Week 24 Recap: Dwindling Numbers

Down to just 16 games left in the regular season.  A magic number to clinch a Calder Cup playoff spot in the single digits.  Another three players off to New Jersey.  Three out of six points won this week.  Those are what I mean by dwindling numbers.

Wednesday: A few hours before faceoff, a second ATO was announced: defenseman Paul Geiger has joined the team by way of Clarkson University.  The captain for the Golden Knights the last two seasons, he appeared in 35 games this season, putting up 13 points (5 G, 8 A).  In 140 games overall in his college career, he scored 13 goals and assisted on 38 others.

3/16 vs. Providence: 2-1 L (SO)

To start the week, the Devils played host one more time to the Bruins, who were starting a 7 game road trip.  For the first two periods, it was a goaltending duel between Scott Wedgewood and Jeremy Smith, as neither team could get anything going offensively.  But midway through the third period, it took all of 71 seconds to see something go into a net.  With Vojtech Mozik serving a hooking minor, Jim O’Brien would break the scoreless drought with a shorthanded tally, his 13th of the season, extending his point streak to four games.  But just as quickly, and with 24 seconds left on the Devils penalty kill, Brandon DeFazio would tie things up at 1.  And the goaltending duel would continue on into the extra session, where it appeared no one was letting up.  It was on to just the second shootout of the season for the Devils, and it didn’t end well…O’Brien and Matt Lorito were both denied by Smith, while Wedgewood would give up goals to Brian Ferlin and Alexander Khokhlachev, giving the Bruins the extra point and halting the Devils win streak at 4 games.  Much like that January night in Utica, Wedgewood practically stood on his head to keep Albany in the game, finishing with 23 saves on 24 shots, but not enough for the win.  Blake Pietila had the lone assist.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Brian O’Neill-Nick Lappin

Ryan Kujawinski-Jim O’Brien-Paul Thompson

Blake Pietila-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Marc-Andre Gragnani/Vojtech Mozik

Reece Scarlett/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Ken Appleby

Out: Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Joe Faust, Ben Johnson, Paul Geiger

Power Play: 0 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 24.  Shots Allowed: 24.

Highlights:

Friday: It may have been an off day on the schedule, but there was some news: Brian O’Neill was recalled on an emergency basis by New Jersey after an apparent injury to Kyle Palmieri in New Jersey’s 7-4 win over Minnesota on Thursday.

3/19 at Utica: 5-1 W

It was back to Utica for one last regular season visit, as the Devils took on a depleted Comets squad that had most of its regulars injured or on recall to Vancouver.  And the visitors took advantage in the first period…Matt Lorito would pick up goal #15 8 minutes in for a 1-0 lead.  While on their third penalty kill (a double minor to Pierre-Luc Leblond was killed off just minutes earlier) Jim O’Brien would pick up his second shorthanded goal of the week (and 14th of the season) to double the Devil lead.  Alex Friesen would cut the lead in half with just over six minutes to play in the second period, but on a late power play Nick Lappin would pick up his third goal in 8 days to restore the two goal advantage.  Albany would put the game away early in the third, as O’Brien would pick up his second goal of the night on a beautiful breakaway to put the Devils ahead 4-1.  Blake Pietila would follow up with his 9th goal later in the period to make it a laugher.  Scott Wedgewood was finally the beneficiary of an offensive attack, only needing to stop 21 of 22 shots in winning his 9th of the season.  O’Brien, Lappin, Pietila, and four others would have one assist apiece.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Jim O’Brien-Nick Lappin

Paul Thompson-Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski

Max Novak-Graham Black-Ben Thomson

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Marc Andre Gragnani/Vojtech Mozik

Reece Scarlett/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Scott Wedgewood/Ken Appleby

Out: Paul Geiger, Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Joe Faust, Ben Johnson

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 5 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 12.  Shots on Goal: 32.  Shots Allowed: 22.

Highlights:

Sunday: A plot twist, if you will.  With goaltending up top struggling to keep up after Cory Schneider’s injury, plus injuries to both John Moore and Jon Merrill in a loss to Columbus, Scott Wedgewood and Vojtech Mozik were summoned to make their NHL debuts.  Yann Danis was sent down to take Wedgewood’s place.  In two appearances, all in relief of Keith Kinkaid, Danis went 0-1-0 with a 4.71 GAA.

3/20 at Bridgeport: 4-2 L

With two players off to New Jersey and injuries to two others on the roster, a depleted Devil roster made the trip south to Bridgeport for the last time this season to take on the Sound Tigers.  And early on…it looked like the same old, same old.  Rod Pelley would give the Devils the early lead with his 8th goal of the season.  Connor Jones would tie things up early in the second, but Paul Thompson would take advantage of a Sound Tiger turnover and score his 12th late in the period for a 2-1 Devil lead.  Then came the third…and everything fell apart.  Just 33 seconds after the puck dropped for the third, Bridgeport would tie things up on a Alan Quine goal.  Matt Finn would pick up the go ahead goal on a power play 7 minutes later, then James Wright would seal it with an empty netter late.  The loss marked the first time all season Albany lost in regulation when leading after 2 periods (28-0-3-0 coming into the day).  Ken Appleby played well despite the loss, stopping 24 of 27.  Jim O’Brien would extend his point streak to six games with an assist, while Nick Lappin contributed a helper before leaving the game.  The game also marked the professional debut of defenseman Paul Geiger, who finished even with one shot on goal.

The Lineup:

For the first time this season, an 11/7 lineup was used.

Matt Lorito-Jim O’Brien-Nick Lappin

Paul Thompson-Blake Pietila-Ryan Kujawinski

Max Novak-Rod Pelley-Ben Thomson

Pierre-Luc Leblond/Ben Johnson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Raman Hrabarenka/Joe Faust

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson/Paul Geiger

Ken Appleby/Yann Danis

Out: Dan Kelly, Blake Coleman, Chris McKelvie, Graham Black

Power Play: 0 for 2.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 4.  Penalty Minutes: 8.  Shots on Goal: 27.  Shots Allowed: 28.

Highlights:

No video as of press time.  Every time with Bridgeport…

My Player of the Week:

Lather, rinse, repeat from last week, as two players figured in the boxscore the most again: Jim O’Brien and Nick Lappin.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Matt Lorito/Jim O’Brien (15)

Assists: Matt Lorito (35)

Points: Matt Lorito (50)

+/-: Matt Lorito (+13)

Penalty Minutes: Pierre-Luc Leblond (102)

Wins: Yann Danis (25)

GAA: Yann Danis (2.28)

Save Percentage: Yann Danis (.907)

The Vault:

Pop Quiz: Can you spot the three current A-Devils in this game from January 2014?

Up North with the Thunder:

It wasn’t a fun week in Orlando for Adirondack, as they dropped 2 out of 3 to the Solar Bears.  The week started off very promising with a 6-2 win on Thursday, stick taps to Ryan Lomberg for a 4 goal game and Peter MacArthur for 4 assists.  Alexandre Carrier scored his 4th of the season early in the third, while Greg Wolfe picked up an assist.  Orlando would pick up a 6-3 win on Saturday, then followed up with a 5-3 win on Sunday night.  Former Devil PTO Eric Baier, who captains the Solar Bears,  picked up a goal on Saturday and an assist on Sunday.  Wolfe picked up two more assists in Sunday’s loss.  The Thunder return home for a 6 game homestand, starting Tuesday night against Kalamazoo.  They then host Manchester on Saturday night.

This Week’s Schedule:

A three game week is on tap.  Tuesday the Devils return home to face the Falcons.  Then it’s on the road for a pair, starting Friday night in Syracuse, then south on Interstate 81 on Saturday to face Hershey.

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