First Half By The Numbers

Monday marked the official halfway point of the Devils 2011-12 schedule. And I must say, things aren’t looking too bad from here. Albany currently is in a 3 way tie with Adirondack and Bridgeport for second place in the division, and only two points behind first place Connecticut. Before the second half kicks off on Wednesday, how about some stats?

Record: 17-13-5-3. Tied for 2nd place in the Northeast Division, 9th place in Eastern Conference (same point total as 8th place Adirondack, but the Phantoms have 3 more wins), tied for 12th overall

Home: 10-5-3-3
Road: 7-8-2-0

Team Leaders:

Goals: Steve Zalewski, 9
Assists: Matt Anderson, 15
Points: Matt Anderson, 22
+/-: Mike Sislo, +8
Penalty Minutes: Tim Sestito, 60
Power Play Goals: Eric Gelinas, 4
Power Play Assists: Matt Anderson, 7
Short Handed Goals: Steve Bernier, 2
Short Handed Assists: 2 players tied with 2
Game Winning Goals: 4 players tied with 2
Shots: Joe Whitney, 90

Wins: Keith Kinkaid, 9
GAA: Jeff Frazee, 2.69
Shutouts: Keith Kinkaid, 2
Save Pct.: Jeff Frazee, .900

Team Stats (with league rankings):

Home Attendance: 2,993 (30th)
Penalty Minutes Avg.: 17.38 (11th)
Power Play: 13.4% (28th)
Penalty Kill: 77.5% (28th)
Goals For: 95, 2.50/game (26th)
Goals Against: 116, 3.05/game (tied for 24th)
Shots For: 30.92 (11th)
Shots Against: 28.71 (9th)

Second half of the schedule begins tomorrow against Norfolk, followed by two huge road divisional games (Adirondack and Springfield) to close the week out. Time to step it up.

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Game #38: Albany vs. Adirondack

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY. Time: 2:00 PM.

Season Series:

Adirondack leads 2-1.

Standings:

Adirondack, 20-15-1-1, 42 points, tied for 2nd place in Northeast Division; Albany, 16-13-5-3, 40 points, 4th place in Northeast Division

Leading Scorers:

Adirondack: Jason Akeson, 29 points (9 G, 20 A); Denis Hamel, 27 points (14 G, 13 A); Ben Holmstrom, 21 points (11 G, 10 A)

Albany: Matt Anderson, 21 points (6 G, 15 A); Joe Whitney, 19 points (8 G, 11 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 18 points (6 G, 12 A)

Goaltending:

Adirondack: Michael Leighton, 14-12-0, 2.55 GAA; Jason Bacashihua, 6-4-1, 3.14 GAA

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 6-8-2, 2.67 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 9-10-1, 2.92 GAA

Miscellaneous:

Time Warner Cable Cup Game #4; Post game autographs on the concourse

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); WNYQ 101.7 FM (Adirondack)

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

Point Crunch

It was a quiet week here in Albany…well, game wise anyway. One game, but a few roster moves since last week. Let’s take a look at last night’s fun…

1/14 vs. Syracuse: 3-2 L (SO)

The Devils played their first home game in 2 weeks (and the first in 2012), hosting the Crunch for the second time this season (and third matchup overall). The atmosphere last night was something we haven’t seen here in quite awhile…thanks to GE Kids in Free Night, a Albany Devil record crowd was in house, over 6200 in the stands. And there were a few special furry guests in the building to celebrate Devil Dawg’s birthday: N.J. Devil (New Jersey’s mascot…obviously), Southpaw from the Valleycats (local baseball…and my summer distraction), and Finz (Worcester’s mascot). The Devils were plagued by another slow first period start, only registering 2 shots on goal. But Keith Kinkaid held the Crunch in check, stopping all 9 shots he faced. Second period things started picking up on both sides. Nathan Perkovich opened the scoring about 7 minutes into the period, only to have the Crunch’s John Kurtz answer with a goal of his own barely 40 seconds later. Brandon McMillan gave the Crunch a 2-1 advantage about a minute and a half later. Perkovich retied the game with his second goal of the night with 3 and a half minutes left in the period (Mike Banwell assisted on both goals, by the way). Nothing across during the third period, mostly in large part to Kinkaid coming up big with several acrobatic saves, or during overtime as well. Then came the bonus round…when the Crunch finally found a way to get the puck past Kinkaid. Four out of five Crunch shooters scored, while only 3 Devils (Mike Sislo, Jacob Josefson, Joe Whitney) scored on Crunch netminder Marco Cousineau, giving the Crunch a 3-2 shootout win. Despite the loss, I felt the team did very well…perfect penalty kill (4 for 4), another night of outshooting their opponent (35-31), and Kinkaid had another solid outing despite taking the loss.

Notes:

-Two roster moves this week: Tim Sestito cleared waivers on Tuesday and was reassigned to Albany, along with forward Jacob Josefson, who is on the comeback trail after suffering a broken clavicle on October 21st. Sestito played in 18 games and didn’t register a point. I believe Josefson is just down for conditioning for at least the next week, but it could vary depending on New Jersey’s needs (Travis Zajac is back on injured reserve and Adam Henrique missed yesterday due to a slight injury, leaving only 3 healthy centers on the roster).

-Injury front: no changes from last week, Jay Leach, Matt Corrente and Steve Bernier remain out. Chad Wiseman may return to the lineup shortly from a lower body injury and some paternity leave time…he returned home to Canada while the team was in Norfolk for the birth of his first child, a baby boy.

Looking Ahead:

A very busy week ahead, 4 games on tap. The homestand continues Monday afternoon with a special holiday game against Adirondack (and the resumption of the Sestito…I mean Time Warner Cable Cup), followed by a visit from Norfolk on Wednesday night. Two road games to close out the week, but the Devils won’t be going far: Friday night it’s up the Northway to Glens Falls to face the Phantoms, then Saturday a trip east on the Mass Pike to Springfield to square off against the Falcons. Three out of four divisional matchups coming, and with 5 points separating all 5 teams in the division, it’s a critical week to gain some standings ground.

Game #37: Albany vs. Syracuse

Location: Times Union Center, Albany, NY. Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Tied at 1.

Standings:

Syracuse, 16-15-3-1, 36 points, 4th place in East Division; Albany, 16-13-5-2, 39 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Leading Scorers:

Syracuse: Patrick Maroon, 38 points (16 G, 22 A); Peter Holland, 27 points (12 G, 15 A); Dan Sexton, 22 points (5 G, 17 A)

Albany: Matt Anderson, 21 points (6 G, 15 A); Joe Whitney, 19 points (8 G, 11 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 18 points (6 G, 12 A)

Goaltending:

Syracuse: Iiro Tarkki, 9-11-1, 2.85 GAA; Marco Cousineau, 1-0-0, 2.00 GAA

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 6-8-2, 2.67 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 9-10-0, 2.98 GAA

Miscellaneous:

GE Kids in Free (all children 12 and under free w/adult admission), first 1,000 kids receive free T-shirt; Devil Dawg’s Birthday

Following Along?

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

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

Virginia Is For Sweeps.

The semi annual Norfolk swing. The one weekend trip that used to make me nervous even going back to the River Rats days. Usually a Albany team would go down there and it would not be a pretty sight. That was not the case this weekend as the Devils made the first of 2 2-day visits to the Scope in Norfolk to take on the Admirals. It took a miracle and righting the ship, but the Devils got all 4 points and jumped back over the Phantoms into 2nd place in the division. Time to rewind:

1/6 Game 1: 5-4 W (OT)

Jeff Frazee was back between the pipes in his first appearance since getting hurt December 19th in Wilkes-Barre. Much like last week, the Devils came out flat and dug themselves into a hole in the first period. All-Star Mark Barberio and Carter Ashton scored for a 2-0 advantage, despite the Devils outshooting Norfolk 13-12. Second period, more of the same…Trevor Smith (on a power play) and recently demoted Evan Oberg padded the Norfolk lead to 4. At this point I’m thinking, this game is pretty much in the books, same problems as last week, put in Kinkaid, etc. But something must have happened during second intermission to awaken the team…and what happened next was something, shall we say, epic? It started out normally enough…Nick Palmieri broke up Dustin Tokarski’s shutout about 8 minutes in to make it 4-1. Okay, no big thing there. Then Mike Hoeffel and Matt Anderson scored 53 seconds apart about 2 minutes later to make it 4-3. Now we have a game. It stayed 4-3 till less than a minute left, with Frazee pulled for an extra attacker, Eric Gelinas puts one past Tokarski with 25.7 seconds left to complete the comeback and tie it up at 4. On to overtime, where thanks to a Trevor Smith tripping call, the epic comeback was completed. Joe Whitney scored the winning goal with a minute and a half to go in the extra frame to give the Devils an improbable win, 5-4. Frazee settled down nicely after the first two, stopping 28 of 32 shots (9 for 9 in the 3rd and in overtime). Once again the Devils outshot the opponent, in this case 39-32.

1/7 Game 2: 3-1 W

A couple of lineup changes before the second game…Nick Palmieri was recalled to New Jersey after Anton Volchenkov was placed on IR. And a goalie switch on both sides, Keith Kinkaid vs. Jaroslav Janus. Things got off to an auspicious beginning when Stephane Veilleux was sent to the box before the puck even dropped, he was slashing rookie Cory Conacher as the teams lined up for the opening faceoff. That became the theme for the first period, as Norfolk was given 4 power plays during the first period, all successfully killed off by the Devils. But unlike the last few games, the Devils actually got out of the first period with a lead, as Eric Gelinas scored for the second straight night with less than 3 minutes to go in the period. Second period started out quite interesting…it was Cory Conacher’s turn to take a slashing call just 5 seconds into the period. And who ended up capitalizing with a power play goal as a result? Stephane Veilleux. Call it karma, call it fate…or just call it a 2-0 Devil advantage. J.S. Berube, in his second game since being recalled from Trenton, scored his first of the year with just over 9 minutes left for a 3-0 cushion after 2 periods. After the heroics of the night before (and Josh our radio broadcaster was thinking the same thing over the air), no one would outright say the game was over yet. Richard Panik did score on the power play about 8 minutes into the third to break up Kinkaid’s shutout bid, but that’s all. After a rough week last week, Kinkaid went back to what made him Player of the Week before the Christmas break. He stopped 28 of 29 shots, including a few that would have been trouble for sure.

Notes:

I pretty much covered all the roster movement earlier this week with the All Star post and noted earlier about Nick Palmieri’s recall yesterday, so let’s move on to the injury front:

Jay Leach and Matt Corrente remain out, timetable for return is unknown. Nathan Perkovich returned to the lineup on Friday after sitting out about a week. Chad Wiseman did not make the trip (lower body), and Steve Bernier is still out with a hand injury.

Looking Ahead:

A very quiet week ahead…only one game on the schedule, a Saturday night home game against Syracuse. And it may be a good crowd on hand, it’s the annual GE Kids in Free Night. The boys better rest up this week, because it’s a busy schedule the following week with 4 games. Now that it’s close to the halfway point and the All Star break, it’s time to build on this weekend and keep it going.

(and by the way…if you can figure out where I came up with the title…bonus points for you!)

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Announcement!

I upgraded my WordPress account and have a new address for the blog, so bookmark accordingly. You can now find me at http://thoughtsinsidethebox.com.

And in old news incase you haven’t noticed this week (I probably should have announced this last Sunday before confusing some of my followers), new Twitter handle as well, I am now @trace_1114.

Stay tuned for the weekend recap…

Game #36: Albany at Norfolk

Location: Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, VA. Time: 7:15 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 3-0.

Standings:

Albany, 15-13-5-2, 37 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Norfolk, 21-11-1-2, 45 points, tied for 1st in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Matt Anderson, 20 points (6 G, 14 A); Joe Whitney, 19 points (8 G, 11 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 18 points (6 G, 12 A)

Norfolk: Trevor Smith, 43 points (16 G, 27 A); Cory Conacher, 41 points (21 G, 20 A); Mark Barberio, 31 points (4 G, 27 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 6-8-2, 2.67 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 8-10-0, 3.09 GAA

Norfolk: Dustin Tokarski, 14-8-0, 2.45 GAA; Jaroslav Janus, 7-4-2, 3.04 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); 102.1 FM The Game (Norfolk)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @NorfolkAdmirals, @AdsGameUpdates (Norfolk)

Game #35: Albany at Norfolk

Location: Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, VA. Time: 7:30 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 2-0.

Standings:

Albany, 14-13-5-2, 35 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Norfolk, 21-11-0-2, 44 points, tied for 1st place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: 3 players tied with 18 points each.

Norfolk: Trevor Smith, 42 points (15 G, 27 A); Cory Conacher, 41 points (21 G, 20 A); Mark Barberio, 29 points (3 G, 26 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 5-8-2, 2.59 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 8-10-0, 3.09 GAA

Norfolk: Dustin Tokarski, 14-7-0, 2.33 GAA; Jaroslav Janus, 7-4-2, 3.04 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); 102.1 FM The Game (Norfolk)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @NorfolkAdmirals, @AdsGameUpdates (Norfolk)

Hey Now, You’re An All-Star…

(apologies if that song gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day…)

Before I get into the All Star rosters…the blog officially turned 1 yesterday! The one 2011 New Year resolution that I actually kept up with…thank you to the readership!

Okay now to the business at hand…about 2 hours ago the AHL announced the All Star rosters for both the Eastern and Western Conferences. Unlike recent years, the selections were not based on fan voting (that comes later, I’ll explain) but more or less on merit (my assumption anyway). Here they are:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Goaltenders
Michael Leighton (Adirondack)
Tyson Sexsmith (Worcester)
Jeff Zatkoff (Manchester)

Forwards
Cam Atkinson (Springfield)
Keith Aucoin (Hershey)
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (Connecticut)
Chris Bourque (Hershey)
Carter Camper (Providence)
Cory Conacher (Norfolk)
Boyd Kane (Hershey; captain)
Corey Locke (Binghamton)
Colin McDonald (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)
Andy Miele (Portland)
Kyle Palmieri (Syracuse)
Trevor Smith (Norfolk)
Mats Zuccarello (Connecticut)

Defensemen
Mark Barberio (Norfolk)
Calvin de Haan (Bridgeport)
Simon Despres (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)
Thomas Hickey (Manchester)
Matt Irwin (Worcester)
Paul Postma (St. John’s)
Zach Redmond (St. John’s)
Matt Taormina (Albany)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Goaltenders
Yann Danis (Oklahoma City)
Cedrick Desjardins (Lake Erie)
Matt Hackett (Houston)

Forwards
Joe Colborne (Toronto)
Philippe Cornet (Oklahoma City)
Jon DiSalvatore (Houston)
Matt Fraser (Texas)
Darren Haydar (Chicago; captain)
T.J. Hensick (Peoria)
Nazem Kadri (Toronto)
Krys Kolanos (Abbotsford)
Jon Matsumoto (Charlotte)
Chris Mueller (Milwaukee)
Gustav Nyquist (Grand Rapids)
Brandon Pirri (Rockford)
Jerome Samson (Charlotte)

Defensemen
Kevin Connauton (Chicago)
Ryan Ellis (Milwaukee)
Cade Fairchild (Peoria)
Brayden McNabb (Rochester)
Alex Plante (Oklahoma City)
Colby Robak (San Antonio)
Frederic St. Denis (Hamilton)
Clay Wilson (Abbotsford)

A little surprised to see Matt Taormina get the selection. Don’t get me wrong he was having a good season here before being recalled to New Jersey…I figured one of the top 3 scorers (Steve Zalewski, Matt Anderson or Joe Whitney) would be the one to get the nod.

Starting tomorrow through the 23rd, fans can go on the AHL website and place their votes for who should make the starting lineup on January 30th at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.

Now for some other news:

-Three roster moves to report:

On Monday goaltender Timo Pielmeier was reassigned to Elmira, which all but means Jeff Frazee is back from injury. I would assume he gets in over the weekend in Norfolk.

Today two forwards swapped roster spots…Myles Stoesz was loaned to Trenton, while J.S. Berube was recalled. Stoesz has been out of the lineup since his fight/suspension in Toronto December 10th. Berube last appeared on November 13th, then was sent to Trenton 10 days later.

Then just announced…Steve Zalewski was recalled to New Jersey. Travis Zajac is day to day with some Achilles soreness, my guess is he’ll be filling in till he returns. Definitely a well deserved callup for Zeus.

The Long Post Holiday Trip

Happy New Year! Goodbye 2011, hello 2012. The long week for the Devils has mercifully come to an end, and it wasn’t a successful one, taking only 2 out of a possible 8 points and losing some ground in the division standings. Get comfortable, grab another cup of coffee (or your hangover remedy), because here comes the week that was:

12/26 at Binghamton: 8-3 L

It was right back to work for the boys as they traveled west the day after Christmas to complete the home and home with the Senators. It was kind of obvious almost from the beginning that physically the team was there, but mentally still coming back from a break. Mike Hoffman, just back from making his NHL debut with Ottawa right before Christmas, gets a partial breakaway and puts it past Keith Kinkaid (your reigning AHL Player of the Week) for a 1-0 advantage just 2:20 in. The Devils did start to show some signs of life, actually outshooting the Sens 15-10 during the first, then snagging a 2-1 lead early in the second on goals by Eric Gelinas and Mike Sislo (Sislo’s on the power play). Then the wheels came off and the Senators takeover began. Four different Senators scored 4 unanswered goals (only one was a power play goal, from former River Rat captain Tim Conboy) to take a 5-2 lead into the second intermission. The trend continued into the third as Stephane Da Costa added his second of the game early on for a 6-2 lead, prompting a call to the bullpen for newly minted backup Timo Pielmeier, making his Devil debut. He was promptly greeted less than a minute in with a Corey Cowick goal to make it 7-2 (and the extra point is good…sorry). Joe Whitney scored with 12 minutes left to make it a 7-3 game, then Da Costa finished off his first pro hat trick with less than 5 minutes left to finish off the scoring. The only good stat to come out of this? The total shots on goal. Despite the score, the Devils did manage to outshoot Binghamton 39-32.

12/27 at Connecticut: 3-2 L

The road trip continued into Hartford for a matchup against the division leading Whale. I was not around to listen in to this one (thanks to work…don’t the schedule makers know I work Tuesdays?), so here’s the boxscore. Like the night before, the Whale were quick on the board in the first period, scoring early on against Kinkaid (in an attempt at redemption…a little better than last game, but not enough for the win), then adding a second goal late in the first. By mid second period, the Devils found themselves in a 3-0 hole before starting a comeback. Eric Gelinas and Stephane Veilleux scored successive power play goals to get back to within one, but couldn’t get the equalizer. It wasn’t due to lack of chances though…Albany continued its trend of outshooting its opponent, this time it was a 37-27 advantage.

12/30 vs. Manchester: 5-4 L (OT)

The lone home game of the week against the last opponent the Devils had yet to face this year, Manchester. Once again the pattern of slow first period starts continued. Former Phantom Stefan Legein scored just 1:42 into the first on a power play for an early 1-0 advantage. The Devils didn’t even register their first shot on goal till the first period was more than halfway over. Meanwhile the Manchester offensive onslaught continued on Keith Kinkaid, adding two more goals (both power play tallies) to carry a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. The Devils did start to wake up slightly despite that, outshooting Manchester 9-3 after finally taking their first shot (for the period it was 10-9 Monarchs). Second period the Devils finally played like the team we saw last week before the break, scoring three times (one goal the first professional tally for Brandon Burlon, another a short handed goal by Vladimir Zharkov) and holding Manchester to just 3 shots on goal. But one of them did get past Kinkaid, giving the Monarchs a 4-3 advantage after 2 periods. The Devils completed the comeback in the third period on Zharkov’s second goal of the night, then staved off a 4 minute double minor very late in the period to send the game to overtime and salvage a point. But just 1:15 in, a defensive lapse allowed Manchester’s Linden Vey to score the game winner and give the Monarchs a 5-4 win. I give the team a lot of credit in this one, the game appeared pretty much over based on the first period, but they didn’t give up and actually got a point out of it.

12/31 at Adirondack: 2-1 L (OT)

The Devils finished off the week–and the calendar year–with a visit north to Glens Falls to face the Phantoms. Unlike the last matchup in November, it started off as a defensive battle. Albany managed to kill off 3 Phantom power play chances but were outshot 7-6. Second period started out with more of the same, until rookie Jason Akeson finally solved Keith Kinkaid with a power play goal 10 and a half minutes into the second. The goaltending duel between Kinkaid and Jason Bacashihua (sigh of relief from me to not have to see Michael Leighton between the pipes) continued into the third, then the Devils finally tied it up late thanks to the third goal in two days from Vladimir Zharkov. After a few very close calls towards the end, the game managed to get to overtime. In the extra session, the Phantoms dominated, outshooting the Devils 4-0 and snagging the game winner about halfway through thanks to Mike Testuwide, who then proceeded to Tebow as a goal celebration (fact: he is a Colorado native, so I would assume he’s a Bronco fan. I’ll give him the pass to do so). Despite the loss, again Albany managed to outshoot the opponent, this time 27-22.

Notes:

-Only a couple of player moves this week. Harry Young was reassigned to Kalamazoo last Thursday, but wasn’t officially announced till the beginning of the week (he was actually listed as a scratch Monday night in Binghamton). Alexander Urbom returned to Albany on Thursday after appearing in 5 games with New Jersey, scoring a goal on the 23rd against Washington. Matt Taormina and Tim Sestito remain on recall.

-Injury updates: The defense corps is quite banged up at the moment, with Matt Corrente the latest to rejoin the sidelines after being injured in Tuesday’s game just as Dan Kelly returned to the lineup (sporting a full face cage). Jay Leach remains out indefinitely as well. Now Chad Wiseman is out with a lower body injury, he joins Steve Bernier (hand) as the injured forwards. Jeff Frazee came back last night to backup Kinkaid in Adirondack, it shouldn’t be long before he gets another turn in net.

Looking Ahead:

Compared to last week’s 4 games in 6 days, this week is a little quieter. But not any easier. Only two games on the docket, but both on the road in Norfolk against the Admirals on Friday and Saturday night. If the first two matchups (both wins by Albany) are any indication, expect a defensive battle or a goaltending duel. Or now that I say that, complete blowouts. Only 9 games all month for the Devils, nearing the season halfway point already…it’s time to start stepping it up.