Albany-Binghamton Pregame Notes

Things you may need to know before the Devils face off against the Senators at the Times Union Center:

-This is the fourth meeting between the two East Division rivals, with Albany holding a 2-1 lead in the season series.  The Devils won a 4-3 decision on November 27th in Albany, then Binghamton shut the Devils out at 5-0 on December 10th in Binghamton.  In a rematch New Years Eve, the Devils pulled out a 5-4 win.  After tonight, the two teams will square off three more times, January 19th and April 3rd in Albany and March 1st in Binghamton.

-Standings: Binghamton starts the day in 5th place with a record of 20-16-2-2, good for 44 points.  After shutting out Worcester on Tuesday night, the Devils leap frogged over Syracuse and now stand in 6th, with a record of 15-20-0-3 for 33 points.

-Team Leaders: The B-Sens are paced in scoring by Erik Condra (the active roster leader; All-Star Corey Locke is currently on recall to Ottawa) with 36 points (14 G, 22 A) and Jim O’Brien with 29 points (12 G, 17 A).  Goaltender Barry Brust has 13 wins and 4 shutouts to his credit, filling in for regular starter Mike Brodeur, who has been out till recently with a concussion.  On the home side, after his two goal performance on Tuesday Michael Swift has re-tied All Star Matt Anderson for the team scoring lead with 25 points (Swift 15 G 10 A, Anderson 13 G 12 A).  Behind them is rookie Adam Henrique with 20 points (9 G, 11 A).  With Jeff Frazee out for the week due to injury (per the Times Union), it appears Mike McKenna will have a chance to build on his last two strong performances in net.

-Game time is 7:00.  If you had made it to the Charlotte game last week, don’t forget your free voucher for this game.  I will be in attendance with the usual…

Snow Day!

Greetings from home!  Snowstorm #3 in the last 3 weeks is wreaking havoc as I type.  Not as much as say, Massachusetts (where conditions are so bad the governor is telling everyone stay home) or New York City (the only public school system open today…I feel sorry for those kids).  Even though I have lived in this area my whole life and should be used to this…wasn’t going to drive out today.  So I’ll use my day to catch up on some cleaning (well that’s the plan anyway) and get an entry in.  Speaking of catch up…while I was dealing with more people that won’t keep the crap they buy or receive as Christmas gifts (and it doesn’t help the store advertises that we’ll take anything for any reason), Mike McKenna turned in a wonderful performance in Worcester.  Michael Swift provided all the offense in a 2-0 Devils win, scoring both goals.  McKenna turned away all 32 shots for his first shutout of the season and the Devils 3rd.

Before the game, the AHL announced the rosters for the 2011 AHL All Star Classic on January 31st in Hershey.  In honor of the league’s 75th anniversary, the league abandoned its usual Canada vs. PlanetUSA (Canadian born players vs. American/European born players) in favor of a traditional Eastern/Western Conference matchup.  Matt Anderson was chosen as the Devils’ lone representative, although I thought Michael Swift may have got some consideration with his play of late.  The full rosters below:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

GOALTENDERS

Braden Holtby (Hershey), Martin Jones (Manchester), Brad Thiessen (WBS-starter)

FORWARDS

Luke Adam (Portland), Matt Anderson (Albany), Bobby Butler (Binghamton), Jonathan Cheechoo (Worcester-starter), Andrew Gordon (Hershey-starter), Johan Harju (Norfolk), Dustin Jeffrey (WBS), Corey Locke (Binghamton-starter), Kyle Palmieri (Syracuse), Rhett Rakhshani (Bridgeport), Jerome Samson (Charlotte), Jeremy Williams (Connecticut)

DEFENSEMEN

Erik Gustafsson (Adirondack), Steven Kampfer (Providence), John Moore (Springfield), Lawrence Nycholat (Hershey-starter), Bryan Rodney (Charlotte), Drew Schiestel (Portland), Viatcheslav Voynov (Manchester), Mark Wotton (Bridgeport-starter and captain)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

GOALTENDERS

Jake Allen (Peoria-starter), Mark Dekanich (Milwaukee), Curtis Sanford (Hamilton)

FORWARDS

Joey Crabb (Toronto), David Desharnais (Hamilton-starter), Alexandre Giroux (Oklahoma City-starter and captain), Linus Klasen (Milwaukee), Spencer Machacek (Chicago), Brett MacLean (San Antonio), Travis Morin (Texas-starter), Linus Omark (Oklahoma City), Max Pacioretty (Hamilton), Michal Repik (Rochester), Sergei Shirokov (Manitoba), Ryan Stoa (Lake Erie)

DEFENSEMEN

T.J. Brodie (Abbotsford), Brian Connelly (Rockford), Maxim Noreau (Houston), Nathan Oystrick (Peoria), Paul Postma (Chicago-starter), Brendan Smith (Grand Rapids), Garrett Stafford (San Antonio-starter), Clay Wilson (Rochester)

As reported in the pregame notes, goalie Dave Caruso is back up from Trenton.  Still waiting for an explanation (like everything else involving the Devils organization), Jeff Frazee was out for last night.  No callup news from New Jersey so for now I will assume he’s hurt or just under the weather.  I may actually listen in to the Trenton game tonight if I remember to, since the end of February I may possibly be traveling to Elmira to see them play (may as well get one game each from the other teams in the organization, right?  Did NJ already, now have to do Trenton).  Only road trip I am planning at the moment is my overnight stay in Wilkes-Barre next weekend.  It’s become an annual event for me since the 08-09 season and has quickly become one of my favorites to visit.  I may do an entry on road trip spots that I like sometime soon.

Okay, time for some snow day cleaning…or motivating myself to get up and do some snow day cleaning…

 

Albany-Worcester Pregame Notes

What you need to know before the Devils and Sharks take to the ice Tuesday night at the DCU Center:

-This is the third of four meetings between the former Atlantic Division rivals this season, with the teams splitting the first two games.  First meeting in early November in Worcester the Devils came from behind to win 3-2 in a shootout, while the Sharks returned the favor in mid December by winning 6-3 at the Times Union Center.  The teams play one more time this season, on February 18th in Albany.

– Standings: Worcester is currently in 4th place in the Atlantic Division, with a record of 18-13-2-5, good for 43 points.  After Saturday’s victory over Syracuse, the Devils now stand at 14-20-0-3, maintaining a 7th place standing, one point behind the Crunch and five points ahead of Adirondack.

-The Sharks are led in scoring by NHL veteran Jonathan Cheechoo with 35 points (13 G, 22 A) and defenseman Sean Sullivan with 21 points (10 G, 11 A).   Alex Stalock is their #1 goaltender, appearing in 32 games and posting 15 wins.   On the Devils side, Matt Anderson continues to pace all skaters with 25 points (13 G, 12 A), followed by Michael Swift with 23 points (13 G, 10 A).  Swift saw his point scoring streak halted in Saturday’s game at 10.  Jeff Frazee continues to get the bulk of the goalie workload, I would not be surprised if he was back between the pipes Tuesday night.

-The Sharks carry a few local ties to the Capital Region.  Defensemen Nick Petrecki (Clifton Park) and Jay Leach (Altamont) were born and raised in the area, while forwards Cory Quirk and Dan Dasilva are ex-River Rats.  Backup goalie Carter Hutton spent the last month of the 09-10 season with the Phantoms on an amateur tryout (as did current Devil Darcy Zajac).

UPDATE (12:00 PM):  The Devils announced a couple of roster moves, goaltender Dave Caruso has been recalled from Trenton, while Myles Stoesz, Trevor Kell and Darcy Zajac have been returned to the T-Devils.  Why Caruso is here is still a mystery, we shall find out.

Game time at 7:00 PM.  Due to work obligations, I will not be tweeting (sorry…I hate Tuesday games this year).  I will try to put together some kind of game recap sometime on Wednesday.

Stop the Presses! New Jersey Wins!

Greetings from the front seat of Yankee Trails Bus 294. We are heading out of Newark towards the NJ Turnpike after witnessing a miracle at the Prudential Center earlier today. The Devils beat Tampa Bay in convincing fashion 6-3. Two goals from David Clarkson, one each from Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott, Dainius Zubrus, and…A-Devil Nick Palmieri with his first NHL goal! So happy for him. Martin Brodeur put on a goalie clinic he was awesome. He even got an assist on Palmieri’s goal after almost trying to score one himself.

As for the building itself…beautiful facility. Great sightlines no matter where you sat. There was even an area with laptops set up for fans to log on the Devils site or Facebook and a cigar booth. There was a Yankee Stadium like atmosphere in the stands as well, with a whole section of the upper deck for the Devils Army, who I called the Bleacher Creatures of the building. Food prices were what I expected…10 and change for Nathan’s cheese fries and soda. If the Albany Devils offer the free ticket again next year I may do it.

The trip itself wasn’t bad. I am a little jealous of the residents of Mahwah and Ramsey near the Rt. 17 corridor…gas for them is under 3 bucks a gallon, range was 2.93-2.99. And per state law, they pump it for you, it’s win-win!

Ok signing off for now…time to crank Z100 on my radio till the signal’s gone…

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Free Tacos and Hitting the Garden State

Good morning!

Before I pack up my travel bag and hop the bus to New Jersey (more on that in a minute), let’s recap last night’s activities in downtown Albany…

Very good performance by the Devils last night.  The boys finally got their first Albany win since November (with the December “home” win in Atlantic City in between) beating Syracuse 2-1.  Adam Henrique had a goal and an assist, Matt Anderson potted the game winner in the 3rd.  Mike McKenna was nothing short of spectacular in net, there was one point he was practically doing backflips in the crease to keep the Crunch from scoring.  There was even a couple of scraps from Louis Robitaille (who takes the helmet off after finishing the fight…normally that’s the first thing you do…only growing your turtle reputation more among East Division foes, just saying) and Brad Mills (dominating performance I may add).  Best part, all 2844 in attendance (that’s way over the average, I’m impressed) get a free taco from Taco Bell (joy…I miss my free Panera Bread sandwiches from the Rats days).

Now to today…one of the perks of having a Devils season ticket (or in my case half-season) package is getting a free game ticket to a selected NJ Devils game.  The first game was on a weeknight in December, then there were two other options, today or January 23rd against Florida.  Since I will be in Wilkes-Barre visiting the Checkers on the 23rd, I chose today’s game against the Lightning.  I got a deal through the front office for bus transportation from Yankee Trails, so basically this whole trip is costing me $30.   This is my first trip to the Prudential Center, I’m hearing good things about the building.  Also it’s my first NJ game in about 7 years back during the Devils first regime here…you know when it was exciting to go there.  How the times have changed, I used to count down about a month or 2 in advance to when I went to New Jersey.  Now, it’s like oh ok we’re going to New Jersey.  I pretty much know what’s going to happen, they’ll lose and only score 1 goal.  That’s all I’ve seen them do the past month or so.  But the good part is seeing the players I watched and got to know here in Albany (Clarkson, Parise, Elias, White) as Rats, plus see this year’s guys (Sestito, Palmieri, Tedenby).  I probably won’t tweet the game like I do here, I’ll check in here and there…and get as many pictures as I can.

Okay, have to do some reading…I may send an entry from the bus on the way home, we’ll see how things go…

Albany-Syracuse Pregame Notes

What you need to know before tonight’s Sunday rematch of Devils-Crunch at the Times Union Center:

-This is the second game this week between the 2 teams.  Sunday Syracuse snagged a 5-3 win on the strength of 4 Trevor Smith goals.  The Devils won’t have to worry about that happening this time around, as Smith was traded to the Columbus organization earlier this week (now there’s a reward for a game like that).  The Crunch stand 3 points ahead of the Devils for 6th place in the East Division, with a record of 14-19-1-3.  After last night’s loss to the Checkers, the Devils now stand at 13-20-0-3, 4 points ahead of Adirondack in 7th.

-This is the 5th meeting of the season between the two teams, with the Crunch holding a 3-1 edge. After tonight they don’t meet again until March 13th in Albany. They meet two more times in Syracuse, on March 16th and March 25th.

-Syracuse is paced in scoring by defenseman Nathan Paetsch (who assumed the active roster lead with Smith’s trade), an early season acquisition from Rochester/Vancouver with 19 points (9 G, 10 A combined with Syracuse/Rochester) and rookie Nicolas Deschamps with 18 points (8 G, 10 A), tied with Patrick Maroon (8 G, 10 A combined with the Crunch and Phantoms).  J.P. Levasseur and Timo Pielmeier split the goaltending duties, Pielmeier with the win Sunday in Albany.

-After last night, Michael Swift and Matt Anderson remain tied for the Devil team scoring lead, both with 23 points (Swift 13 G, 10 A and Anderson 12 G, 11 A).  Behind them is Adam Henrique, still with 17 (8 G, 9 A).  With Jeff Frazee starting the last 2 games, maybe tonight we will see Mike McKenna get in between the pipes.

-Injury updates: Brad Mills and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond both returned to the Devil lineup last night, leaving only Nathan Perkovich (foot/ankle) as the lone injury scratch.  The Devils carried 4 healthy scratches at forward last night: Myles Stoesz, Darcy Zajac, J.S. Berube, and Trevor Kell.  2 defensemen sat out as well, Harry Young and Chris Murray.

Game time 7:00.  Will be there doing the usual (tweets, photos, etc.)…

Saturday Entry #1: Checker Rats Come Home

A lot to go over today, so I’ll break it up into 2 entries: first recapping last night’s events, then later on this afternoon tonight’s pregamer with the Crunch coming to town for the 2nd time this week.

First, I survived the snow!  Not as bad as the last one, according to YNN Albany about 7 inches or so.  I still went straight downtown from work anyway just incase and the drive wasn’t bad.  Did a Starbucks run then spent some time with the Bennett family in the TU Center box office.  Zach (aka Bug) has gone through a lot in his 11 years of life.  He has neurofibromatosis, or NF1, a disorder in which tumors grow on nerves.  He has had numerous surgeries, including amputation of both legs.  He gets around in a motorized wheelchair which on game days always has his goalie mask on the back.  Recently he got a service dog named Matrix thanks to a community fundraiser.  The River Rat/Checker franchise has been there for the family all the way, making Zach an honorary Rat last season and countless visits from team members to the hospital or his home (apparently he can beat Mike Murphy at Wii hockey).  The Checkers are doing an awesome fund raiser next Friday night at home, having a Race Night jersey auction where all the proceeds go to the family as they prepare to move to North Carolina (their house is still on the market, this is basically the last obstacle to cross before that can happen) for a better climate and for better health care for Zach.

Now on to the game.  Changing the pattern up a bit, Jeff Frazee started for the second straight game for the Devils, while Justin Pogge manned the Checker net.  The Devils had a lot of chances on net, but Pogge was a brick wall.  Michael Swift stayed hot, getting a point in his 10th straight game courtesy a penalty shot goal.  Otherwise it was all about the former River Rats, as 3 out of 4 ex-Rats scored…Nicolas Blanchard in the 1st, Chris Terry in the 2nd and Jerome Samson (now the AHL goal scoring leader with 20) in the 3rd.  Matt Anderson answered right after Samson’s goal with one of his own to make it 3-2, but Brett Sutter scored into the empty net late in the 3rd to seal the Checkers 4-2 win.

Attendance last night: 2099.  Pretty much what I expected with the weather (everyone got vouchers for free tickets for next Friday’s game against Binghamton), I would say about 90 percent were pro Charlotte.  It was pretty evident during warmup when I realized I was the only one in the Devils corner watching, everyone was on Charlotte’s side of the ice.  Not a good message to send to your home team but what can you do?  I’m trying to support the home team best I can, but I’ve known the Checker players longer (I’ve known Casey Borer since he turned pro almost 4 years ago for example), so I’m torn.  January 28th will be an interesting day in Albany, the Devils are home but Charlotte is in Adirondack.  I already have my Albany ticket so I’ll be staying here, looks like a lonely night for me.

On a lighter note…last night was my first run-in with N.J. Devil, New Jersey’s mascot who made the trip for Devil Dawg’s birthday celebration.  He puts other mascots to shame with his dancing skills.  I told him I was coming to Newark on Sunday and he acted so excited he grabs me for a hug and starts jumping up and down.  Don’t get all that excited you already know Tampa Bay is killing them (unless Stamkos does another penalty shot fail).  And I give credit to Casey, Brett Bellemore, Mike Murphy and Zack FitzGerald for coming outside in the snow to visit with my group (namely my friend Jackie’s twin nieces) after the game (stupid Devil rules).

One last note:  overnight way out west in Abbotsford, the Phantoms lost in a shootout, gaining another point.  The basement is creeping ever closer…