’s acquistion, and even had a stint in Rangers training camp before coming back to join the Devils staff.

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2013-14 First Half Review: By the Numbers

Friday night in Utica marked Game #38, the official halfway point of the 2013-14 season.  Before kicking off the next 38 games, let’s take a look at the Devils’ progress so far this season:

Record: 22-11-3-2, 49 points.  2nd place in Northeast Division, 4th place in Eastern Conference, 7th in AHL

Home: 12-6-2-0
Away: 10-5-1-2

Team Leaders (Top 3):

Goals: Joe Whitney (16); Reid Boucher*/Mike Sislo (10); Scott Timmins (9)
Assists: Joe Whitney (20); Kelly Zajac (17); Scott Timmins (13)
Points: Joe Whitney (36); Mike Sislo/Scott Timmins/Kelly Zajac (22); Reid Boucher* (18)
+/-: Reece Scarlett (+11); Dan Kelly/Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson (+10); Mike Sislo/Scott Timmins (+9)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (63); Dan Kelly (53); Chris McKelvie (47)
Power Play Goals: Joe Whitney (5); Reece Scarlett (4); 2 others with 3
Power Play Assists: Joe Whitney (11); Kelly Zajac (7); Reid Boucher (6)*
Shorthanded Goals: 4 tied with 1
Shorthanded Assists: 3 tied with 1
Game Winning Goals: 3 tied with 3
Shots on Goal: Joe Whitney (108); Harri Pesonen (80); Reid Boucher (69)*

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (15)
GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.22)
Shutouts: Keith Kinkaid (4)
Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid, .915

Team Stats (with league rankings):

Home Attendance: 2,906 (28th)
Penalty Minutes Average: 15.21 (21st)
Power Play: 16.8% (16th)
Penalty Kill: 81.6% (19th)
Goals For: 121, 3.18 (5th)
Goals Against: 97, 2.55 (5th)
Shots For: 28.26 (22nd)
Shots Against: 26.08 (2nd)

Comparing last year at this time to now?  Let’s take a look:

-Obviously in the win column.  7 more wins with 6 less shootout losses, for starters.

-Attendance is down by about 800, but last year there was the lockout to contend with.  And not a lot of big home dates early on.  But next weekend at home…and continuing play, and hopefully some better marketing, may change that.

-Much improved power play numbers, up 6 percent (I haven’t had to break out the power outage jokes in quite awhile).  But the penalty kill is down about 3 percent.

-The one thing I was worried about at the start of the season?  Goal production.  An increase of 22 goals over this time last season has calmed those fears down.  Goals against continues to improve over the years, as goals against has gone down by 8 thanks to Keith Kinkaid’s surge.

Second half begins tonight in Adirondack.  And the real test of whether this resurgence continues on begins.

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Feeling Defensive and Snubbed

Before the second 3 in 3 weekend of the season commences, how about a little update?  Okay, a big one:

-On Tuesday the Washington Capitals placed former Devil defenseman Alexander Urbom on waivers.  Cue the speculation!  Is he going to clear and end up in Hershey?  Would another team take a chance on him?  Or do the Devils correct their pre-season error and take him back?  On Wednesday, we got our answer: New Jersey picked him up, and since no other team put in a claim, per the CBA they were able to reassign him to Albany.  After being claimed by the Capitals before the season, he appeared in 20 games and registered a goal and an assist.  He last appeared in a game on November 29th, and had been a healthy scratch since.

-Earlier today, another roster surprise: New Jersey announced that 2011 first round pick Adam Larsson had also been reassigned to Albany.  He has not appeared in game action since November 23rd in San Jose, when he went down with a knee injury.  He had appeared in 20 games and posted 3 points (1 G, 2 A).  It doesn’t say if it’s a conditioning assignment, so I wonder if it’s just another creative roster move (as Lou has done a lot of lately; see Gelinas, Eric) to get someone off injured reserve, or if he’s staying here for an extended period.

With the additions of Urbom and Larsson, the roster now stands at 9 defensemen.  So something has to give with the current defensive corps.  We shall see as we go into tomorrow night.

UPDATE: A little clarification of why Larsson is here…and why Joe Whitney has yet to get a callup.

-And finally, earlier today the AHL announced its 20 man All Star roster that will take on Farjestads BK in St. John’s on February 12th.  With the number of All Stars reduced from its normal number of 48 (under the normal East vs. West theme) to one team of 20, there was a very good chance that not only would all 30 teams not have representation, there would be quite a few snubs.  In a year where if it were the normal routine, there easily could have been at least one, if not two, Devils (namely Keith Kinkaid and Joe Whitney) on the roster.  But not this time.  Not one Devil was named to the squad, one of 14 teams shut out.  You can see the full list here.

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Some Special Holiday Greetings…

Since my December events photo gallery didn’t work out (I ended up taking less photos than planned…and the photos I did take weren’t exactly publish-worthy), I thought I’d bring back a holiday tradition from last season…how other teams around the league are celebrating the Christmas season.  Since you’ll never see it here, of course.

Let’s start with the defending Calder Cup champs out in Grand Rapids.  Sorry, boys, N*Sync you’re not.  Not even close.

Taking a page from their parent club in San Jose, Worcester has a couple of good ones.  First, their rendition of Jingle Bells:

And then Rudolph.  Well, sort of.

The annual Rochester Americans 12 Days of Christmas rendition.  Sigh.  And yes, that is Patrick Roy’s son with the 5 power play goals.

But your winners this year have to be our old friends in Charlotte.  First, a warmup:

And then we have this.  Yes that would be Matt Corrente, former Devil, in the back row joining the chorus:

But at least some of these players could probably do a better job at naming Santa’s reindeer than Cam could.  For those that missed it or just want to enjoy it again here’s the link.

And on that note…“Swiss men don’t sing.”

Merry Christmas (or Happy Festivus) to all!

 

 

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Day 2 Updates

A busy Tuesday in New Jersey and in the AHL:

-Earlier today New Jersey announced that former River Rat/Devil Sergei Brylin will be joining the Albany coaching staff as an assistant under Rick Kowalsky. He spent quite a few games with Albany (both home and on the road) last season while working for New Jersey as a special assignment coach. “Sarge” also brings quite a resume to the table…helping win the Rats’ lone Calder Cup in the 1994-95 season, winning 3 Stanley Cups with New Jersey, and spending his entire 13 year NHL career in the Devils red and white (he spent 4 years in the KHL post Devils).

-Also today, the American Hockey League officially announced its plans for the 2014 AHL All Star Classic. St. John’s was named as the host (something that was well known for a couple months) for the two day event. This year, it’s quite a different concept: instead of Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference, one team representing the league will be taking on an European team, Farjestad BK out of the Swedish Hockey League. And instead of taking place the last week of January, it will be held on February 11th and 12th, during the NHL Olympic Break. I’m curious as to how the All Star team will be formed, with 30 teams to pick from…one player representing each team? Or will some teams end up being left out? As for Farjestad…looking at their roster, there are quite a few familiar names from past AHL/ECHL teams, including former River Rat Christian Berglund (remember him?).

-And finally, individual tickets go on sale Saturday morning!

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Realignment…and More Signings!

Now that we’ve had two days to try and get over the whole Ilya thing, a couple of news items to pass on:

-Earlier this week, the AHL announced divisions and playoff format for the 2013-14 season. No changes at all in the Eastern Conference, but due to Peoria and Houston leaving and Utica and Iowa coming in, a slight adjustment in the West. One that left me scratching my head and double checking my North American map. Utica moves in to the North Division with Rochester, Toronto, Hamilton, and Lake Erie. Iowa moves into the Midwest Division with Chicago, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, and Rockford. A new West Division was formed, featuring Abbotsford, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Texas. You have to feel for the artists formerly known as the River Rats on this one. Not only are they in their fourth different division in four years, but now apparently North Carolina is in the western part of the country (last I checked, they were in the East Coast I thought). As if their travel schedule isn’t already brutal, I can only imagine how many division games they will get. As for Utica…it would have made more sense to put them in either the East or even the Northeast Division due to location and send a team like Syracuse, who’s closer to the North teams proximity-wise, to the other conference. But I don’t make the schedule or the division, I just watch the games. The playoff format will stay the same as last season: 3 division winners and the remaining top 5 teams in the conference get in the postseason. First round is a best of 5, with the remaining 3 rounds a best of 7.

Meanwhile, locally:

-Congrats go out to the Devils front office, who were recgonized by the AHL for most season ticket growth in the Eastern Conference!

-2 more re-signings to report this week: first on Thursday, restricted free agent Harri Pesonen signed a 1 year, 2 way deal to return for his second season. He posted 31 points (14 G, 17 A) in 64 games in his first North American season, and even got in 4 games up in New Jersey. Then last night, rookie defenseman Raman Hrabarenka (or, if you’re in Europe, Roman Grabarenko) earned himself a 3 year entry level contract after being on an AHL-only deal last season. He only dressed in 34 games due to injury and being an extra on the roster, but still managed to put up 1 goal and 4 assists. He also represented his home country Belarus in the World Championships, scoring 1 goal in 7 games.

That leaves six restricted free agents left to be signed, for those keeping track.

Still waiting on word on which Devil prospects will be participating in this year’s development camp, starting this week. I’m hearing a few names here and there, but will wait until the official full list is out to do a post on that.

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Post Holiday Catchup…

Back at home after spending the 4th of July holiday up north in Lake George. A couple of news items to pass on, for those that may have missed it:

-Tuesday afternoon the Phantoms announced that they will be hosting the Devils on Saturday, September 28th in a preseason tilt. After a one year break, local fans will have the chance to see Albany before the regular season begins (last year you had to travel west to Binghamton, the only game outside of a training camp facility, to see the Devils). Ticket info will be available later in the summer.

-Wednesday night The Saratogian (in conjunction with The Citizens Voice out of Wilkes-Barre) compiled a list of the top 300 AHL free agents available. I will likely be keeping tabs more on this list than the NHL. Jeff Frazee is the highest ranking Devil at #68 incase you were wondering.

-Interestingly enough, New Jersey did sign #17 on the AHL list, winger Rostislav Olesz, to a 1 year contract. Considering it’s for $1 million, sounds like a one way deal. He saw limited time with both Chicago and Rockford last season, and ended up being bought out by the Blackhawks.

-And finally, the first Free Agent Tracker is ready to go and will be out at noon tomorrow.

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A Grand Conclusion

A few updates to pass on:

-Congratulations to the Grand Rapids Griffins, your 2013 Calder Cup Champions. They finally finished off the Crunch last night in front of a packed house in Syracuse 5-2 to take the series in 6 games. Forward Tomas Tatar took home Calder Cup MVP honors after leading all scorers in the postseason with 16 goals. Our friends at Chairman How’s Glorious Army have a gracious sendoff here for one of the best seasons in Crunch history.

-In actual Devils signing news (yes, finally!), earlier today it was announced forward Mattias Tedenby signed a one year, one way contract. After starting the season in Albany during the lockout, he appeared in 4 games for New Jersey once the NHL resumed, notching one assist before returning to Albany on January 28th. In 37 games with the A-Devils, he notched 19 points (10 goals, 9 assists). He missed six weeks after taking an accidental skate to the face in mid-February in Adirondack, in his first game back since suffering what was termed as “soreness” after returning from New Jersey. Many think this is likely the last real chance for Tedenby, a 2008 first round draft choice of the Devils, to crack the lineup and stay there.

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Pre Baseball Mode Update

Before I head out to the ballpark and let these guys basically take over my Twitter feed till Labor Day (you’ve been warned), a couple of AHL related notes, just to get caught up:

-Remember when I said it wouldn’t surprise me if the Crunch would be hoisting the Calder Cup Friday evening? Well, yeah, about that…I kind of underestimated what Grand Rapids could do. After taking the first two at the War Memorial (with Game 2 slightly aided by a few referee, shall we say, mishaps?), the Griffins took Game 3 on home ice Wednesday evening, setting up what could become an improbable sweep. But the Crunch aren’t done just yet, taking Games 4 and 5 over the weekend to send the Finals back to the War Memorial for Game 6 tomorrow evening and a possible Game 7 on Thursday. There has already been a 0-3 to 4-3 comeback in these playoffs (Wilkes-Barre over Providence in the conference semifinals), what are the chances it could happen again?

-Friday the newest member of the AHL made its debut, the Utica Comets. After months of speculation, the Vancouver Canucks made it official, moving the former Peoria Rivermen and signing a 6 year lease (according to one source) to play at the 3800 seat Utica Memorial Auditorium, or The Aud. The website is in the works, but they are on Twitter (follow them at @UticaComets) and already at least 500 season tickets have been sold. With the new team just 83 miles west of Albany, I’m expecting to make a few trips out there during the season. No word on any realignment of divisions with this move, but one would think it would have to happen with a Western Conference team moving this far east.

-The only Devils note? Per the New Jersey PR Twitter, this year’s prospect camp is scheduled for July 15-19th at the AmeriHealth Pavilion. Once the list becomes available I’ll post it here.

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