Tools And Tomb Raiders

Just a lazy Sunday morning…still adjusting to the Daylight Savings time switch…

Friday and Saturday saw 2 2-1 Devils wins, but two totally different ways to get there. Friday in Glens Falls was pretty crazy to say the least. Well, the first two periods to be exact. First period featured the antics of one Zac Rinaldo, who was chirping and pushing around anyone in a red jersey. And it didn’t get him very far, especially after he whined to referee Ian Croft (or the Tomb Raider as we like to call him based on the movie) about being penalized for elbowing Louis Robitaille in the face. Um, you may think you’re doing a few fans a favor, but you’re not. While in the box, he opened his mouth one too many times, putting him out of the game and earning 28 penalty minutes before the first period was even over. To add to the party was another center ice scrap between Pierre Luc Leblond and Tom Sestito (not a bad way to start your first day with a new team), a battle the security guard in Section C saw coming. He noted that during pregame warmup the two were exchanging pleasantries, so to speak. And oh yeah, there was some scoring too. Chad Wiseman notched his 5th goal in two days, giving the Devils the early lead, but Eric Wellwood snagged a short handed goal late in the period to tie it at 1 after the first.

Then came the second period…no scoring but a lot of activity. Late in the period, Andrew Rowe went flying into Mike McKenna and the net. McKenna got up, went right over to Rowe and knocked him down like a domino. Suddenly it became every man for himself as 3 fights broke out almost simultaneously. You had Louis fighting Rowe (no turtling this time), Leblond battling Kevin Marshall, and the longest bout, Darcy Zajac against Jon Kalinski. Zajac and Kalinski ended up with the gate for a secondary altercation, while everyone else earned 5s and 10s. After that, all order was restored…Croft didn’t call one penalty the rest of the game.

Before the third period, I was standing near the visitors entrance to the ice waiting to go back to my seat. As the Devils were hitting the ice to start the third, I heard backup goalie Dave Caruso yell out to Tim Sestito “go out and be the better Sestito brother!” This was the second time Tim and Tom went up against each other, with little brother Tom winning the first matchup while still a member of the Falcons. Apparently the statement worked…Tim scored the eventual game winner 4 minutes into the 3rd and the Devils held on for a 2-1 win. So the Sestito battle is all even at 1, with each brother getting a goal and a #1 star. Three more matchups to go before the season ends.

Saturday at home against Springfield was a little more subdued compared to Friday night’s festivities. It didn’t look like it was going to start that way though…4 seconds into the contest Harry Young and Nick Tarnasky started things off with a scrap. After that, the game was just, well kind of blah. There were the usual penalties (Ian Croft for the second straight game…I may actually forgive him for the whole net off the moorings incident in January), but not much action. But at the end of the day the Devils came out on top, Brad Mills notched the winning goal in the 3rd and Dave Caruso was stellar in goal.

Today is the first of two matchups this week against Syracuse and their new scoring threat Brian McGrattan. Yeah, you read that right, apparently now he’s more than just a brawler. In last night’s win over the Amerks, he scored twice on 13 shots taken…and ZERO penalty minutes. But it wouldn’t shock me if he and Leblond went at it at center ice at some point today or on Wednesday in Syracuse. After today’s home game, the Devils don’t return home till March 29th, they’re looking at an extended road trip: Syracuse, Norfolk x 2, Wilkes-Barre, back to Syracuse then Hershey to finish it up. This will be an interesting trip to see if they can continue their recent play as of late and hold on to the 6th place spot. Obviously the playoffs is next to impossible, but at least staying in the current position and following the lead of their parent club would be a good way to finish up.

Albany-Springfield Pregame Notes

What you may need to know before the Devils and Falcons take to the ice at Times Union Center:

-Season: This is the 3rd meeting of 4 between the two teams, with the series tied at 1 win apiece. Last meeting was on February 25th in western Massachusetts, with the Falcons taking a convincing 5-2 victory. They square off one last time on April 8th in Springfield.

-Standings: The Falcons begin the day tied for 5th place in the Atlantic Division with Providence, with a record of 30-30-2-3 and 65 points. They are 7 points behind 4th place Worcester and 15 points ahead of 7th place Bridgeport. The Devils stand in 6th place in the East Division, with a record of 26-34-1-3 and 57 points, just 3 points ahead of 7th place Syracuse and 17 points behind 5th place Binghamton.

-Scoring: Springfield is lead by rookie winger Tomas Kubalik with 43 points (21 G, 22 A), followed by Trevor Smith with 40 points (18 G, 22 A combined with Springfield and Syracuse). David Leneveu and Gustaf Wesslau split time between the pipes, with Leneveu’s 16 wins leading the way. On the Devil side, no changes at the top…Matt Anderson leads with 47 points (20 G, 27 A) with Adam Henrique behind him with 40 points (21 G, 19 A). Mike McKenna should get the start, no word if Dave Caruso will make an appearance this weekend while Jeff Frazee is sidelined with a finger injury.

-Miscellaneous: Only special Saturday is driven towards those Albany St. Patrick’s Day paradegoers, drunk, sober, or somewhere in between: Wear green to the box office and get a $12 ticket. The start time was originally 7 PM, but was moved to the early 5 PM start to draw in those hanging around downtown. We’ll see how that goes over.

Game time, as mentioned 5 PM. I of course will be in attendance with the usual…

Albany-Adirondack Pregame Notes

What you may need to know (or be reminded of) before the Devils and Phantoms square off at Glens Falls Civic Center for the second time this week:

-Season: This is the 9th of 12 meetings in the Time Warner Cable Cup series, with both teams taking 4 wins. Last matchup was on Sunday afternoon in Glens Falls, with the Phantoms taking a 4-3 win to even up the series. After tonight, 3 more meetings: March 29th in Albany, and April 1st and 6th in Glens Falls.

-Standings: The Phantoms begin the day tied for 7th place in the East Division with Syracuse, carrying a 21-32-3-6 record and 51 points. They stand 3 points behind 6th place Albany, who check in with a 25-34-1-3 record and 54 points. They stand 19 points behind 5th place Binghamton for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (at this point Binghamton is a crossover in the Atlantic Division).

-Scoring: No changes at the top of Adirondack’s scoring list since the Devils were their last opponent on Sunday. Denis Hamel leads the way with 37 points (20 G, 17 A), Erik Gustafsson is 2nd with 36 points (5 G, 31 A). It’s anyone’s guess who will start in net, Johan Backlund took the win on Sunday while Michael Leighton took the loss on Saturday. The pattern seems to be rotating starts, so my guess is Leighton in net. On the home side, not much change at the top either. Matt Anderson continues to pace Devil skaters with 47 points (20 G, 27 A), second is Adam Henrique with 40 points (21 G, 19 A). Jeff Frazee is out for the weekend with a finger injury sustained in Wednesday’s morning skate, so I am expecting Mike McKenna to be in all weekend. After Jeff Lerg came up from Trenton to backup Wednesday night, he and Dave Caruso have switched places.

Game time: 7:30 PM. I will be making the trek north and have the usual…

The Chad Wiseman Show

So it’s a rainy Thursday. Hey it’s better than the alternative…and at least my car won’t be frozen to its parking space like on Tuesday morning. Anyway, moving on…last night’s Devils-Sound Tigers clash went from being a bad loss to the new worst team in the league (by 2 points over Adirondack and Syracuse) to one of the best endings in, well, 3 weeks since the last one. And it’s all thanks to one person: Chad Wiseman. Now where this scoring surge came from is anyone’s guess, but it came at the right time. But first let’s rewind to the first 50 minutes of the game, which saw Bridgeport dominate to the tune of a 4-1 lead with about 10 minutes to go in the 3rd period (one that was extended by about 4 minutes due to a glass issue that prematurely ended the 2nd period). Thanks to more penalty trouble by the Devils (5 power plays awarded to Bridgeport, thankfully nobody got 10 minute misconducts for arguing like on Sunday in Adirondack), Bridgeport was able to capitalize early on. Brett Motherwell gave the visitors a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, then Rhett Rakhshani tacked on a second goal early in the 2nd. David McIntyre scored to get the Devils on the board, then Jesse Joensuu and Robin Figren would add to the score and give the Sound Tigers what seemed to be a safe 3 goal cushion. Apparently they didn’t see the Worcester game tape, never count these Devils out. Wiseman scored his first with 9 and a half minutes left in the period to make it 4-2. OK it’s sort of a game again, no big deal. Fast forward to about 3 and a half minutes left in the 3rd, Wiseman strikes again to make it 4-3. Now we have a possible nailbiter in the works. Less than a minute later, it’s that man Wiseman again, nailing the hat trick and tying it at 4. We were thinking ok it’s probably going to overtime, the Devils have done well in the extra session, there’s hope. With 32 seconds left in the game, that went out the window as Wiseman got his 4th of the period and gave the Devils the 5-4 win. Only about 1500 in attendance, and I figured about half were left to see the victory. I saw quite a few people leave during the second period delay when they figured it was over. I’m sure they’re kicking themselves right now. So if you’re doing the math, Wiseman got all four goals in the 3rd period in a span of 9 minutes and 3 seconds. That has to be a record of some sort. Postgame my group and I ran into Mike McKenna (the winning goalie) in the parking garage, we told him he owes Wiseman big time, at least a beer if not a steak dinner. He may be seeing some extra playing time for a couple of games though…Jeff Frazee took a shot off a finger during morning skate and was sporting a splint last night. Jeff Lerg was up to play doorman for the evening, not sure if he’ll stay for the weekend or he’ll switch with Dave Caruso.

Speaking of the weekend…another busy 3 in 3 weekend, but luckily the Devils don’t have to travel far. Friday night they return to Adirondack to face the Phantoms…finally we will have the Battle of Sestito (at least according to PL3…we’ll take his word for it), hopefully Jamie Koharski won’t be around to call 10 minute misconducts every time someone opens their mouth. Saturday and Sunday features two home games, against Springfield (Saturday) and Syracuse (Sunday). Saturday is a 5 PM start, $12 tickets if you show up in green (it’s also dodge the amateur St. Patrick’s Day Parade drunks downtown day). Sunday is a bobblehead giveaway, another autograph session, and oh by the way it’s on TV (TWC Sports will be carrying it). Then an extended road trip so basketball tourneys can take over the arena. Syracuse, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre and Hershey (2 games each in Syracuse/Norfolk) are the destinations.

Hard to believe the season ends a month from today already, where does the time go?

Albany-Bridgeport Pregame Notes

A few things to get you ready for the Devils-Sound Tigers at Times Union Center:

-Season: This is the 3rd meeting of 4 between the two teams, with the teams splitting the first two games. Bridgeport won 4-3 in a shootout in Albany on December 28th, while the Devils took a 6-4 victory in Bridgeport on January 25th. They will face off one more time on April 10th in Connecticut.

-Standings: The Sound Tigers begin the day in 7th place in the Atlantic Division, checking in with a record of 21-34-3-4 and 49 points. They stand 12 points behind 6th place Providence. The Devils stand in 6th place in the East, with a record of 24-34-1-3 and 52 points. They are 21 points behind 5th place Binghamton and just 1 point ahead of both Adirondack and Syracuse.

-Scoring: Bridgeport is lead by winger Rhett Rakhshani with 39 points (13 G, 26 A) and center Rob Hisey with 35 points (10 G, 25 A). Rookies Mikko Koskinen and Joel Martin share time in net, Koskinen leading the way with 7 wins in a year that has seen many goaltending injury issues between the Sound Tigers and their parent club, the Islanders. On the home side, Matt Anderson continues to pace the Devils with 47 points (20 G, 27 A), followed by Adam Henrique with 40 points (21 G, 19 A). It’s back to the original plan as far as goaltending goes, Jeff Frazee and Mike McKenna splitting the time, with Frazee leading in wins 10-9 (the other 5 were by Dave Caruso).

Game time: 7 PM. I will of course be on hand with the usual…

Albany-Adirondack Pregame Notes #2

Before we look ahead to today’s Devils-Phantoms matchup at the Glens Falls Civic Center, let’s recap yesterday’s happenings in Time Warner Cable Cup Game #7:

What started out as a goaltending duel between Michael Leighton and Mike McKenna turned into a convincing 5-2 win for the Devils. First period the Devils outshot Adirondack 19-7, but the Phantoms were the only one to get a shot in net as Eric Wellwood gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. Second period, the Devils started to take over, scoring twice and outshooting Adirondack 10-7. Alexander Urbom and Steve Zalewski (on the power play) put the Devils on top 2-1 after 2 periods. The only other highlight of the 2nd? Louis’s first fighting attempt back. He chirped one too many times to Cullen Eddy (who I didn’t know could fight, usually Matt Clackson, Zac Rinaldo, etc. take care of that aspect) and ended up on his knees getting punched. Ah, normalcy.

Third period saw Jamie Koharski (who only missed one blatant call this time around…there’s hope for him yet) get a little whistle happy to start, producing a 4 on 3 situation for the Devils. Alexander Vasyunov cashed in on that opportunity and scored for a 2 goal cushion. Mike Testuwide answered with a goal with 7 minutes left to make it a 3-2 game, but the home team pulled away after that. Matt Anderson (with the family from Long Island in attendance…mom, aunt, sister, brother-in-law, and baby niece were in the section next to me) added his 20th goal and Vasyunov scored his second of the day to seal a 5-2 Devils win.

Moving on to today’s afternoon tilt:

Season: This is meeting #8 of 12 in the series, Albany now has a 4-3 lead. After today, 4 games remain: March 11th in Adirondack, March 29th in Albany, and April 1st and 6th in the North Country.

Standings: With the loss and Syracuse’s victory in San Antonio, the Phantoms have fallen back into a tie for last place in the East Division, with a record of 20-32-3-6 and 49 points. They sit 3 points behind 6th place Albany, who check in with a 24-33-1-3 record and 52 points. They stand 19 points behind 5th place Binghamton, who currently hold the last playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (due to the AHL crossover rule).

Game time: 3 PM. I will be making the trek up north and doing the usual…

Albany-Adirondack Pregame Notes #1

NOTE: With the next two games against the same opponent, I will do this the same way I did the Charlotte pregamers…regular one today, followed by recap and short preview tomorrow.

What you need to know before the Devils and Phantoms square off at Times Union Center:

-Season: This is the 7th of 12 meetings between the two teams in the 2nd annual Time Warner Cable Cup, with both teams holding on to 3 wins apiece. Last meeting was on February 20th in Albany, a 4-3 Devils shootout win. They meet in Glens Falls on March 7th and 11th, then don’t meet again until March 29th in Albany, followed by two more matchups in the North Country on April 1st and 6th.

-Standings: The Phantoms begin the day in 7th place in the East Division, with a record of 20-31-3-6 and 49 points, 1 point behind 6th place Albany and 2 ahead of 8th place Syracuse. The Devils check in with a record of 23-33-1-3 and 50 points, 21 points behind 5th place Binghamton.

-Scoring: Adirondack is lead in scoring by veteran Denis Hamel (18 G, 17 A) and rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson (5 G, 30 A) with 35 points apiece, followed by defenseman Danny Syvret with 29 points (9 G, 20 A). Former River Rat Michael Leighton and Johan Backlund continue to split duties in net, Backlund with 7 wins and Leighton with 6 since coming down from the Flyers. On the home side, Matt Anderson continues to lead all Devil skaters with 44 points (19 G, 25 A), followed by Adam Henrique with 38 points (20 G, 18 A). Jeff Frazee has received a lot of ice time since returning from injury, including a hard luck loss to Norfolk on Friday night. With a 3 in 3 weekend I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike McKenna get the nod in at least one of the weekend games.

-Miscellaneous: If you were looking forward to seeing a brother vs. brother matchup with Tim (Albany) and Tom (Adirondack) Sestito, well…you’ll have to wait a little while longer. Due to a death in their family, neither brother will play this weekend. Condolences do go out to them. On a happier note, there is a giveaway to mention…first 4000 through the door get a team poster, which from what I saw isn’t a traditional team photo, just a collage of action shots. And if you order a ticket online, there’s a special $12 price. I believe you have to go through the Devils site (thealbanydevils.com) to take advantage of that.

Game time: 5 PM. Of course I will be on hand with the usual…

Albany-Norfolk Pregame Notes

What you may need to know before the Devils and Admirals hit the ice at the Times Union Center:

-Season: This is the 6th of 8 meetings between the two teams, with the Admirals holding a 4-1 series lead. Last matchup was on February 27th in Atlantic City, a 4-3 come from behind win for Norfolk. After tonight they meet only twice more, on March 18th and 19th in Virginia.

-Standings: The Admirals start the day in 4th place in the East Division, checking in with a 30-17-8-5 record and 73 points. They trail 3rd place Charlotte by 3 points and lead 5th place Binghamton by 2. The Devils are currently in 6th place, with a record of 23-32-1-3 and 50 points, leading 7th place Adirondack by 1 point and 8th place Syracuse by 3 points.

-Scoring: Norfolk is lead by center Marc-Andre Pouliot with 51 points (18 G, 33 A) and center Blair Jones with 44 points (20 G, 24 A). In the nets, Dustin Tokarski is getting the brunt of the work with Cedrick Desjardins out due to injury, with recent ECHL callup Jaroslav Janus backing up. On the home side, Matt Anderson continues to pace all Devil skaters with 44 points (19 G, 25 A), followed by Adam Henrique with 38 points (20 G, 18 A). It appears the regular Devil goalie tandem of Jeff Frazee and Mike McKenna is back intact, with Dave Caruso being reassigned to Trenton on Thursday. Frazee has come out strong since returning Sunday afternoon, with a good effort against the Admirals and a win over playoff contender Binghamton under his belt.

Game time: 7 PM. I will be on hand with the usual fun…

Albany-Binghamton Pregame Notes

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

-Season: This is the 7th of 8 meetings between the two teams, with the series tied at 3 wins apiece. Last matchup was on February 19th in Binghamton, a 4-3 last second overtime victory for the Sens. They play each other one more time after this matchup, on April 3rd in Albany.

-Standings: Binghamton begins the day tied for 4th place in the East Division with Norfolk, carrying a 32-21-3-4 record and 71 points. They stand 5 points behind Charlotte for 3rd and lead Adirondack by 22 points. They would be holding down a crossover playoff spot in the Atlantic, leading 4th place Connecticut by 7 points and 3rd place Worcester by 6. The Devils stand in 7th place with a record of 22-32-1-3 record and 48 points, 1 point behind Adirondack for 6th and 1 point ahead of 8th place Syracuse.

-Scoring: The Senators are lead by current AHL scoring leader Corey Locke with 72 points (18 G, 54 A) and defenseman Derek Smith with 43 points (9 G, 34 A). Barry Brust has become a clear #1 goaltender as of late, he currently stands at 23 wins, which includes 6 shutouts. It is unclear if he or rookie Robin Lehner will be getting the start. For the visitors, Matt Anderson continues to pace the scoring with 43 points (18 G, 25 A) followed by Adam Henrique with 37 points (19 G, 18 A). After this weekend, it’s anyone’s guess how the goalie rotation will go, with Jeff Frazee returning to the lineup after a knee injury sidelined him for over a month.

Game time: 7 PM. Due to work obligations I will not be tweeting this one…will send updates when I can…