Crossing The Finish Line

Hard to believe, but we have reached the end of the regular season in the Capital District. The Devils may have been eliminated from Calder Cup contention earlier in the week, but there were still 3 games left on the schedule–all at home–to make a statement to close the season out. And…not much of a statement. Reviewing the final 3 in 3 of the season:

4/13 vs. Norfolk: 5-1 L

To start the final weekend, what better than on Friday the 13th to face off against the team on a 25 game winning streak? Last two meetings the Devils played them tough, actually taking the lead a couple of times before finally succumbing and becoming victim 19 and 20 of the streak. Friday night…well, it was no contest and it showed. Norfolk came out of the gate flying, scoring three times in the first on Keith Kinkaid and outshooting Albany 7-1 through the first half of the period, 13-7 overall. More Admirals in the second, as the visitors added another goal for an insurmountable 4-0 lead. Kinkaid would exit due to injury with 12 minutes left in the second in favor of Jeff Frazee. The Devils started to wake up a little during the period, keeping Norfolk off the board after the goalie switch and holding the Admirals to 7 shots. Third period Norfolk added a 5th goal to essentially add insult to injury. The Devils thought they had broken up Jaroslav Janus’s shutout bid a couple minutes after that, but an interference call on Vladimir Zharkov erased the score. Zharkov made up for it with under 6 minutes left in the game, scoring a power play goal to break up the shutout. The Devils showed life during the third, but against a team like Norfolk, it was just too little, too late…and the streak went up to 26. Frazee did not do too badly in relief, stopping 8 of 9 shots in just over 31 minutes.

4/14 vs. Providence: 4-2 W

The Devils were hoping for the rebound against the Bruins, a team they had gone 3-0 against this season. Unlike the night before, it was the home team that came flying out of the gate in the first, outshooting the visitors 19-11. Darcy Zajac got the scoring underway 7 and a half minutes in, but the Bruins hung in and tied it up 10 minutes later. Second period was all Devils, despite being outshot 10-7. Mattias Tedenby broke the tie just 1:16 into the period, then Tim Sestito gave the Devils a 2 goal cushion with about 2 minutes to go on the clock. Third period the Bruins tried to make things interesting, getting to within 3-2. But Mike Sislo scored an insurance goal with 7 minutes left in the game to seal it. Jeff Frazee was sensational in net, stopping 34 of 36 shots (including a couple of game savers) and earning #2 star honors. Nathan Perkovich contributed two assists for the winners.

4/15 vs. Syracuse: 2-1 L

On the final day of the season, the Devils had a chance to play spoiler against the Crunch, a team starting the day battling with Manchester and Portland for the final two Eastern Conference spots. Maxime Clermont, recalled the day before from Kalamazoo to take the injured Keith Kinkaid’s spot, drew the final net assignment against a goalie the Devils had their issues with all season series long, Iiro Tarkki. Much like a few of the previous matchups, it became a goaltending duel. But Mattias Tedenby broke the scoreless tie with 5 seconds to go in the first on a power play tally for a 1-0 Devil lead. Second period, the Crunch came back. John Mitchell tied the game up just 3 minutes into the second period, then Ducks prospect Emerson Etem notched his first pro goal 10 minutes later for a 2-1 lead. Tarkki made that lead stand up…nothing was getting by him. He really rose to the occasion during the third, as the Devils outshot Syracuse 13-2, but nothing more into the net. With the win and a Portland loss, the Crunch clinched a playoff spot, finishing in 7th. Clermont did not have a bad day in net–stopping 21 of 23 shots–he just couldn’t get the offensive support needed to get his second AHL win. Brandon Burlon and Matt Anderson each had an assist, and Reid Boucher made his AHL debut, going scoreless but getting 4 shots on goal.

Looking Ahead:

Well…there’s no games to look ahead to in Albany, but New Jersey and Kalamazoo are still alive. The parent club is in their first round series against Florida, while the Wings are in a second round battle against South Carolina. I’ll be keeping an eye on those, along with those in the Calder Cup playoffs (just submitted my Calder Cup Challenge entry…let’s see how far back I finish this year). Over the course of this week I’ll be putting out the 3 part Year 2 in Review, with stats, fun with numbers, and another year of what I learned. And I also plan on doing the Free Agent Tracker again this summer, along with any breaking news, pertinent links, and whatever else I may find interesting.

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