Wasted Opportunities

A very busy week to start the month of April for the Devils, which unfortunately culminated in a 0-2-1-0 road weekend (for one point out of six) that put a dent in getting closer to a playoff spot.  And losing players to callups after injuries struck in New Jersey didn’t help either.  How things went down this week:

Monday: With Jon Merrill out after taking a puck to the face in Saturday’s loss to the Islanders, Adam Larsson made his triumphant return to New Jersey after an extended stay in Albany.  In 32 games, he posted 3 goals and 16 assists.  He made his first New Jersey appearance since November in Monday’s win over Florida.

Tuesday: With Ryane Clowe sitting out Tuesday and both Tim Sestito and Stephen Gionta still out with assorted injuries, Mike Sisl0 was recalled for the third time this season and played in the Devils shootout loss to the Sabres in Buffalo.  He even got a chance to extend the shootout in the 9th round, but was stopped by rookie goaltender Nathan Lieuwen to seal the victory for Buffalo.  All this while he was cleaning up at the Awards Banquet (ask Darcy Zajac, who was the lucky one to carry everything home).

Wednesday: Congratulations go out to Dan Kelly, who was selected as the Albany representative for the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award.  Heis now eligible for the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, which will be announced at a later date.

Thursday: Listed in AHL transactions but no official announcement…the first amateur tryout has finally arrived, in the form of 2012 draftee Ben Johnson.  The 19-year-old center just completed his third season with Windsor (OHL), posting 53 points (28 goals, 25 assists) in 59 games and 6 points in 4 playoff games.

Friday: Just after I arrived in Syracuse, another amateur tryout agreement popped up on the transaction wire, as 2009 7th rounder Curtis Gedig signed on.  The defenseman just completed his senior season at Ohio State, where in 33 games he posted 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists).

And now we can finally start on the weekend action!

4/4 at Syracuse: 2-1 L

The weekend road trip started out west in Syracuse, against a Crunch team just barely hanging on in the playoff race.  After a scoreless first period, Harri Pesonen would get the visitors on the board in the second with a power play goal.  Cedric Paquette would tie the game up at 1 late in the second.  Things would stay tied until Evan Rankin broke the tie midway through the third to put Syracuse ahead.  And that was all Kristers Gudlevskis would need, as he shut down the Devils offense the rest of the way.  Scott Wedgewood was the hard luck loser in net, stopping 23 of 25 shots and even picking up an assist on Pesonen’s goal.

Lines:

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-David Wohlberg

Harri Pesonen-Reid Boucher-Rod Pelley

Cam Janssen-Darcy Zajac-Mike Hoeffel

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Ben Johnson

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Brandon Burlon

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Curtis Gedig

4/5 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 1-0 L (OT)

The road trip continued south down Interstate 81 to Wilkes-Barre, for a crucial matchup against a Penguins team that not only was in the middle of the playoff race, but fighting Binghamton and Norfolk for first place in the East Division.  Good news came before the game when it was announced that no one would be recalled after New Jersey lost three forwards to injury Friday evening.  The Pens thought they had taken an early 1-0 lead in the first, but the goal was waved off due to the puck being kicked into the net.  What no one knew then was that was the closest anyone would get to scoring for quite a while, as both Keith Kinkaid and Peter Mannino started on a goaltending duel.  The Pens dominated in the first, not allowing the Devils a shot on goal till more than halfway into the period.  But Albany would turn the tide in the second, holding the home team to just 4 shots and sending 11 of their own at Mannino, but he stopped every one.  It was the same song in the third, as the visitors would lead in shots 9-5, but still no one could get the puck in.  The game would go into overtime, where on an offensive turnover former Devil Tom Kostopoulos would pass it to Nick Drazenovic, who would score the game winner just 1:02 in.  Kinkaid played outstanding despite defeat, stopping 17 of 18 shots.  Ben Johnson would make his AHL debut, playing on the fourth line.

Lines:

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher

Harri Pesonen-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Cam Janssen-Darcy Zajac-Ben Johnson

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Alexander Urbom/Brandon Burlon

Extra: Reece Scarlett, Curtis Gedig

4/6 at Adirondack: 4-3 L

A chapter of local hockey history came to a close on Sunday afternoon, as the Devils made their final visit to Glens Falls to take on the Phantoms.  Mattias Tedenby was a late scratch due to an ankle injury in warmup, forcing Albany to go with an 11 F/7 D lineup for the first time since early February.  There was a scare in the first when Scott Wedgewood was knocked into his net by his own teammate Reece Scarlett and was shaken up.  It was pretty obvious when just after he got back on his feet…er, skates…Jason Akeson would score for a 1-0 lead.  Rod Pelley would then answer with his 13th of the season.  But Akeson would strike again during the Devils first power play chance, taking advantage of a turnover and scoring shorthanded for a 2-1 advantage.  Second period things started turning against the Devils, despite outshooting the Phantoms 23-11.  Wedgewood would be taken out in favor of Keith Kinkaid to start the period, and then the lone referee of the game would start to get whistle happy against the visitors.  On their second penalty kill of the period, Petr Straka would extend the lead to 3-1.  But Scarlett would answer with a power play goal of his own minutes later to cut the lead to 3-2.  But with Harri Pesonen in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct after a Phantom tripped him (Koharski logic, got to love it), Akeson would complete the hat trick for a 4-2 lead.  Scott Timmins would score a power play goal in the third to get to within 4-3.  But despite a season high 53 shots on goal on third string netminder Carsen Chubak, and a 6 on 3 opportunity late in the period with a chance to tie it up, the Devils just could not get the job done, and Adirondack held on for the win.  Kinkaid would get tagged with the loss after stopping 23 of 25 shots in relief of Wedgewood, who stopped 5 of 7 before coming out.  Alexander Urbom and Joe Whitney had two assists apiece.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Harri Pesonen

Ben Johnson-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Darcy Zajac-Cam Janssen-Boucher/Matteau

Johnson-Whitney-K. Zajac

Extra: Chris McKelvie, Mike Hoeffel, Mattias Tedenby

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Alexander Urbom/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Dan Kelly

Reece Scarlett 7th D

Conference Standings:

When the weekend began, the Devils stood in 6th place in the conference.  After the weekend, they’re lucky to be in 7th.

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton–88

6. Providence–86

7. ALBANY–83

8. Hershey–82

9. Norfolk–81

Albany is on pace for 88 points, with the max points they can get is 93.  This would put them in either the 7th or 8th position depending on how the Bears and Admirals fare.  The two teams do play each other twice in Virginia on April 16th and 18th, so this race may not be decided till the last day.  The magic number to clinch a spot is down to 10.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Finally making its triumphant return after a couple weeks…here’s the captain mixing it up Friday night:

My Player of the Week:

Well, um, where to begin?  Not a lot of offense (just 4 goals in 3 games), I’m kind of leaning towards both Scott Wedgewood and Keith Kinkaid, who played well in the first two games despite losing.  Not fully to blame for Sunday in Adirondack either.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (21)

Assists: Joe Whitney (31)

Points: Joe Whitney (52)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+14)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (93)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.37)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.910)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

Elmira finished off their home schedule this week with a 1-2 record, the lone win coming against Maxime Clermont and Orlando on Friday evening.  Riley Boychuk finally scored his first ECHL goal of the season (he had one during his callup with Albany in November) against Clermont on Friday.  Artem Demkov and Harry Young have both been placed on injured reserve.  The 23-38-3-5 Jackals finish the season on a 3 game road swing through Gwinnett and South Carolina.

As for Orlando…the Solar Bears officially clinched a spot in the Kelly Cup playoffs on Wednesday, despite a 1-2 record for the week.  Clermont appeared in all three games, picking up the win on Saturday in Wheeling after giving up a six spot to Reading on Wednesday and five to his former Elmira teammates on Friday.  Orlando’s record stands at 41-24-2-2, and sit in 4th place in the Eastern Conference.  They close the regular season this week on home ice against Reading and Greenville.

This Week’s Schedule:

Yet another 3 in 3 weekend, but the good news out of this one is it’s all on home ice.  Friday night Bridgeport comes in for its final visit.  Saturday afternoon sees the only trip for Providence to the Capital Region on the year.  Finally on Sunday afternoon one last visit from Syracuse.  Then it’s down to the final week already, with the regular season ending on the 19th.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s