Albany-Springfield Pregame Notes

What you may need to know before the Devils and Falcons take to the Mass Mutual Center ice:

-Season: This is the 4th and final meeting between the two, with the Devils holding a 2-1 lead. Last meeting was on March 12th in Albany, a 2-1 Devil victory.

-Standings: The Falcons begin the day in 6th place in the Atlantic Division with a 33-39-2-3 mark and 71 points. They stand 5 points behind 5th place Providence and 4 points ahead of 7th place Bridgeport. The Devils are in 8th place in the East with a 32-40-1-4 record and 69 points, 1 point behind 7th place Adirondack.

-Scoring: Springfield is lead by rookie Tomas Kubalik with 50 points (22 G, 28 A), followed by former River Rat Ben Guite with 43 points (15 G, 28 A). The goaltending recently got a boost with the signing of former RPI netminder Allen York, who has been getting his share of action since signing with the parent Columbus Blue Jackets. Regular starter Gustaf Wesslau is backing up. On the other side, still leading all Devil skaters is Matt Anderson with 54 points (22 G, 32 A), followed by Adam Henrique (the new franchise leader in rookie scoring) with 50 points (25 G, 25 A). Jeff Frazee is still out with an apparent leg injury from last Friday, no word on if he is shut down for the season. I would think it’s Dave Caruso’s turn in net after Mike McKenna took the loss in Adirondack on Wednesday night.

Game time: 7:30 PM. Day 7 of the 9 days of Devils for me. I plan on making the 90 minute trek east and will have the usual entertainment on hand…

Albany-Adirondack Pregame Notes

A few things to prepare you for when the Devils and Phantoms take to the ice at Glens Falls Civic Center:

-Season: This is the 12th and final meeting between the Northway rivals, with the Devils holding on to a 6-5 lead. Last meeting was April 1st in the North Country, a resounding 9-5 victory by Adirondack. If the Devils win or tie at the end of regulation, they clinch the 2nd annual Time Warner Cable Cup. A Phantoms victory would tie the series at 6 all, but Adirondack would take the Cup based on standings points (or goal differential then home wins if the tiebreakers went that far).

-Standings: The Phantoms are in 8th place in the East Division with a record of 29-37-4-6 and 68 points, just one point behind Albany. The Devils are in 7th with a 32-39-1-4 mark and 69 points, just 2 points behind 6th place Syracuse.

-Scoring: Adirondack is lead by Denis Hamel with 47 points (25 G, 22 A) and Erik Gustafsson with 45 points (5 G, 40 A). With Michael Leighton back in Philly on re-entry waivers, looks like Johan Backlund will be making the start tonight. Still awaiting who will back him up with the other 2 goalie prospects (Nic Riopel in Greenville and Brian Stewart in Bakersfield) starting in the ECHL playoffs. On the visiting side…Matt Anderson still on top of the leaderboard with 53 points (22 G, 31 A), still behind him is Adam Henrique with 49 points (25 G, 24 A). After an outstanding showing in a shootout win on Sunday, I wonder if Dave Caruso will get another start in goal considering everyone is playing for pride. But Mike McKenna did promise a little salute to the Phantom faithful if he took #1 star honors so…we will have to see.

Game time: 7 PM. Final home game for Adirondack, and it’s Day 6 of 9 Days of Devils. I’ll be making the trek up and providing all the entertainment (and hopefully this time more of it in my vantage point).

Recap: 9 Days Of Devils, Day 2-5

Just returned home from a 4th straight Devil team function (yeah I’m probably around them too much…but after Sunday I don’t see them till September, may as well make the most of it). Another weekend of 3-in-3 has passed, and it was all over the place. Blowout game Friday night, late game loss on Saturday, and comeback in the shootout on Sunday.

Let’s start off with Friday night (Day #2) in Adirondack. What I saw was probably one of the worst performances of the season in the second period, but there was a rebound afterwards. What started as a close 3-2 back and forth game after one period turned into 6 unanswered goals by the Phantoms in the second period (including a Mike Testuwide hat trick). However there was some entertaining moments…after beating Zac Rinaldo in a fight (yesssss), Brad Mills skated off and taunted those behind the penalty box (putting his hand to his ear…I can’t hear you…). PL3 and Matt Clackson dropped gloves and just looked at each other, linesmen broke that up before they could start punching. Rookie Cullen Eddy (who is either suicidal or just in the right place at the right time) took on Leblond after he ran Michael Leighton (of course this breaks out far away from my vantage point). But the best of the night goes to Mike McKenna…after being pulled in favor of Jeff Frazee during the second period (and after going into the locker room to collect himself), he exchanged a few verbal insults with some 300 pound moron 2 sections over from us. Third period the Devils woke up a little to make it a game…Adam Henrique scored on a penalty shot and Alex Vasyunov added an unassisted tally to make it 9-5. As for the rough stuff…not much of it in the third, Leblond and Clackson were tossed before they could attempt another round. One more round with these guys on Wednesday in Glens Falls, wonder if it’ll be a tight game or a gong show. We shall see.

Saturday (Day #3) the old tenants came calling. And there was more of the rough stuff (we’re not the most penalized team in the league for nothing you know…), Leblond took on Zack Fitzgerald after Leblond checked (I think; hard to tell from my angle) Michal Jordan into the boards (part of me thinks he did it on purpose so Fitzy would fight him…he was trying to get him to go earlier but to no avail, but as soon as he finished the check there they go). Meanwhile there was some actual hockey played, former Rat Nicolas Blanchard got the Checkers on the board first, Steven Zalewski answered that about 2 minutes later. Cedric McNicoll finished out the first period scoring (all three were power play tallies; Albany went 3 for 7, Charlotte 3 for 8. Not a good night for special teams I must say). Second period the Devils took a one goal lead on scores by Chad Wiseman and David McIntyre, but Jon Matsumoto retied the game on a rare even strength goal (for this game it was rare). Third period Brad Mills throws an elbow at Jordan (not a good night for MJ, he was banged around quite a bit), he was given a 5 minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct, on top of a roughing minor and a fight with Brett Sutter earlier in the night. The Devils successfully killed off the major penalty, but wasn’t able to gain any more ground. Former Rat Matt Pistilli scored the go ahead goal with less than 3 minutes left, then Jacob Micflikier added an empty netter and the Checkers won 5-3, in the process clinching a playoff spot. On a side note, Zack Fitzgerald (who my neighbor in Section 114 still claims was a 3rd man in…had to be there) should seriously consider a stand up comedy career if hockey doesn’t work out for him…

Moving on to Sunday afternoon (Day #4). Afternoon tilt against the Senators, another team on the verge of clinching a playoff berth. Probably one of the faster games I sat through this season because the referees let them play. First period was all zeroes…no score, no penalties, but the B-Sens outshot the hosts 15-6. Very cool first intermission activity on Military Appreciation Day…thanks to Time Warner Cable, a few local families got to talk with loved ones via satellite from Iraq. Also very cool was having some of the American born Devils saying thank you to the troops on the scoreboard at various times during the game. Second period finally saw some action…Patrick Coulombe put the visitors on the board first, then Chad Wiseman gets the first penalty (double minor for high sticking). The B-Sens took a 2-0 lead on recently recalled Dave Caruso early in the third on a Cody Bass goal, then the Comeback Kids started up again. Darcy Zajac broke up Barry Brust’s shutout 6 and a half minutes into the 3rd, then Matt Anderson snagged the tying goal with about 6 minutes left in the period. Nothing doing the rest of regulation and into OT (unless you count Ryan Ginand being held hostage by Barry Brust in his net and not one referee saw it), on to the shootout. And Caruso came up big, stopping all 4 Senator shots while Ginand and Wiseman tallied. With Bingo taking the shootout loss and Worcester winning their game, the Senators still have to wait to punch their Calder Cup playoff ticket.

Now moving on to tonight (Day #5), the End of Season Party for the season ticket holders. A little get together with the team at one of the Crowne Plaza ballrooms, food, drink (read: cash bar) and door prizes (autographed pucks and sticks from New Jersey, team autographed poster, jersey, stick) to be had. There was a 3 minute highlight video shown then Josh the radio guy introduced everyone on the team. I actually got to chat with the newest member of the team, Mike Sislo. He just signed a contract yesterday (per the New Jersey beat writer; no mention of him up here just yet), just arrived in town from the University of New Hampshire mere hours before the event (just throw him right into the fire). A few of the players helped draw the door prize tickets…and of course Louis steals the show. He offers 20 bucks for whoever won the Martin Brodeur autographed stick (then since he paid child support last week ups it to 26 bucks). He draws the number and reads it in French (what nobody knows French in this room?), then nearly offers to raffle the jersey off his back because “I probably won’t be wearing it much the rest of the year.” And I caught Harry Young cracking a smile again (yes he actually can…rare moment indeed).

So what’s left for this team? 4 games left. Wednesday (Day #6) at Adirondack, Friday (Day #7) at Springfield, Saturday (Day #8) the home finale against Portland, and Sunday (Day #9) the season finale at Bridgeport. Basically the boys will be playing for jobs for next year and we’ll get to check out the prospects (Sova, Hoeffel, et al). And lots of travel for me ahead. But after Sunday I’ll likely be staying in town for awhile (unless my trip to New York City the end of April goes through…but there’s still time to plan for that).

Albany-Binghamton Pregame Notes

What you may need to know before the Devils and Senators face off at the Times Union Center:

-Season: This is the 8th and final meeting between the two teams, with the Devils holding a 4-3 lead. Last meeting was on March 1st in Binghamton, a 3-2 victory by Albany.

-Standings: The Senators begin the day in 5th place in the East Division with a 40-29-3-4 record and 87 points. They stand 1 point behind 4th place Norfolk and 16 points ahead of 6th place Syracuse. They also hold down the 3rd playoff spot in the Atlantic Division thanks to the division crossover rule, 3 points ahead of Atlantic 3rd place Connecticut and 5 points ahead of Atlantic 4th place Worcester. Albany stands in 7th place with a 31-39-1-4 mark and 67 points, just one point ahead of 8th place Adirondack and 4 points behind the Crunch for 6th.

-Scoring: Binghamton is lead in scoring by AHL points leader Corey Locke with 86 points (21 G, 65 A), followed by forward Jim O’Brien with 55 points (23 G, 32 A). It’s a 3 man goaltending crew, with Barry Brust leading the way with 28 wins and 7 shutouts. On the home side…it’s becoming a close race at the top of the scoring list. Matt Anderson still leads the way with 52 points (21 G, 31 A), but Adam Henrique is closing in, just 3 points back with 49 (25 G, 24 A). In one of my preview last week I presented the numbers for Jeff Frazee and Mike McKenna, now that Dave Caruso is back from Trenton I’ll throw in his numbers this year here for comparison: 6 wins in 16 games, 1 shutout, .882 save percentage, 3.59 goals against. Not the greatest sounding, but you wouldn’t know it by the way he plays. I’m hoping they give him a shot today in the last of another 3 in 3 set.

Game time: 4 PM. It’s Military Appreciation Day and the last postgame autograph session of the season (and I’m out of things for them to sign). It’s Day 4 of my 9 Days of Devils event, I will of course be in attendance.

Albany-Charlotte Pregame Notes

A few things to know before the Devils and Checkers face off at the Times Union Center:

-Season: This is the 6th and final meeting between the two teams, with the Devils holding a 3-2 lead. Last game was on February 15th in North Carolina, a 3-0 Devils shutout win (the first AHL whitewash by Dave Caruso).

-Standings: The Checkers start the day in 3rd place in the East Division with a 41-26-2-7 record and 91 points. They stand 5 points behind 2nd place Hershey and 3 points ahead of 4th place Norfolk. The Devils stand in 7th with a 31-38-1-4 mark and 67 points, 4 points behind 6th place Syracuse and 3 points ahead of 8th place Adirondack.

-Scoring: Charlotte is lead by two former River Rats, forwards Zach Boychuk with 62 points (22 G, 40 A) and Chris Terry with 60 points (32 G, 28 A). The goaltending corps took a hit recently with an injury to Mike Murphy, Justin Pogge has assumed the regular starting role (ECHL callup and expert Jeopardy Tweeter Bobby Goepfert is currently backing up). For the home side, no changes at the top…Matt Anderson with 52 points (21 G, 31 A) and Adam Henrique with 48 points (25 G, 23 A). The goaltending has been trading starts as of late, I would expect Jeff Frazee in net despite coming in to replace Mike McKenna in relief in Adirondack Friday night. (UPDATE: Dave Caruso has been recalled…Frazee apparently is hurt after taking a shot to the knee during his relief stint last night. So I guess McKenna gets a second chance or Caruso gets thrown in.)

Game time: 7 PM. Day 3 of my 9 Days of Devils event…will be in house. It’s Fan Appreciation Day, and for a lovely gift you’ll get a Michael Swift bobblehead doll. Yes we know he’s a Worcester Shark now but keep in mind we voted on this in November before a trade was even thought of.

Albany-Adirondack Pregame Notes #2

Before we go forward with the Devils-Phantoms rematch at the Glens Falls Civic Center, let’s look back at the previous matchup on Tuesday:

I was not in attendance due to work obligations, turned out I missed a lot. The Devils came flying out in the first period, scoring 3 goals in the first 5 minutes on Phantoms goalie Johan Backlund. Recent Trenton callup Ryan Ginand scored 29 seconds in, followed by Brad Mills and Adam Henrique (on the power play) within a minute of each other. Newest Phantom Matt Read scored his second since joining the team last week to get the Phantoms on the board. Second period, things started to get interesting. Thirteen seconds into the period (saw the replay on TV) Tom Sestito trips Jeff Frazee behind the net. Nathan Perkovich jumps in and the two go a round. That was just the beginning for Tim’s evil big little brother. New Devil Joe Sova scored his first goal on the ensuing power play to spot a 4-1 lead for the hosts. Another Phantom rookie, Harry Zolnierczyk, scored his 3rd to cut the deficit to 4-2. Then halfway through the period the gloves came off literally. Pierre-Luc Leblond tried to goad Sestito into fighting to no avail, he got a double minor and 10 minutes for his efforts. About a minute later, M.A. Bourdon and Chris Murray get into it, during the skirmish Sestito could be seen pummeling Darcy Zajac to the ice (as my friend Reid would say, he was beating him like Darcy owed him money). For that, he got an instigator, fighting, 10 minute and a game misconduct. Incase you’re keeping score, that would be 34 minutes total. After peace was finally restored, it was back to action. The Devils tacked on two more goals in the 3rd (Brad Mills scored his 2nd and Nathan Perkovich added one), holding on to a 6-2 victory and taking the lead in the Time Warner Cable Cup run (more on that in a minute).

Now looking ahead to tonight:

-Season: This is meeting #11 of 12 between the two teams, with the Devils holding a 6-4 lead. They can clinch the Time Warner Cable Cup for the second straight year with a victory tonight or in the final meeting in Glens Falls on April 6th.

-Standings: The Phantoms stand in 8th place in the East Division with a record of 26-37-4-6 and 62 points, 5 points behind Albany. The Devils are in 7th with a 31-37-1-4 mark and 67 points, 2 points behind 6th place Syracuse.

Game time: 7:30 PM. Also Day 2 of my self-declared 9 Days of Devils event, I will be tweeting from the Civic Center in my $10 seat thanks to a Time Warner Cable promotion. The game is also being televised on TWC Sports (and yes the DVR is set).