Happy Easter everyone!
Well…what can I say about the events of the week. Not a whole lot. No wins, and now the Devils have to rely on about 5 teams losing out to even have a decent shot (which I’ll go over later). Looking back over the week that basically wasn’t:
4/4 at Worcester: 2-1 L
The week began in central Massachusetts and one more matchup against the Sharks. Jeff Frazee made his first start in a week and didn’t look like he missed a beat, stopping all 9 Shark shots in the first period. His opponent, Harri Sateri, matched him in stopping 7 Devil shots. The game picked up during the second period, as both teams exchanged goals. Tony Lucia put the hosts on the board early on, then Stephen Gionta (fresh from practicing with the big club in New Jersey earlier in the day) tied it up late. The Sharks threw everything they could at Frazee, who stopped 20 of 21 shots in the period (that’s a full gameload for some goalies). John McCarthy broke the tie with 7 and a half to go in the third period, and Sateri made that goal stand up, stopping all 13 Devil shots in the third. Frazee was snakebitten in the loss, stopping 43 of 45 shots but not getting any offensive support from his teammates. The other telling stat from this game was the number of penalty minutes combined, 16. This, coming off the last matchup which saw 3 fights break out in the first period, and the reputation of the Sharks as a “goon squad.” A good game, but not good enough for a much needed win.
4/6 at Adirondack: 3-2 L
Friday night it was one last trip to the North Country to start a home and home series against the Phantoms. The story on this night had to be the lopsided power plays handed out…9 for the Phantoms, only 2 for Albany. The Devils spent virtually a full period on special teams play. And Adirondack took full advantage. Cullen Eddy got the hosts on the board early in the first on their second power play chance. But Steve Zalewski tied it up 3 and a half minutes later. Second period saw the Devils finally get a power play chance (I guess referee Chris Brown finally remembered there were two teams on the ice?), and take their first lead thanks to Kory Nagy. Then came the third period, where the Phantoms basically took over thanks to getting all the calls (thanks to #BlameBrown…a few Albany fans were getting a little frustrated with all the whistles). The newest Devil killer Matthew Ford tied the game at 2 seven minutes into the period on…surprise…a power play. Then the Devils’ frustrations with the night started to come out…first a fight between Dan Kelly and Tye McGinn in the corner. Then on a borderline tripping call against Nathan Perkovich, Denis Hamel scored the go ahead goal for a 3-2 lead. Then things started happening…Keith Kinkaid (who actually didn’t have a bad night in net) pushed a Phantom player (I couldn’t see who from my angle) out of his crease. In the ensuing get together Brad Mills was pulled out by a linesman and had to be restrained. Apparently the magic words/actions came out, he soon exited stage left thanks to a 10 minute misconduct. Then for good measure at the end of the game, Tim Sestito was called for boarding with 1 second left, then as the final whistle blew Kelly took on Mike Testuwide. Kinkaid stopped 29 of 32 shots in the loss, while four players contributed assists. With the win, Adirondack clinched the series and the Time Warner Cable Cup for the second straight season.
4/7 vs. Adirondack: 5-3 L
To finish out the weekend, the Devils started their last homestand of the season with the second half of the home and home with the Phantoms. Unlike the night before, it appeared the Devils were getting the calls either…from none other than our old friend #BlameKoharski (that’s Jamie Koharski if you don’t remember the joke). But the Phantoms got on the board first anyway…of course, on a power play goal from Matthew Ford for the early lead. And much like the night before, Steve Zalewski tied it up less than 3 minutes later. But the Devils were dealt a late blow thanks to Tim Sestito, who earned himself an early exit after boarding Tye McGinn late in the period. And thanks to an additional late slashing call just before that, the Devils faced a 5 minute penalty kill to begin the 2nd period. The Devils and Brad Mills thought they broke the tie shorthanded after a shot past Michael Leighton, who promptly argued with Koharski since he had lost his helmet on the play. A linesman overruled the goal call, which actually was a good Koharski call (yes you read that right). So of course just a few seconds later Ford scores his second (on a power play) to break the tie for Adirondack. 14 minutes and one Mills vs. Eddy bout later, Joe Whitney retied the game at 2. But Rob Bordson gave the Phantoms the lead back with 33 seconds to go in the second period. Third period things finally quieted down, as only one penalty (actually on Adirondack for once) was called. Ford finished off the hat trick halfway through the period for a 4-2 lead. Then things got very interesting late…as Jeff Frazee was pulled for an extra attacker, Whitney scored his second of the game with 9 seconds left to get to within 4-3. But Mike Testuwide sealed it with an empty netter 5 seconds later for a 5-3 win. Frazee didn’t have many shots to face (the Devils outshot the Phantoms 40-20), but only stopped 16. Eric Gelinas and Vladmir Zharkov each contributed two assists in a losing cause.
Playoff Update: Here’s where the entry title comes in. If Albany is going to get in as an 8 seed, here’s what has to happen (and there will be a pop quiz on this later), per the Daily Gazette:
-They have to win out this weekend.
-Manchester, Portland, and Adirondack have to lose out.
-Springfield has to lose to St. John’s, but have to beat Adirondack.
-Providence cannot surpass 77 points (the maximum number of points Albany can get up to).
However, Adirondack takes on Rochester today and Manchester plays Worcester on Tuesday. If either team wins, that’s it before the weekend even comes.
Transactions: Just one this week, as captain Stephen Gionta was recalled to New Jersey on Friday after practicing with the team on Wednesday incase David Clarkson or Cam Janssen couldn’t go against Detroit Thursday night. He played in New Jersey’s season finale Saturday against Ottawa and proceeded to score the game winning goal (his first NHL goal in 13 appearances, spanning two seasons) in a 4-2 win. He and Peter Harrold may stick around for the first round playoff series against Florida instead of coming down for the final weekend here (but we’ll see about that).
Only one injury update, as Darcy Zajac returned to the lineup last night after sitting out since St. Patrick’s Day. I would assume that everyone else still out (Chad Wiseman, Mike Sislo, Mike Banwell) are shut down for the season, but we’ll see as the week progresses.
The bad news is it’s one last 3-in-3 weekend against three very good teams. But the good news is it’s all on home ice. Friday night the juggernaut called the Norfolk Admirals and their now 25 game winning streak come in, on Friday the 13th nonetheless. Saturday night it’s Providence, who is still sort of in the playoff hunt as well. Then to finish off the regular season schedule one last visit from the Crunch, who is certain to lock down 7th place after a recent resurgence. Hopefully the Devils can finish things up on a high note, whether with a miracle playoff berth or just playing spoiler.