A Little Bit of Everything

We have reached the first quarter-pole of the 2011-12 season. So far I have seen a variety of ups and downs from this Devils team: the struggles out of the gate, soaring to first place in a tight division for example. The latest 3 in 3 over Thanksgiving weekend saw a lot of ups and downs and showed the guys won’t quit. Let’s look back at the weekend that was:

11/25 at Rochester: 4-2 L

The second game of the road trip took the Devils out west on the Thruway for the first of 4 matchups with the Amerks. Things got off on the right foot for the visitors with an early Alexander Urbom goal (his first of the season). Rochester would tie it up on the power play late in the period. Following last week’s back and forth theme, Darcy Zajac gave the visitors the lead back 6 minutes into the second period. But that was all for the offense as the Amerks took over after that. Jacob Lagace tied it up at 2 with less than 3 minutes left in the period, then Colin Stuart and Derek Whitmore added goals in the 3rd. Jeff Frazee made 30 saves in a losing effort, including a penalty shot in the 3rd period from Rochester’s Matt Mackenzie.

11/26 at Adirondack: 4-3 L (OT)

Saturday came Game 2 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series (the Sestito Cup will have to go on the backburner until Tim comes back from New Jersey), the first of 5 visits to the Glens Falls Civic Center this season. And for the first time since the River Rat days (dare I say back to the Red Wings days? You know, in the 90’s when hockey like this mattered in the Capital Region), we had ourselves a good old fashioned back and forth battle. The festivities got started just 6 seconds into the game, when Darcy Zajac and Ben Holmstrom just went at it right after the puck drop. Then Garrett Roe scores 49 seconds after that to give the hosts an early advantage. The story of the period was the Devils penalty kill, who despite being near the bottom of the league, successfully killed off 2 5-on-3 advantages (a combined 3:19). Albany tied things up just as the second period got underway on Stephane Veilleux’s first goal of the season (in his first game back since the end of October). Keith Kinkaid settled down quite nicely after being rattled during the first minute of the game (he took an unsportsmanlike conduct after allowing the first Adirondack goal; did not see what he did to warrant a penalty), stopping all 11 Phantoms shots in the period. Adirondack took the lead back on the first short handed goal allowed by the Devils this season, off a Jon Kalinski breakaway (the second one of the game; first time Kinkaid stopped him, this time the puck just went over the line). Brayden Schenn added what looked like a sure insurance goal 3 minutes later. But the Devils were not done just yet. After tempers flared and another Darcy Zajac fight (this time Matt Walker was on the receiving end), Joe Whitney brought the visitors back within one. Then Nick Palmieri, playing his second game since being sent down from New Jersey, tied it up with 2 and a half minutes remaining, silencing the crowd (good, they were annoying me with their go home chants). The game went to overtime…but no completed comeback, Jon Kalinski got his second of the game 1:01 into the extra frame giving the Phantoms a 3-2 win and a 1-1 tie in the season series. Kinkaid made 25 saves in a losing effort.

11/27 at Springfield: 3-2 W

For the last road stop, the Devils traveled east on the Mass Pike for another divisional battle, this one against the Falcons. Ryan Garlock gave the hosts the lead 5 minutes into the game, then the Devils tied it up on a power play tally by Steve Zalewski just 7 seconds into the man advantage. Stephane Veilleux scored his second in as many games with just over 2 minutes left in the period to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. Matt Anderson had a chance at a 2 goal cushion when he was awarded a penalty shot, but the puck went just over the top crossbar. That was basically it for the offense on either side, as both Keith Kinkaid and veteran Manny Legace settled in. The real fun began late in the third period…first Stephen Gionta scores into an empty net for a 2 goal lead. Little did we know how important that goal was…Matt Calvert scores with 50 seconds left on the clock to bring the Falcons back within one. After a Springfield timeout and a few tense moments, the Devils held on for the 3-2 win. Kinkaid stopped 36 of 38 shots and earned #1 star honors.


Several roster moves this week:

-Eric Boulton was sent to Albany on Tuesday to start a conditioning assignment. He appeared in two games without registering any points. He was recalled to New Jersey this morning.

-Tim Sestito (on Wednesday) and Alexander Urbom (today) were also recalled to the parent club. Urbom is up as an extra defenseman incase Andy Greene is unable to go during the upcoming western road swing (Colorado, Minnesota, Winnipeg).

-J.S. Berube was assigned to Trenton (ECHL) on Wednesday.

-Nick Palmieri was sent down to Albany on Thursday.

-On the injury front, Stephane Veilleux, Mike Hoeffel, and Stephen Gionta all returned to the lineup over the weekend. Only Jay Leach and Matt Corrente remain out.

Looking Ahead:

Another 3 in 3 weekend to kick off the month of December. Friday night the Devils start a home and home series with Bridgeport, with Friday night in Albany and Saturday night in southern Connecticut. Then the Devils return home on Sunday afternoon for a matchup with Rochester. With the division standings still very tight-just 5 points separate the first and last place teams, with teams 2-4 just one point apart-Friday and Saturday are huge games.


Game #20: Albany at Springfield

Location: Mass Mutual Center, Springfield, MA. Time: 3:00 PM.

Season Series:

Springfield leads 1-0.


Albany, 9-7-2-1, 21 points, 4th place in Northeast Division; Springfield, 10-9-0-0, 20 points, 5th place in Northeast Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 11 points (6 G, 5 A); Matt Anderson, 10 points (4 G, 7 A); Steve Zalewski, 10 points (3 G, 7 A)

Springfield: Martin St. Pierre, 21 points (5 G, 16 A); Nick Drazenovic, 20 points (5 G, 15 A); Cam Atkinson, 14 points (9 G, 5 A)


Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 5-4-0, 2.61 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 3-5-1, 3.20 GAA

Springfield: Manny Legace, 3-4-0, 2.48 GAA; Danny Taylor, 5-3-0, 2.58 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany), WHYN AM 560 (Springfield)

Twitter: myself or @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @TheFalconsAHL, @MikeFalconsAHL, @KatyLovesHockey (Springfield)

Game #19: Albany at Adirondack

Location: Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, NY. Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 1-0.


Albany, 9-7-1-1, 20 points, tied for 4th in Northeast Division; Adirondack, 10-7-0-1, 21 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 10 points (5 G, 5 A); Matt Anderson, 10 points (4 G, 6 A); Steve Zalewski, 9 points (3 G, 6 A)

Adirondack: Denis Hamel, 16 points (9 G, 7 A); Jason Akeson, 15 points (5 G, 10 A); Tom Sestito, 12 points (7 G, 5 A)


Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 5-3-0, 2.45 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 3-5-1, 3.20 GAA

Adirondack: Michael Leighton, 7-5-0, 2.48 GAA; Jason Bacashihua, 3-2-1, 3.37 GAA; Johan Backlund, 0-0-0, 0.00 GAA


Time Warner Cable Cup Game #2; Love For Lokomotiv bracelets available for purchase.

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany), Q101.7 FM (Adirondack)

Twitter: myself or @AlbanyDevils (Albany), @PhantomsHockey, @PSPhantoms (Adirondack)

Game #18: Albany at Rochester

Location: Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, NY. Time: 7:35 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting. Future matchups: December 4th @ Albany; December 9th @ Rochester; March 28th @ Albany


Albany, 9-6-1-1, 20 points, tied for 2nd in Northeast Division; Rochester, 8-7-2-1, 19 points, 2nd place in North Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 10 points (5 G, 5 A); Matt Anderson, 10 points (4 G, 6 A); Steve Zalewski, 9 points (3 G, 6 A)

Rochester: Colin Stuart, 13 points (6 G, 7 A); Derek Whitmore, 11 points (5 G, 6 A); Brayden McNabb, 10 points (1 G, 9 A)


Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 5-3-0, 2.45 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 3-4-1, 3.10 GAA

Rochester: Drew Macintyre, 3-4-1, 2.74 GAA; David Leggio, 5-4-0, 2.96 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany), WHTK 1280 AM (Rochester)

Twitter: myself or @AlbanyDevils (Albany), @AmerksHockey (Rochester)

Thanksgiving Eve Notes (PM Update)

Look, a mid week entry that’s not a preview! Haven’t done one of these in awhile, but since there’s some actual news to report, here we go:

-Yesterday New Jersey assigned forward Eric Boulton to Albany for conditioning. He has been out of the lineup since October 21st with a hand injury (of course sustained in a fight). The plan is for him to play all three weekend games, but can remain here for up to 2 weeks.

-In a move that I’m very curious about (and a few others on my Twitter feed are as well), Tim Sestito was recalled this morning to New Jersey. At first I figured it was just incase either Ilya Kovalchuk or Anton Volchenkov couldn’t go after being hurt on Monday night in Florida, but per both the Star Ledger and the Record, all three were practicing this morning. And per a Lou Lamoriello press conference, Sestito will play tonight against the Blue Jackets. We’ll see how that works out, especially with the number of extra forwards already on the roster (Nick Palmieri sat out Monday night to get Rod Pelley a chance in the lineup).

-(UPDATE, 4:45 PM) Forward J.S. Berube has been loaned to Trenton of the ECHL. He only appeared in 8 games, posting 1 assist. Berube had been trading places with Myles Stoesz as the extra forward over the past several games.

And before I go…Happy Thanksgiving! You know, the one holiday between Halloween and Christmas retail has forgotten about (coming from a girl who has heard at least one Christmas song a day since November 1st…sorry can’t get in the holiday spirit when there are still leaves on the trees by my house)…

A First Time For Everything…

A very light schedule for the Devils this week–just one game, and a daunting one…a road tilt at the Giant Center in Hershey against the Bears. I said this would be a big test to see if this recent string of success was for real or just luck. After last night, I am definitely convinced it’s for real. Now to look back at last night:

11/19 at Hershey: 6-5 W (SO)

The best way to describe this game? Back and forth. It didn’t exactly start out that way though…on an early power play opportunity Graham Mink put the Bears up early, then about halfway through the first Dmitry Orlov launched a bomb from the red line that starting goalie Keith Kinkaid basically never saw coming. Usually with a 2-0 deficit, the Bears usually shut it down and take it from there. Not on this night…after a quick bout between Myles Stoesz and former Rat Joel Rechlicz, the Devils started to come alive. Nathan Perkovich put the visitors on the board with his third goal in 3 games with less than 5 minutes in the period, then as time started running out in the period Hershey goalie Braden Holtby committed the equivalent of a baseball error and Darcy Zajac capitalized on the opportunity, banging the puck into an open net and tying the game at 2 all. Albany did outshoot Hershey 16-8 in the first. Second period came more fisticuffs…first being Myles Stoesz’s redemption bout against the newest Bear D.J. King (sent down by the Capitals), then a questionable hit turned into Dan Kelly dominating Graham Mink. On the ensuing power play (Mink got an extra 2 minutes for slashing which lead to the fight), rookie Eric Gelinas gave the Devils a 3-2 lead. Then the ping pong match really got started…with Gelinas in the box, Chris Bourque scored on the ensuing power play to retie it at 3. Early in the 3rd period the Devils took the lead back again on a Steve Bernier goal, but just over 2 minutes later with Peter Harrold in the box Graham Mink reties it at 4. Less than 3 minutes later, Tim Sestito scored his second of the season to give the Devils the lead back (again), but of course the Bears answered that a short time later when Boyd Kane retied it at 5. I likened this game to the Giants-Patriots game in New England 2 weeks ago, when the 4th quarter was so up and down it was hard to keep up. The game went into overtime, where the Devils penalty kill finally came up big, killing off a Steve Bernier tripping call (not a good PK night with the Bears going 3 for 5 with a man advantage). In the ensuing shootout, Mike Sislo, Matt Anderson and Steve Bernier all scored on Holtby, while Kinkaid only allowed former Rat Jacob Micflikier to score, giving the Devils a 6-5 win. It was the first ever win in Hershey for this version of the Devils (last franchise win was way back in March 2009 as Lowell), and the first time I can remember any Albany team (including the River Rat days) winning in Hershey in quite some time. It may not have been pretty, especially after how well the team did last weekend, but a win is a win regardless.


-The victory pushed the Devils back into a first place tie with Springfield (being idle Friday night slid them back to second place) going into this week. The Northeast Division, looked at by several as probably the weakest division in the AHL, is actually the tightest standings-wise, with all 5 teams (who all have a winning percentage over .500 by the way) separated by just 2 points.

-Forward Bryan Haczyk was recalled from Kalamazoo Sunday before the Devils home game against Toronto. He wound up as a healthy scratch and went right back to the K-Wings on Tuesday.

-On Thursday, New Jersey sent down Vladimir Zharkov after Ilya Kovalchuk returned from his leg injury. He appeared in 4 games and did not register a point.

-Injury update: Stephen Gionta, Jay Leach, Stephane Veilleux, Mike Hoeffel and Matt Corrente remain out with assorted upper and lower body injuries. I believe Hoeffel and Gionta are the closest to returning, no time table has been given for the others.

Looking Ahead:

Another 3 in 3 weekend looms on the road for the Devils. Friday night they travel west to Rochester for the first of 4 meetings with the Amerks. Saturday night is Game 2 of the Time Warner Cable (or as I’ll call it, Sestito) Cup in Glens Falls against the Phantoms, followed by a Sunday afternoon tilt in Springfield against the Falcons. With 2 big divisional games this weekend, it could be huge for the standings.

Game #17: Albany at Hershey

Location: Giant Center, Hershey, PA. Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Hershey leads 1-0.


Albany, 8-6-1-1, 18 points, tied for 2nd in Northeast Division; Hershey, 7-4-3-1, 18 points, 3rd place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 10 points (5 G, 5 A); Matt Anderson, 9 points (4 G, 5 A); 2 tied with 8 points each

Hershey: Keith Aucoin, 20 points (4 G, 16 A); Jacob Micflikier, 17 points (8 G, 9 A); Chris Bourque, 17 points (7 G, 10 A)


Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 4-3-0, 2.12 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 3-4-1, 3.10 GAA

Hershey: Braden Holtby, 4-4-0, 2.55 GAA; Dany Sabourin, 3-3-1, 2.96 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany), 1460 AM The Ticket (Hershey)

Twitter: myself or @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @TheHersheyBears, @ScottStuccio, @timleone (Hershey)

The View From The Top

Another pretty successful weekend in the books for the Devils. For the second week in a row, they snagged 5 out of a possible 6 points and played strong hockey to boot. Time to rewind…

11/11 vs. Norfolk: 2-1 W

The Admirals came calling for the second Friday in a row, and it was yet another goaltending/defensive battle. And unlike last week, the scoring came early. Late in the first period, Stephen Gionta and Matt Taormina scored 1:16 apart on goaltender Jaroslav Janus to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Keith Kinkaid turned in another outstanding effort, stopping 24 of 25 shots (the only blemish courtesy of a Cory Conacher power play goal with just under 4 minutes left in the second period). Unlike last week where only one penalty was called the entire evening (thank you Jeff Smith), this matchup was, shall we say, a little more chippy. Quite a few incidents of pushing and shoving at the net, at the bench, in the corner…but only one outright fight, a good bout between Darcy Zajac and Radko Gudas (just out of the box for an interference call after a pileup in the corner). Kinkaid was even getting a little feisty towards the end of the game…but he kept his gloves on.

11/12 at Syracuse: 1-0 W

For only the fourth time this season, the Devils hit the road, heading west on the Thruway for the first of 10 matchups against the Crunch. At the last minute I decided to make the trip out there…and I am very glad that I did. The story of the night was the goaltenders duel between Jeff Frazee (I was a little surprised to see him start to be honest, especially after Kinkaid’s performance the night before) and Crunch rookie Iiro Tarkki. Very quiet first period, only one penalty called and Albany outshot their hosts 9-5. Second period was all Albany, as they outshot Syracuse 20-8 and figured out how to get one past Tarkki. Nathan Perkovich scored his first of the year on a power play with about 9 minutes left in the second period. And Frazee made it stand up, as he stopped all 20 shots en route to his first shutout of the season. But Tarkki was no slouch in defeat either…he stopped 36 of 37 shots, some of the acrobatic variety. He was actually awarded the #1 star of the game despite taking the loss.

11/13 vs. Toronto: 4-3 L (OT)

For the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Marlies visited the Times Union Center. Unlike the last two days, the Devils got off on the wrong foot on this one. Toronto took an early 1-0 lead on a power play goal by Ryan Hamilton. The rest of the period was filled with some chippiness and a few missed calls by Jamie Koharski (stop me if you’ve heard that story before). Second period the Devils picked up the pace…Steve Bernier scored his second goal of the season (both shorthanded by the way, the only two Devil SHG scored so far) to tie it up at 1. Hamilton scored his second of the day less than 2 minutes later to give the visitors the lead right back. About 3 missed Koharski calls later (I tweeted Toronto must have paid him off with Tim Hortons), Nathan Perkovich scored his second goal in as many days to retie the game. Less than 3 minutes later Matt Anderson gave the Devils a 3-2 lead going into second intermission. Third period the Marlies retied the game on a Marcel Mueller goal…and Koharski missed more calls. The Devils couldn’t take the lead back, sending the game into overtime. 2 minutes into the extra session, prospect Nazem Kadri took advantage of a defensive turnover, took off on a breakaway, and banged it past Keith Kinkaid (who had another solid outing in stopping 31 of 35 shots) to give Toronto the OT victory. However, with the point earned for the overtime loss, and with Adirondack being idle and Connecticut losing in regulation to St. John’s, the Devils claimed sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division. I don’t think I can remember the last time an Albany team held on to first place…but trust me I am definitely not complaining.


-Friday morning Vladimir Zharkov was recalled to New Jersey to fill in for Ilya Kovalchuk, out with a leg injury. With the goaltending situation returned to normal, Maxime Clermont was sent back to Kalamazoo.

-Tim Sestito returned to the lineup on Saturday after finishing up his 5 game suspension. And so far he’s behaving, only one minor penalty in 2 games.

-The defensive corps has taken a slight injury hit…Jay Leach sat out the weekend with an undisclosed injury, and now Matt Corrente is out with a shoulder injury. This finally gave rookie Brandon Burlon some playing time, he appeared in all 3 games and didn’t miss a step. Stephane Veilleux and Mike Hoeffel remain out of the lineup.

Looking Ahead:

After so many home games to start out, the Devils hit the road for the next 4 games. But only 1 game on the schedule this week, a Saturday night matchup in Hershey against the Bears. This game will be a big test to see how far this team has come from its early struggles. If they can continue their strong defensive play of late, this could make for a very good night.

Game #16: Albany vs. Toronto

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY. Time: 4:00 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting. Future matchup: December 10th @ Toronto


Albany, 8-6-0-1, 17 points, tied for 1st place in Northeast Division; Toronto, 6-5-2-1, 15 points, 2nd place in North Division

Leading Scorers:

Toronto: Joe Colborne, 19 points (10 G, 9 A); Mike Zigomanis, 14 points (3 G, 11 A); Marcel Mueller, 9 points (1 G, 8 A)

Albany: Joe Whitney, 10 points (5 G, 5 A); 3 players tied with 8 points each


Toronto: Jussi Rynnas, 1-5-0, 3.50 GAA; Mark Owuya, 1-1-1, 1.52 GAA

Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 4-2-0, 1.82 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 3-4-1, 3.10 GAA


Post game autograph session with the team on the concourse; post game public skate.

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany), AM 640 (Toronto)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany), @TorontoMarlies, @chansler (Toronto)

Game #15: Albany at Syracuse

Location: Onondaga County War Memorial, Syracuse, NY. Time: 7:30 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting. Future matchups: December 14th & January 14th @ Albany; February 11th @ Syracuse; February 15th @ Albany; February 24th @ Syracuse; March 4th @ Albany; March 9th & 11th @ Syracuse; April 15th @ Albany


Albany, 7-6-0-1, 15 points, tied for 2nd place in Northeast Division; Syracuse, 6-3-2-1, 15 points, 3rd place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 10 points (5 G, 5 A); Matt Corrente, 8 points (2 G, 6 A); 2 tied with 7 points each

Syracuse: Patrick Maroon, 15 points (6 G, 9 A); Dan Sexton, 14 points (4 G, 10 A); Kyle Palmieri, 12 points (9 G, 3 A)


Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 4-2-0, 1.82 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 2-4-1, 3.54 GAA

Syracuse: Iiro Tarkki, 3-2-1, 2.40 GAA; Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, 3-3-0, 4.70 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany), The Score 1260 AM (Syracuse)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @SyracuseCrunch, @PSCrunchHockey (Syracuse)