Before taking a break for Christmas, the Devils embarked on a southern road swing through two cities. And the results weren’t what they expected, taking 1 out of 6 points and just running out of time…and in one case, blinked and it was over. Let’s take a look back at the week that was:
A four game road swing began Wednesday night in Bridgeport, with the second matchup against the Sound Tigers in 11 days. Both teams kept goalies Keith Kinkaid and Kevin Poulin busy, combining for 28 first period shots. But it was Bridgeport that struck first, as Casey Cizikas scored 7 minutes in for a 1-0 advantage. But the Devils would come back, as Mike Sislo (with his first of the season) and Mattias Tedenby scored 1:09 apart later in the period for a 2-1 Devil lead. Second period it was the Sound Tigers making a comeback for the lead, as Matt Donovan tied the game just 2 minutes in. Cizikas would add his second goal of the night with under 8 minutes left to give Bridgeport the lead back. But once again, the Devils would come back. On a power play (yes, you read that right) with about 4 and a half minutes remaining in the period, Matt Anderson re-tied the game at 3. The game would remain tied–till about 7 minutes to go in regulation, as Donovan scored his second of the night to give Bridgeport a 4-3 lead. The Devils had many late period chances, including a great shot by Joe Whitney with 2 seconds left on the clock, but it wasn’t meant to be, as the Sound Tigers handed Albany its first regulation loss in the month of December. Not a bad night all around despite the loss…Kinkaid stopped 26 of 30 shots, Adam Larsson contributed two assists, and the penalty kill went 6 for 6.
The road trip continued south to Virginia, and the start of a two game series against the Admirals. The story of the night was the special teams play on both sides, as two referees called a combined 20 power plays. But it was Norfolk who took advantage of that early on in the first. Devante Smith-Pelly put the Ads on the board first with a power play marker exactly 4 minutes into the game. Patrick Maroon added a power play goal of his own with 3 and a half minutes left in the period to make it a 2-0 lead. After that, goalies Jeff Frazee and Igor Bobkov would settle in…and the whistle would start blowing, as a combined 8 minors were killed off during the second period, adding to the Devils power play woes. Matt Anderson thought he had put the Devils on the board in the second period, but the goal was waved off due to the net being off its moorings. The Devils finally broke through in the goal column with 26 seconds left in the game, as Matt Anderson scored for the second straight game to cut the deficit in half. But again it was too little, too late, as Norfolk held on for the win. Frazee recovered nicely after a shaky first period, finishing with 28 saves. Mike Sislo had the lone assist. And no, I will not discuss the 0 for 10 power play.
The two game series in Virginia concluded on Saturday night, with Keith Kinkaid back in net and a couple of changes on offense…Mike Hoeffel was finally back in the lineup (my Twitter #FreeHoeffel campaign worked…for at least one night), along with Jacob Josefson (he was under the weather last night…everyone breathe), Chad Wiseman and Brandon Burlon (swapping places with Raman Hrabarenka). Unlike Friday night, special teams were not as much of a factor, as one referee only called a total of six penalties all game. Nothing across on either side during the first, as Norfolk outshot the Devils 13-11 (but Albany did have one or two very good chances on goaltender Igor Bobkov). A quiet second saw the Devils outshooting Norfolk 10-8 and missing out on two power play opportunities (finishing 0 for 4 on the night). Third period, things started happening. The Devils first shot of the third period counted…Bobby Butler finally solved Bobkov 5 minutes into the third for a 1-0 Devil lead. And with the way Kinkaid was playing, we thought that was all he would need. Well…not so fast. After the Admirals called a time out with 1:13 left and pulling Bobkov for a 6th attacker, it was Emerson Etem finding the back of the net with just 33 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 1. The game moved to overtime, where so far the Devils are 0-6, all in shootouts. Well, it didn’t even get to that point. Right off the opening faceoff, Etem got the puck and scored the game winner just 6 seconds into the extra session. So basically in a span of 39 seconds, the Devils went from snagging a much needed 1-0 shutout win to a deflating 2-1 loss in overtime. Kinkaid, outside of those 39 seconds, had a great night in goal, stopping 34 shots in another hard luck loss (he and Frazee have had way too many of those this season). Steve Zalewski had the lone assist.
-Only one roster move this week, as the Devils sent forward Phil DeSimone, who hadn’t seen any action since November 12th, to Trenton of the ECHL, joining Kelly Zajac and Scott Wedgewood. And he didn’t have a bad week there, scoring 3 goals in 3 games played and adding two assists. Not sure if this is a long term assignment or just for the week so he can get some game action (much like Chris McKelvie and Harry Young a month ago).
-No changes on the injury front, with Adam Henrique and J.S. Berube still out.
The Week Ahead:
After taking a few days off to celebrate Christmas (or even Festivus), it’s right back to work for the Devils, with a 3 in 3 to close the week and the 2012 calendar year. Thursday night they make their first trip of the season to Springfield to take on the first place Falcons. Friday night it’s back home for their first matchup against Binghamton since the preseason. Then it’s off to Hershey on Saturday night to take on the Bears.
On behalf of myself and Sascha (my cat), have a merry Christmas!
*Note: Photo Gallery is taking a week off, since, well, I wasn’t at any of the games.