Getting Defensive

A very interesting week for Albany, in their latest 3 in 3 weekend.  What started out as possibly a long weekend finished off with two dominating performances, and warranting some attention from the league.  More importantly, the 4 out of 6 points earned kept the Devils in playoff contention, lowering the magic number to finally break into the postseason further.  And a few new names making their way onto the team leaders list!

3/14 at Springfield: 6-4 L

The end of the 5 game New England road swing came Friday night in Springfield, with a matchup against the first place Falcons.  Jean-Francois Jacques put the hosts on the board midway through the first.  Then some franchise history less than four minutes later…on a power play, Joe Whitney scored his 21st to tie the game at 1, and give him the franchise record for career points with 141, passing Stephen Gionta.  He added point #142 with an assist on Harri Pesonen’s 10th goal less than two minutes later for a 2-1 Devil lead.  Former Devil Matt Taormina would re-tie the game on an early second period power play.  Mattias Tedenby and Tim Sestito would then score less than five minutes apart to give Albany a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.  That’s when the wheels completely came off and the train derailed off the tracks.  Patrick McNeill scored on a power play 4:28 in to cut the deficit to 4-3.  Trent Vogelhuber would tie things four minutes later.  Then while on a 4 on 3 opportunity (Sestito off for roughing and then Raman Hrabarenka took a costly hooking call while trying to stop a breakaway), Jacques would score his second of the night to put the Falcons up 5-4.  Ryan Craig would add an insurance goal late for a two goal lead.  Keith Kinkaid took the loss, stopping 22 of 28 shots.  Six Devils would add assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-David Wohlberg

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Mike Hoeffel

Extras: Stefan Matteau, Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Brandon Burlon

Extras: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

3/15 vs. Hartford: 2-0 W

Finally back on real home ice for the first time since February 23rd, the Devils played host to the Wolfpack.  After an uneventful first period that saw a combined 8 shots (4 on each side), the Devils locked it in for the second.  Harri Pesonen scored his 11th of the season to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.  As for the Wolfpack?  They only managed 3 shots on goal…that they didn’t get until 1:30 was left in the period.  Rod Pelley would add an insurance goal (one that was almost disallowed after the net was pushed off around the time the puck went in) with just over 6 minutes to go in regulation.  And Hartford finally remembered how to shoot the puck, throwing 16 shots at Scott Wedgewood in the period, but nothing would get by.  Wedgewood finished with 23 saves for his second shutout of the season and a #1 star.  Three Devils added assists.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Alexander Urbom/Brandon Burlon

Extras: Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

3/16 vs. Syracuse: 3-0 W

The weekend concluded with a visit from the struggling Crunch, a team Albany had not seen since way back on November 16th.  Much like the day before, it was quite an uneventful first period…until Raman Hrabarenka scored on a power play late in the period for a 1-0 advantage.  After a scoreless second that saw Albany outshoot the visitors 15-4, the Devils locked it down in the third.  Mike Sislo would score an insurance marker, his 20th of the season, with 5 minutes left in regulation, then added an empty netter with 22 seconds to go.  Scott Wedgewood barely broke a sweat in posting his second straight shutout, only facing 13 Syracuse shots.  Kelly Zajac added two assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Darcy Zajac-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Extras: Reece Scarlett, Brandon Burlon

Conference Standings:

Still a tight race in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference:

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton–76

6. Providence–75

7. ALBANY–74

8. Norfolk–74

9. Hershey–70

The Devils get the nod over Norfolk due to 3 more regulation wins.  The magic number to clinch a playoff berth stands at 25.  They are at a pace to finish at 90 points, which would put them no higher than sixth place.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

While waiting for my actual choice to hit YouTube…here’s a quick one from Tim Sestito from Friday evening:

My Player of the Week:

Back to back shutouts (the first Devil goaltender to do it in franchise history and the first in Albany since 2009), a scoreless streak at 126:05 and counting…yeah, Scott Wedgewood was a pretty obvious choice this week.

And the AHL agreed, as earlier today he was named the CCM AHL Player of the Week.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney/Mike Sislo (21)

Assists: Kelly Zajac (27)

Points: Joe Whitney (47)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (89)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.37)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.910)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

Not a good week for the Jackals, as they dropped all three games to Reading (twice) and Cincinnati.  Riley Boychuk and Artem Demkov missed all three due to injuries.  Harry Young amassed 7 penalty minutes against Reading in Wednesday’s loss.  Going into this week they stand at 22-30-3-5 on the season, good for 12th in the Eastern Conference.

And finally, a Maxime Clermont sighting!  He made a relief appearance for Orlando on Friday evening in Evansville during a 7-1 loss.  He played the second and third periods, stopping 15 of 19 shots.  He backed up in Saturday’s win over the IceMen.  Overall he stands at 6-9-0-1 with a 3.46 GAA.  The Solar Bears start the week 36-19-2-2, 4th in the Eastern Conference.

Injury Update:

Finally, Darcy Zajac returned to the lineup on Sunday after sitting out since October 19th.  Reece Scarlett (soreness?) sat out the weekend after taking a hit last Friday night in Portland.  Cam Janssen (unknown) hasn’t been seen since February 8th.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games, but not back to back to back for a change, and two games with some serious playoff implications.  Wednesday the homestand ends with a visit from Binghamton.  Saturday night the Devils travel west for a rematch with Syracuse.  Then one last trip to Atlantic City on Sunday afternoon to take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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