As the weekend began, the Devils needed a lot of help from not just themselves, but a few other teams, if they wanted any chance of extending their season beyond the regular season finale. Well…that didn’t happen. The losing streak was extended to six, and for the third straight year, no postseason hockey in the Capital Region. Looking back:
The weekend began with the last road trip of the season in Binghamton, kicking off a home and home series with the Senators. Unlike recent games, the Devils had their chances in the first, actually putting up 13 shots, with only a disallowed goal to show for it. Cole Schneider would put Binghamton on the board late in the period just after a 4 on 4 expired. David Dziurzynski would make it a 2-0 advantage just as the second period got underway. But Albany would then mount a rally. Steve Zalewski would put Albany on the board and cut the deficit in half. Then the struggling penalty kill was put to the test, as J.S. Berube would get a match penalty and a game for the ever popular kicking infraction (and I did see replay, it was a legit call unfortunately, even though it was purely accidental). Not only did the Devils kill off the entire 5 minutes, they even got a beautiful short handed goal out of Chris McKelvie to tie the game at 2. But less than a minute after the major penalty was killed, Binghamton would take back the lead on a Mark Stone goal. In the third, the Sens would put the game away on goals just 1:26 apart from Schneider (on a power play) and Corey Cowick. Eric Gelinas would make it 5-3 1:25 later, but that was all Albany could muster, and in turn they dropped their 4th in a row and fell further behind in the standings. Jeff Frazee would stop 34 of 39 shots in taking the loss. Three Devils added assists, one being a franchise record: with his 83rd career assist in a Devil uniform, Matt Anderson is now your all time Lowell/Albany Devils leader, passing Stephen Gionta.
It was back to the Capital Region on Saturday afternoon to kick off a season ending 5 game homestand, with the second half of the Senators home and home series. The only lineup change saw Scott Wedgewood take Jeff Frazee’s spot in goal for his first start since returning to Albany a week earlier. Despite outshooting the visitors 14-7 in the first, it was Binghamton who took an early 1-0 lead on a Fredrik Claesson shorthanded goal. Things didn’t get any better in the second as the Senators took control of the game. Dustin Gazley would score a power play goal 4 minutes into the period, then Mark Stone would follow up later with a 4 on 4 goal. Newcomer Buddy Robinson would start the third period off on the wrong foot for the hosts, scoring his first as a pro just 13 seconds in to make it 4-0. Finally, to top it off, Corey Cowick would make it 5-0 with less than two minutes to go. Nathan Lawson would stop all 35 Devil shots. Wedgewood had a tough day, only stopping 29 of 34 and not getting much defensive help. The only defensemen to not finish with a negative plus/minus? Corbin McPherson and Seth Helgeson (in his pro debut), both with 0. Helgeson did not fare badly in his first game, mostly paired with McPherson (and later in the game Jon Merrill).
And with the loss, plus Connecticut earning a point in an OT loss to Adirondack, plus Norfolk beating Worcester in overtime…consider Albany officially eliminated from the playoff picture.
The weekend concluded with the second straight Sunday visit from the Amerks. Once again, the Devils special teams would struggle in the first, as Zemgus Girgensons would score on a power play late in the period for a 1-0 lead. But like Friday night in Binghamton, they would recover with a strong second period. David Wohlberg would tie the game at 1 4 minutes in. After a missed call from the referee (one of many on the afternoon) on Amerks goaltender Matt Hackett, the Devils would actually still wind up with a full 2 minute 5 on 3 opportunity. And Mike Sislo would take advantage and score for a 2-1 Devil lead. Things were looking good for Albany…then came the third period. Former River Rat Cody McCormick (from the one season of the dual Carolina/Colorado affiliation) would tie the game at 2 just 2 minutes into the third period. Nine minutes later, while on a power play, Mark Mancari scored the go ahead goal for a 3-2 Amerk lead. The Devils tried what they could to get the tying goal, but it would never come, and they would drop their sixth in a row. Another hard luck day for Jeff Frazee, as he stopped 33 of 36 shots. Three Devils would each add an assist, and Joe Whitney would snag his 50th point of the season with an assist on Sislo’s goal.
Finally making a comeback to the recap, it’s your Cam Janssen Obligatory Fight Of The Week:
As mentioned earlier, Albany was officially eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday when Norfolk won and Connecticut earned a standings point for an overtime loss. That plus no standings points earned on the weekend leaves the Devils in 12th place in the conference. They stand two points behind Bridgeport for 11th (and also 3rd place in the division), and lead Worcester by 1 point, St. John’s by 2 points, and Adirondack by 4 points. All teams have 3 games left (Bridgeport actually has 4 left) so there’s a chance the battle for the basement could switch around by the end.
-On Wednesday Keith Kinkaid was recalled to New Jersey after Johan Hedberg was held out due to soreness. He backed up Martin Brodeur in both losses to Boston on Wednesday and Ottawa on Friday.
-Congrats go out to captain Jay Leach, who was named the Devils IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year and is one of 30 finalists for the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award. The award recgonizes a player’s “outstanding contributions to the local community and charitable organizations” during the course of the season. The league winner will be announced by the AHL on April 18th.
-J.S. Berube was given a two game suspension on Saturday for his match penalty on Friday evening. He sat out for the remaining weekend games.
-Defenseman Damon Severson, a 2012 second round pick, joined the Devils on Sunday after finishing his season in Kelowna (WHL) on Wednesday. And the stats aren’t too bad: he put up 52 points (10 G, 42 A) and was a +43. He’ll likely make his debut next weekend.
-Injury front: Mattias Tedenby returned to the lineup and said he is feeling better (he had been sick for about a week). No updates on Chad Wiseman’s absence. Raman Hrabarenka thinks he’ll be back before the season’s end (per conversation at the STH party Monday evening). Dan Kelly appeared to have reaggravated his ankle injury on Friday night, he sat out the rest of the weekend.
The Week Ahead:
Three home games to close out the regular season. Friday night they play host to the Whale. Then it’s a quick turnaround Saturday afternoon as Norfolk (and PL3) come calling. Sunday is the season finale against who else, but Adirondack, to finish off the Time Warner Cable Cup (well at least the Devils won SOMETHING this year). It’s also Fan Appreciation Day, where you can get your very own Tim Sestito bobblehead!