End of February already? That means spring is getting closer and this horrible winter is almost over. But anyway I digress…
This weekend the Devils had a chance to pull away from the basement dwellers and continue their hot streak as of late. Well…that didn’t happen. In fact, they were 0-fer on the weekend, but in all 3 games at one point they did hold a lead, but just couldn’t hold on for the victory. Let’s start with Friday night in Springfield, a game I was very much looking forward to going to. Well a change in the weather forecast overnight Thursday into Friday changed my plans. What was supposed to be just 1-3 inches then rain turned into a 8-12 inch all snow event in Albany, keeping this girl grounded. What’s sad was in Springfield it just rained all day, if I was able to get out of New York I would have been fine. Anyway…the game featured the first matchup of the season between the Sestito brothers (Tim missed the matchup in January while on recall to New Jersey), this time Tom got the better of the two, scoring a goal in the first period and eventually earning #1 star honors. Jeff Prough got the Devils on the board early, but it was basically all Falcons the rest of the way as they took a 5-2 victory. Dave Caruso started the game and gave up all 5 goals over the first two periods, Mike McKenna relieved him to start the 3rd and shut down the Falcon offense. Pierre-Luc Leblond scored late in the third period, but it was too little, too late.
Saturday night while the Devils continued their road swing in Hershey, I headed up north to Glens Falls to take in the Phantoms-Sharks matchup. Not very often I get to go to a non-Albany game, and since the Devils play Adirondack several times in March and April I took the opportunity to do some prescouting so to speak. And visit with my friends on Worcester as an added bonus. I saw another goaltending duel, this time it was Michael Leighton vs. former Bears goalie Daren Machesney. Neither would allow a goal till the second period, when Greg Moore and Jamie McGinn exchanged tallies. The game eventually went to a shootout (not the Phantoms’ best friend lately, I believe at one point this month they dropped 3 of them in a row, including the two I saw last weekend against Charlotte and Albany), one the Phantoms took in 6 rounds. Meanwhile in Chocolatetown, the Devils dropped a 4-3 decision to the Bears in front of another sold out audience at the Giant Center. Brad Mills gave the visitors an early 1-0 lead, but of course the Bears stepped up and scored 3 in a row on Mike McKenna. Olivier Magnan brought the Devils back within one, but Boyd Kane scored his second of the night for an insurance tally. Adam Henrique made it 4-3 very late in the third, but it wasn’t to be. And of course Joel Rechlicz and Pierre Luc Leblond had their battle, but Rechlicz paid the price with an instigator and misconduct as a result. Still waiting for the Youtube clip to show up to see who got the better of it.
Sunday afternoon the road swing moved to the last home game in Atlantic City against Norfolk. The Devils ran into some early penalty trouble which resulted in the Admirals grabbing a 2-0 lead halfway through the first period. The Devils scored the next 3 to take a 3-2 lead into the 3rd, a lead that quickly evaporated thanks to more penalty woes. Norfolk tied it at the start of the period and took the lead for good 3 minutes later. What’s interesting is both goals were given up by Mike McKenna, who went in net for the start of the 3rd while starter Jeff Frazee (his first action since January 7th) was tending to equipment issues on the bench. As a result of the loss, Adirondack’s victory over Binghamton and Syracuse losing in OT to Rochester, the Phantoms jump ahead of the Devils by one point into 6th. The Devils fall to 7th and are only 1 point ahead of the Crunch for the basement spot.
Off topic for a little bit…I spent Sunday morning in North Adams, MA to see my friend’s son play in a youth hockey game. It was fun watching these 7 and 8 year old kids out on the ice and seeing how disciplined they are. One thing the kids are taught is if someone on either team goes down and appears to be shaken up or injured, everyone on the ice stops and gets down on one knee and play stops until the player is off the ice. With recent events in both the AHL and NHL (yes Trevor Gillies I’m talking to you), sometimes you have to go back to the beginning and see how everything starts out. And both teams were congratulated and supported as they left the ice at the end of the game, a great example of sportsmanship. I’m hoping to get to another one of my little friend’s games in March as their playoffs/yearend tournaments get into full swing, schedule permitting.
Today was the NHL trade deadline day, a day where I always saw someone from here shipped off to who knows where. Lou was famous during the first Devil regime here for doing that…Steve Sullivan, Sheldon Souray, Brendan Morrison are just a few examples. This year that didn’t happen, the only move New Jersey made was shipping Jason Arnott to Washington for David Steckel. The only other interesting trade I saw go down today was a minor league swap between Columbus and Philly, the Flyers sent Phantom Greg Moore and prospect Michael Chaput (former Rat Stefan’s younger brother) to the Blue Jackets for Tom Sestito. He was sent to Adirondack, which means one thing: lots of sibling rivalry battles between Tim and Tom for the rest of the season. First matchup comes Saturday afternoon in Albany, then Sunday afternoon and next Friday night in Glens Falls (I’ll be logging a lot of miles next week between 2 trips north and a trip south next Saturday to Hudson for work, but I’ll worry about that later). As for this week, the Devils face a daunting matchup in Binghamton tomorrow night against the Senators, then back home Friday night to host Norfolk before the home and home with Adirondack…yes another 3 in 3 weekend. Hopefully by the end of it they don’t fall into the basement.