Getting a Little Crowded

Quite a few roster moves over the last couple days before another 3 in 3 weekend gets underway.  Just to get everyone up to date:

-Cam Janssen was placed on waivers on Monday (making once again for celebrations on my Jersey portion of my Twitter feed) to make room for the return of Damien Brunner to the lineup.  He cleared on Tuesday and was reassigned to Albany.  He appeared in 24 games for New Jersey after his recall on November 6th, scoring 3 goals (?!?).

-With the Olympic break looming, there was a question on who, if anyone, would be sent down to play in Albany over the two week layoff. (Side note: In Lou We Trust covered the very topic earlier yesterday.)  Last night came one answer: Reid Boucher was sent down.  He had appeared in 23 games for the parent Devils, with 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) and being the only Devil to convert a shootout goal all season.

-Then this morning, a surprise guest hit the ice for New Jersey’s practice…Joe Whitney has finally received the callup.  All he’s done is lead Albany in scoring (also tied for 9th in the AHL in points).  He practiced on the first line with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr, and all signs point to him making his NHL debut tomorrow night at The Rock against Washington.

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The Almost Sweep

It’s the third weekend of 3 games in 3 days for the Devils, and at the same time the start of a 4 game road trip.  What started out as a very strong start ended with a whimper at the end of the weekend, as Albany managed to snag 5 out of 6 points and keep their standing in a tight Eastern Conference race.  Reviewing the weekend that was:

1/17 at Utica: 8-3 W

The road swing began with a quick trip west to Utica for their third matchup against the Comets, in front of a sold out audience.  The home team had a chance to get an early jump when Alexandre Grenier was awarded a penalty shot, actually the first one against Albany all season.  But Keith Kinkaid stoned him.  Albany got on the board on a Mike Sislo goal, in his first game since returning from New Jersey for a 1-0 lead.  Benn Ferriero would tie the game up 4 minutes later. Mattias Tedenby would break the tie late in the first for a 2-1 advantage.  Second period was all Albany, as they dropped 4 more on the Comets.  Joe Whitney would put the score at 3-1 5 minutes into the period.  Over a minute later right off the faceoff, Mike Hoeffel scored for a 4-1 lead.  That would cause Utica to go to the bullpen and bring out Joe Cannata to take over for Mathieu Corbeil.  But that didn’t stop the offense…Harri Pesonen and Rod Pelley would score almost 4 minutes apart to go up 6-1.  Whitney would add his second of the game just 1:03 into the third for a 7-1 lead.  Grenier would finally get one past Kinkaid to make it 7-2, but Kelly Zajac would get his 5th of the season late for a 8-2 advantage.  Utica would get one more goal late, but there was no surpassing the Devils on this night, as they tied a franchise record with the 8 goal outburst.  Kinkaid stopped 31 of 34 shots for the win.  Chris McKelvie added two assists, while 5 other Devils had assists.  Seth Helgeson and Corbin McPherson both finished at +4.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Stefan Matteau

Artem Demkov-Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby

Chris McKelvie-Harri Pesonen-Mike Hoeffel

Extras: Riley Boychuk, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Adam Larsson/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Extras: Harry Young, Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka

1/18 at Adirondack: 4-1 W

It was on to Glens Falls on Saturday for another matchup against the Phantoms…and another sellout crowd for Dax the mascot’s birthday bash.  Among the invitees was Devil Dawg, who I think brought some home luck to the visitors.  Rod Pelley would get Albany on the board first with his 8th.  Ben Holmstrom would tie the game with a power play goal, but just over a minute later Kelly Zajac would score his 6th for a 2-1 lead.  Second period Albany took over yet again…but with not as much firepower needed as the night before.  Artem Demkov and Tim Sestito would score just 40 seconds apart to go up 4-1, chasing Cal Heeter out of the net in favor of Yann Danis.  After that, not much happened…well, unless you count Keith Kinkaid shutting the Phantoms down and the three fights that broke out.  Kinkaid stopped 21 of 22 shots in winning his second straight on the weekend.  Dan Kelly added two assists while 4 other Devils had one each.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Mattias Tedenby-Kelly Zajac-Artem Demkov

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Harri Pesonen

Extra: David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Brandon Burlon/Raman Hrabarenka

Extras: Alexander Urbom, Reece Scarlett

1/19 at Hershey: 4-3 L (SO)

It was off to Chocolatetown for the first time this season to finish off the 3 in 3 weekend.  And much like last week when the two teams met in Atlantic City, it was the Bears getting on the board first.  After Stefan Matteau took a double minor for a high stick, Dustin Gazley scored during the second half of the man advantage for a 1-0 lead.  But the Devils would rally in the second period.  Mike Sislo would score his 11th to tie the game at 1.  Then just before the second period ended, Tim Sestito added his 8th for a 2-1 advantage.  Rod Pelley would pad the lead with a short handed goal 2 minutes into the third.  But the Bears would rally, thanks to quite a few penalty calls against the Devils.  First, a too many men call and an ensuing argument lead to a Sestito Penalty (as in Tim argues with the ref after getting the initial two minutes, then adds to his total as a result…in this case a 10 minute misconduct).  Then Alexander Urbom gets the dreaded delay of game call, which resulted in a Ryan Potulny power play goal to cut the lead to 3-2.  Then while on a full 4 on 4 setup, David Kolomatis would tie the game up with 3 minutes to go in regulation.  Albany had to kill off a power play to end regulation and start overtime, and were outshot 2-0 in the extra session.  Nothing across lead to the bonus round, where only Mattias Tedenby was able to connect in four rounds.  Scott Wedgewood would give up goals in rounds 2-4 to lose the extra standings point and complete the late game collapse.  He stopped 32 of 35 shots in 65 minutes in taking the shootout loss.  Corbin McPherson added two assists.

Lines:

Back to the old 11/7 smashup:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Stefan Matteau

Artem Demkov-Mike Sislo-Mattias Tedenby

David Wohlberg-Chris McKelvie-Pesonen

Other lines: Whitney-Pelley-Sestito, Matteau-Sislo-Timmins, Pesonen-Tedenby-Demkov

Extras: Mike Hoeffel, Kelly Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Other pairings: Reece Scarlett/Kelly, Helgeson/Larsson, Kelly/Hrabarenka

Extra: Brandon Burlon

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

I had a few to choose from, but the first bout on Saturday night ended up the winner:

Actually, I’ll give an honorary mention to Raman Hrabarenka for surviving Fitzy.

My Player of the Week:

Out of all three games, there was one constant on the scoresheet: the captain, Rod Pelley.  Goals in all three games, plus an assist on Sunday.  Honorable mention to Mike Sislo for rejoining the lineup after his stay in New Jersey and picking up right where he left off with 2 goals and an assist.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (16)

Assists: Joe Whitney (20)

Points: Joe Whitney (36)

Plus/Minus: Dan Kelly (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (63)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (16)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.17)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.916)

Elmira Update:

A 2 game Midwest road swing proved fruitful for the Jackals, as they beat Cincinnati and Fort Wayne to improve to 12-19-2-2.  With regular starter Scott Greenham up filling in as the backup in Binghamton, Maxime Clermont got work in both games.  He stopped 25 of 29 Cyclone shots in a 5-4 win on Thursday, then followed up with 20 saves on 22 shots in 2 periods against Fort Wayne on Friday evening before exiting with an apparent injury.  He stands at 6-9-0 with a 3.34 GAA and an .892 save percentage.

Notes:

-Now that New Jersey is getting healthy (and here as well), the expected roster turnover is starting up.  Mike Sislo was returned to Albany on Thursday after Patrik Elias returned to the lineup.  He appeared in 7 games and was held scoreless.

-On Saturday, Harry Young and Riley Boychuk were returned to Elmira.  Young played in 10 games and was scoreless, but had 15 penalty minutes.  He had last appeared on January 4th in Adirondack.  Boychuk played in 18 games with 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist), but had been used sparingly on the 4th line recently.

-Tim Sestito returned to the lineup Friday night in Utica after missing two weeks due to injury.  That leaves Darcy Zajac as the lone injured member of the team.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another 3 in 3 weekend looms for the Devils, but this time much closer to home.  On Friday, they finish off their four game road swing in Binghamton against the Senators.  Then it’s a quick turnaround back home on Saturday afternoon against the Phantoms, game one of a hockey doubleheader in downtown Albany (RPI and Union will take on each other for the nightcap).  Then they host Binghamton on Sunday afternoon while the parent Devils play outdoors at Yankee Stadium.

Game 40: Albany at Hershey

Where: Giant Center, Hershey, PA.

When: 5:00 PM.

Season Series:

Hershey leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany: 23-11-3-2, 51 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Hershey: 18-14-3-3, 42 points, 4th place in East Division

Media Kit

Bears Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Brandon Segal, 33 points (13 G, 20 A); Jeff Taffe, 25 points (9 G, 16 A); Nicolas Deschamps, 22 points (11 G, 11 A)

David Leggio, 11-12-2, 2.73 GAA; Riley Gill, 2-1-0, 1.66 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, The Ticket 1460 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @TheHersheyBears, @timleone

Game 39: Albany at Adirondack

Where: Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Adirondack leads 4-3.

Standings:

Albany: 22-11-3-2, 49 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Adirondack: 20-15-0-2, 42 points, 3rd place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Phantoms Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Jason Akeson, 34 points (13 G, 21 A); Kris Newbury, 23 points (12 G, 11 A); 2 tied with 18 points

Cal Heeter, 13-12-0, 2.16 GAA; Yann Danis, 6-3-2, 2.41 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, WNYQ 101.7 FM

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

2013-14 First Half Review: By the Numbers

Friday night in Utica marked Game #38, the official halfway point of the 2013-14 season.  Before kicking off the next 38 games, let’s take a look at the Devils’ progress so far this season:

Record: 22-11-3-2, 49 points.  2nd place in Northeast Division, 4th place in Eastern Conference, 7th in AHL

Home: 12-6-2-0
Away: 10-5-1-2

Team Leaders (Top 3):

Goals: Joe Whitney (16); Reid Boucher*/Mike Sislo (10); Scott Timmins (9)
Assists: Joe Whitney (20); Kelly Zajac (17); Scott Timmins (13)
Points: Joe Whitney (36); Mike Sislo/Scott Timmins/Kelly Zajac (22); Reid Boucher* (18)
+/-: Reece Scarlett (+11); Dan Kelly/Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson (+10); Mike Sislo/Scott Timmins (+9)
Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (63); Dan Kelly (53); Chris McKelvie (47)
Power Play Goals: Joe Whitney (5); Reece Scarlett (4); 2 others with 3
Power Play Assists: Joe Whitney (11); Kelly Zajac (7); Reid Boucher (6)*
Shorthanded Goals: 4 tied with 1
Shorthanded Assists: 3 tied with 1
Game Winning Goals: 3 tied with 3
Shots on Goal: Joe Whitney (108); Harri Pesonen (80); Reid Boucher (69)*

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (15)
GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.22)
Shutouts: Keith Kinkaid (4)
Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid, .915

Team Stats (with league rankings):

Home Attendance: 2,906 (28th)
Penalty Minutes Average: 15.21 (21st)
Power Play: 16.8% (16th)
Penalty Kill: 81.6% (19th)
Goals For: 121, 3.18 (5th)
Goals Against: 97, 2.55 (5th)
Shots For: 28.26 (22nd)
Shots Against: 26.08 (2nd)

Comparing last year at this time to now?  Let’s take a look:

-Obviously in the win column.  7 more wins with 6 less shootout losses, for starters.

-Attendance is down by about 800, but last year there was the lockout to contend with.  And not a lot of big home dates early on.  But next weekend at home…and continuing play, and hopefully some better marketing, may change that.

-Much improved power play numbers, up 6 percent (I haven’t had to break out the power outage jokes in quite awhile).  But the penalty kill is down about 3 percent.

-The one thing I was worried about at the start of the season?  Goal production.  An increase of 22 goals over this time last season has calmed those fears down.  Goals against continues to improve over the years, as goals against has gone down by 8 thanks to Keith Kinkaid’s surge.

Second half begins tonight in Adirondack.  And the real test of whether this resurgence continues on begins.

Game 38: Albany at Utica

Where: Utica Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 2-0.

Standings:

Albany: 21-11-3-2, 47 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Utica: 11-19-2-3, 27 points, 5th place in North Division

Media Kit

Comets Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Pascal Pelletier, 29 points (7 G, 22 A); Benn Ferriero, 25 points (10 G, 15 A); Alexandre Grenier, 23 points (11 G, 12 A)

Joacim Eriksson, 8-11-1, 2.84 GAA; Joe Cannata, 3-10-1, 3.32 GAA; Mathieu Corbeil, 0-0-1, 1.33 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, 94.9 KROCK

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @CometsInGame