Like a Team Possessed…

After a up and down weekend, the Devils were looking to get back into the swing of things, with two divisional matchups and another trip into a tough building awaiting them.  3 games and 3 wins later, things are again looking pretty good in the Capital District.  Recapping a very strong week:

11/11 vs. Bridgeport: 5-2 W

The week got off to an early start, a Veterans Day matinee against Bridgeport.  Unlike Saturday’s performance against Adirondack, it was the Devils who came out flying in the first period.  Joe Whitney and Rod Pelley scored two minutes apart midway through for a 2-0 lead.  Chris McKelvie would add his second of the season shortly thereafter for a 3-0 advantage.  But the Sound Tigers would make a brief comeback, scoring twice on Keith Kinkaid 59 seconds apart for a 3-2 game.  Albany would retake a 2 goal lead on Dan Kelly’s first of the season (it was actually similar to Cam Janssen’s goal against Nashville on Sunday night).  Finally in the third, the exclamation point–Reid Boucher’s fifth of the season for the eventual 5-2 win.  Kinkaid got over a shaky first period to earn the win, stopping 25 of 27 Bridgeport shots, including all 12 in the 3rd period.  Harri Pesonen, Stefan Matteau, and Raman Hrabarenka each contributed two assists, while Rostislav Olesz had an assist of his own.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Rostislav Olesz

Stefan Matteau-Harri Pesonen-Rod Pelley

Mike Sislo-Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

11/15 at Hartford: 3-0 W

It was off to Connecticut to start a brief 2 game road trip on Friday, as the Devils took on Hartford for the third time this season.  And it was the visitors who got things started in a hurry.  Barely 3 minutes into the game Riley Boychuk scored his first as a Devil for a 1-0 lead.  Joe Whitney would add to it with his seventh goal of the season (off a nice pass from Rostislav Olesz).  A very interesting second period…on paper it looked like a mismatch, Albany was outshot 12-2 and had to kill off 3 penalties.  But the Wolfpack could not muster anything past the defense or Keith Kinkaid.  The Devils found their way in the third, holding Hartford to 6 shots and getting an empty netter from Rod Pelley at the end to seal the win, the first shutout by a Devils goaltender this season.  Kinkaid stopped all 25 shots in earning his 4th straight win and fifth on the season.  Another good offensive showing from Dan Kelly as he assisted on two goals and finished a +3, while Mike Hoeffel and Chris McKelvie each had assists (a very good night for the 4th line).

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Stefan Matteau

Rostislav Olesz-Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito

Mike Sislo-Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

11/16 at Syracuse: 2-1 W (SO)

The week ended with the first trip to Syracuse of the season to take on the Crunch.  Neither team could get anything across in the first period, probably because both team were too busy getting called for ridiculous penalties again–the referee, Jean-Philippe Sylvain, was the same ref from last Saturday’s shutout loss to Adirondack.  The one that missed too many blatant ones but called Albany for barely breathing on a Phantom?  Yup, that guy.  And it was more of the same, to the point where Stefan Matteau was issued a 10 minute misconduct for arguing a hooking call that most likely wasn’t.  The pattern continued into the second period, as both Keith Kinkaid and Cedric Desjardins clamped down.  But Reece Scarlett finally broke the scoreless drought late into the second with his first goal as a professional for a 1-0 Devil lead.  But on the very next shift, the Devils defense made the grave mistake of leaving Crunch rookie Nikita Kucherov alone and he scored his 3rd against the Devils this season to tie the game at 1.  Things got very chippy during the third period when Tim Sestito, for whatever reason, decides to hit and then throw punches down on Desjardins.  Of course a scrum ensues behind the net, with Crunch captain Mike Angelidis ready to pound him.  We’re all thinking, Sestito’s clearly done for the night.  Nope.  Sylvain only calls a two minute goalie interference penalty…and gives Angelidis a roughing minor.  For once, the Devils got away with it (I even thought Tim should have been tossed out, because why do you rain on the other goalie a la Ray Emery?), and we’ll just say the decision didn’t sit well with the Crunch contingent.  Peace was restored through the end of regulation, and it was on to the extra session, where if not for a defensive clear with less than a minute remaining Kelly Zajac would have won it.  On to the shootout, where only Reid Boucher would connect on a goal.  Kinkaid stopped all 5 Crunch shooters to hang on for the win.  It was another outstanding night for #1 in net, stopping 29 of 30 shots in 65 minutes and picking up #1 star honors for the second straight game.  Boucher and Joe Whitney had the lone assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Rostislav Olesz

Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher-Mike Sislo

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel-Chris McKelvie

Extra: Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Harry Young

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

I don’t know what’s more entertaining, the fight or the call by the Hartford announcer.

My Player of the Week:

3 wins, the first shutout of the season, and a shootout win against the defending Eastern Conference champs?  Keith Kinkaid gets the nod.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (7)

Assists: 2 players tied with 8

Points: Joe Whitney (15)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (30)

Plus/Minus: 3 players tied with +4

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (6)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (1.97)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.922)

Elmira Update:

It was not a good week for the Jackals, as they dropped three straight to the Wheeling Nailers.  Maxime Clermont only played in one of those, Saturday night’s 5-4 loss in West Virginia, stopping 26 of 31 shots.  Harry Young appeared in two games, staying off the scoresheet before his sudden recall on Saturday (more on that in a minute).  And per ECHL transactions, Alexandre Carrier was released on Wednesday.

Notes:

-As mentioned earlier, Harry Young was a sudden callup on Saturday afternoon.  From what I could gather in Syracuse, he was brought up just incase another defenseman had to be recalled to New Jersey after Peter Harrold took a hit in Friday night’s loss to the Kings.  But apparently no one was needed, so it was another #FreeYoung evening.  Not sure if he’ll stick around or just return to Elmira.

-David Wohlberg made his return to the lineup Saturday night after missing nearly two weeks with an injury.  Darcy Zajac and Scott Timmins remain out, no word on returns.

This Week’s Schedule:

It’s a big divisional week for the Devils.  On Wednesday, they play host to Hartford for the second time in less than a month and already the fourth matchup of the season.  Then back on the road for a pair: Friday night they take on Springfield in Western Massachusetts with–dare I say it?–first place on the line.  Then it’s back up north for the second time in 3 weeks on Saturday for the latest Time Warner Cable Cup installment against Adirondack.

Game 16: Albany at Syracuse

Where: Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter, Syracuse, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Syracuse leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany: 8-6-0-1, 17 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Syracuse: 9-4-1-0, 19 points, tied for 2nd place in East Division

Media Kit

Crunch Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Nikita Kucherov, 23 points (12 G, 11 A); Vladislav Namestnikov, 21 points (8 G, 13 A); Matt Taormina, 10 points (2 G, 8 A)

Cedrick Desjardins, 3-3-0, 2.63 GAA; Riku Helenius, 2-2-0, 3.02 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, ESPN Radio Syracuse

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @SyracuseCrunch, @syrhockey

 

Game 15: Albany at Hartford

Where: XL Center, Hartford, CT.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Tied at 1.

Standings:

Albany: 7-6-0-1, 15 points, 4th place in Northeast Division

Hartford: 7-5-0-2, 16 points, tied for 2nd place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Wolfpack Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Aaron Johnson, 16 points (3 G, 13 A); Danny Kristo, 14 points (8 G, 6 A); Danny Syvret, 10 points (0 G, 10 A)

Jason Missiaen, 2-3-1, 4.39 GAA; Scott Stajcer, 1-1-0, 2.46 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, Fox Sports Radio 1410 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfPackAHL

Game 14: Albany vs. Bridgeport

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 2:00 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting of 8.

Standings:

Bridgeport: 4-5-1-1, 10 points, 5th place in Northeast Division

Albany: 6-6-0-1, 13 points, 4th place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Need to Know:

-After a 1-5-1-0 start, the Sound Tigers are showing some signs of life, winning 2 of their last 3 games.

-Bridgeport is in the third of a 3 in 3 weekend, coming off breaking Adirondack’s winning and shutout streaks at home yesterday afternoon.

-There is a familiar face to River Rat fans behind the Sound Tigers bench–former captain and Calder Cup winner Scott Pellerin is in his second season as head coach.

Sound Tigers Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Ryan Strome, 16 points (4 G, 12 A); 2 players tied with 10 points

Anders Nilsson, 3-3-1, 3.38 GAA; Kenny Reiter, 1-3-0, 3.11 GAA

Listen: AHL Live

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheSoundTigers

All Or Nothing At All…

The Devils had their work cut out for them if there was any chance of breaking their current 4 game losing streak.  They had to travel to a place where the franchise had only won once in a six year span, then host a hot team and a division rival less than 24 hours later.  They were able to break the streak in surprising fashion, only to sink right back to where they started.  Recapping a quick week:

11/8 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 6-5 W

The weekend began with a trip southwest to Wilkes-Barre to take on the Penguins, in a building the Devils have only won 1 game in, during the 2011-12 season.  The Penguins came into the night with just one regulation loss, while Albany looked to get out of a recent offensive slump.  So who goes out in the first period and drops 3 goals on 10 shots?  The Devils.  It all started five minutes into the game, while on the first power play chance of the day…Reid Boucher would score his 4th of the season with just 1 second left on the power play for the 1-0 advantage.  Rostislav Olesz, in his Albany debut, would then add an unassisted goal under 3 minutes later for a 2-0 lead.  But the Penguins would cut the lead in half on a Harry Zolnierczyk goal.  40 seconds later Mike Sislo would get the 2 goal lead back.  The pattern of goals continued into the second period, as Scott Harrington scored on a power play to put the lead back to one.  But Sislo would get a short handed goal, his second goal of the game (assisted by Olesz) to put the lead back to 4-2.  But the Penguins responded again, as Tom Kostopoulos (remember him, Devils fans?) scored less than a minute later during the same power play to go to a 4-3 game.  Kelly Zajac would put the lead back up to 2 with his first goal of the season, resulting in a 5-3 Devil lead heading into the third.  Things got a little nerve wracking in the early part of the third period.  The Penguins first switched goaltenders, Jeff Deslauriers went in to replace Peter Mannino.  Then they proceeded to rally to tie the game at 5 on goals 46 seconds apart by Mike Carman and Chris Conner.  But it was Sislo who would score the game winner and complete his first career hat trick on a power play for the 6-5 final.  Keith Kinkaid was a little shaky in net in his first start since returning from being the doorman in New Jersey for two weeks, but got the job done in earning the win, stopping 28 of 33 Penguin shots.  Six different Devils had one assist, and it was a very good night for special teams: 2 for 6 on the power play, and 6 for 8 on the penalty kill, including killing off 2 separate 5 on 3 situations.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Rod Pelley-Stefan Matteau

Scott Timmins-Rostislav Olesz-Joe Whitney

Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo-Reid Boucher

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Harri Pesonen

Extra: Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Reece Scarlett/Dan Kelly

Raman Hrabarenka/Seth Helgeson

11/9 vs. Adirondack: 2-0 L

To finish out the weekend, the Devils returned home to play host to their neighbors to the north, the Phantoms.  This game was pretty much over in the first period, as a red hot Adirondack team (they had won 5 in a row coming in) got all the offense they would need against Scott Wedgewood.    Rob Bordson and Ben Holmstrom scored 4:20 apart for the 2-0 lead.  After that, it was all goaltending and lack of…and bad…calls from the referee.  He would miss blatant calls on Adirondack, but all a Devil had to do was breathe on a Phantom and they would end up in the box.  There were two different scrums in front of the net, and both times only one Devil would get called.  The other story of the night had to be Yann Danis, who stopped everything that came in his path.  He even stopped a Chris McKelvie penalty shot attempt late in the third period to preserve the shutout, the second for the Devils in the month of November.  Wedgewood had a hard luck night in net, stopping 23 of 25 Phantom shots.  And an okay night for special teams: 0 for 4 on the power play, but a perfect 6 for 6 penalty kill.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Rostislav Olesz-Tim Sestito

Kelly Zajac-Mike Sislo-Reid Boucher

Stefan Matteau-Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Two different bouts to choose from, both from Friday night.  But when Tim Sestito is involved…

My Player of the Week:

With all the offense coming on Friday, it was a pretty easy choice.  First career hat trick while scoring goals in three different situations?  Mike Sislo gets the nod.

Team Leaders:

Goals: 2 players tied with 5

Assists: Scott Timmins (8)

Points: Scott Timmins (13)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (28)

Plus/Minus: Scott Timmins (+4)

Wins: 2 tied at 3

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.57)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.895)

Elmira Update:

For those that are still with the Jackals: They just completed a 1-2 road trip through Florida, losing one to the Orlando Solar Bears and splitting two games with the Florida Everblades.  Maxime Clermont returned to the team in time to start in Orlando and take the loss, stopping 41 of 45 shots.  Alexandre Carrier was held scoreless, while Harry Young is apparently out with an upper body injury.

Notes:

Roster moves were covered earlier in the week…but there are a few injury updates:

-Stefan Matteau returned to the lineup Friday night after sitting out last Saturday’s game in Adirondack.

-Scott Timmins apparently injured his knee Friday night in Wilkes-Barre and sat out Saturday’s game.

-Darcy Zajac and David Wohlberg remain out, no updates on returns.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games coming up this week.  Monday afternoon the Devils host a special Veterans Day matinee against Bridgeport.  Then they hit the road for two games: Friday night in Hartford and Saturday night in Syracuse.

Game 13: Albany vs. Adirondack

Where: Times Union Center, Albany, NY.

When: 5:00 PM.

Season Series:

Tied at 1.

Standings:

Adirondack: 6-4-0-2, 14 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Albany: 6-5-0-1, 13 points, 4th place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Need to Know:

-Welcome to Game 3 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series.

-The Phantoms remain on a roll, extending their win streak to 5 games after a victory over Springfield on Friday night.

-The Devils and Phantoms see each other a total of 4 times during the month of November: the 2nd (won by the Phantoms), today, the 23rd in Glens Falls, and on the 29th in Albany.

Phantoms Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

2 players tied with 8 points each

Cal Heeter, 4-2-0, 1.95 GAA; Yann Danis, 2-2-2, 2.75 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, WNYQ 101.7 FM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @PhantomsHockey, @dianacnearhos

Game 12: Albany at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, PA.

When: 7:05 PM.

Season Series:

First meeting of 4.

Standings:

Albany: 5-5-0-1, 11 points, 4th place in Northeast Division

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 8-1-0-2, 18 points, 1st place in East Division

Media Kit

Need to Know:

-The Devils are looking for their first win in Wilkes-Barre since December 19, 2011, which is also the only victory for the Lowell/Albany franchise since its inception.

-The Penguins are coming off a shootout loss at home on Wednesday night to Syracuse.

-There is one familiar face on the Penguins roster: Pierre Luc Letourneau Leblond, better known as PL3.  He was recently rewarded with a 2 year contract by Pittsburgh after starting the season on an AHL deal.  He cleared waivers earlier today.

Penguins Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Brian Gibbons, 15 points (5 G, 10 A); Andrew Ebbett, 11 points (5 G, 6 A); 2 players tied with 9 points

Jeff Deslauriers, 7-0-2, 2.38 GAA; Peter Mannino, 1-1-0, 2.02 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, The Sports Hub 102.3 FM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @nafsnep, @WBSPenguins, @WBSGameDay

Lunchtime Updates…

Now that the dust has finally settled on the roster musical chairs across three teams, a little refresher on everything that has happened as the weekend games approach:

-On Tuesday, forward Rostislav Olesz was placed on–and subsequently cleared–waivers, and was assigned to Albany.  He appeared in 10 games for New Jersey, posting just 2 assists.  It appears he will be replacing Reid Boucher on what I consider the top line, with Scott Timmins and Joe Whitney.  We’ll see how that works out.

-With Jon Merrill being recalled on Sunday (then getting injured on just his second NHL shift), Raman Hrabarenka has been recalled from Elmira to fill in.

-And finally, with New Jersey a forward short heading into a back to back series in Philadelphia and Toronto starting tonight, the brass decided it was a good time for Cam Janssen to make his presence felt again, and he was recalled.  He is slated to make his season debut tonight against the Flyers.  And I will be deprived of a possible Cam vs. PL3 matchup in Wilkes-Barre tomorrow night, but such is life.