Game #49: Albany vs. Syracuse

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

Season Series:

Tied at 2.

Standings:

Albany, 22-18-5-3, 52 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Syracuse, 19-22-4-3, 45 points, 4th place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Syracuse: Patrick Maroon, 49 points (22 G, 27 A); Kyle Palmieri, 40 points (26 G, 14 A); Peter Holland, 36 points (17 G, 19 A)

Albany: Joe Whitney, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Steve Zalewski, 26 points (10 G, 16 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 25 points (8 G, 17 A)

Goaltending:

Syracuse: Antero Niittymaki, 2-5-0, 2.74 GAA; Iiro Tarkki, 10-13-3, 2.85 GAA

Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 13-12-1, 2.75 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 7-11-2, 2.79 GAA

Following Along?

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

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

Valentines Updates…

Happy Valentine’s Day! Oh Bah Humbug. Anyway…a couple of updates:

-As expected, goaltender Timo Pielmeier was reassigned to Elmira yesterday after the return of Jeff Frazee (who backed up Keith Kinkaid in Providence on Sunday) from New Jersey. He did a little better in his second stint than the first one in late December, winning his lone start in Syracuse on Saturday and holding the Crunch to one early first period goal.

-Late last night, New Jersey announced that forward Stephane Veilleux was recalled to the parent club, and this morning he was joined by Nick Palmieri. From practice updates that I’ve seen, Veilleux was practicing on the 4th line with Cam Janssen and Jacob Josefson, while Palmieri was an extra. We’ll see who gets in this evening when the Devils take on the Sabres in Buffalo (a game I could have actually been able to watch…but still waiting for Time Warner and MSG to settle their differences). One positive thing out of this is the callups may have broken up the logjam of forwards down here recently…I counted at least 3 healthy forward scratches per game over the weekend. First it was too many defensemen, now it’s too many forwards (which is never a bad thing).

Road Trip Rebound

The Devils continued their season long 5 game road trip this week with a tough 3 in 3 stretch, in two different states and leaving the country. Unlike last week’s 0-fer, this weekend was the exact opposite, a perfect 6 for 6 in standings points. Let’s rewind:

2/10 at Hamilton: 4-2 W

For the second time this season, the Devils ventured into Canada, this time to face the Bulldogs. First period was all Devils, as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a power play goal by Steve Zalewski and a 4 on 4 goal by Chad Wiseman. Nathan Perkovich padded the Devil lead with another power play goal 3 minutes into the second. Then the Bulldogs started a rally against Keith Kinkaid, scoring twice in a span of 2:01 to get Hamilton back to within one. The saying I always see is “a 3 goal lead is the most dangerous in hockey.” On this night, it almost looked like that could happen. But Kinkaid shut the door on the Bulldogs, stopping all 5 Hamilton shots in the third (including some possible game changers). The Devils special teams came up big late, killing off a 5 on 3 with about 2 minutes left in the game. Nick Palmieri sealed the win with an empty net goal with 45 seconds left. Kinkaid stopped 26 of 28 shots in the win, while Zalewski and Peter Harrold contributed two assists.

2/11 at Syracuse: 4-1 W

The North American tour continued Saturday night in Syracuse against the Crunch. Timo Pielmeier earned his first Devil start of the season against his former team…and started out on the wrong foot, er, skate. Just 1:33 into the game Kyle Palmieri (no relation to Nick) scores for the early 1-0 Crunch lead. Usually a quick start by the opponent dooms the game, but not on this night. The Devils got on the board thanks to a fluke play while on the penalty kill. Syracuse goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers went to play the puck and left the net, but the puck bounced right to Vladimir Zharkov who tapped it in the empty net. About five minutes later, while on the power play, Stephane Veilleux gave the Devils a 2-1 lead. Third period Albany took over, as Mattias Tedenby scored his first AHL goal of the season on a breakaway for an insurance goal, and Nathan Perkovich sealed it with an empty netter with 32 seconds left. Pielmeier was outstanding in net despite the early goal, stopping 37 of 38 shots and earning #2 star of the game honors. Nice sendoff for the #3 goalie with Jeff Frazee’s imminent return from New Jersey.

2/12 at Providence: 3-1 W

To finish the weekend, the Devils traveled east to Rhode Island for their second matchup of the season against the Bruins. And things started in a hurry for the boys in red. 14 seconds into their first power play opportunity and 3:30 into the game, Stephane Veilleux put the Devils on the board with his second power play goal in as many games. About three minutes later, the Devils caught a lucky break, as the puck bounced off a Bruin’s skate and somehow got past goalie Anton Khudobin for a 2-0 lead (goal ended up credited to Tim Sestito). Despite being run into his net, Keith Kinkaid recovered nicely and stopped all 11 Providence shots in the first. Second period was mostly incident free…no goals across and the Bruins outshot the Devils 14-6…but then the chippiness took over, as Kinkaid was again run into his own net, then Brad Mills and Dan Kelly had bouts less than two minutes apart late in the period. Third period the Bruins tried to make things interesting…Jamie Tardif broke up Kinkaid’s shutout with less than 5 minutes left to make it a 1 goal game. But for the third straight game, the Devils snagged an empty netter (this time it was Vladimir Zharkov) for an insurance marker. Providence was awarded a penalty shot with just 6 seconds on the clock, but Kinkaid denied Trent Whitfield to seal the win. He finished with 37 saves on 38 shots and took home #1 star honors.

Notes:

-Jeff Frazee was officially reassigned to Albany earlier today after filling in for one game as backup to Johan Hedberg while Martin Brodeur recovered from an ankle injury. Timo Pielmeier was listed as a scratch in Providence, but the official reassignment to Elmira should happen in a day or so.

-Injury update: Matt Corrente finally returned to the lineup Friday night after sitting out since late December. Jay Leach, Matt Anderson and J.S. Berube remain out. Stephen Gionta sat out the weekend, not sure if it’s because of injury or staying with his family.

Looking Ahead:

Finally, the Devils have a homestand coming up this week. Actually, the only three home games this month are all this week. Wednesday comes a rematch with Syracuse (2nd of 3 games in a 2 week stretch between the two teams). Saturday night the Penguins make their first trip of the season here, and a big crowd may be in the works…Stephen Gionta bobblehead giveaway, Scout Sleepover, Scooby Doo appearance, and $5/$10 tix from Time Warner Cable are the specials. Then it’s a quick turnaround to face Binghamton Sunday afternoon. The big question is, which Devils team will show up: the team that was swept last weekend in Connecticut and Wilkes-Barre, or the team that dominated this weekend? Only six points behind a guaranteed playoff spot (otherwise known as first place in the division), three points behind for the last spot in the Eastern Conference. The more points, the better.

Game #48: Albany at Providence

Location: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI. Time: 4:00 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany, 21-18-5-3, 50 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Providence, 23-21-3-3, 52 points, tied for 4th place in Atlantic Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Steve Zalewski, 26 points (10 G, 16 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 24 points (7 G, 17 A)

Providence: Carter Camper, 35 points (11 G, 24 A); Josh Hennessy, 29 points (15 G, 14 A); Craig Cunningham, 21 points (10 G, 11 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 12-12-1, 2.82 GAA; Timo Pielmeier, 1-0-0, 2.31 GAA; Jeff Frazee, 7-11-2, 2.79 GAA

Providence: Michael Hutchinson, 49-0, 2.52 GAA; Anton Khudobin, 18-15-3, 2.58 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (both)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @AHLBruins (Providence)

Game #47: Albany at Syracuse

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

Season Series:

Syracuse leads 2-1.

Standings:

Albany, 20-18-5-3, 48 points, tied for 3rd place in Northeast Division; Syracuse, 19-20-4-3, 45 points, 4th place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Steve Zalewski, 26 points (10 G, 16 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 23 points (6 G, 17 A)

Syracuse: Patrick Maroon, 48 points (22 G, 26 A); Kyle Palmieri, 38 points (25 G, 13 A); Peter Holland, 34 points (16 G, 18 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 12-12-1, 2.82 GAA; Timo Pielmeier, 0-0-0, 6.74 GAA

Syracuse: Antero Niittymaki, 2-4-0, 2.85 GAA; Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, 6-8-0, 3.80 GAA

Following Along?

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

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

Game #46: Albany at Hamilton

Location: Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Time: 7:30 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany, 19-18-5-3, 46 points, tied for 4th place in Northeast Division; Hamilton, 20-21-1-4, 45 points, 5th place in North Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Steve Zalewski, 23 points (9 G, 14 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 23 points (6 G, 17 A)

Hamilton: Andreas Engqvist, 27 points (15 G, 12 A); Brian Willsie, 26 points (9 G, 17 A); Garrett Stafford, 23 points (5 G, 18 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Keith Kinkaid, 11-12-1, 2.86 GAA; Timo Pielmeier, 0-0-0, 6.74 GAA

Hamilton: Nathan Lawson, 12-12-3, 2.74 GAA; Robert Mayer, 7-10-1, 3.01 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); 820 CHAM (Hamilton)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @BulldogsAHL, @dogsplaybyplay (Hamilton)

Thursday Tidbits

Getting caught up on the news of the week…

-On Tuesday forward Brad Mills returned to Albany after spending the last 3 weeks in New Jersey, appearing in 5 games and not registering a point. This will be his second stint here this season, his first appearance was back in early December.

-Wednesday the American Hockey League announced that the city of Providence, RI would be the host for the 2013 AHL All Star Classic. Like this year, it will be held during the last weekend in January (the 28th and 29th, to be exact). With Providence being about a 3 hour drive east for me, this may finally be the year I get to attend one of these events (but we’ll worry about that as it gets closer).

-Earlier this afternoon, with Martin Brodeur nursing two twisted ankles, Jeff Frazee was summoned to New Jersey to back up Johan Hedberg tonight against St. Louis. No replacement has been recalled as of yet (the team is en route to Hamilton this afternoon), so we’ll see who backs up Keith Kinkaid tomorrow night over the border.

Speaking of tomorrow night…pregame will be out at 4:30 PM with the later start time, same goes for Saturday. I am not traveling at all this weekend, the car needs a rest…so I’ll be relying on the good old AHL Live feed to get me through.

Post All Star Letdown

After enjoying an extended break this week (with the exception of Alexander Urbom, playing Monday night in the AHL All Star Classic in Atlantic City and contributing an assist in a 8-7 Western Conference shootout win), the Devils got back to work this weekend with two road games against two good teams in Connecticut and Wilkes-Barre. It didn’t go as well as hoped. Time to rewind:

2/3 at Connecticut: 3-2 L

The weekend started in Hartford against the Whale, a divisional opponent that had yet to enter the win column in the 2012 calendar year (for January they were 0-6-3-2). Things were looking good for the Devils early as Eric Gelinas scored just 1:39 in for a quick 1-0 lead. But the first period problems cropped up again, as the Whale tied the game just over a minute later. Connecticut then took a 2-1 lead late in the period on a power play goal by All Star Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. The Devils only managed 5 shots on goal for the period. The Whale added to their lead late in the second period on a power play goal by Wojtek Wolski, sent down by the Rangers earlier in the week for conditioning. It took till the third period for the Devils to wake up and try to start a rally. Joe Whitney would bring the Devils to within 1, while the defense stepped up in front of Keith Kinkaid (who didn’t have a bad game, stopping 21 of 24 shots), but by then it was too little, too late. There were several good scoring chances during the last minute, but nothing across and Connecticut stopped their winless streak at 11. Darcy Zajac did contribute assists on both goals in a losing cause.

2/4 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 5-2 L

Saturday it was off to northeast Pennsylvania to face the Penguins, a team the Devils finally broke a franchise life-long losing streak against back in December. The pattern of sluggish first periods continued on this night, against a team still carrying momentum from a 4-3 comeback win against Hershey at home the night before. The Devils didn’t allow a shot to the Penguins till 8 minutes into the period…naturally it turned into a 1-0 Penguin lead. WBS would add two more in a span of 2:01 later in the period, a power play goal by Brian Gibbons and an even strength goal by Joey Mormina. Second period the Devils made it a game, as Nick Palmieri and Alexander Urbom picked up goals to get to within 3-2 and the Devils outshot their hosts 8-7. Third period the Devils had their chances to tie things up, but Penguins goalie Brad Thiessen was up to the challenge, stopping all 9 Devil shots. Bryan Lerg singlehandedly put the game out of reach late in the period, getting the insurance goal past Jeff Frazee with 1:25 left in the game, then adding the empty netter just 19 seconds later.

Notes:

-Friday night Peter Harrold was a healthy scratch against Connecticut, despite the Devils being short on defensemen. Saturday morning we found out why: he was recalled to New Jersey and played in that afternoon’s game in Philadelphia against the Flyers. He was reassigned today to make room on the roster for Adam Henrique, who had been out with a groin injury.

-Injury front: Jay Leach, Matt Anderson and J.S. Berube are still out. Nathan Perkovich returned to the lineup Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, his first action since mid-January. Matt Corrente’s return continues to be pushed back, maybe this will be the week?

Looking Ahead:

The road swing continues for the Devils this week, with a 3 in 3 weekend approaching. Friday night they make their last trip over the border to Canada this season to face Hamilton. Saturday it’s on to Syracuse to play the Crunch, followed by a Sunday afternoon tilt in Providence against the Bruins. This may sound like a broken record, but the Northeast is still a very tight division, 5 points continue to separate all 5 teams, so every point the Devils can get counts.

Game #45: Albany at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Location: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA. Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany, 19-17-5-3, 46 points, tied for 3rd place in Northeast Division; Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 27-13-2-4, 60 points, 1st place in East Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 26 points (12 G, 14 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 23 points (6 G, 17 A); Steve Zalewski, 22 points (9 G, 13 A)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Bryan Lerg, 35 points (18 G, 17 A); Ben Street, 34 points (16 G, 18 A); Eric Tangradi, 29 points (15 G, 14 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 7-10-2, 2.73 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 11-12-1, 2.86 GAA

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: Scott Munroe, 9-3-2, 2.64 GAA; Brad Thiessen, 18-12-2, 2.87 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); WDMT 102.3 The Mountain (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @nafsnep, @WBSPenguins, @MikeOBrienWBS (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton)

Game #44: Albany at Connecticut

Location: XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Hartford, CT. Time: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Connecticut leads 2-1.

Standings:

Albany, 19-16-5-3, 46 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division; Connecticut, 19-16-4-5, 47 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Leading Scorers:

Albany: Joe Whitney, 25 points (11 G, 14 A); Vladimir Zharkov, 23 points (6 G, 17 A); 2 tied with 22 points each

Connecticut: Kris Newbury, 39 points (15 G, 24 A); Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, 38 points (15 G, 23 A); Andre Deveaux, 27 points (12 G, 15 A)

Goaltending:

Albany: Jeff Frazee, 7-10-2, 2.73 GAA; Keith Kinkaid, 11-11-1, 2.85 GAA

Connecticut: Chad Johnson, 10-9-5, 2.64 GAA; Cameron Talbot, 9-11-0, 2.96 GAA

Following Along?

Radio: AHL Live (Albany); 106.9 WCCC (Connecticut)

Twitter: myself, @AlbanyDevils (Albany); @CTWhale (Connecticut)