First of all…happy Mother’s Day to all the moms (and in my case, pet owners) out there! Thinking of my own mom who is no longer with us (my 11th Mother’s Day without her) and also my grandmother who I only got to know for 7 years.
Meanwhile time for a weekly update. I am hearing rumors of another college draft pick possibly signing with the Devils (and possibly a member of next year’s team), Brandon Burlon. He just completed his junior year at Michigan, and from what I’ve read has pretty good offensive stats for a defenseman (something Albany could definitely use…Alexander Urbom seemed to be the only member of the D corps that had a regular offensive contribution this season). Nothing has been made official, so stay tuned on that one.
I’ve been paying close attention to the AHL playoffs more than the NHL lately, and what I’ve been hearing is probably some of the best hockey ever. For obvious reasons I’ve been keeping an eye on the Checkers playoff run, which has been basically nothing short of magical. After defeating Hershey in 6 first round games (and everyone here is still celebrating about that after last year), the league leaders in Wilkes-Barre were next. I did not know what to expect out of this series given the Penguins record against Charlotte in the regular season (I was on hand for the Checkers only win against in January, a 9-5 thrashing at the end of a 3-in-3 weekend for the Penguins). Then Mike Murphy and Brad Thiessen started a goaltending duel for the ages. Neither team scored more than 4 goals in a game and three shutouts were pitched so to speak, 2 by Thiessen and 1 by Murphy. Thiessen’s second shutout of the series came in Game 5 with the Pens on the brink, setting the stage for a memorable Game 6 back in Wilkes-Barre Township. By all accounts, by early in the third period with the Pens holding down a 3-0 lead and Thiessen being his usual brick wall self, all signs pointed to a Game 7 showdown on Monday night. An hour and 4 unanswered goals later, it was over. Charlotte had pulled off the unthinkable, scoring 4 times in a span of 9:18 (similar to the two comebacks Albany had staged during the season against Worcester and Bridgeport) to eliminate the Penguins and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals. Their opponent is fellow East Division rival Binghamton, who eliminated the entire Atlantic Division with a 7 game win over Manchester and a 6 game win over Portland. Should make for an interesting series with both teams carrying a lot of offensive weapons and brick walls for goalies (Robin Lehner has come up big since replacing Barry Brust…he’s known for more than calling Adirondack fans idiots). I am hoping to go to Game 5 on the 21st in Binghamton to check it out, my first late year AHL playoff game in 13 years (I went to a ECF game between Albany and Philadelphia…only thing I remember from that night was the Phantoms goading Rat leading scorer Brendan Morrison into a spearing match penalty. Well it’s kind of hard to move when there’s 4 guys all over you in the corner the stick had to go somewhere). The Western Conference Finals could be determined as early as tonight, with Houston and Manitoba holding 3-2 series leads.
Otherwise…40 more days till the Valleycats begin…looking forward to the MLB Draft in a few weeks and trying to figure out who may be coming here for the summer. Don’t be too surprised if there’s a lot of baseball updates mixed in over the summer along with whatever breaking Devil stories pop up. It’ll basically fill the void till fall.