Albany-Binghamton Pregame Notes

What you need to know before the Devils and Senators square off at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena:

-Season: This is the 6th meeting of 8 between the two teams, with the Devils holding a 3-2 edge. Last meeting was on January 19th in Albany, which the B-Sens took a 3-0 shutout win. After tonight, they meet two more times: on March 1st in Binghamton and on April 3rd in Albany.

-Standings: The Senators begin the day in 5th place in the East Division, with a record of 29-20-3-3 and 64 points. They are 1 point behind Norfolk for 4th place and lead the Devils by 19. Albany checks in with a record of 21-29-0-3 and 45 points. They lead by 3 points over Adirondack for 6th place.

-Scoring: Binghamton is lead by AHL scoring leader Corey Locke with 70 points (18 G, 52 A) and Jim O’Brien with 38 points (16 G, 22 A). The Senators have 4 regulars currently on recall to Ottawa. Barry Brust has assumed the #1 starting goalie job, riding an 8 game winning streak and earning 20 wins. The Devils continue to be lead by Matt Anderson with 37 points (17 G, 20 A) and Adam Henrique with 33 points (17 G, 16 A). Jeff Frazee is expected to return next weekend, so this may be a last chance so to speak for Dave Caruso to get in. He has won his last two starts, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike McKenna gets a chance in net after being returned by New Jersey on Friday.

Game time: 7 PM. I will not be making the trip with a long work day ahead but will pass along updates as needed…

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Albany-Worcester Pregame Notes

A few things to get you ready for Devils vs. Sharks at the Times Union Center:

Season: This is the final meeting of 4 between the two teams, with Albany holding a 2-1 edge. Last meeting was on January 11 in Worcester, a 2-0 Devils win. The road team has won all three games thus far.

Standings: The Sharks begin the day in 4th place in the Atlantic Division, holding a 25-19-2-6 record and 58 points. They stand 1 point behind 3rd place Connecticut and 4 points ahead of Springfield. Albany currently stands in 6th place in the East Division, with a record of 20-29-0-3 and 43 points. They are 19 points behind 5th place Binghamton and 1 point ahead of both Syracuse and Adirondack.

Scoring: Worcester is lead by NHL veteran Jonathan Cheechoo with 42 points (15 G, 27 A) and former Devil Michael Swift with 28 points (16 G, 12 A combined in both Albany/Worcester). With starter Alex Stalock lost for the season due to a leg injury (he recently had surgery), and backup Carter Hutton on recall to San Jose, journeyman Daren Machesney has assumed the starting goaltender role for the time being. On the home side, Matt Anderson continues to lead the Devils in scoring with 35 points (16 G, 19 A), followed by Adam Henrique with 31 points (16 G, 15 A). It appears Dave Caruso’s starting days are almost over with the return of Jeff Frazee to regular practices. I would still think Caruso gets the nod if Frazee’s not back to full strength, but we shall see. Mike McKenna is still on recall to New Jersey until Martin Brodeur returns to the lineup.

Miscellaneous: This is the first game between the Devils and Sharks since a 4 player deal on February 9th that saw Swift and Patrick Davis go to Worcester and Jay Leach and Steven Zalewski come to Albany. Both Leach and Zalewski should be making their home debut. Also it’s GE Kids in Free Day, all kids 12 and under will get in free with an adult thanks to GE.

UPDATE: A few transactions to pass along. Mike McKenna has been reassigned to Albany with Martin Brodeur on the verge of returning. Also, Darcy Zajac has been recalled from Trenton, with Harry Young going the opposite direction. The Sharks also announced late last night that Clifton Park native Nick Petrecki has been recalled to San Jose.

Game time: 7:00. Will be in attendance with the usual…

Dealing With Past And Present

This past week, both the NHL and the AHL have made me face what was and what is now. If that makes sense. New Jersey and Albany (what is now) opposed Carolina and Charlotte (what was) a few times, putting my renewed Devils fandom to the test. For the last four years, it’s been all about Carolina for me here, with the Rats being affiliated with the Hurricanes after the first Devils regime ended. Lots of memories, including bowling, Booster Club dinners, road trips, and laser tag last year. It was a crushing blow when almost exactly a year ago it was announced the Rats had been sold and were moving south to Charlotte. Not only was I losing the new friends I had made, at the time no one knew if another team would come in. Of course a few months later the Devils officially came back, and while the team here has been struggling, the Checkers are thriving in North Carolina. They’re doing well in the standings and in attendance figures, and on a personal note the YouTube videos are awesome (I miss Murphy’s Mailbag here…so glad Murph is bringing it back).

When the AHL schedule came out at the end of August, everyone I knew grabbed Albany’s and Charlotte’s schedules, looking to see when the Checkers were nearby. At first, I was up for visiting my old friends…when Albany had days off in October and the Checkers were nearby (in Springfield and Adirondack), I went to see everyone. I even passed up a road trip in Syracuse where Albany was to go see Charlotte in Binghamton. But when the Checkers first came in to Albany, I stayed on the Devils side as everyone else made a beeline to see the Checkers. As November and December wore on, I got more into the Devils as I continued my tweets and pictures, but still checked on Charlotte here and there. When they came back to Albany in January I again stayed on the Devils side…turned out I was the only one. Literally. But a couple weeks later I did see them in Wilkes-Barre while I was down there for the weekend to see the Devils. Then a week later came the first conflict…the Checkers were going to Adirondack while Albany was home against the Penguins. I chose to stay home and support the home team, while it seemed like everyone else jumped ship and went north. This week came the three game series in North Carolina. I actually had a feeling it wasn’t going to go so well for Albany there, but they surprised me, winning 2 out of 3 games and playing well in the one loss (a late Brett Bellemore goal took care of that).

Now we come to this Saturday. Another conflict for me, the Checkers are again in Adirondack while Albany travels to Binghamton. I was all set to go to Bingo to see the Devils and basically as I saw it, “make a statement” that I was an Albany fan. Then last Friday it hit me as I was looking at the calendar…Saturday’s date is February 19th. The same day as the 2 year anniversary of the Rats bus crash on the Mass Pike. The more I thought about it, I said, I can’t go to Binghamton, I have to go to Adirondack. It would be in a way disrespectful to those on the Checkers that had to endure that night. Plus I have yet to see Michael Leighton (former Rat) in a Phantoms uniform, even though Sunday the Devils and Phantoms face each other in Albany. So I’m kind of taking a day off so to speak Saturday, but I’ll probably be checking my phone every 5 minutes for updates.

Gone on enough for one night…now back to Devils-Hurricanes on my free Center Ice preview…

Albany-Charlotte Pregame Notes #3

Before previewing the last of the 3 game series between the Devils and Checkers, time to recap game 2 from Sunday afternoon:

A few lineup changes, Mike Murphy in net for Charlotte and Zach Boychuk and Brett Sutter back from Carolina (Jerome Samson and Zac Dalpe went up in their place), while J.S. Berube replaced Louis Robitaille in Albany’s lineup. Not as much rough stuff compared to the night before, although Pierre Luc Leblond took a 10 minute misconduct during the first period. Murphy and Dave Caruso were both very sharp in net, making outstanding saves and keeping the game scoreless after one period.

Second period saw the Devils get on the board first, much like the night before. Brad Mills gave Albany a 1-0 lead halfway through the period. But the Checkers tied it up late in the second on a Jon Matsumoto short handed goal. That became a momentum changer for the Checkers into the 3rd. Brett Carson gave Charlotte a 2-1 lead early in the 3rd, then new Devil Steven Zalewski continued to make an impact, scoring a game tying goal on the power play about 2 and a half minutes later. Both teams went back and forth as the period progressed, but it was defenseman Brett Bellemore who snagged the game winner with 3 and a half minutes to go in the game. The Devils pulled Caruso late, but it wasn’t to be and Charlotte held on for a 3-2 win.

Now to look ahead to the last game of the 3 game set in North Carolina:

Season: This is the 5th meeting of 6, both teams have 2 wins apiece. After tonight they square off one more time on April 2nd in Albany.

Standings: With Norfolk idle and Hershey taking a 7-1 beating from the Penguins, Charlotte now sits in 3rd place in the East Division, with a record of 30-18-2-4 and 66 points. They are 1 point ahead of Norfolk and 4 points behind 2nd place Hershey. Albany falls to a 19-29-0-3 record and 41 points, 1 point ahead of Adirondack and 1 point behind Syracuse.

Game time 7:00. Due to work obligations I will not be able to live tweet it…sorry…but will try to send updates when possible…

Albany-Charlotte Pregame Notes #2

Before moving on to the 2nd game of the weekend between the Devils and Checkers, let’s recap last night’s game 1 festivities:

First big news of the game: The scoreless streak is over! Albany took a 1-0 lead halfway through the first on a goal by Rob Davison. The streak ends at (and I did the math, hopefully right) 169:26. The Checkers came back to tie it early in the second on a Drayson Bowman tally. David McIntyre responded with an unassisted tally 4 minutes later, 2-1 Devils. Then the fun started…Zack FitzGerald (whose favorite movie is NOT The Notebook, despite what three of his teammates will tell you in the Ask the Checkers video of the day) slams Louis into the boards. Louis (being the idiot that he sometimes is) chases him down to the other end of the ice and tackles him from behind. Smart idea buddy…it was on. And Zack dominated, Louis couldn’t get a punch up if he tried. The physical stuff continued later in the period with essentially a 10 car pileup behind the Checker net and Pierre Luc Leblond and Brad Herauf trying to punch each other over the pile. The Devils killed off an ensuing 5-on-3, but just as that expires Stephen Gionta takes a tripping call and the Checkers quickly get the tying goal on the power play courtesy of Brett Carson (goal later given to Jacob Micflikier). Less than 2 minutes later with Alexander Urbom in the box, Charlotte snags their first lead of the game at 3-2 thanks to Zac Dalpe. Finally to close it out a beautiful scrap at center ice between 2 D-men, Brett Bellemore and Chris Murray. Give Bellemore the takedown on that one.

Third period started out rather uneventful…till Nicolas Blanchard is awarded a penalty shot about 5 minutes in. Dave Caruso denied the 4th and insurance goal. Then all hell broke loose at the 7:35 mark. All 10 skaters involved, the highlight being a scrap between Brad Mills and Drayson Bowman. Chris Murray, Riley Nash and Pierre-Luc Leblond all assessed roughing minors before peace was finally restored. Caruso put on a goaltending clinic, stopping every Checker shot that came into his path. With less than 4 minutes left in the 3rd, newly acquired Steven Zalewski snags the game tying goal in his Devil debut. Nothing doing the rest of the period, so off to overtime we go at 3-3. And with the point, the Devils stay in 7th place after being tied with the victorious Phantoms for a few minutes during the 3rd period.

One very important stat: Going into Saturday, the Devils had yet to lose during OT, boasting a 2-0 record (but a 3-3 SO record). That streak extended to 3-0, thanks to an unassisted goal by Adam Henrique with less than 2 minutes left in the overtime session to give Albany a 4-3 win. Dave Caruso definitely earned the win after his outstanding third period, shutting the Checker offense down. He finished with 27 saves and earned #2 star honors (Bowman #1, Henrique #3).

Looking ahead to today’s matchup:

-Fourth meeting of the season, Albany now up 2-1 in the series. One more game on Tuesday the 15th, then they don’t meet again till April 2nd in Albany.

-Standings: With a Norfolk victory last night, Charlotte falls back to 4th place in the East Division with a 29-18-2-4 record and 64 points. They are 1 point behind Norfolk for 3rd and 4 points ahead of Binghamton. Albany holds on to the 7th place slot with a 19-28-0-3 record and 41 points, remaining 2 points ahead of Adirondack and 1 point behind Syracuse for 6th. If you’re actually thinking playoff picture (you can start laughing now), they are 17 points behind Worcester for the last playoff spot (with the crossover rules in effect, Binghamton would cross over, but they have 2 more points than the Sharks). Hey with the parent club on a hot streak and inching closer to respectability, you’d think it might trickle down to the farm right? OK maybe not.

Game time 3:00. I will be following along from home (and hopefully with better audio to work with than last night…I missed half the penalty calls grrr…).

Albany-Charlotte Pregame Notes #1

NOTE: The next 2 pregame entries after this one are going to be a little different, considering the Devils play the same opponent in the same building the next 3 games. So I don’t sound redundant I’ll do my usual pregame routine with this one, then recap for the next 2.

What you need to know before the Devils and Checkers square off at Time Warner Cable Arena tonight for the first of 3:

Season: This is the 3rd of 6 meetings between the two teams this season, so far each team has one win. Albany took the first game on October 20th, Charlotte took the second meeting on January 7th, both games in Albany. After tonight, they play the next two games on Sunday and on Tuesday, then don’t play again till April 2nd in Albany.

Standings: Charlotte begins the day tied for 3rd place in the East Division with Norfolk, with a record of 29-18-1-4 and 63 points. They sit 7 points behind Hershey for the 2nd place slot. Albany sits in 7th place with a record of 18-28-0-3 and 39 points, they remain 2 points ahead of Adirondack to avoid the basement and 3 points behind Syracuse for 6th.

Scoring: The Checkers are lead by All Star Jerome Samson with 53 points (26 G, 27 A) and Jacob Micflikier with 41 points (20 G, 21 A). Along with Chris Terry (20 G), they are the only team in the AHL to boast 3 20 goal scorers. Justin Pogge and Mike Murphy split time in goal, Pogge leading with 15 wins. The Devils scoring list has changed a little with this week’s 4 player trade, but Matt Anderson remains the leading scorer with 32 points (16 G, 16 A). He is now followed by rookie Adam Henrique with 27 points (13 G, 14 A). Any kind of offensive output is welcome at this point, considering the Devils have been shut out the last two games. With Mike McKenna still on recall to New Jersey (no word on when Martin Brodeur will return to the lineup), the Trenton contingent of Dave Caruso and Jeff Lerg will be in net, Caruso being the likely starter.

Miscellaneous: As written earlier several times in this blog, the Checkers are the former Albany River Rats. The current roster of those who played at least one game in Albany stands at 17 players. They have the best offensive output in the AHL with 183 goals (an average of about 3.5/game).

Game time 7 PM. I will be tweeting from somewhere…no not North Carolina unfortunately…

Let The Changes Begin…

Wasn’t exactly planning a blog post tonight (but as you can see I gave the page a little makeover, changing colors, adding my Twitter feed and some links…more links to come as I think of them), but some breaking news just came up on my feed. Looks like the Devils are finally starting to make some changes to the roster, hopefully for the better? The Devils and Sharks just announced a 4 player deal, Patrick Davis and Michael Swift are off to San Jose/Worcester for Worcester captain Jay Leach and forward Steven Zalewski. I am assuming both players are coming here. Not a surprise to see Davis get traded, recently he had been a mystery healthy scratch for which a reason was never revealed (this is the Devils organization after all, nothing is allowed to leak out). Swift however I didn’t see coming, considering he was second on the team in scoring (very redundant stat in my pregame entries). I figure Leach won’t have problems fitting in here…he is a native of Altamont, just outside Schenectady. Every time his team came in to town (he’s played for Worcester, Providence, Lowell in the last couple seasons), the local papers always were quick to grab an interview with him (which is the norm with big name local guys, no matter what the sport). Zalewski I don’t know much about, he’s a native of New Hartford, NY (outside Utica, near where Tim Sestito and Nick Palmieri are from). He has decent stats, 21 points (4 G 17 A) in 50 games. Now if only the goaltending situation can fix itself…looks like Mike McKenna is staying in New Jersey at least through the end of the week, so the Trenton contingent will probably have at least 1 game in Charlotte. Hopefully the Devils can at least get a goal? After Monday night’s 4-0 shutout loss to the Penguins in Atlantic City, I did the math…they have gone 138:56 since their last goal, a Stephen Gionta tally Friday night against Hershey in Atlantic City. We’ll see how things go starting Saturday night in North Carolina.

In other news…no snow this week…yay! But it’s freaking cold out. Had to get my random weather rant of the week in. Once spring starts those will be few and far between…unless it’s like 2 years ago when it seemed like it rained every day.