At the beginning of this week, the offensive stats for the Devils were, in a word, dismal? 4 percent success on the power play, averaging less than 2 goals a game…the goaltending could have easily sued for non-support. But by the end of the week, the team showed signs that the long slump from the offense may finally be coming to an end, as they nearly doubled their season goal output and managed to take 4 out of 6 points over 3 games. Let’s recap the week that was:
The week began with a Veterans Day matinee against the defending and new look Calder Cup champions, the Admirals. Both teams traded goals late in the first, with Chad Wiseman first to score for the home team. Tim Sestito gave the Devils a 2-1 advantage with 12 minutes to go in the second. Third period things got quite interesting on both sides. Peter Holland tied the game just 32 seconds into the period. Then both Jacob Josefson and Jay Leach were called for penalties two minutes into the period, giving the Admirals a full 2 minute 5 on 3 advantage. And they (and the referees too) made the Devils pay, as Kyle Palmieri scored twice in 59 seconds to break the tie, then give the Ads a 2 goal cushion. While killing off a Sestito penalty later in the period (where once again he opened his mouth and took an extra 10 minutes), Matt Anderson scored shorthanded to bring the Devils back to within a goal. Then 5 seconds after Adam Henrique and Garrett Klotz took roughing penalties, Adam Larsson came through and scored his first AHL goal to tie the game at 4. The game eventually went to overtime, where the Devils survived 1:03 of 4 on 3 time at the end of the extra session to force the shootout. Joe Whitney was the only Devil out of 5 to connect (Anderson, Bobby Butler, Josefson and Larsson were the other skaters), while Jeff Frazee surrendered goals to Holland in the 3rd round and Patrick Maroon in the final round to lose the extra standings point. Despite the loss, it was not a bad day for an offense who sorely needed to get back on track. Steve Zalewski and Alexander Urbom each contributed two assists, and Frazee took a hard luck loss stopping 31 of 35 shots in regulation and overtime.
For the first time since the Devil River Rats days, an Albany team ventured up north to Newfoundland to take on St. John’s. Instead of Maple Leafs like back in the day, it’s now the IceCaps. After a rather uneventful first period which only saw one penalty called and the Devils outshoot the hosts 7-6, things picked up in the second. Raymond Sawada put the IceCaps on the board just 1:54 into the period. Carl Klingberg pushed the lead up to 2 7 minutes later. Jay Leach brought the Devils to within one on his first goal since the 2010-11 season. Third period a miracle happened…the Devils had actual power play success! Adam Henrique tied the game at 2 4 minutes into the 3rd on his 4th goal of the season. Halfway through the period, Zach Redmond broke the tie and gave St. John’s a 3-2 advantage. But once again the Devils rallied, and after a Mike Hoeffel goal was called off, it was Jacob Josefson scoring a power play goal (yes, you read that right…2 power play goals in ONE PERIOD.) with just over 2 minutes remaining in regulation to tie it at 3. After an uneventful overtime, it was on to the Devils second straight shootout. Mattias Tedenby was the only Devil to score (also up to shoot and eventually miss were Matt Anderson, Joe Whitney, Bobby Butler and Adam Henrique), while Keith Kinkaid gave up goals to Alex Burmistrov in the first round and Jason Jaffray in the final round to once again lose that extra point. Kinkaid played well in the loss, stopping 26 of 29 shots in 65 minutes. 5 players each contributed an assist.
The Devils closed out the week with a rematch against the IceCaps. Only change from the night before was Jeff Frazee getting the nod in goal. And it was the visitors that started out strong, outshooting St. John’s 8-0 to start the first period. Jacob Josefson and Darcy Zajac scored within 43 seconds of each other for a quick 2-0 Albany lead. Ivan Telegin got the IceCaps on the board with just over 5 minutes to go in the period. Second period got off on the right foot for the Devils as Adam Larsson scored on a power play (yes another one, three in two games after only getting two in the first 11 games of the season) to go up 3-1. Maxime Macenauer scored 2 minutes later to cut the deficit to 3-2. Just over 3 minutes later Bobby Butler scored on a nice breakaway to regain the two goal advantage. Third period seemed to be all St. John’s, as they outshot the Devils by a 22-8 margin. But Zajac scored his second of the night to make it 5-2. Jason Gregoire made it a 5-3 game with 6 and a half minutes remaining, but it was all the IceCaps could muster. The Devils staved off a rare 6 on 3 advantage late to seal the much needed victory. Frazee had a busy evening in net but was up to the challenge, stopping 42 of 45 IceCap shots. The penalty kill finished a perfect 8 for 8 and the power play finished 1 for 4. 3 players each had 2 assists (Jay Leach, Adam Henrique, Brandon Burlon).
-Only one roster move this week, as Harry Young was reassigned to Kalamazoo of the ECHL on Wednesday. He was the only one on the roster yet to suit up for a game…and that is likely to continue.
-Injury update: no changes, but Eric Gelinas has begun practicing with the team again. Still no word on when he’ll be back in the lineup.
The Week Ahead:
After celebrating Thanksgiving, it’s time for the first 3 in 3 weekend of the season. Friday night the Devils travel west on the Thruway to Rochester to take on the Amerks. Then it’s right back home Saturday afternoon for a home tilt their other Thruway rivals, the Crunch. Sunday it’s off to Atlantic City for the first of 4 “home” games at Boardwalk Hall as they take on the Penguins in an afternoon matchup. Here’s hoping this resurgence of scoring continues…and the goaltending continues to play well, then it shouldn’t be long before the Devils escape the all too familiar basement.