In Like A Lamb

The month of March is upon us.  A month I usually dread.  Not only is it closer to the end of the season, but it’s normally during March the Devils schedule gets so crazy thanks to many events taking over the Times Union Center.  And it takes its toll on the team, as they usually start to slump, burn out, etc.  But this is a different team from years past, and as the weekend began Albany still found themselves in playoff position.  Earning one out of four standings points against two teams right in the race may or may not come back to haunt them, but the way the games finished will.  Recapping this week’s events:

Monday: False alarm on the goaltender rumors, as Maxime Clermont was sent to Orlando of the ECHL.  Per rules, in order to send him from Elmira to Orlando, he had to be recalled to Albany first, then reassigned to Orlando.  In 17 games with the Jackals, he was 6-9-0 with a 3.35 GAA and a .892 save percentage.

And after a near month long stay in Albany, Eric Gelinas was recalled and rejoined New Jersey for practice.  He appeared in 5 games, only getting 2 assists (he was working on his defense during his second stint of the season here).

3/1 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 2-1 L

Saturday saw the third trip of the season to Atlantic City to take on the Penguins on “home” ice.  Despite a slow start on both sides–shots were 5-4 in favor of Albany in the first period–it was the Devils with the early 1-0 lead, on a Mike Sislo power play goal.  After an uneventful second period, the Penguins rallied in the third.  After killing off a four minute power play and a delay of game consecutively, Brendan Mikkelsen tied the game up with 6:24 left in regulation.  Then with Corbin McPherson off for a tripping call, former Devil Tom Kostopoulos would score the go ahead goal on the ensuing power play for a 2-1 Penguin lead.  Despite an empty net and a late flurry at the end, the Devils could not get the equalizer and got saddled with another blown lead, their first loss in regulation when leading after 2 periods.  Keith Kinkaid took the hard luck loss in net, stopping 12 of 14 shots.  Adam Larsson and Kelly Zajac had the lone assists.

Lines:

Harri Pesonen-Tim Sestito-Mike Sislo

Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher-Mattias Tedenby

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Rod Pelley-Chris McKelvie-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Reece Scarlett

3/2 at Providence: 3-2 L (SO)

While myself and about four buses full of season ticket holders were in New Jersey (more on that to come), the A-Devils were making their first and only visit of the season to Providence to take on the Bruins.  Tim Sestito gave the visitors a 1-0 lead late in the first on a power play goal.  Craig Cunningham would tie the game 5 minutes into the second.  David Wohlberg would give the Devils a 2-1 lead with his third of the season.  Once again, the Devils let a one goal lead slip away in the third, as David Warsofsky would tie the game at 2 halfway through the third.  Nothing across for the remainder of regulation and into overtime, leading to the shootout.  Not one Devil shooter–Mattias Tedenby, Mike Sislo, Reid Boucher, or Stefan Matteau–could score on Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban.  Keith Kinkaid gave up goals in the first and third rounds to take the loss, the Devils’ 6th of the season in the shootout.  He did stop 36 of 38 Bruin shots in regulation and overtime.  Four Devils each had an assist.

Lines:*

Joe Whitney-Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Chris McKelvie-David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel

Rod Pelley-Reid Boucher-Mattias Tedenby

Extras: Scott Timmins, Darcy Zajac, Cam Janssen

*-the last line is purely a process of elimination guess based on the gamesheet

Defense Pairings:*

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Adam Larsson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Extras: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka

*another case of process of elimination

Conference Standings:

So how close is the Eastern Conference’s bottom half?  Take a look for yourself:

1. Manchester-80*

2. Springfield-74*

3. Binghamton-70*

4. St. John’s-72

5. Norfolk-70

6. Providence-69

7. ALBANY-67

8. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton-67

9. Hershey-65

The Devils own the tiebreaker over the Penguins in this case, with one less game played (56 to 57).  The magic number to clinch a playoff berth is at 37.  With a current pace to end the season at 90 points, all signs at this juncture point to no worse than a 6th place standing in the conference.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

No face punching or glove dropping this week.

My Player of the Week:

Well…not one player stood out, as the offense was quite spread out.  So for this week…all those who scored can share the award: Mike Sislo (PP on Saturday), Tim Sestito (PP on Sunday), and David Wohlberg (even strength on Sunday).

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (19)

Assists: Joe Whitney (25)

Points: Joe Whitney (44)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+10)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (80)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (20)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.22)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.917)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

Let’s start west in Elmira, where the Jackals had a 3 in 3 weekend on home ice against Wheeling and South Carolina, and managed to go 1-1-0-1 to put their record at 21-27-2-5.  A very good weekend for Artem Demkov, as he registered at least a point in all 3 games and scored Sunday in a 3-2 Jackal win.  Harry Young was busy with 7 penalty minutes, and Riley Boychuk sat out the weekend, not sure of the reason.

Meanwhile in Orlando, Maxime Clermont did not get in any games with his new team, but did backup on Tuesday in the Solar Bears’ OT win over South Carolina.

This Week’s Schedule:

Another 3 in 3 weekend, with all games away from home and in New England.  Friday night the Devils make their first trip to Portland-I mean, Lewiston-to take on the Pirates.  Saturday it’s south to Hartford to take on the Wolfpack.  Finally Sunday afternoon they travel east to Worcester for their first matchup of the season against the Sharks.

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