We are down to the final 10 games of the regular season. The Devils had a good chance this week to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference standings with 4 games and 8 possible points. Well…after struggling to even shoot the puck, let alone score with it, they could only earn 3 of those 8, and remain on the outside looking in, much like the parent Devils are doing. Yes, we still have to review what happened:
The week began a little early, as the Devils traveled east to Springfield for a make up game from February 8th (which was postponed at the time due to a snowstorm). Once again, the Devils got off to a very slow start as far as scoring chances go, only registering 1 shot on goal through the first 10 minutes of the game. Despite only 6 shots overall for the period, they made those chances count. Reid Boucher would get Albany on the board with his second goal in as many games (this one a power play marker, and another assist for Jon Merrill to boot). Harri Pesonen, in his first game back since returning from New Jersey, would get a goal 31 seconds later for a 2-0 lead. The teams stayed scoreless in the second, as Keith Kinkaid would stop all 11 Falcon shots. Ryan Craig would get the hosts on the board just 49 seconds into the third on a 5 on 3 situation (another feast or famine penalty kill…lately it’s entirely killed off or the opponent scores within 20 seconds), but Jacob Josefson would put the Devils back up by two less than two minutes later with another assist from Merrill. And Kinkaid took care of the rest, stopping the Falcons remaining 13 shots of the game to pick up the win. He would stop 35 of 36 overall. Tim Sestito, Mattias Tedenby, and Matt Anderson each had one assist.
It was back to home ice on Friday as much like their NHL counterparts the night before, it was Albany’s turn to take on the Bruins. Things didn’t start off as planned when just 17 seconds into the game Justin Florek would shoot one past Keith Kinkaid for a very quick 1-0 P-Bruin lead. Albany didn’t help themselves as much either, having another slow first period showing with just 5 shots on goal. Kinkaid would settle down and stop 9 Bruin shots. Things didn’t improve in the second, as Providence would score 3 times for a commanding lead. Alexander Khokhlachev and Christian Hanson would score less than 4 minutes apart for a 3-0 lead, then Khokhlachev would get his second of the period with 50 seconds left to go up 4-0. Harri Pesonen had a chance to break up the shutout in the third when he was awarded a penalty shot, but Niklas Svedberg would deny it. But the Devils did manage to get on the board via Jon Merrill’s first professional goal with exactly 4 minutes left to make it 4-1. That was probably the only highlight of what was a pretty uneventful evening. Kinkaid stopped 24 of 28 shots and Jay Leach had the lone assist on Merrill’s goal.
The Devils hit the road on Saturday (along with myself and 27 other Booster Club members) to northeast Pennsylvania to take on the Penguins. And I think they forgot to pack something…their game. The hosts took right over in the first minute of the game, as they drew a power play 19 seconds in and Chad Kolarik would score 29 seconds later for a fast 1-0 lead. Once again, it took till late in the period for the Devils to even muster a shot on goal, finally getting on the board with 6:49 to go. Trevor Smith would add a late power play goal for a 2-0 advantage, and all you had to do was look at the scoreboard at the end of the period to see who was dominating…WB would outshoot Albany 17-1 for the period. They had more goals than Albany had shots. Things sort of improved in the second…Jeff Frazee would stop all 14 Penguin shots, but the Devils could only manage 8 and fell victim to some questionable referee calls, and still nothing past Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff. Third period was more Penguin domination…Alex Grant would score the third power play goal of the night for a 3-0 lead, then for the final nail in the coffin an even strength goal from Paul Thompson for a 4-0 score. As for the offense…what offense? They could only manage 2 shots for the period, for a season and league low total of 11 overall. That and the fact that the officiating seemed a little one sided (Wilkes-Barre had 8 power plays, the Devils just 4), not a good night all around. Frazee stopped 30 of 34 in taking the loss.
The weekend concluded back on home ice, with a visit from the Amerks. Unlike the other three games this week, the Devils got off to a strong start, actually eclipsing their entire shot total from the night before in the first period alone by putting up 13, but nothing got past newly acquired Amerks goaltender Matt Hackett. Keith Kinkaid, meanwhile, was probably a little bored, only having to stop 3 Rochester shots. Reid Boucher continued his strong play since coming up from juniors, scoring his 3rd goal late in the second period to get the Devils on the board. Things were looking up early in the third when J.S. Berube scored his first goal of the season to put the Devils up 2-0. But momentum switched over to Rochester’s end and they would mount a rally. Nick Crawford would score a power play goal to cut the deficit to 2-1. Then while the Devils were on a 4 minute power play, Zemgus Girgensons would tie the game shorthanded with just under 4 and a half to go in regulation. It was on to overtime, where despite the Devils outshooting Rochester 9-1, no one could get the game winner past Hackett. It was on to the Devils favorite thing to settle games, the shootout. And you can guess what happened next. Kinkaid went 0 for 3, allowing goals to Johan Larsson, Corey Tropp, and Colin Jacobs. Hackett stopped Mike Sislo, Boucher, and Matt Anderson to earn the extra point. The Devils did set the AHL record with their 12th shootout loss of the season, not a good ending after having a 2 goal advantage early in the third. Outside of the shootout round, it was not a bad afternoon for Kinkaid, as he stopped 20 of 22 shots. Four Devils, including Cam Janssen, each had an assist.
Speaking of Cam…no Obligatory Fight out of him this week. Standing in, however, is our fearless captain with a bout from Sunday’s game:
After earning 3 of 8 points this week, the Devils find themselves in a 3 way tie for 10th place with both Manchester and Bridgeport, all with 71 points. They trail 8th place Hershey and 9th place Norfolk by 4 points, and lead 13th place Worcester by 4 points. The magic number to clinch a spot (yes, it’s still mathematically possible) is at 17.
-Jacob Josefson returned to the lineup on Tuesday night after sitting out since mid March with a concussion. After scoring a goal in the win, he was recalled to New Jersey on Friday afternoon, getting in the lineup on Sunday night in Buffalo.
-During Friday night’s game, the Devils announced the signing of defenseman Seth Helgeson to an amateur tryout after finishing off his senior season at Minnesota. He has yet to make an appearance.
-Injury front: Dan Kelly returned to the lineup on Friday after about a month’s absence with an ankle injury. Chad Wiseman has been out since March 27th, but I am not sure of the reason (healthy, injury, etc.). Mattias Tedenby sat out the last two games due to illness. Raman Hrabarenka remains out.
The Week Ahead:
It’s the next to last weekend of the regular season, and another 3 in 3 awaits. Friday night the Devils make their last road trip of the season to Binghamton to take on the Senators. Saturday the two teams face off again, this time on Albany’s ice (and it’s Military Appreciation Night as well). Sunday afternoon Rochester makes their second straight weekend visit.
Monday is the annual End of Season Party for the season ticket holders, I may have a few notes or photos coming from that.