It may have only been a 2 out of 6 point weekend, but finally the team from October has shown up! But it took hitting rock bottom to get there.
11/21 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 5-1 L
A busy weekend began Friday night on home ice, as the Devils hosted the Penguins for the second time in a month. Keith Kinkaid drew his first start since November 2nd and his first game action since relieving Cory Schneider in Detroit on November 7th. And the rust showed a little early in the first period, as Dominik Uher (after a video review) and Scott Wilson scored 18 seconds apart for a quick 2-0 lead. It didn’t get any better in the second, as Josh Archibald scored just 55 seconds into the second period to up the lead to 3. Brian Dumoulin would add to the rout less than 2 minutes later to make it 4-0. That would signal the end of Kinkaid’s night between the pipes, as Scott Wedgewood would take over from there. He went a perfect 7 for 7, but the Devils could not produce any offensive chances to get on the board, only managing 3 shots for the entire period. Jayson Megna would make it a 5-0 lead early in the third, adding to the insult. Joe Whitney managed to break up Jeff Zatkoff’s shutout bid by scoring his 5th with 13 minutes to go. The rest of the game was spent getting frustrated, chippy, physical…however you want to describe it. Two fights and a 10 car pileup by the Pens bench over a span of 10 minutes resulted in four 10 minute misconducts, 2 on each side. And no real offensive threat from the home team, resulting in their second straight loss. Kinkaid stopped just 7 of 11 shots in 22:36, while Wedgewood finished with 11 saves on 12 shots. Albany just managed 15 shots on goal, a season low. Reece Scarlett was the only other Devil to register a point with the lone assist on Whitney’s goal.
Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins
Mike Sislo-Stefan Matteau-Tim Sestito
Chris McKelvie-David Wohlberg-Rod Pelley
Darcy Zajac-Ben Thomson-Ben Johnson
Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen (both inj), Paul Thompson (susp), Graham Black
Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka
Brandon Burlon/Joe Faust
Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson
Extra: Mark Fraser (susp)
11/22 at Binghamton: 7-0 L
It was due west to the Southern Tier on Saturday night for the first of just four matchups of the season against the Senators, who were coming off a penalty filled win in overtime against Manchester the night before. Scott Wedgewood drew the start and…he may have wished he hadn’t. Much like the night before, Binghamton got a quick 2-0 lead in the first via goals from Derek Grant and Garrett Thompson just 56 seconds apart. Things would go from bad to worse in the second period…while Albany could not get any offense going against Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond, the B-Sens poured it on. Patrick Mullen scored on the first Devil penalty kill of the game for a 3-0 lead. Chris Wideman would add his 10th goal halfway through the period for a 4-0 lead. Carter Camper would finish the period off with the 5th goal, chasing Wedgewood out of the net after two periods and seeing Keith Kinkaid in a familiar situation…relieving the starter going into the third. And the bleeding continued despite the switch. Grant would score his second of the night to make it 6. And finally, the extra point by J.G. Pageau with 56 seconds remaining would finish off the most lopsided loss of the season, and in franchise history going back to the Lowell days. Wedgewood finished with 19 saves on 24 shots, and Kinkaid had 8 saves on 10 shots in relief. In trying really, really, really hard to find ANYTHING good about this game…a season low 6 penalty minutes. And double the shots from the night before, 31. But if you really want to point fingers at what made this happen, look no further than the boxscore…when you have one of your better defensive players in Raman Hrabarenka finish at a -5, you know it was bad.
Highlights: (WARNING: Watch at your own risk.)
Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher
Stefan Matteau-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito
Chris McKelvie-Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley
Darcy Zajac-Ben Johnson-Graham Black
Extra: Kelly Zajac, Cam Janssen, Paul Thompson, David Wohlberg
Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson
Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett
Raman Hrabarenka/Joe Faust
Extra: Mark Fraser
Sunday: With Dan Kelly and Reece Scarlett both getting hurt in Saturday’s loss and one more game left for Fraser to serve, the Devils called on a sort of familiar name to fill the defensive void, bringing in defenseman Eric Baier on a PTO. He had appeared in 13 games for Albany during the 2011-12 season. In 16 games with Orlando so far this season, he has 8 points (4 G, 4 A) and a +9 rating while serving as the team captain.
11/23 vs. Bridgeport: 5-2 W
One last home game to close out the weekend, and it was a familiar foe…for the sixth time on the season and the third time on home ice, it was the Sound Tigers coming in for a visit. The good news was the return of Paul Thompson to the lineup after he served his two game suspension. But Scott Timmins, along with Kelly and Scarlett, were out, making for a 13 forward/5 defenseman lineup taking the ice. I’m not sure what happened after the previous night in Binghamton, whether it was in the locker room or on the bus ride home, but the team that came out Sunday was the one I’ve been looking for the past three weeks. Thompson made his lineup return a successful one, scoring on a power play midway through the first period for a 1-0 Devil lead, the first since the 14th. Johan Sundstrom would tie the game up just before the first ended. But second period was all Devils, as they broke out for four goals. Brandon Burlon scored his first of the season four minutes in to break the tie. Raman Hrabarenka would add his fourth just over 90 seconds later for a 3-1 lead. Just over two minutes later, the new guy, Eric Baier, would get into the act by scoring his first AHL goal since the 2012-13 season (playing for Charlotte) to make it 4-1. Finally, Ben Johnson would score his first as a professional in a shorthanded situation late in the period for a 5-1 advantage. The Sound Tigers tried to make a comeback in the third, outshooting the Devils 14-7 and getting their second goal, but Keith Kinkaid and the depleted defense took care of the rest, breaking a 3 game losing streak and finishing the first 3 in 3 weekend on a high note. Kinkaid rebounded nicely from a disastrous Friday start and stopped 26 of 28 shots, earning #1 star honors. Five other Devils added assists, including the first professional point for Joe Faust.
Well, with a 13 forward lineup, there was a lot of patented Maclean Line Shuffler going on. Here’s what I could catch:
Rod Pelley-Reid Boucher-Chris McKelvie
Tim Sestito-Paul Thompson-Joe Whitney
Stefan Matteau-Mike Sislo-Graham Black
Ben Thomson-Darcy Zajac-Ben Johnson (David Wohlberg or Johnson 13th forward)
Also seen: Zajac-Wohlberg-Thomson; Johnson-Zajac-Thomson; Zajac-Sislo-Matteau; McKelvie-Black-Wohlberg; Pelley-McKelvie-Johnson
Extra: Kelly Zajac, Scott Timmins, Cam Janssen (all inj)
Again with 5 defensemen, a lot of moving around:
Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka
Corbin McPherson/Eric Baier
Pop Quiz: The 7-0 loss in Binghamton was the most lopsided loss in the history of the franchise, going back to the Lowell years. But it’s not the worst in the overall Albany AHL history. What is the largest margin of defeat for an Albany AHL team? The answer coming up.
Obligatory Fight of the Week:
No video from Friday’s festivities has surfaced. Oh well.
My Player of the Week:
For managing to pull off multi point weeks despite the struggles of the weekend, Joe Whitney and Paul Thompson split the award.
Goals: Paul Thompson (10)
Assists: 2 tied with 9
Points: Paul Thompson (16)
+/-: Paul Thompson (+11)
Penalty Minutes: Darcy Zajac (42)
Wins: Keith Kinkaid (5)
GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.54)
Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.911)
Myles Bell (Evansville): 13 GP, 9 points (7 G, 2 A), +1, 2 PIM
Maxime Clermont (Orlando): 7 GP, 5-2-0, 3.56 GAA, .884 Save Pct.
Kelly Zajac (upper body, indefinitely); Cam Janssen (upper body, indefinitely); Dan Kelly (lower body, unknown); Reece Scarlett (lower body, unknown); Scott Timmins (lower body, unknown); Rod Pelley (injured during Sunday’s game)
This Week’s Schedule:
A home laden schedule, but with an exception. Wednesday Hartford comes to visit for the second time in a month. Black Friday will be spent in the other home, Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, as the Devils face Lehigh Valley for the first time. Finally on Saturday afternoon, the only appearance of the season by Utica.
Pop Quiz Answer: The most lopsided loss in Albany AHL history? You have to go back to March 22, 1996. The River Rats dropped a 10-1 decision to the old Carolina Monarchs in Greensboro, NC. Bonus: the most lopsided shutout loss was back on March 25, 2001, when the Rats lost to Quebec 8-0.