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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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Staying in the Race

Looking back on a week that saw the Devils go 1-1-0-1 in their latest 3 in 3 weekend, a swing through New England, and hang on to a postseason playoff berth:

Wednesday: To ensure AHL eligibility for the rest of the season and a potential playoff run, Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill were sent down and recalled on paper.  New Jersey’s regular season ends April 13th, so if they do not get into the Stanley Cup playoffs, Albany could have both back no later than the final two games of the regular season.

3/7 at Portland: 4-3 W (SO)

The New England 3 in 3 weekend began north in Portland…oops I mean Lewiston…as the Devils made their first of two visits to Maine to take on the Pirates.  It looked like it was going to turn into one of those nights when Jordan Martinook scored just 26 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead.  Scott Timmins would even up the game at 1 halfway through the period.  Albany took the game over in the second, scoring twice and outshooting Portland 16-5.  Reid Boucher broke the tie early on with his 15th of the season.  Then on a fluke play, right off a faceoff Tim Sestito shot it towards the Pirate net and it trickled in, putting Albany up 3-1.  Brendan Shinnimin took advantage of a Adam Larsson misplay of the puck, broke away shorthanded, and made it a one goal game.  Despite a 7-3 shot advantage for Albany in the third, a new problem popped up yet again.  With Alexander Urbom in the box on a questionable interference call, Tobias Rieder would tie the game up at 3 with 4:13 remaining in regulation.  That makes the third straight game with a blown third period lead, something you could not imagine happening with this team earlier in the season.  Nothing across the rest of the period and in overtime (as a matter of fact, not one team took a shot on goal in the extra frame), so for the second straight game it was on to a shootout.  Boucher and Joe Whitney connected in the first four rounds, while Andy Miele and Brandon Yip scored for the Pirates.  In the fifth round, Daine Todd missed, so it was up to Stefan Matteau to either end it or send it to extra rounds.  And he would come through, giving the Devils the win and the much needed extra standings point.  Not a bad night overall for Keith Kinkaid in net, as he stopped 18 of 21 shots in regulation (none faced in overtime) to pick up the win.  Adam Larsson and Mattias Tedenby had the lone assists.

Lines:

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Joe Whitney

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Mattias Tedenby

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Adam Larsson

Extras: Dan Kelly, Raman Hrabarenka

3/8 at Hartford: 4-3 L

It was on to Connecticut’s state capital on Saturday for a matchup with the Wolfpack.  After a scoreless first period, Brandon Burlon would get the visitors on the board halfway through the second on a power play goal.  Jesper Fast and Bretton Stamler would score 2:34 apart late in the period to put Hartford up 2-1.  J.T. Miller would add a goal early in the third for a two goal lead.  But the Devils would rally and tie it up as Mike Sislo (with his 19th) and Joe Whitney (with his 20th) would score 29 seconds apart.  But Ryan Bourque would score the go ahead goal with 7:35 to go in regulation.  The Devils had their chances at the very end, getting a late power play opportunity, but could not get it in net (one shot actually rang off the inside post and out), and fell to 8th in the playoff race.  Scott Wedgewood stopped 17 of 21 shots in taking the loss.  Kelly Zajac added two assists, while two other Devils had one helper each.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Mattias Tedenby

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Brandon Burlon

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Extras: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

3/9 at Worcester: 4-3 L (SO)

The Devils finished off the weekend with their only visit of the season to Worcester to take on the Sharks.  And a very interesting matchup in net, as two former Union teammates squared off: Keith Kinkaid for Albany and Troy Grosenick for the Sharks.  Despite a 15-3 shot advantage by the Devils in the first period, it was the Sharks with the 1-0 lead on a Marek Viedensky goal.  Rylan Schwartz doubled the lead midway through the second.  Reid Boucher would get Albany on the board late in the second with his 16th of the season.  Third period saw an early goal from John McCarthy to put the Sharks back up by two.  But Albany would rally back and tie the game on goals from David Wohlberg and Harri Pesonen.  Nothing across for the remainder of regulation or into overtime, so it was off to the second shootout of the weekend.  And this time it didn’t go so well, with Mike Sislo the only Devil out of five to connect on Grosenick.  Kinkaid gave up a goal in the first round, then gave up the winner to Freddie Hamilton in the fifth round to give the Sharks the extra standings point.  Kinkaid stopped 19 of 22 shots in 65 minutes of work.  Five Devils each had an assist.

Lines:

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher-Mattias Tedenby-Scott Timmins

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Extra: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Adam Larsson/Brandon Burlon

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Extra: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

Conference Standings:

The bottom half of the Eastern Conference remains pretty tight:

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton-72 pts

6. Providence-72 pts

7. Binghamton-71 pts

8. ALBANY-70 pts

9. Hershey-67 pts

At this point, the Devils are on pace to finish at 90 points, which would put them 7th in the conference.  The magic number to clinch a playoff berth sits at 32.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

We interrupt this Portland goal celebration for a quick one by Chris McKelvie:

My Player of the Week:

Add another accomplishment to Joe Whitney’s resume for the season.  With his 20th goal of the season on Saturday (one that tied up the game in Hartford), he tied Stephen Gionta for the franchise lead in career points with 140.  And give some credit to the skaters…despite the record and goals allowed, on the weekend they outshot the opposition by a 112-65 margin.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (20)

Assists: Joe Whitney (25)

Points: Joe Whitney (45)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+12)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (87)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.26)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.914)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

The Jackals split a 2 game weekend on home ice, defeating Evansville on Friday and dropping a OT decision to Wheeling on Saturday.  Artem Demkov was the only prospect to hit the scoresheet, notching an assist in Saturday’s game.  Riley Boychuk was quite busy on Friday, amassing 15 penalty minutes.  Meanwhile down south, the Solar Bears went 1-3 (with one loss in OT) on the week, but no appearances at all from Maxime Clermont, not even as a backup.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another 3 in 3 weekend awaits, but at least it’s a mostly home schedule.  Friday night the Devils finish off the New England road swing with a visit to Springfield to take on the Falcons.  Saturday it’s real home ice for the first time since February 23rd to take on Hartford (and it’s the annual Pucks and Paws day).  Sunday afternoon Syracuse comes in to finish the weekend off.

And no photo gallery this week…because guess who forgot to pack the camera when she went to Worcester? (raises hand…sorry.  I blame Daylight Savings).  I do have a few photos on my Instagram page if you want to check those out (click the link on the right hand side of the page).

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February Sweeps

Three games.  Three days.  Three wins.  Not a bad weekend for the Devils, who went from being just outside the playoff picture to being in the middle of it.  But after Sunday’s events, it could be a very interesting week in the organization as New Jersey gets back to work after the Olympic Break.

Tuesday: With Keith Kinkaid returning to practice, Johan Hedberg was released from his PTO after filling in for the weekend and even getting in some game action on Sunday.

Wednesday: Jon Merrill was recalled to New Jersey after not even making one appearance during his 9 day stay on the roster.  In fact, I don’t even recall seeing any uniform number assigned to him while he was here (his #5 was taken over by Adam Larsson and Reece Scarlett wears his New Jersey #34).

2/21 at Adirondack: 4-2 W

It was back north to Glens Falls for a rematch from last weekend with the Phantoms, who were quite shorthanded after their end of game brawl against Portland on Sunday.  And the visitors came in and took advantage.  Despite only 3 shots in the first period, it was Albany with the 1-0 lead on a Stefan Matteau goal.  Kyle Flanagan would tie the game at 1 just 30 seconds into the second period on a fluke bounce that Keith Kinkaid never saw coming.  But the Devils would take control after that, via the special teams route.  While in the midst of killing off a Matteau double minor, Mike Sislo broke away and scored a beautiful shorthanded goal for a 2-1 lead.  Rod Pelley would also score shorthanded late in the period for a 3-1 lead.  Sislo would score his second early in the third for a 4-1 advantage.  The Phantoms would get to within 4-2, but Kinkaid and the Devils would shut it down from there, getting two very important points that put them back in the playoff hunt.  Kinkaid played stellar in his return to the lineup, stopping 30 of 32 shots.  Adam Larsson added two assists and finished a +2.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Mattias Tedenby

Mike Hoeffel-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras (all injured): Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Eric Gelinas/Alexander Urbom

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

2/22 vs. Norfolk: 4-1 W

It was back on home ice Saturday afternoon as the Devils played host to the Admirals in a crucial game for both teams; they were tied for 8th place in the Eastern Conference with a chance to move up the list on the line.  Much like the night before, Stefan Matteau kicked off the scoring on the Devils’ first shot of the game, going up 1-0 4 and a half minutes in.  Norm Ezekiel would tie the game at 1 late in the period.  Second period Albany took over, scoring twice and outshooting the Admirals 15-6.  Mike Sislo would score his third goal in two days on a power play to break the tie, then Reid Boucher added his 13th less than 4 minutes later for a 2 goal cushion.  Norfolk tried to make a comeback in the third, but Keith Kinkaid was up to the challenge, stopping all 9 3rd period shots.  Kelly Zajac added an empty netter late to seal the Devils second straight win.  Kinkaid finished with 25 saves on 26 shots in another stellar performance.  Four Devils added assists.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Joe Whitney

Reid Boucher-Scott timmins-Mattias Tedenby

Mike Hoeffel-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Eric Gelinas/Alexander Urbom

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Sunday: Just as the first period was getting underway, Elmira announced that goaltender Maxime Clermont, just off the injured list, had been recalled to Albany.  Here’s the fun part: Nobody knew the transaction took place, not even the coaching staff.  Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood are both fine, so the only other possibility is something is going on in New Jersey.  Stay tuned as this unfolds.

2/23 vs. Utica: 2-1 W

To close out the weekend and the month of February, the Devils played host to the Comets, who were on a streak of their own after wins in Syracuse and Binghamton.  After a scoreless first period, Albany would get on the board in the second.  Mike Sislo tipped in a Reece Scarlett shot from the blue line for his 4th goal of the weekend to put the Devils up 1-0.  Reid Boucher would add a power play goal less than 2 minutes later for a 2-0 advantage.  Jeremy Welsh would cut the deficit in half for the Comets with 5 minutes to go in the second period.  Things would get interesting in the third when Tim Sestito was called for a late penalty with less than a minute to go in regulation.  But the Devils managed to kill off the 6 on 4 chance (empty net as well) to hold on for the win, their first on a Sunday all season and a clean sweep of the weekend.  Scott Wedgewood drew the start and didn’t have to do a whole lot, stopping 15 of 16 shots.  Scarlett and Scott Timmins each had an assist.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Stefan Matteau-Kelly Zajac

Scott Timmins-Mattias Tedenby-Reid Boucher

Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel

Extras: Cam Janssen, Chris McKelvie, Darcy Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Corbin McPherson/Seth Helgeson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

UPDATED 2/24: One scrap this week, and it was a quick one:

My Player of the Week:

A pretty easy choice this week…have to give it to Mike Sislo.  Goals in all 3 games (2 in Friday’s win), increasing his season total to a career high 17.  Honorable mention goes to the penalty kill, going a perfect 16 for 16 and even scoring shorthanded twice.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (19)

Assists: Joe Whitney (24)

Points: Joe Whitney (43)

Plus/Minus: Scott Timmins/Corbin McPherson (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (78)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (20)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.24)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.917)

Elmira Update:

The Jackals had a 3 in 3 weekend of their own, all on home ice and all against Wheeling.  They took the first game on Friday evening before dropping both Saturday and Sunday’s games to the Nailers, putting their record at 20-25-2-4.  Harry Young was rather busy on Saturday and Sunday, racking up 12 penalty minutes.  Maxime Clermont backed up on Friday and Saturday but did not see any action.  Riley Boychuk sat out all three games.

Injury Report:

Alexander Urbom returned to the lineup Friday after sitting out last weekend due to illness.  That just leaves three forwards out: Chris McKelvie (lower body), Darcy Zajac and Cam Janssen.  Janssen seems to be the closest of the three to returning.

This Week’s Schedule:

A quick two game weekend to begin the month of March.  Saturday afternoon the Devils travel to Atlantic City to “host” Wilkes-Barre.  Then it’s off to Providence on Sunday afternoon for their first matchup of the season against the Bruins.

Also on Sunday: I’ll be coming back to New Jersey for the San Jose game!

And starting with Saturday’s pregamer: the return of Conference Standings.  Yup, it’s getting to be that time of year already!

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All Over The Map

How to describe the Devils this weekend: blowing a lead and taking a point in their second home, followed by a dominating performance on real home ice, then getting blown out the following afternoon?  The late season habits of the past are creeping in, and it’s resulting in being on the outside looking in yet again.  Recapping a 1-1-0-1 weekend:

2/14 vs. Hershey: 3-2 L (SO)

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than taking the second trip of the season to Atlantic City to take on the suddenly resurgent Bears?  Albany thought they had a goal early on, but the referee waved it off.  But Reid Boucher would make sure the next goal counted, scoring his 12th just 8 seconds into a power play for a 1-0 lead.  Matt Watkins would tie the game for the visitors just before time expired in the first.  Stefan Matteau would score his 9th late in the second period to put the Devils up 2-1 and in seemingly good position to hold on for the win.  Well, not so fast.  Michael Latta would retie the game halfway through the third period.  Despite a late flurry of shots by Albany as regulation was coming to an end, nothing across.  It was on to overtime where neither team could get anything across (Albany did outshoot Hershey 3-1).  On to the dreaded shootout, where Albany fell behind early when Mike Sislo, Mattias Tedenby and Boucher could not score.  Scott Wedgewood gave up goals in rounds 1 and 2, but stopped Ryan Potulny and Dustin Gazley to keep the Devils in it.  Matteau would connect in the fourth round, but Scott Timmins could not extend the bonus round any further, and the Bears gained the extra point.  A very good night for Wedgewood otherwise in net, as he stopped 20 of 22 shots in 65 minutes.  Timmins added two assists, while two other Devils had one assist each.

Lines:

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Mike Hoeffel-Stefan Matteau-Scott Timmins

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Joe Whitney (travel), Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Corbin McPherson/Seth Helgeson

Brandon Burlon/Reece Scarlett

Extras: Alexander Urbom, Raman Hrabarenka, Eric Gelinas (cannot play due to Olympic rules), Jon Merrill

2/15 vs. Adirondack: 4-1 W

Finally, back on real home ice for the first time since the end of January, the Devils played host to the Phantoms for the last time this season.  Adirondack would score just two minutes into the game, while the Devils were in midst of a line change.  But Tim Sestito would quickly tie the game up just over two and a half minutes later.  Second period the Devils would take over the game and not look back.  Rod Pelley broke the tie with his 10th of the season, then Mattias Tedenby would add an insurance goal just over two minutes later.  Joe Whitney would add the exclamation point with 1:58 remaining, just as Phantoms goaltender Yann Danis was exiting the net for a sixth attacker and just couldn’t get back in time.  A very strong performance from Scott Wedgewood, who didn’t have much to stop all afternoon, only having to stop 15 of 16 shots in picking up his 8th win of the season.  Four different Devils each added an assist.

Lines:

Stefan Matteau-Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher

Mike Hoeffel-David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Chris McKelvie

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Extras: Raman Hrabarenka, Alexander Urbom, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill

2/16 at Bridgeport: 7-3 L

The Devils finished the weekend with their last trip of the season to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers.  In a bit of a surprise, Scott Wedgewood drew the start for the third straight day.  And…it didn’t go so well.  Former River Rat Matt Pistilli and Aaron Ness would score 54 seconds apart for a 2-0 Sound Tigers lead.  Ryan Strome would make it a 3-0 lead with under 7 minutes to go in the period.  Raman Hrabarenka, in his first appearance since January 26th, scored his second of the season to get the Devils on the board.  It didn’t get much better for Wedgewood in the second period, as Johan Sundstrom and Andrew Clark would score 16 seconds apart to put Bridgeport up 5-1.  That was when Johan Hedberg would step in and take over in the net for his first game action since April with New Jersey.  And he stopped the bleeding, going 6 for 6 for the remainder of the second.  Joe Whitney would add his 19th goal to get back to within 3.  But the Sound Tigers were not finished going into the third, as Anders Lee would score to put Bridgeport up 6-2.  Less than 3 minutes later, while on a Albany power play, Scooter Vaughan would add a shorthanded goal to make it 7-2.  Hrabarenka would then score his second of the day while still on the power play 14 seconds later to make it a real football score, 7-3.  After a promising start to his weekend, Wedgewood couldn’t keep it up today, stopping just 6 of 11 shots before getting the hook after 22:19.  For someone who hasn’t played in 9 months, Moose did pretty well, stopping 11 of 13.  Three Devils had assists, and Brandon Burlon was the only defenseman to not have a negative plus/minus rating (he finished a +1; Dan Kelly and Adam Larsson were both -4).

Lines:

Stefan Matteau-Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney

Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby

Harri Pesonen-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley-Mike Hoeffel

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Chris McKelvie

Defense Pairings:

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Extras: Jon Merrill, Eric Gelinas, Alexander Urbom, Corbin McPherson

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Stay tuned to this space, as I am waiting on video for the one fight of the weekend.

My Player of the Week:

Got to give it to Joe Whitney this week.  Representing Albany at the AHL All Star Classic well (2 assists in the win over Farjestad), then having an epic time in returning to the States in time for the season to resume, and getting two goals and an assist in two games upon his return.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (19)

Assists: Joe Whitney (22)

Points: Joe Whitney (41)

+/-: Scott Timmins/Corbin McPherson (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (74)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (18)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.30)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.914)

Elmira Update:

The Jackals went 1-1-0-1 on the week, moving their record to 19-23-2-4.  Artem Demkov was the only Devil prospect to get on the board, scoring on Saturday in a shootout loss to Wheeling.

Notes:

A few to add to the walking wounded: Chris McKelvie (lower body) sat out Saturday and Sunday.  Cam Janssen missed the weekend with a mystery injury.  Alexander Urbom has the flu but was in the building on Saturday, he too sat out the weekend.  Darcy Zajac, as mentioned earlier this week, is back skating, but no timetable for his return.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another 3 in 3 weekend, but this schedule is a little easier than the week before.  Friday night Albany travels to Adirondack for a rematch against the Phantoms.  Saturday afternoon they host Norfolk (and it’s Darcy Zajac Bobblehead Day…I think he beat Travis in that category!), followed by a visit from Utica on Sunday afternoon.

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Coming Up Zeroes

Good news and bad news for the Devils in looking at this week’s games: all 3 involved shutouts.  But it’s not so good when you’re on the losing end of two of those games.  Reviewing the events of the week:

2/4 at Springfield: 4-0 L

The New England road swing continued into Springfield on Tuesday night for a matchup against the first place Falcons.  Alex Aleardi would put Springfield on the board early in the first period with an unassisted goal.  Then the Falcons took over the game in the second period and never let up, scoring three times and outshooting Albany 14-9.  Spencer Machacek and Frederic St. Denis each had power play goals, while Jonathan Marchessault would close out the scoring late in the second with an even strength goal.  And that was all former Devil Mike McKenna would need, as he stopped all 25 Albany shots in picking up the shutout.  It was the fourth time this season the Devils have been shutout, and the first since January 4th in Adirondack.  Scott Wedgewood stopped 27 of 31 in taking the loss, while Eric Gelinas lead all skaters with 7 shots.

(Note: I was not around for this one, so no notes on lines/defense pairings.)

2/8 at Bridgeport: 3-0 W

It was off to southern Connecticut on Saturday night to take on the Sound Tigers, in their 1,000th game as a franchise.  Stefan Matteau scored his 8th of the season in the first to get the visitors on the board.  Chris McKelvie had a chance to double the lead via a penalty shot, but was denied by goaltender Anders Nilsson.  Kelly Zajac (on a power play) and McKelvie would each get their seventh goals 2:51 apart late in the second period to go up 3-0.  But the story of the game was in goal…Keith Kinkaid started, but had to leave the game late in the second due to an apparent injury.  Scott Wedgewood took over and completed the shutout the rest of the way, stopping 12 Bridgeport shots (Kinkaid stopped 16 before exiting).  Alexander Urbom added two assists and finished at a +2, while Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas (also a +2 on the night) and Mike Hoeffel added assists.

Lines:

(Again not around for this one; all lines/defense pairings via the Bridgeport blog Soundin’ Off)

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney

Stefan Matteau-Kelly Zajac-Mike Hoeffel

Harri Pesonen-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen

Extras: Mattias Tedenby, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Eric Gelinas

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Sunday: With Keith Kinkaid not able to go and Maxime Clermont still on the injured list in Elmira till at least Valentine’s Day, who would be backing up Scott Wedgewood in New Hampshire?  Enter Anthony Felice.  Who?  He is a 40-year-old (just turned 40 in late January) Bronx native who served as an emergency backup goaltender during the Devils run in Trenton.

And Jon Merrill was reassigned to Albany for the Olympic break, making the roster just a little more crowded.

2/9 at Manchester: 3-0 L

A challenge awaited the Devils as they made their only visit to Manchester of the season in the form of Martin Jones, the same goaltender who was recalled to Los Angeles to fill in for Jonathan Quick in December and won his first eight starts in a row.  Sean Backman put the Devils in a hole very early on, scoring just 1:08 into the contest for a 1-0 Monarchs lead.  It was all Manchester after that, as the Devils cut their first two power plays short with penalties and continued to get into trouble…and not giving Jones much work, just putting 4 shots on goal.  Manchester would put the game away in the second via goals by Andy Andreoff and Jordan Weal for a 3-0 lead.  Jones would take care of the rest, stopping all 19 Devil shots in picking up the shutout, the second against the Devils in 5 days.  Scott Wedgewood stopped 26 of 29 shots.  Reid Boucher and Mike Sislo each had 4 shots on net.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Mattias Tedenby

Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher-Joe Whitney

Mike Hoeffel-Stefan Matteau-Kelly Zajac

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Extras: Cam Janssen, David Wohlberg

Other lines: Zajac-Matteau-Sislo, Sestito-Hoeffel-Matteau, Whitney-Pelley-Tedenby

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Alexander Urbom/Reece Scarlett

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, Raman Hrabarenka

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

A nice little bout from Chris McKelvie Tuesday night in Springfield.

My Player of the Week:

Don’t look now, but the third Zajac brother in the organization (that would be Kelly) is climbing up the stats chart.  He had a goal and an assist on Saturday night in Bridgeport, earning #1 star of the game honors.  He’s moved to second on the team in scoring behind Joe Whitney and recently cracked the top 20 among league rookies in points as well.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (17)

Assists: Joe Whitney (21)

Points: Joe Whitney (38)

Plus/Minus: Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Chris McKelvie/Seth Helgeson (72)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (18)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.30)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.914)

Elmira Update:

The Jackals completed their Midwestern swing with a shootout loss in Kalamazoo on Wednesday, followed by a pair of wins in Evansville on Friday and Saturday.  The only Devil to appear on the scoresheet all week?  Harry Young.  He scored his second goal of the season in Kalamazoo on Wednesday evening.

Notes:

After a one man injury update (Darcy Zajac) for quite a while, there may be a couple of additions after the weekend games.  No word as of yet on how long Kinkaid will be out after leaving Saturday’s game due to a lower body injury.  Adam Larsson disappeared after the first period in Manchester, no idea of the situation there.

This Week’s Schedule:

While Joe Whitney heads up to St. John’s for the AHL All Star Classic Tuesday and Wednesday, everyone else gets a 4 day break.  But it’s back to work on Friday and the start of a hard 3 in 3 weekend.  Friday night Albany travels to Atlantic City to play Hershey “at home”.  Then a quick turnaround back to the Capital Region on Saturday afternoon to take on Adirondack.  Finally it’s back to Bridgeport on Sunday afternoon to face the Sound Tigers.

And the Photo Gallery is taking a week off.  Back next weekend!

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Blown Perfection

Doing things a little differently this week…with quite a few news items before the games even got started (with my schedule I didn’t have time for a full post), I’ll do a timeline…mixing in all the news and notes with the game recap as we go.

Monday: A wrong was officially righted, as Joe Whitney (along with 2 others) was added to the AHL All Star roster.  Not a bad few days for Joe…he makes his NHL debut, gets his own bobblehead, and now his first AHL All Star appearance.

Wednesday: With so many extras on the roster, someone had to go sooner or later.  Surprisingly, it was Artem Demkov leaving, as he was sent back to Elmira.  He did very well during his stint here, appearing in 21 games and notching 11 points (6 G, 5 A).  After coming to Albany’s training camp as a tryout, he came back on a PTO on December 4th when everyone seemed to be getting recalled to New Jersey.  He did so well during his first week he was given a standard AHL contract 9 days later.

Friday: Before Albany took the ice that night against Bridgeport, another surprising transaction: Eric Gelinas was reassigned to Albany, while Mike Sislo was recalled for the second time in a month as insurance incase Dainius Zubrus couldn’t go in Nashville (Zubrus played; Sislo did not).  Gelinas was sparingly used in his last appearance for New Jersey, seeing just 2:50 of ice time in an overtime victory against Dallas.  Not sure how long he’ll stay, considering that he is not eligible to play here during the Olympic Break.

1/31 vs. Bridgeport: 2-1 W

Now to game action!

One more game to finish out a tough month of January and the homestand, as the Devils welcomed the Sound Tigers.  Unlike the weekend before, Albany clamped down and dominated the first period to start, not even allowing a shot on goal for the first 13:04 of the game (and getting 11 shots of their own).  Joe Whitney thought he had a goal early on, but despite the puck being clearly over the line (per a few witnesses by the net), referee Chris Brown would wave it off.  Just as the Sound Tigers finally showed up for the game, Reid Boucher would score his first since returning to Albany for a 1-0 lead.  Less than 2 minutes later, Alan Quine would tie it up on a power play goal.  Bridgeport would outshoot Albany after that, but Keith Kinkaid was in redemption mode after his 0-3 performance on Sunday afternoon.  The game remained tied (and also quite uneventful) till the third period, when Tim Sestito scored his 9th to put Albany up 2-1.  And the door was shut from then on.  A nice rebound performance from Kinkaid in net, as he set aside 27 of 28 shots and earned #1 star honors.  Four Devils each had an assist.

Lines:

Mattias Tedenby-Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Tim Sestito

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Cam Janssen-Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel

Extra: David Wohlberg

Other line combinations: Whitney-Timmins-Boucher; Sestito-McKelvie-Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Alexander Urbom/Reece Scarlett

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Corbin McPherson/Seth Helgeson

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Eric Gelinas

Saturday: In a not so surprising move, Mike Sislo was sent back down.  When did I figure this out?  When he took the ice in Hartford for warmups.

2/1 at Hartford: 4-3 L (SO)

The Devils started February–and a four game (well, technically five if you count Atlantic City at “home”) road trip–in Hartford against the Wolfpack.  An uneventful first saw Hartford outshoot the Devils 11-4, but Keith Kinkaid was again up to the challenge.  The game remained scoreless till Mike Sislo scored his 13th unassisted for a 1-0 lead.  Harri Pesonen was awarded a goal just over two minutes later despite a replay showing the puck went off his skate.  The referee that allowed the goal?  Chris Brown.  Atoning for last night, I guess?  So a 2 goal lead for a team who is 20-0-0-2 when leading after two periods shouldn’t be a problem, right?  Well…Hartford had a little rally in them as the third period got underway.  Micheal Haley would break up the shutout 98 seconds in for a 2-1 advantage.  Joe Whitney would score less than a minute later for a 3-1 lead.  Darroll Powe would cut the deficit to 3-2 halfway through the period.  Then T.J. Hensick would complete the comeback with just 3:56 left in regulation and tie the game at 3, sealing yet another third period collapse, the fourth one in 5 weeks for the Devils.  This was Hartford’s period from beginning to end, as they outshot the Devils 14-1.  Yup, the one shot got in, and that was all Albany could do.  It was on to overtime, where Albany managed 3 shots to Hartford’s 1, but nothing across.  It was on to the shootout, where it nearly resembled the parent club’s struggles.  Mattias Tedenby scored in the first round, but Reid Boucher, Sislo and Whitney could not get anything by David LeNeveu.  Kinkaid gave up three straight to Hensick, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast to give Hartford the extra point and seal their comeback.  Outside of beyond the third period, Kinkaid played well again, and finished with 33 saves on 36 shots in 65 minutes.  Four Devils had one assist each, while Eric Gelinas returned to the lineup and finished a +3.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo-Rod Pelley

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher-Mattias Tedenby

Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen-Harri Pesonen

Extras: Mike Hoeffel, David Wohlberg

Other line combinations: McKelvie-Sislo-Pesonen; Zajac-Pesonen-Janssen; Whitney-Boucher-Timmins; Zajac-Boucher-McKelvie

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Eric Gelinas

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Other pairings: Kelly/Helgeson, Gelinas/Helgeson, Urbom/McPherson, Larsson/Urbom, Gelinas/Urbom

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

No gloves dropped or faces punched this week.

My Player of the Week:

Well…again not a lot of standout performances over the two games.  I was leaning towards Keith Kinkaid before last night’s third period/shootout collapse.  And Eric Gelinas also had a good showing in his return to the Albany lineup as well.  So I’ll split it between those two.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (17)

Assists: Joe Whitney (21)

Points: Joe Whitney (38)

Plus/Minus: Corbin McPherson (+11)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (65)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (17)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.35)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.912)

Elmira Update:

A very good week for the Jackals, as they extended their win streak to 4 games with a home win against Kalamazoo and two road wins over Fort Wayne and Toledo.  Artem Demkov jumped back into the lineup on Wednesday and played very well, with 2 goals and 4 assists for the week.  Harry Young scored his first goal of the season Saturday night in Toledo.  And Riley Boychuk was, well, busy: 14 penalty minutes from one altercation on Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games with no 3 in 3 weekend to deal with.  Albany travels to Springfield for a rare Tuesday night matchup against the first place Falcons, who have been struggling as of late.  Saturday night they travel south to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers.  Then it’s up to New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon for their only visit to Manchester this season.

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Taking a Stumble

Another 3 in 3 weekend in the books for the Devils, as they took on a division leader in a sort of home and home series, with a visit from their neighbors to the north in between.  And…well…it wasn’t exactly pretty, as no points were gained.  If there’s a silver lining in all this, no ground was lost either, but it may not stay that way for long.  Because I have to, looking back at what went wrong:

1/24 at Binghamton: 5-2 L

The four game road trip came to an end Friday night in Binghamton, the Devils third and final visit to the Southern Tier of the season.  Things started out extremely well, when just 1:09 in Stefan Matteau scored his 7th for a 1-0 lead.  Matt Puempel would tie it up with a power play goal late in the first.  Second period was virtually all B-Sens, starting with a Derek Grant breakaway shorthanded goal 1:25 in to put Binghamton ahead 2-1.  Corey Cowick and Shane Prince would score nearly 2 minutes apart later to pad the lead to 4-1.  Then a rare 10 minute misconduct penalty to Keith Kinkaid after he batted a puck over the glass out of sheer frustration would add insult.  Grant would score his second of the night 1:26 into the third to make it a 5-1 game.  Scott Timmins would score late to cut the lead to 5-2, but that was all.  Kinkaid stopped 35 of 40 in taking the loss (I was actually surprised he wasn’t pulled at any point in the game, to be honest).  Reid Boucher had an assist in his first game back after returning from New Jersey, while Seth Helgeson and Corbin McPherson were the only Devils to not have a negative plus/minus (McPherson actually finished a +2).

Lines:

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Mike Sislo

Stefan Matteau-Artem Demkov-Mattias Tedenby

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Kelly Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Alexander Urbom

Extras: Reece Scarlett, Raman Hrabarenka

1/25 vs. Adirondack: 2-1 L

It was back on real home ice for the first time in two weeks on Saturday afternoon, as Albany began a three game homestand by hosting the Phantoms, game #9 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series.  In a surprise move, Joe Whitney was back in the lineup, fresh off playing 8 minutes the night before in New Jersey in his NHL debut.  Like the night before, the Devils got off on the right foot, er, skate, as Mike Sislo scored on a power play with 52 seconds remaining in the first for a 1-0 lead.  Tye McGinn would tie the game late in the second.  Third period both teams had trouble getting the go ahead goal on either Cal Heeter or Scott Wedgewood, who was having an outstanding day in net.  Then with just 20 seconds left in regulation, what should have been an interference call resulted in a game winning goal for Adirondack off the stick of Jason Akeson (at the time, Brandon Manning was awarded the goal).  The Devils tried to draw up a plan to retie it, but it wasn’t meant to be, and Albany’s second straight regulation loss was a heartbreaker.  Wedgewood stopped 20 of 22 shots in a hard luck defeat.  Reid Boucher notched an assist for the second straight game.

Lines:

Mike Sislo-Stefan Matteau-Tim Sestito

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Artem Demkov-Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen

Extras: David Wohlberg, Mike Hoeffel, Harri Pesonen

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Reece Scarlett

1/26 vs. Binghamton: 6-3 L

To finish out the weekend, the Devils played host to Binghamton to finish out a sort of home and home series.  First period was owned by one player: Binghamton’s Shane Prince.  He would score twice on the Senators’ first two shots of the game 2 and a half minutes apart in the first.  Mike Hoeffel would cut the deficit in half 30 seconds later with his seventh.  But on the third Senators shot of the game Prince would complete the natural hat trick for a 3-1 lead, chasing starter Keith Kinkaid from the net in favor of Scott Wedgewood.  If you’re keeping track, that’s 3 goals on 3 shots from one player in 9:21 that Kinkaid gave up.  Ouch.  Wedgewood would have an easier time in the period, only having to make one save in the remaining 10 minutes.  Adam Larsson would score on a power play to bring the Devils to within 3-2.  Dan Kelly would tie the game at 3 with his second of the season 5 minutes into the second period.  Matt Puempel would break the tie with a 5 on 3 power play goal less than 5 minutes later.  Third period Binghamton would add to their lead on a Jim O’Brien goal, then Puempel would put the cherry on the top with his second of the game into an empty net at the end.  All that despite the Devils outshooting the Senators by a huge 36-19 margin…the first period killed them on this day.  Wedgewood stopped 13 of 15 in relief and got stuck with the loss.  Reece Scarlett contributed 2 assists in his first appearance of the weekend.

Lines:

Harri Pesonen-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Artem Demkov-Mattias Tedenby

Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen-Mike Hoeffel

Also seen: Demkov-Whitney-Zajac; Demkov-Sestito-Hoeffel; Pelley-Pesonen-Sestito

Extras: Chris McKelvie, Stefan Matteau, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Adam Larsson/Seth Helgeson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Corbin McPherson

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

UPDATED 2/9: Well look what finally surfaced…

My Player of the Week:

Well…when it’s a weekend where no one really stood out, it’s a hard decision.  But I think I’ll give the nod to Scott Wedgewood, who deserved a better fate in his two appearances this weekend.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (16)

Assists: Joe Whitney (21)

Points: Joe Whitney (37)

Plus/Minus: Dan Kelly (+11)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (65)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (16)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.39)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.910)

Elmira Update:

The Jackals had a 3 in 3 weekend of their own, hosting Fort Wayne in a 3 game series.  They dropped the first two games 4-3 and 4-0 (an hour delay to start due to ice issues didn’t help), then salvaged the final game with a 4-1 win.  Harry Young was quite busy over the weekend, notching an assist and racking up 19 penalty minutes.  The same with Riley Boychuk, who also added an assist and 12 penalty minutes.  Maxime Clermont is currently on 21 day injured reserve.

Notes:

-While the Devils were in Binghamton on Friday night, Joe Whitney was at The Rock making his NHL debut (and Devils Twitter were coming up with #JoeWhitneyFacts…seriously go click on it it’s hilarious).  Saturday afternoon he was back at the Times Union Center and in the lineup.  And he was even reunited with his original line to start the season, Scott Timmins and Reid Boucher.

-The injury front…just Darcy Zajac…remains status quo.

This Week’s Schedule:

Just two games coming up, both against divisional foes.  Friday night Albany wraps up their homestand and the month of January when they host Bridgeport.  Then on Saturday it’s off to Hartford to take on the Wolfpack.

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The Almost Sweep

It’s the third weekend of 3 games in 3 days for the Devils, and at the same time the start of a 4 game road trip.  What started out as a very strong start ended with a whimper at the end of the weekend, as Albany managed to snag 5 out of 6 points and keep their standing in a tight Eastern Conference race.  Reviewing the weekend that was:

1/17 at Utica: 8-3 W

The road swing began with a quick trip west to Utica for their third matchup against the Comets, in front of a sold out audience.  The home team had a chance to get an early jump when Alexandre Grenier was awarded a penalty shot, actually the first one against Albany all season.  But Keith Kinkaid stoned him.  Albany got on the board on a Mike Sislo goal, in his first game since returning from New Jersey for a 1-0 lead.  Benn Ferriero would tie the game up 4 minutes later. Mattias Tedenby would break the tie late in the first for a 2-1 advantage.  Second period was all Albany, as they dropped 4 more on the Comets.  Joe Whitney would put the score at 3-1 5 minutes into the period.  Over a minute later right off the faceoff, Mike Hoeffel scored for a 4-1 lead.  That would cause Utica to go to the bullpen and bring out Joe Cannata to take over for Mathieu Corbeil.  But that didn’t stop the offense…Harri Pesonen and Rod Pelley would score almost 4 minutes apart to go up 6-1.  Whitney would add his second of the game just 1:03 into the third for a 7-1 lead.  Grenier would finally get one past Kinkaid to make it 7-2, but Kelly Zajac would get his 5th of the season late for a 8-2 advantage.  Utica would get one more goal late, but there was no surpassing the Devils on this night, as they tied a franchise record with the 8 goal outburst.  Kinkaid stopped 31 of 34 shots for the win.  Chris McKelvie added two assists, while 5 other Devils had assists.  Seth Helgeson and Corbin McPherson both finished at +4.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Stefan Matteau

Artem Demkov-Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby

Chris McKelvie-Harri Pesonen-Mike Hoeffel

Extras: Riley Boychuk, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Adam Larsson/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Extras: Harry Young, Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka

1/18 at Adirondack: 4-1 W

It was on to Glens Falls on Saturday for another matchup against the Phantoms…and another sellout crowd for Dax the mascot’s birthday bash.  Among the invitees was Devil Dawg, who I think brought some home luck to the visitors.  Rod Pelley would get Albany on the board first with his 8th.  Ben Holmstrom would tie the game with a power play goal, but just over a minute later Kelly Zajac would score his 6th for a 2-1 lead.  Second period Albany took over yet again…but with not as much firepower needed as the night before.  Artem Demkov and Tim Sestito would score just 40 seconds apart to go up 4-1, chasing Cal Heeter out of the net in favor of Yann Danis.  After that, not much happened…well, unless you count Keith Kinkaid shutting the Phantoms down and the three fights that broke out.  Kinkaid stopped 21 of 22 shots in winning his second straight on the weekend.  Dan Kelly added two assists while 4 other Devils had one each.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Artem Demkov

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Harri Pesonen

Extra: David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Extras: Alexander Urbom, Reece Scarlett

1/19 at Hershey: 4-3 L (SO)

It was off to Chocolatetown for the first time this season to finish off the 3 in 3 weekend.  And much like last week when the two teams met in Atlantic City, it was the Bears getting on the board first.  After Stefan Matteau took a double minor for a high stick, Dustin Gazley scored during the second half of the man advantage for a 1-0 lead.  But the Devils would rally in the second period.  Mike Sislo would score his 11th to tie the game at 1.  Then just before the second period ended, Tim Sestito added his 8th for a 2-1 advantage.  Rod Pelley would pad the lead with a short handed goal 2 minutes into the third.  But the Bears would rally, thanks to quite a few penalty calls against the Devils.  First, a too many men call and an ensuing argument lead to a Sestito Penalty (as in Tim argues with the ref after getting the initial two minutes, then adds to his total as a result…in this case a 10 minute misconduct).  Then Alexander Urbom gets the dreaded delay of game call, which resulted in a Ryan Potulny power play goal to cut the lead to 3-2.  Then while on a full 4 on 4 setup, David Kolomatis would tie the game up with 3 minutes to go in regulation.  Albany had to kill off a power play to end regulation and start overtime, and were outshot 2-0 in the extra session.  Nothing across lead to the bonus round, where only Mattias Tedenby was able to connect in four rounds.  Scott Wedgewood would give up goals in rounds 2-4 to lose the extra standings point and complete the late game collapse.  He stopped 32 of 35 shots in 65 minutes in taking the shootout loss.  Corbin McPherson added two assists.

Lines:

Back to the old 11/7 smashup:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Stefan Matteau

Artem Demkov-Mike Sislo-Mattias Tedenby

David Wohlberg-Chris McKelvie-Pesonen

Other lines: Whitney-Pelley-Sestito, Matteau-Sislo-Timmins, Pesonen-Tedenby-Demkov

Extras: Mike Hoeffel, Kelly Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Other pairings: Reece Scarlett/Kelly, Helgeson/Larsson, Kelly/Hrabarenka

Extra: Brandon Burlon

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

I had a few to choose from, but the first bout on Saturday night ended up the winner:

Actually, I’ll give an honorary mention to Raman Hrabarenka for surviving Fitzy.

My Player of the Week:

Out of all three games, there was one constant on the scoresheet: the captain, Rod Pelley.  Goals in all three games, plus an assist on Sunday.  Honorable mention to Mike Sislo for rejoining the lineup after his stay in New Jersey and picking up right where he left off with 2 goals and an assist.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (16)

Assists: Joe Whitney (20)

Points: Joe Whitney (36)

Plus/Minus: Dan Kelly (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (63)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (16)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.17)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.916)

Elmira Update:

A 2 game Midwest road swing proved fruitful for the Jackals, as they beat Cincinnati and Fort Wayne to improve to 12-19-2-2.  With regular starter Scott Greenham up filling in as the backup in Binghamton, Maxime Clermont got work in both games.  He stopped 25 of 29 Cyclone shots in a 5-4 win on Thursday, then followed up with 20 saves on 22 shots in 2 periods against Fort Wayne on Friday evening before exiting with an apparent injury.  He stands at 6-9-0 with a 3.34 GAA and an .892 save percentage.

Notes:

-Now that New Jersey is getting healthy (and here as well), the expected roster turnover is starting up.  Mike Sislo was returned to Albany on Thursday after Patrik Elias returned to the lineup.  He appeared in 7 games and was held scoreless.

-On Saturday, Harry Young and Riley Boychuk were returned to Elmira.  Young played in 10 games and was scoreless, but had 15 penalty minutes.  He had last appeared on January 4th in Adirondack.  Boychuk played in 18 games with 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist), but had been used sparingly on the 4th line recently.

-Tim Sestito returned to the lineup Friday night in Utica after missing two weeks due to injury.  That leaves Darcy Zajac as the lone injured member of the team.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another 3 in 3 weekend looms for the Devils, but this time much closer to home.  On Friday, they finish off their four game road swing in Binghamton against the Senators.  Then it’s a quick turnaround back home on Saturday afternoon against the Phantoms, game one of a hockey doubleheader in downtown Albany (RPI and Union will take on each other for the nightcap).  Then they host Binghamton on Sunday afternoon while the parent Devils play outdoors at Yankee Stadium.

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Starting to Rebound

Coming off a rough week, the Devils looked to rebound against three big opponents, with two sharing the top of the Eastern Conference standings.  And they did get back on track, with two big wins sandwiched between two rough days.  A little of everything during a very busy week:

1/7 vs. Springfield: 3-2 L

The marathon week began on a rare Tuesday game, with the second visit in four days from the first place Falcons.  Michael Chaput’s first shot of the game (and the Falcons) ended up in the net just three minutes in for a fast 1-0 lead.  Mattias Tedenby would tie the game at 1 with his first goal since returning to Albany.  Chaput would strike again on the tail end of a Albany 4 minute power play with a lucky bounce past Keith Kinkaid to put Springfield ahead 2-1…on the second Falcon shot of the game.  After Kinkaid finally got his first save of the game, Darryl Boyce would follow up with a power play goal for a 3-1 lead.  All that despite Albany outshooting the Falcons 11-6 in the first.  Kinkaid and the rest of the team settled down nicely after that, but former Devil goaltender (and reigning AHL goaltender of the month) Mike McKenna was on his game.  Tedenby would score his second late in the second to get to within 3-2, but that was all they could do.  After a shaky first period, Kinkaid ended up stopping 18 of 21 shots in a loss.  Kelly Zajac continued his strong play of late, adding two assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Artem Demkov

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Chris McKelvie

Mike Hoeffel-David Wohlberg-Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Harry Young

Other pairings: Kelly/Hrabarenka; Helgeson/Scarlett

1/10 at Springfield: 3-0 W

With some extra defensive personnel, it was off to Western Massachusetts to complete the home and home/3 out of 4 game stretch.  This time around, Scott Wedgewood drew the starting assignment.  Rod Pelley would get the visitors on the board halfway through the first.  Not much happened till late in the second, when Joe Whitney would score his team leading 13th on a nice breakaway shot to double the lead.  Artem Demkov would add his 4th goal 6 minutes into the 3rd to make it a 3-0 lead.  And Wedgewood took care of the rest, stopping all 21 Falcon shots in picking up his first AHL shutout.  The Devils played a near flawless game, only taking one penalty all evening.  Four Devils, including Adam Larsson in his first appearance in Albany since last January, picked up assists.  Alexander Urbom finished with an even plus/minus in his first game.

Lines:

With the influx of defensemen now on the roster, it was back to an 11/7 lineup.  And apparently coach couldn’t decide who to keep together:

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Harri Pesonen

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Artem Demkov

McKelvie-David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel

Also: Matteau-Zajac-Pesonen; Tedenby-Pelley-McKelvie; McKelvie-Pelley-Wohlberg; Whitney-Timmins-Pesonen; Zajac-Demkov-Wohlberg; Pelley-McKelvie-Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Adam Larsson

Burlon 7th D (?-just my guess), paired with Scarlett, McPherson

Also paired: Helgeson/Larsson; Urbom/Scarlett; Helgeson/Scarlett; Kelly/Urbom; Urbom/McPherson

Extras: Harry Young, Raman Hrabarenka

1/11 vs. Manchester: 5-2 W

Another home test awaited the Devils as the best team in the Eastern Conference, Manchester, came calling.  And Albany dodged a bullet as the Monarchs started Jean-Francois Berube over the recently demoted Martin Jones.  Maybe they should have.  Scott Timmins scored his 8th halfway through the first for a 1-0 lead.  Nick Shore would tie the game late in the period on a power play.  Then Albany took over in the second, outshooting the Monarchs 15-7 and scoring 3 times.  Kelly Zajac and Timmins scored 1:33 apart for a 3-1 lead.  Manchester would get back to within 3-2, but Joe Whitney would score on a power play late to boost the lead to 4-2.  Brandon Burlon would seal it with an empty netter late for the Devils second win in a row.  A much better outing for Keith Kinkaid this time around, as he stopped 21 of 23 shots for his 14th win.  Adam Larsson contributed 3 assists, while 4 others had one assist each.

Lines:

A little more manageable 11/7 lineup for this one:

Harri Pesonen-Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Artem Demkov

McKelvie-Riley Boychuk-David Wohlberg

Also seen: Pesonen-Timmins-Matteau; Whitney-Timmins-Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Adam Larsson/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon (guessing 7th D again?)-with Larsson, McPherson

Also paired: Kelly/McPherson, Larsson/McPherson, Larsson/Kelly, Helgeson/Hrabarenka

Extras: Harry Young, Reece Scarlett

1/12 vs. Hershey (at Atlantic City): 4-1 L

It was off to Atlantic City to finish the weekend, as the Devils “hosted” the Bears at Boardwalk Hall.  And apparently the Devils forgot to pack the last two games’ effort in making the trip south.  Just 10 seconds after the Devils started off their second penalty kill of the game, Brandon Segal would give the Bears a 1-0 lead late in the first.  The Bears made it 2-0 just 1:09 into the second on a Casey Wellman goal.  Artem Demkov would score his 5th to bring the Devils to within 1.  But Jeff Taffe (on a power play) and Dustin Gazley would score 2:08 apart to extend the lead to 4-1, chasing Keith Kinkaid out of the net after two periods.  Scott Wedgewood would play the third and keep Hershey off the scoreboard.  Albany would outshoot the Bears 14-5 in the third, but were unable to get any past Bears netminder Riley Gill, who earned his first AHL victory.  Kinkaid stopped 12 of 16, while Wedgewood was a perfect 5 for 5.  Dan Kelly would get the lone assist.

Lines:

I was watching video from home, with the camera angle of someone drunk or with a short attention span, so I tried my best with the latest 11/7 lineup.

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Kelly Zajac-Artem Demkov-Mattias Tedenby

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Harri Pesonen

David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel-Whitney

Others: McKelvie-Pesonen-Hoeffel; Matteau-Pesonen-Zajac; Timmins-McKelvie-Matteau

Extra: Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Adam Larsson/Seth Helgeson

Raman Hrabarenka/Brandon Burlon

Corbin McPherson 7th-with Kelly, Larsson

Extras: Harry Young, Alexander Urbom

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Of course this happens on Kids in Free Day.  Nice throwdown by Stefan Matteau before the real fun got started, by the way.

My Player of the Week:

I’ll give the nod to Scott Wedgewood this week.  No goals allowed in 4 periods, including his first AHL shutout on Friday against a very good Springfield club.  And helped stop the bleeding in Atlantic City, albeit too little too late.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (14)

Assists: Joe Whitney (20)

Points: Joe Whitney (34)

Plus/Minus: Reece Scarlett (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (56)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (14)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.18)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.915)

Elmira Update:

The Jackals had a 3 in 3 weekend of their own, all against Reading.  And it was the Royals coming out on top, sweeping the 2 home/1 away game series to put Elmira’s record on the season at 10-19-2-2.  Maxime Clermont made two appearances, the first in relief on Friday night, going a perfect 14 for 14.  He made the start on Saturday, stopping 25 of 29 in a 4-2 defeat.  He now stands at 4-9-0 with a 3.31 GAA.

Notes:

With all the player transactions covered earlier in the week, on to the injury report, just two names long: Tim Sestito (I believe upper body), who did board the bus to Atlantic City but did not play, and Darcy Zajac, still out long term.

This Week’s Schedule:

An all road three in three weekend coming up as the Devils begin a 4 game road swing.  Friday night Albany travels west to Utica for their third matchup of the season against the Comets.  Saturday night it’s back to Adirondack for Time Warner Cable Cup Game #8 against the Phantoms.  Then they travel south to Hershey for another Sunday afternoon tilt against the Bears.

Friday night also marks the official halfway point of the season.  I will have a first half numbers post up sometime on Saturday.

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New Years Struggle

As the calendar turned to 2014, the Devils were starting off January with a very important stretch–the first of three matchups in 7 days against the only team ahead of them in the division along with another trip up north to Adirondack.  And it wasn’t the start they wanted, only scoring 3 goals and getting just one out of four possible standings points.  Recapping the weekend, somewhat reluctantly:

1/3 vs. Springfield: 4-3 L (OT)

A big matchup on Friday night at home as the first place Falcons (by six points) came in for the first of two visits over a 4 day span.  And it wouldn’t be easy with a 17 man lineup due to Mike Sislo’s callup and Dan Kelly sitting out due to illness.  Kelly Zajac put Albany on the board early with an unassisted goal, his third of the season.  Jean-Francois Jacques would tie it up 4 and a half minutes later.  No goals across during the second, but things sure got interesting during the third.  Harri Pesonen and Rod Pelley would score 1:08 apart to put the Devils up 3-1.  But before anyone could blink, Jake Hansen would bring the Falcons to within one goal.  Austin Madaisky would tie it up 1:01 later.  It took just 1:31 for Albany to blow a two goal lead.  The game carried over into overtime, where Darryl Boyce would finish off the rally with the game winner 3:13 in for the Falcons.  A hard luck night in net for Keith Kinkaid as he stopped 24 of 28 shots.  Zajac and two other Devils had assists.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Artem Demkov

Kelly Zajac-Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen

Riley Boychuk-David Wohlberg-McKelvie

(how everything started before Sestito and Boychuk were forced to leave the game with injury/illness)

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Harry Young/Raman Hrabarenka

Also seen: Young/McPherson, Young/Helgeson

1/4 at Adirondack: 4-0 L

It was back to Glens Falls on Saturday evening for the seventh matchup of the season against the Phantoms.  And apparently the Devils game was left behind or on the Northway somewhere.  Both teams took 9 shots in the first, but it was Bruno Gervais scoring late in the period for a 1-0 lead.  Second period was all Adirondack, as they scored three times.  Kris Newbury scored twice, the second on a power play, then Tye McGinn added a goal late for a staggering 4-0 lead.  The funny part was both teams finished even in shots again, with 13 each.  The Devils tried what they could in the third, but nothing was getting past Phantoms goaltender Cal Heeter, coming off an overtime shutout of Hershey the night before.  And you could say it was revenge after being on the losing end of Keith Kinkaid’s fourth shutout the week before.  It was not a good night for Scott Wedgewood, as he stopped 31 of 35 Phantom shots.  And it wasn’t a good return to the lineup for both Stefan Matteau and Mattias Tedenby, as they (along with Kelly Zajac) finished a -3.  It was also the Devils most lopsided loss of the season.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Artem Demkov

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Chris McKelvie

David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel-Demkov

Tedenby and Whitney also paired with Zajac and Timmins

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Harry Young was 7th D–with Hrabarenka or Kelly

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Let’s just say Harry Young will not be going away quietly.  Or, the only good thing to come out of Saturday’s game.

My Player of the Week:

The only player with more than one point this week.  Kelly Zajac takes this one by default.  Honorable mention to Harry Young for at least trying to make things entertaining.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (12)

Assists: Joe Whitney (20)

Points: Joe Whitney (32)

Plus/Minus: Reece Scarlett (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (56)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (13)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.02)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.923)

Elmira Update:

The Jackals finally put to an end a 7 game winless streak (5 losses in regulation, 2 overtime losses) with an overtime win against Wheeling on Saturday, bringing their season record to 10-16-2-2.  Maxime Clermont took a hard luck 2-0 loss in South Carolina on New Years Eve, his 22nd birthday.  His record now stands at 4-8-0 with a 3.42 GAA.

Notes:

See my previous entry for all the roster moving over the last two days (yup, it needed its own entry, there was that much).

As far as injuries: Tim Sestito left the game Friday night due to injury and sat out Saturday’s loss in Adirondack.  No updates on his condition.  And apparently the flu bug is going around, as Dan Kelly sat out Friday night only to return on Saturday, while Riley Boychuk has been battling symptoms and left early on Friday, not playing on Saturday (although he did take warmup).

This Week’s Schedule:

A very important, yet busy week looms for Albany, with four games.  Tuesday night they host the Falcons for the second time in less than a week.  Then it’s due east Friday evening to western Massachusetts for a rematch.  Saturday afternoon the best team in the Eastern Conference, Manchester, makes their only visit of the season (and it’s going to be a loud day with the annual GE Kids In Free event).  Then finally it’s the first of four appearances in Atlantic City on Sunday afternoon as they take on Hershey.

 

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