A two game road trip up north for the Devils didn’t turn out the way anyone had hoped. Only one goal scored over the entire trip…and a lot of frustration (well in one game anyway). Let’s look back at the last two days:
12/9 at Rochester: 3-0 L
The road trip began Friday night with a rematch against the Amerks, a team Albany defeated last Sunday at home. It looked like a goaltending duel between Jeff Frazee and Drew MacIntyre at first, then the Amerks scored twice late in the first period to snag a 2-0 lead, despite being outshot by the visitors 12-6. Second period Rochester took over, scoring another power play goal (2nd of the night) and outshooting Albany 17-10. But the Devils didn’t give up…if not for the play of MacIntyre this game may have ended up quite differently. Third period the Devils threw everything they could at the net but could not get anything across. The defense stepped up, albeit a little late…only allowing Rochester 1 shot the entire period. MacIntyre became the first goaltender to shutout the Devils this season, stopping all 40 shots. Frazee did well in defeat, saving 21 of 24, but there was just no offensive support.
12/10 at Toronto: 4-1 L
Quick turnaround for the Devils, as they bussed north of the border overnight to Toronto for an afternoon tilt against a team with only 1 regulation home loss all season, the Marlies. Not a bad goaltending matchup either, a battle of ECAC alums: Keith Kinkaid (Union) and Ben Scrivens (Cornell). First half of the period was all Devils…they outshot Toronto 10-1, but once again had issues actually getting one in the net. Then penalty trouble and frustrations cost the Devils big time. Josh Engel scored on a power play for the Marlies first goal, then an ill timed fight between Myles Stoesz and Kyle Neuber gave the Marlies another power play chance. Right after Stoesz was given an instigator and a game misconduct, Nazem Kadri scored just 15 seconds into the man advantage for a 2-0 lead. Right after that goal, suddenly Brad Mills disappeared from the bench. He had argued with referee Geno Binda about a missed call right at the time the goal went in, and he too was out of the game with a misconduct. Nothing across during the second period, despite the Devils outshooting Toronto 9-5 and having 3 power play opportunities. Toronto scored shorthanded on a breakaway early in the third for a 3-0 cushion, then finally Albany broke their scoreless streak. Darcy Zajac scored the first goal in 113:40 (dating back to Sunday’s empty netter) with under 7 minutes left to bring it back to 3-1. But Toronto held on for a 4-1 win after a late Luca Caputi tally. The only positive was the shots on goal…again Albany outshot their opponent, this time 27-25. The chances are definitely there, but they’re having issues actually getting one in the net.
A few roster changes and injuries have shaken up the roster just a bit this week.
-Friday morning New Jersey recalled two defensemen, Matt Taormina and Alexander Urbom, to fill in for Andy Greene (out a month with a toe injury) and Anton Volchenkov (day to day). Both played yesterday in the Devils 2-1 loss to Montreal. Mike Banwell was recalled from Trenton and played in both weekend games.
-After sitting out 2 games, Dan Kelly returned to the lineup sporting a full face shield…turned out he suffered a broken nose Friday night in his fight with Bridgeport’s Brett Gallant. He did have a slight shiner at the Devils Booster Club Holiday Party Tuesday night.
-On the injury front: Jay Leach and Matt Corrente are still out, although Leach seems the closest to returning to the lineup. Now there are 3 forwards out: Stephen Gionta (injured during Sunday’s home win), Vladimir Zharkov (unknown) and Steve Bernier (possible broken thumb…he was not at the Holiday Party so I can’t confirm that for sure).
3 games in 4 days this week, but all at home. Wednesday night Syracuse makes their first of 5 visits here this season. Friday night the Devils will entertain Worcester in the second of 4 meetings between the former division rivals (from the days in Lowell…seems so long ago now). Then Saturday comes a divisional matchup with Springfield. Hopefully the comforts of home (and a 9 game home point streak going back to October 22nd) will get the boys back on track after an unsuccessful northern swing.