Snowed In Thursday Update

While waiting out the latest snowstorm to hit the area (I’m looking at, oh, at least a foot by tomorrow morning…sigh), time to get everyone up to speed as the season resumes tomorrow night in Atlantic City:

-While his teammates were enjoying a three day vacation, Joe Whitney was up in St. John’s to take part in the AHL All Star festivities, going up against Farjestad BK of the SEL.  Tuesday night the AHL contingent won the Skills Competition 18-17, needing a shootout to clinch the win.  Whitney took part in the second round of the Puck Control Relay, teaming with Cody Goloubef (Springfield) and Brenden Kichton (St. John’s); teamed up again with Goloubef and Frederic St. Denis (Springfield) in the Pass and Score competition; and scored on Farjestad netminder Frederik Pettersson-Wentzel in Round 3 of the Breakaway Relay.

-In the actual game Wednesday night, the AHL All-Stars beat Farjestad BK 7-2.  Rockford’s Brandon Pirri (also a former RPI Engineer for one season) took home MVP honors with two goals and an assist.  Whitney was his linemate for a good portion of the night, he and Binghamton’s Mike Hoffman each notched two assists.  Farjestad’s player of the game?  None other than former Albany River Rat Christian Berglund, despite being held scoreless (he did lead Farjestad with 5 shots on goal).

-Thursday it was back to work for the remaining Devils, and there were two somewhat new faces on ice: Darcy Zajac, who hadn’t been seen since October after getting hurt during the Norfolk trip, was back on ice for the first time since then.  And with Keith Kinkaid out for at least the weekend, another backup goaltender was brought in…and he’s a familiar face to Devils fans.  Johan Hedberg (otherwise known as MOOOOSE), who had been working as a special assignment coach (sitting with goaltending coach Dave Caruso for a handful of games), was signed to a PTO agreement, and there is a chance with the 3 in 3 schedule this weekend that he may get into a game.  His last on ice appearance was back on April 27th, a 4-0 loss to the Rangers.  After that, he was bought out after Cory Schneider’s acquistion, and even had a stint in Rangers training camp before coming back to join the Devils staff.

Coming Up Zeroes

Good news and bad news for the Devils in looking at this week’s games: all 3 involved shutouts.  But it’s not so good when you’re on the losing end of two of those games.  Reviewing the events of the week:

2/4 at Springfield: 4-0 L

The New England road swing continued into Springfield on Tuesday night for a matchup against the first place Falcons.  Alex Aleardi would put Springfield on the board early in the first period with an unassisted goal.  Then the Falcons took over the game in the second period and never let up, scoring three times and outshooting Albany 14-9.  Spencer Machacek and Frederic St. Denis each had power play goals, while Jonathan Marchessault would close out the scoring late in the second with an even strength goal.  And that was all former Devil Mike McKenna would need, as he stopped all 25 Albany shots in picking up the shutout.  It was the fourth time this season the Devils have been shutout, and the first since January 4th in Adirondack.  Scott Wedgewood stopped 27 of 31 in taking the loss, while Eric Gelinas lead all skaters with 7 shots.

(Note: I was not around for this one, so no notes on lines/defense pairings.)

2/8 at Bridgeport: 3-0 W

It was off to southern Connecticut on Saturday night to take on the Sound Tigers, in their 1,000th game as a franchise.  Stefan Matteau scored his 8th of the season in the first to get the visitors on the board.  Chris McKelvie had a chance to double the lead via a penalty shot, but was denied by goaltender Anders Nilsson.  Kelly Zajac (on a power play) and McKelvie would each get their seventh goals 2:51 apart late in the second period to go up 3-0.  But the story of the game was in goal…Keith Kinkaid started, but had to leave the game late in the second due to an apparent injury.  Scott Wedgewood took over and completed the shutout the rest of the way, stopping 12 Bridgeport shots (Kinkaid stopped 16 before exiting).  Alexander Urbom added two assists and finished at a +2, while Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas (also a +2 on the night) and Mike Hoeffel added assists.

Lines:

(Again not around for this one; all lines/defense pairings via the Bridgeport blog Soundin’ Off)

Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney

Stefan Matteau-Kelly Zajac-Mike Hoeffel

Harri Pesonen-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Cam Janssen

Extras: Mattias Tedenby, David Wohlberg

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Eric Gelinas

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Sunday: With Keith Kinkaid not able to go and Maxime Clermont still on the injured list in Elmira till at least Valentine’s Day, who would be backing up Scott Wedgewood in New Hampshire?  Enter Anthony Felice.  Who?  He is a 40-year-old (just turned 40 in late January) Bronx native who served as an emergency backup goaltender during the Devils run in Trenton.

And Jon Merrill was reassigned to Albany for the Olympic break, making the roster just a little more crowded.

2/9 at Manchester: 3-0 L

A challenge awaited the Devils as they made their only visit to Manchester of the season in the form of Martin Jones, the same goaltender who was recalled to Los Angeles to fill in for Jonathan Quick in December and won his first eight starts in a row.  Sean Backman put the Devils in a hole very early on, scoring just 1:08 into the contest for a 1-0 Monarchs lead.  It was all Manchester after that, as the Devils cut their first two power plays short with penalties and continued to get into trouble…and not giving Jones much work, just putting 4 shots on goal.  Manchester would put the game away in the second via goals by Andy Andreoff and Jordan Weal for a 3-0 lead.  Jones would take care of the rest, stopping all 19 Devil shots in picking up the shutout, the second against the Devils in 5 days.  Scott Wedgewood stopped 26 of 29 shots.  Reid Boucher and Mike Sislo each had 4 shots on net.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-Mattias Tedenby

Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher-Joe Whitney

Mike Hoeffel-Stefan Matteau-Kelly Zajac

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Extras: Cam Janssen, David Wohlberg

Other lines: Zajac-Matteau-Sislo, Sestito-Hoeffel-Matteau, Whitney-Pelley-Tedenby

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Alexander Urbom/Reece Scarlett

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, Raman Hrabarenka

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

A nice little bout from Chris McKelvie Tuesday night in Springfield.

My Player of the Week:

Don’t look now, but the third Zajac brother in the organization (that would be Kelly) is climbing up the stats chart.  He had a goal and an assist on Saturday night in Bridgeport, earning #1 star of the game honors.  He’s moved to second on the team in scoring behind Joe Whitney and recently cracked the top 20 among league rookies in points as well.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (17)

Assists: Joe Whitney (21)

Points: Joe Whitney (38)

Plus/Minus: Reece Scarlett/Corbin McPherson (+9)

Penalty Minutes: Chris McKelvie/Seth Helgeson (72)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (18)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.30)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.914)

Elmira Update:

The Jackals completed their Midwestern swing with a shootout loss in Kalamazoo on Wednesday, followed by a pair of wins in Evansville on Friday and Saturday.  The only Devil to appear on the scoresheet all week?  Harry Young.  He scored his second goal of the season in Kalamazoo on Wednesday evening.

Notes:

After a one man injury update (Darcy Zajac) for quite a while, there may be a couple of additions after the weekend games.  No word as of yet on how long Kinkaid will be out after leaving Saturday’s game due to a lower body injury.  Adam Larsson disappeared after the first period in Manchester, no idea of the situation there.

This Week’s Schedule:

While Joe Whitney heads up to St. John’s for the AHL All Star Classic Tuesday and Wednesday, everyone else gets a 4 day break.  But it’s back to work on Friday and the start of a hard 3 in 3 weekend.  Friday night Albany travels to Atlantic City to play Hershey “at home”.  Then a quick turnaround back to the Capital Region on Saturday afternoon to take on Adirondack.  Finally it’s back to Bridgeport on Sunday afternoon to face the Sound Tigers.

And the Photo Gallery is taking a week off.  Back next weekend!

Game 48: Albany at Manchester

Where:Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, NH.

When: 3:00 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 1-0.

Standings:

Albany: 25-15-3-4, 57 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Manchester: 30-14-2-5, 67 points, 1st place in Atlantic Division

Media Kit

Jordan Weal, 43 points (10 G, 33 A); Nick Deslauriers, 32 points (15 G, 17 A); Tanner Pearson, 29 points (16 G, 13 A)

Martin Jones, 11-3-2, 2.14 GAA; Mathias Niederberger, 0-0-1, 3.48 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, WGIR 610 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @MonarchsHockey

Game 47: Albany at Bridgeport

Where: Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, CT.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 5-2.

Standings:

Albany: 24-15-3-4, 55 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Bridgeport: 19-23-1-4, 43 points, 4th place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Sound Tigers Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Ryan Strome, 40 points (10 G, 30 A); Anders Lee, 35 points (18 G, 17 A); Mike Halmo, 31 points (16 G, 15 A)

Anders Nilsson, 6-13-2, 2.85 GAA; Kenny Reiter, 9-9-2, 3.02 GAA

Listen: AHL Live

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils, @TheSoundTigers, @fornabaioctp

Game 46: Albany at Springfield

Where: Mass Mutual Center, Springfield, MA.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Springfield leads 3-2.

Standings:

Albany: 24-14-3-4, 55 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Springfield: 28-12-1-4, 61 points, 1st place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Falcons Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Jonathan Marchessault, 30 points (12 G, 18 A); Tim Erixon, 24 points (4 G, 20 A); Frederic St. Denis, 22 points (8 G, 14 A)

Mike McKenna, 10-5-0, 1.89 GAA; Jeremy Smith, 17-8-3, 2.69 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, WHYN 560 AM

Twitter: @AlbanyDevils, @TheFalconsAHL, @KatyLovesHockey

Blown Perfection

Doing things a little differently this week…with quite a few news items before the games even got started (with my schedule I didn’t have time for a full post), I’ll do a timeline…mixing in all the news and notes with the game recap as we go.

Monday: A wrong was officially righted, as Joe Whitney (along with 2 others) was added to the AHL All Star roster.  Not a bad few days for Joe…he makes his NHL debut, gets his own bobblehead, and now his first AHL All Star appearance.

Wednesday: With so many extras on the roster, someone had to go sooner or later.  Surprisingly, it was Artem Demkov leaving, as he was sent back to Elmira.  He did very well during his stint here, appearing in 21 games and notching 11 points (6 G, 5 A).  After coming to Albany’s training camp as a tryout, he came back on a PTO on December 4th when everyone seemed to be getting recalled to New Jersey.  He did so well during his first week he was given a standard AHL contract 9 days later.

Friday: Before Albany took the ice that night against Bridgeport, another surprising transaction: Eric Gelinas was reassigned to Albany, while Mike Sislo was recalled for the second time in a month as insurance incase Dainius Zubrus couldn’t go in Nashville (Zubrus played; Sislo did not).  Gelinas was sparingly used in his last appearance for New Jersey, seeing just 2:50 of ice time in an overtime victory against Dallas.  Not sure how long he’ll stay, considering that he is not eligible to play here during the Olympic Break.

1/31 vs. Bridgeport: 2-1 W

Now to game action!

One more game to finish out a tough month of January and the homestand, as the Devils welcomed the Sound Tigers.  Unlike the weekend before, Albany clamped down and dominated the first period to start, not even allowing a shot on goal for the first 13:04 of the game (and getting 11 shots of their own).  Joe Whitney thought he had a goal early on, but despite the puck being clearly over the line (per a few witnesses by the net), referee Chris Brown would wave it off.  Just as the Sound Tigers finally showed up for the game, Reid Boucher would score his first since returning to Albany for a 1-0 lead.  Less than 2 minutes later, Alan Quine would tie it up on a power play goal.  Bridgeport would outshoot Albany after that, but Keith Kinkaid was in redemption mode after his 0-3 performance on Sunday afternoon.  The game remained tied (and also quite uneventful) till the third period, when Tim Sestito scored his 9th to put Albany up 2-1.  And the door was shut from then on.  A nice rebound performance from Kinkaid in net, as he set aside 27 of 28 shots and earned #1 star honors.  Four Devils each had an assist.

Lines:

Mattias Tedenby-Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Tim Sestito

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Cam Janssen-Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel

Extra: David Wohlberg

Other line combinations: Whitney-Timmins-Boucher; Sestito-McKelvie-Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Alexander Urbom/Reece Scarlett

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Corbin McPherson/Seth Helgeson

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Eric Gelinas

Saturday: In a not so surprising move, Mike Sislo was sent back down.  When did I figure this out?  When he took the ice in Hartford for warmups.

2/1 at Hartford: 4-3 L (SO)

The Devils started February–and a four game (well, technically five if you count Atlantic City at “home”) road trip–in Hartford against the Wolfpack.  An uneventful first saw Hartford outshoot the Devils 11-4, but Keith Kinkaid was again up to the challenge.  The game remained scoreless till Mike Sislo scored his 13th unassisted for a 1-0 lead.  Harri Pesonen was awarded a goal just over two minutes later despite a replay showing the puck went off his skate.  The referee that allowed the goal?  Chris Brown.  Atoning for last night, I guess?  So a 2 goal lead for a team who is 20-0-0-2 when leading after two periods shouldn’t be a problem, right?  Well…Hartford had a little rally in them as the third period got underway.  Micheal Haley would break up the shutout 98 seconds in for a 2-1 advantage.  Joe Whitney would score less than a minute later for a 3-1 lead.  Darroll Powe would cut the deficit to 3-2 halfway through the period.  Then T.J. Hensick would complete the comeback with just 3:56 left in regulation and tie the game at 3, sealing yet another third period collapse, the fourth one in 5 weeks for the Devils.  This was Hartford’s period from beginning to end, as they outshot the Devils 14-1.  Yup, the one shot got in, and that was all Albany could do.  It was on to overtime, where Albany managed 3 shots to Hartford’s 1, but nothing across.  It was on to the shootout, where it nearly resembled the parent club’s struggles.  Mattias Tedenby scored in the first round, but Reid Boucher, Sislo and Whitney could not get anything by David LeNeveu.  Kinkaid gave up three straight to Hensick, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast to give Hartford the extra point and seal their comeback.  Outside of beyond the third period, Kinkaid played well again, and finished with 33 saves on 36 shots in 65 minutes.  Four Devils had one assist each, while Eric Gelinas returned to the lineup and finished a +3.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo-Rod Pelley

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Stefan Matteau

Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher-Mattias Tedenby

Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen-Harri Pesonen

Extras: Mike Hoeffel, David Wohlberg

Other line combinations: McKelvie-Sislo-Pesonen; Zajac-Pesonen-Janssen; Whitney-Boucher-Timmins; Zajac-Boucher-McKelvie

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Eric Gelinas

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

Other pairings: Kelly/Helgeson, Gelinas/Helgeson, Urbom/McPherson, Larsson/Urbom, Gelinas/Urbom

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

No gloves dropped or faces punched this week.

My Player of the Week:

Well…again not a lot of standout performances over the two games.  I was leaning towards Keith Kinkaid before last night’s third period/shootout collapse.  And Eric Gelinas also had a good showing in his return to the Albany lineup as well.  So I’ll split it between those two.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (17)

Assists: Joe Whitney (21)

Points: Joe Whitney (38)

Plus/Minus: Corbin McPherson (+11)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (65)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (17)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.35)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.912)

Elmira Update:

A very good week for the Jackals, as they extended their win streak to 4 games with a home win against Kalamazoo and two road wins over Fort Wayne and Toledo.  Artem Demkov jumped back into the lineup on Wednesday and played very well, with 2 goals and 4 assists for the week.  Harry Young scored his first goal of the season Saturday night in Toledo.  And Riley Boychuk was, well, busy: 14 penalty minutes from one altercation on Saturday.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games with no 3 in 3 weekend to deal with.  Albany travels to Springfield for a rare Tuesday night matchup against the first place Falcons, who have been struggling as of late.  Saturday night they travel south to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers.  Then it’s up to New Hampshire on Sunday afternoon for their only visit to Manchester this season.

Game 45: Albany at Hartford

Where: XL Center, Hartford, CT.

When: 7:00 PM.

Season Series:

Albany leads 4-1.

Standings:

Albany: 24-14-3-3, 54 points, 2nd place in Northeast Division

Hartford: 15-23-0-5, 35 points, 5th place in Northeast Division

Media Kit

Wolfpack Leading Scorers/Goaltending:

Danny Kristo, 29 points (16 G, 13 A); Oscar Lindberg, 28 points (12 G, 16 A); 2 tied with 26 points

Dov Grumet-Morris, 6-10-4, 2.73 GAA; David LeNeveu, 1-4-0, 3.50 GAA

Listen: AHL Live, Fox Sports Radio 1410 AM

Twitter: @trace_1114, @AlbanyDevils, @WolfPackAHL