Like a Team Possessed…

After a up and down weekend, the Devils were looking to get back into the swing of things, with two divisional matchups and another trip into a tough building awaiting them.  3 games and 3 wins later, things are again looking pretty good in the Capital District.  Recapping a very strong week:

11/11 vs. Bridgeport: 5-2 W

The week got off to an early start, a Veterans Day matinee against Bridgeport.  Unlike Saturday’s performance against Adirondack, it was the Devils who came out flying in the first period.  Joe Whitney and Rod Pelley scored two minutes apart midway through for a 2-0 lead.  Chris McKelvie would add his second of the season shortly thereafter for a 3-0 advantage.  But the Sound Tigers would make a brief comeback, scoring twice on Keith Kinkaid 59 seconds apart for a 3-2 game.  Albany would retake a 2 goal lead on Dan Kelly’s first of the season (it was actually similar to Cam Janssen’s goal against Nashville on Sunday night).  Finally in the third, the exclamation point–Reid Boucher’s fifth of the season for the eventual 5-2 win.  Kinkaid got over a shaky first period to earn the win, stopping 25 of 27 Bridgeport shots, including all 12 in the 3rd period.  Harri Pesonen, Stefan Matteau, and Raman Hrabarenka each contributed two assists, while Rostislav Olesz had an assist of his own.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Rostislav Olesz

Stefan Matteau-Harri Pesonen-Rod Pelley

Mike Sislo-Reid Boucher-Kelly Zajac

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

11/15 at Hartford: 3-0 W

It was off to Connecticut to start a brief 2 game road trip on Friday, as the Devils took on Hartford for the third time this season.  And it was the visitors who got things started in a hurry.  Barely 3 minutes into the game Riley Boychuk scored his first as a Devil for a 1-0 lead.  Joe Whitney would add to it with his seventh goal of the season (off a nice pass from Rostislav Olesz).  A very interesting second period…on paper it looked like a mismatch, Albany was outshot 12-2 and had to kill off 3 penalties.  But the Wolfpack could not muster anything past the defense or Keith Kinkaid.  The Devils found their way in the third, holding Hartford to 6 shots and getting an empty netter from Rod Pelley at the end to seal the win, the first shutout by a Devils goaltender this season.  Kinkaid stopped all 25 shots in earning his 4th straight win and fifth on the season.  Another good offensive showing from Dan Kelly as he assisted on two goals and finished a +3, while Mike Hoeffel and Chris McKelvie each had assists (a very good night for the 4th line).

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Stefan Matteau

Rostislav Olesz-Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito

Mike Sislo-Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher

Chris McKelvie-Mike Hoeffel-Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

11/16 at Syracuse: 2-1 W (SO)

The week ended with the first trip to Syracuse of the season to take on the Crunch.  Neither team could get anything across in the first period, probably because both team were too busy getting called for ridiculous penalties again–the referee, Jean-Philippe Sylvain, was the same ref from last Saturday’s shutout loss to Adirondack.  The one that missed too many blatant ones but called Albany for barely breathing on a Phantom?  Yup, that guy.  And it was more of the same, to the point where Stefan Matteau was issued a 10 minute misconduct for arguing a hooking call that most likely wasn’t.  The pattern continued into the second period, as both Keith Kinkaid and Cedric Desjardins clamped down.  But Reece Scarlett finally broke the scoreless drought late into the second with his first goal as a professional for a 1-0 Devil lead.  But on the very next shift, the Devils defense made the grave mistake of leaving Crunch rookie Nikita Kucherov alone and he scored his 3rd against the Devils this season to tie the game at 1.  Things got very chippy during the third period when Tim Sestito, for whatever reason, decides to hit and then throw punches down on Desjardins.  Of course a scrum ensues behind the net, with Crunch captain Mike Angelidis ready to pound him.  We’re all thinking, Sestito’s clearly done for the night.  Nope.  Sylvain only calls a two minute goalie interference penalty…and gives Angelidis a roughing minor.  For once, the Devils got away with it (I even thought Tim should have been tossed out, because why do you rain on the other goalie a la Ray Emery?), and we’ll just say the decision didn’t sit well with the Crunch contingent.  Peace was restored through the end of regulation, and it was on to the extra session, where if not for a defensive clear with less than a minute remaining Kelly Zajac would have won it.  On to the shootout, where only Reid Boucher would connect on a goal.  Kinkaid stopped all 5 Crunch shooters to hang on for the win.  It was another outstanding night for #1 in net, stopping 29 of 30 shots in 65 minutes and picking up #1 star honors for the second straight game.  Boucher and Joe Whitney had the lone assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Tim Sestito-Rostislav Olesz

Kelly Zajac-Reid Boucher-Mike Sislo

Rod Pelley-Harri Pesonen-Stefan Matteau

David Wohlberg-Mike Hoeffel-Chris McKelvie

Extra: Riley Boychuk

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Raman Hrabarenka

Extra: Harry Young

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

I don’t know what’s more entertaining, the fight or the call by the Hartford announcer.

My Player of the Week:

3 wins, the first shutout of the season, and a shootout win against the defending Eastern Conference champs?  Keith Kinkaid gets the nod.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney (7)

Assists: 2 players tied with 8

Points: Joe Whitney (15)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (30)

Plus/Minus: 3 players tied with +4

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (6)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (1.97)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.922)

Elmira Update:

It was not a good week for the Jackals, as they dropped three straight to the Wheeling Nailers.  Maxime Clermont only played in one of those, Saturday night’s 5-4 loss in West Virginia, stopping 26 of 31 shots.  Harry Young appeared in two games, staying off the scoresheet before his sudden recall on Saturday (more on that in a minute).  And per ECHL transactions, Alexandre Carrier was released on Wednesday.

Notes:

-As mentioned earlier, Harry Young was a sudden callup on Saturday afternoon.  From what I could gather in Syracuse, he was brought up just incase another defenseman had to be recalled to New Jersey after Peter Harrold took a hit in Friday night’s loss to the Kings.  But apparently no one was needed, so it was another #FreeYoung evening.  Not sure if he’ll stick around or just return to Elmira.

-David Wohlberg made his return to the lineup Saturday night after missing nearly two weeks with an injury.  Darcy Zajac and Scott Timmins remain out, no word on returns.

This Week’s Schedule:

It’s a big divisional week for the Devils.  On Wednesday, they play host to Hartford for the second time in less than a month and already the fourth matchup of the season.  Then back on the road for a pair: Friday night they take on Springfield in Western Massachusetts with–dare I say it?–first place on the line.  Then it’s back up north for the second time in 3 weeks on Saturday for the latest Time Warner Cable Cup installment against Adirondack.

Back to Reality…

(or, the working title: Welp.)

At the beginning of this week, things looked pretty good for the Devils, despite a loss to Portland to close out last weekend, with only two regulation losses and still tied for second in the division.  Three games, two goals, and no points later…well, it’s getting back to the all too familiar struggles.   I guess I still have to recap what happened…

10/30 vs. Syracuse: 4-1 L

To close out the month of October, the Devils played host to the defending Eastern Conference champion Crunch.  Despite the Devils outshooting Syracuse 12-10 in the first, it was the Crunch who took a 2-0 lead after Albany took back to back penalties for a 1:30 5 on 3 kill.  Nikita Kucherov took advantage…twice, scoring power play goals just 1:09 apart.  Reid Boucher would cut the Syracuse lead in half halfway through the second with his 3rd goal of the season.  But J.T. Brown would singlehandedly put the game out of the reach in the third, scoring twice in a 3:30 span.  The Devils had their chances in the third, outshooting the Crunch 8-4, but could not manage to get anything going or past goaltender Cedrick Desjardins.  Scott Wedgewood took the loss in net, stopping 15 of 19 shots…if it weren’t for two players, it could have easily been a different story.  Scott Timmins extended his season long point streak to 9 games with an assist on Boucher’s goal, with Joe Whitney getting the other point.  As for the special teams, it wasn’t very pretty: 0 for 6 on the power play, 2 for 4 penalty kill.

Lines:

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher

Harri Pesonen-Stefan Matteau-Rod Pelley

David Wohlberg-Tim Sestito-Mike Hoeffel

Kelly Zajac-Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen

A lot of line shuffling on this night, other combinations I noticed: McKelvie-Pesonen-Zajac; Zajac-Pesonen-Matteau; Pelley-Sestito-Hoeffel; Timmins-Whitney-Matteau; Wohlberg-Hoeffel-Pesonen.

Defense Pairings:

Jon Merrill/Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Other pairings I noticed: Merrill/Burlon (on a PP), Kelly/McPherson, Burlon/McPherson, Kelly/Scarlett.

11/1 vs. Norfolk: 3-0 L

To kick off November and finish off the 4 game homestand, the Devils played host to the Admirals, a team they split a two game series with in Virginia just two weeks earlier.  And it was going to be a challenging one, with the reigning AHL Goaltender of the Month in John Gibson between the pipes for Norfolk.  The game got off to a strange beginning just 30 seconds in, when the Admirals were called for the ever popular illegal starting lineup penalty.  The Devils seemed to be dominating play for most of the first period, but it was the Admirals getting a 2-0 lead on goals just 2:09 apart.  It didn’t improve in the second period, as the other Whitney, Joe’s younger brother Steven, made it a 3-0 lead and chased Scott Wedgewood out of the net.  Maxime Clermont would come out of the bullpen and make his season debut in relief, stopping the Norfolk offense the rest of the way.  Meanwhile, Albany just simply could not get anything past Gibson.  He was an absolute brick wall, showing all of us why he won that Goaltender of the Month award.  He even managed to do the one thing six other teams couldn’t…keep Scott Timmins off the scoresheet for the first time all season, stopping his point streak at 9.  It was a tough night for Wedgewood, as he only managed to stop 9 of 12 shots before getting the hook.  Clermont was a perfect 9 for 9, and it seemed like the defense settled down after the switch.  The power play, despite its best efforts, went 0 for 5.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Mike Hoeffel-Chris McKelvie-Cam Janssen

Harri Pesonen-Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito

With David Wohlberg missing early on, the lines were shuffled quite a bit: Sestito-Mike Sislo-Stefan Matteau; Pelley-Pesonen-Janssen; Whitney-Pelley-Pesonen; Pelley-Sestito-Matteau.

Defense Pairings:

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Seth Helgeson/Reece Scarlett

Jon Merrill/Dan Kelly

11/2 at Adirondack: 3-1 L

To finish the week, the Devils started a brief two game road swing with a trip up Interstate 87 for the first time this season to take on the Phantoms.  Adirondack was riding a three game win streak into the contest, and it was pretty obvious in the first period.  Petr Straka gave the hosts a 1-0 lead, and they outshot Albany by a 13-6 margin.  It wasn’t getting any better for the Devils in the second, as Straka would score a second time and Chris VandeVelde added on to the Phantoms lead.  And a 14-7 shots advantage as well.  But finally, the Devils started showing signs of life in the third period.  Mike Hoeffel would finally break the offensive slump with his second of the year to cut the lead to 3-1.  But despite a 13-3 shots advantage in the third, Albany could get no more in suffering their fourth straight loss.  A hard night in net for Maxime Clermont in his first start of the season, stopping 27 of 30 shots in the loss.  Mike Sislo would get the lone assist in his second game back from injury.

Lines:

Rod Pelley-Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen

Scott Timmins-Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher

Kelly Zajac-Mike Hoeffel-Mike Sislo

Cam Janssen-Chris McKelvie-Riley Boychuk

A lot of shuffling once again in an attempt to get something, anything going offensively: Boucher-Sislo-Whitney; Zajac-Sestito-Pesonen; Pelley-Sestito-Hoeffel; Timmins-Boucher-Sislo; Whitney-Timmins-Hoeffel.

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Jon Merrill

Brandon Burlon/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Reece Scarlett

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

Well…give Seth Helgeson some credit for sticking up for his teammates on this one…

My Player of the Week:

In a week where not a lot happened, I’ll split it between the only two players who managed to get into the goal column: Reid Boucher and Mike Hoeffel.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (5)

Assists: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (6)

Points: Scott Timmins/Joe Whitney (11)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (26)

Plus/Minus: Joe Whitney (+5)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (3)

GAA: Maxime Clermont (2.00)

Save Percentage: Maxime Clermont (.923)

Elmira Update:

I have decided to add a weekly update on how the Devil prospects in Elmira are faring.  The Jackals are 2-3-0 after a 5-2 loss in Reading on Saturday night.  Camp tryout Artem Demkov has 3 goals in those 5 games, while Raman Hrabarenka scored his first of the season Saturday against the Royals.  Riley Boychuk, Alexandre Carrier, and Harry Young (yes, he has actually been playing) have yet to get on the scoresheet.

Oh, and the Jackals had their annual Halloween Costume practice on Wednesday.  Some of these costumes are just…I have no words.

Notes:

-You may have noticed Riley Boychuk’s name listed in the lines from Saturday’s game.  Turns out he was a late callup from Elmira with Stefan Matteau and David Wohlberg out.  He took Harry Young’s old number 32 and skated on the fourth line.

-Eric Gelinas and Keith Kinkaid remain up in New Jersey, but I expect Kinkaid to return shortly with Cory Schneider about ready to return to action.  As for Gelinas…I’m not expecting him back anytime soon, if at all.

-Injury updates: Mike Sislo returned to the lineup on Friday evening, on the same night David Wohlberg went down.  Stefan Matteau was missing from Saturday’s game, no idea if it’s injury or what.  Darcy Zajac is a couple of weeks away from returning.  Hopefully more updates will come up this week.

-BREAKING: I was right about Kinkaid coming back down, as New Jersey just reassigned him this morning.  But another member of the defense has received the call: Jon Merrill is going up to the big club.  Whether he makes his debut Sunday night in Minnesota against Zach Parise and the Wild is yet to be determined.

This Week’s Schedule:

Two games on the docket.  On Friday the Devils travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to take on the Penguins (and my first overnight trip of the season!).  Then a quick turnaround back home on Saturday afternoon for Game 3 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series against Adirondack.

 

Saturday Morning Catchup

It’s June! I think it’s time to update this thing…

Fire and Ice had a free agent update earlier in the week. It appears that all players who are restricted free agents will indeed be qualified by the July 2nd deadline. It appears that former River Rat Steve Sullivan, acquired at the trade deadline in April, will not continue his second stint with the Devils. The report also stated that goaltender Jeff Frazee may be returning despite an offer to sign in Sweden, again creating a 4 goalie tandem in Albany and whichever ECHL affiliate will be used next season.

-Now for sale via Mei Gray for those interested in jerseys: the 2012-13 Albany game worns. Prices range from $295 (for J.S. Berube) to $995 (for Adam Henrique’s home jersey with an A). As of press time, Adam Larsson’s home and away jerseys are still available (for the bargain basement price of $750 each!), along with Cam Janssen’s road red and both of Jacob Josefson’s.

-Now for a Calder Cup update:

The Crunch (featuring former Devil Matt Taormina and former River Rat Mike Angelidis as the fearless captain) can close out the Penguins and earn a trip to their first ever Calder Cup final with a win at home tonight at the War Memorial. I wouldn’t necessarily count out the Penguins just yet, as they had to rally from a 3-0 series deficit and became just the third ever team to pull it off by eliminating the #1 seed Providence Bruins (and in dominating fashion, as they outscored the Bruins 14-2 over those four games). They are also the only team in the last two Norfolk/Syracuse playoff runs the last two seasons to manage a victory against this group. The series has been fairly close scoring wise, with a two goal deficit being the largest victory.

In the Western Conference, the series between Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City was put on the backburner last night as a strong series of tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas. While everyone in the Cox Convention Center stayed safe in an underground parking garage the arena was hit with flooding due to torrential downpours. The series will resume tonight with Game 4 and the Barons holding a 2-1 series lead.

-The first North American hockey champions were crowned earlier this week in the ECHL, as the Reading Royals hoisted the Kelly Cup with a 5 game series win over Stockton. Congrats to two former River Rats from the Carolina days, Yannick Tifu (who was the captain of the Royals) and Kirk Macdonald (also an RPI alum) for becoming the latest Rats alumni to hoist a Cup of some nature.

From The Incase You Missed It Department…

I’ve been so busy putting together my 3 part Season in Review that I have quite a few news items to catch up on. Even though it’s Offseason, Day 4, it’s been quite an eventful week. Time for me to play catchup…

-It appears that Albany (and Adirondack) will need to find a new ECHL affiliate for next season. For the second time in three years, a Trenton ECHL franchise has ceased operations. The Titans made the announcement on Tuesday, with the goal of returning to the league in 2014-15. This happens just two years after the Trenton Devils left the ECHL, with the Titans taking over just a couple of months later, but wound up with the same rumored financial woes.

-Also on Tuesday, Harri Pesonen, Eric Gelinas, and Mike Sislo were all recalled to New Jersey. This is the first callup for Gelinas and Sislo, and the third of the season for Pesonen, who had appeared in four games in his previous callups. Alexander Urbom finally got in some game action in Tuesday’s win at home over Montreal. Gelinas will be making his debut in the home finale against Pittsburgh, not sure if the other two will get in on Saturday for the season finale in New York City.

-Speaking of Devils…interesting story surrounding the whole saga with Stefan Matteau. For those that don’t know what happened, he had been benched during a QMJHL semifinal game over the weekend for basically taking a dumb penalty that cost his team (Blainville-Boisbriand) a goal. Instead of sucking it up and accepting it, depending on what story you read he essentially quit the team. But according to another source, he was released from the team after the game and was offered a plane ticket home. He chose to ride home on the fan bus (talk about an awkward situation…you’d likely never see that in the professional ranks). Here we have a 19 year old kid, first round draft pick, made his NHL debut during the season…but yet has a problem staying disciplined. I’m paying close attention to how this shakes out, because there is a good chance he may be playing here next season. Hopefully this is a lesson he can learn from as his playing career unfolds…just as long as it doesn’t turn into another Mike (Jefferson) Danton story.

-Per CapGeek, it appears that Seth Helgeson has indeed signed a two year entry level deal. He appeared in four games after signing an amateur try out agreement on April 5th, registering no points and finishing a +2.

-Per the AHL transactions, a formality today, as Helgeson, Reid Boucher and Jon Merrill were all released from their amateur tryouts.

-In AHL news, apparently the Connecticut Whale are about to be no more, as the team ownership has decided to return to the old Hartford Wolfpack after switching to the Whale two seasons ago. Does this mean the old introduction is coming back? Or how about a new Norelco commercial? The official announcement should come within the next week. Pucky the Whale, we hardly knew ye.

-As far as franchise silly season? Well, a rumor that first surfaced in late February never came to pass. It had been rumored that Calgary was planning on moving their AHL franchise in Abbotsford, British Columbia, to Utica, who last saw the AHL way back in the 1992-93 season when the Devils called the Aud home. It turned into a 3 way trade rumor: Peoria was being bought by Vancouver, who would then move the team to Abbotsford, paving the way for the Flames to go to Utica, while St. Louis (Peoria’s parent club) would take over Vancouver’s current AHL affiliate in Chicago. All came true this week, with the exception of the Utica move, as Calgary decided to stick with Abbotsford for at least one more season. Vancouver did buy the Peoria franchise, but without a chance of moving them to Abbotsford (negotiations met an impasse) they are first attempting to keep the team in Illinois. St. Louis and Chicago officially announced their affiliation agreement earlier this week. The only other move for sure is the Houston Aeros moving north to Iowa (who last saw the AHL in 2008-09 as the Stars, then the famous Iowa Chops), where they will be known as the Iowa Wild (sadly Chops sounds so much better in this case).

-And finally, you can find first round matchups for the Calder Cup Playoffs here. Sigh. Someday.

A Little Wednesday Night Catchup

Instead of watching the first American Idol of the season (I never really got into that show anyway), here I am catching up on a few news items:

-Two separate roster moves: on Tuesday forwards Kelly Zajac and Bryan Haczyk were returned to Trenton, despite playing well in their season debuts on Sunday afternoon in Atlantic City. I think I may know the reason: the Titans had a Wednesday morning game and were in need of players (they lost a chunk of their roster due to AHL callups when NHL camps opened over the weekend). We shall see if either return for the weekend depending on events in New Jersey. Then this morning forward J.S. Berube was also sent to Trenton, where he made his season debut after being sidelined since training camp. He didn’t do so bad, actually notching a goal and an assist in a 4-3 overtime win in front of a very intimate crowd, you could say (cue the Lowell jokes in 3, 2, 1…).

-Meanwhile, down in Newark, a group of Devils made the trip to take on their New Jersey counterparts in a Red-White scrimmage earlier this afternoon. The White team (mostly New Jersey regulars) defeated the Red team (mostly Albany regulars with a few extra New Jersey vets mixed in) 4-1. The only Red goal? First round draft pick Stefan Matteau. The White goalie? Martin Brodeur. The Circle of Life has been completed. The newly re-signed Travis Zajac celebrated his new 8 year contract extension (YAY!) by scoring twice, with Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson adding a goal apiece for the White team. From what I was reading on the Devils PR’s Twitter feed, it wasn’t a normal game per se…the time was divided up with even strength situations and power play/penalty kill. There was even a shootout at the end, where Albany regular Harri Pesonen was the only one to convert.

Midseason Reboot

After the excitement of the new CBA being agreed upon subsided, it was time to face reality this week. With the inevitable loss of a good chunk of the roster upcoming and a 3 in 3 weekend looming, the Devils had to keep up the momentum of a weekend sweep. And things didn’t go exactly as planned, only earning 2 of 6 points in those three games. Time to look back:

1/11 at Manchester: 7-4 L

Times Union
New Hampshire Union Leader

The weekend started off with the Devils only visit to New Hampshire this season to take on the Monarchs. It was a rather uneventful first period as both teams mostly stayed out of the box (just one penalty call on the Monarchs), but Manchester took a 1-0 lead with 6 and a half to go. Steve Zalewski would tie the game late in the period, and the Devils outshot the Monarchs 10-9. Second period the Devils had a chance to take advantage after receiving near back to back power play chances, but could not capitalize. Second half of the period was all Monarchs as they scored three times in 5 minutes (the last goal a rare power play marker) to take a commanding 4-1 lead after 40 minutes. But the Devils were not quite done yet. Adam Larsson scored his fourth (and on the power play) to cut the deficit to 4-2. But Brian O’Neill would score just 15 seconds later to restore Manchester’s 3 goal cushion. Not to be outdone, Mattias Tedenby and Harri Pesonen would score two minutes apart during an extended power play stretch (3 Monarchs sitting in the box at one time at one point for various infractions, including the ever popular embellishment call) to get to within 5-4. But that was all they could muster, as Jordan Weal would score a power play marker 2 and a half minutes later to make it 6-4, then Tyler Toffoli would add an empty netter with 22 seconds left to finish it off. Not a very good night in net for Jeff Frazee, as he allowed 6 of the 7 goals and stopped 28 shots. The offense was actually going on this night, as they went an impressive 3 for 7 on the power play while Matt Anderson added three assists.

1/12 vs. Worcester: 4-1 W

Times Union
Worcester Telegram-Gazette

The Devils returned to the Capital Region for their lone appearance at home on the weekend, an afternoon tilt against the Sharks. Despite the Devils getting off to a stronger start, it was Worcester who got on the board first, scoring 7 minutes into the first. Harri Pesonen thought he had tied the game at 1 when the puck bounced in and out of the net, but after a long video review it was called off. Eventually that tying goal did come to pass, via Steve Zalewski just before the end of the period. Second period was all Devils, as they only allowed one Shark shot for the first half of the period and they even got another power play goal. Mattias Tedenby scored his 9th to break the 1-1 tie. Eric Gelinas added his 3rd goal of the season (actually not on the power play) late in the period for a 2 goal advantage. A relatively quiet third period saw Darcy Zajac add to the Devil lead. Keith Kinkaid had a solid yet quiet day in net, only having to stop 16 of 17 shots. Bobby Butler and Chad Wiseman each added an assist, while Gelinas and defense partner Alexander Urbom both finished a +3. Off ice, it was a successful day, with a season high 7300 on hand thanks to GE Kids in Free Day…and our old friend N.J. Devil was in the house for Devil Dawg’s birthday (along with Finz the Worcester mascot) and to get some, shall we say, practice in before the season starts?

1/13 vs. Bridgeport: 5-4 L

Times Union
Connecticut Post

After the inevitable exodus of players going to New Jersey to start NHL training camp (see below for more on that), the remaining members of the roster made the trek to Atlantic City for the second of 4 trips this season to take on the Sound Tigers. Bridgeport took a 1-0 lead halfway into the period after the Devils killed off a brief 5 on 3 chance, but couldn’t kill the second penalty. The Devils responded with a power play goal of their own very late in the first, off the stick of Phil DeSimone, making his first appearance of the calendar year (took an NHL lockout ending to finally get this guy in the lineup). The seesaw battle continued into the second period as Nino Niederreiter scored 3 and a half minutes in for a 2-1 lead. But the Devils again responded, as Kelly Zajac’s first AHL goal tied the game at 2 (also the first AHL point for the other Trenton recall, Bryan Haczyk). Third period things got very interesting on both sides. First the Sound Tigers took the lead back again, just 2 minutes into the period. Then while Chris McKelvie sat on a tripping call, Niederreiter scored his second of the game for a 4-2 cushion. A scary moment happened just after that, when a Sound Tiger ran Keith Kinkaid into his net. Kinkaid would be okay and stay in, but yet no penalty called…keep this in mind. It was just after this incident that the Devils would rally, scoring twice in a 1:32 span to retie the game. First Joe Whitney scored on a 5 on 3 advantage to cut the deficit to 1. Then McKelvie scored his first of the season even strength to tie it at 4 (assisted by the brothers Zajac…I was hoping Darcy and Kelly would be on the same line at some point). But just after the tying goal, Matt Anderson ends up running into Sound Tigers goaltender Kevin Poulin…and yet he gets called for interference. On the ensuing power play, Matt Donovan scored the go ahead goal with just 1:16 left in regulation for a 5-4 Bridgeport lead. The Devils tried to get that tying fifth goal, but just ran out of time. Despite the loss, it was not a bad performance by the new look roster…they finished 2 for 6 on the power play, but only 2 for 5 penalty kill, another rare bad day. The reinforcements from Trenton and the healthy scratch list contributed quite nicely, combining for six points (1 goal and assist for Kelly Zajac, 2 assists from Brandon Burlon, 1 assist from Haczyk, 1 goal from DeSimone). Kinkaid stopped 24 of 29 shots in the loss (and took his fair share of run ins as well).

Notes:

-Saturday night came the official mass exit of players heading to Newark for the start of New Jersey training camp. It was pretty easy to figure out…if a player got on the bus, they were headed to Atlantic City. If they had their sticks shrink wrapped and they were carrying their gear, it was off to camp. As expected, Adam Larsson, Bobby Butler, Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson, and Stephen Gionta are headed to Jersey, but joining them are Tim Sestito and Harri Pesonen. Josefson and Gionta both sat out Friday and Saturday with injuries and had already departed. You can see the full list here.

-To help fill out the roster, Albany recalled forwards Kelly Zajac and Bryan Haczyk from Trenton.

-Injury front: Scott Parse and J.S. Berube are both still out indefinitely. Parse was the only player not heading south to New Jersey on Saturday evening. Joe Whitney returned to the lineup Friday night after sitting out the last two weeks, but reinjured himself late in the game and sat out on Saturday, but then returned to the lineup on Sunday.

The Week Ahead:

A similar pattern awaits the Devils this week: a 3 in 3 weekend, with 3 different buildings in 3 different states. Friday night they travel north to Glens Falls to resume the Time Warner Cable Cup series against a depleted Phantoms roster (they lost Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, but may have gained the services of goaltender Brian Boucher). Then it’s east to Springfield on Saturday evening to take on the Falcons for the second time this month. Then it’s right back to Boardwalk Hall and Atlantic City on Sunday afternoon for another faceoff with the Phantoms (where I can guarantee a chunk of Philadelphians will be in attendance along with quite a few members of the Devils Booster Club). By the weekend, there is also a good chance a couple of players will come back down from New Jersey as the parent Devils finish off a short training camp and begin their abbreviated season on Saturday in Long Island.

A Stroke of Hard Luck?

After notching their first win of the season last weekend, the Devils looked to build on that momentum as they took on two divisional rivals and a strong East Division foe. Although they only went 1-2 on the week, there was a potential for a 3-0 week if it weren’t for a few factors. Let’s take a look back:

10/24 vs. Connecticut: 5-2 L

Times Union
Hartford Courant

The brief 2 game homestand started off with a visit from the Whale, turning this game into a Devils-Rangers lite matchup. The early story was a Devil 4 minute power play just 38 seconds into the game when Whale leading scorer Kris Newbury was called for a cross check, then said the magic words and ended up with an additional unsportsmanlike, 10 minute misconduct…and a seat warming the bench for the remainder of the game. Unfortunately, the Devils could only muster 3 shots on goal over the 4 minutes. Mike Hoeffel got the Devils on the board late in the first with his second goal of the season. Keith Kinkaid, meanwhile, held his own and then some during this period, stopping all 10 Whale shots, some acrobatically. Second period…a different story. Brandon Segal and J.T. Miller scored just 61 seconds apart to tie then take the lead for Connecticut. It then became a 3-1 lead after a turnover by Raman Hrabarenka gave Tommy Grant an easy score. Third period the Devils may have outshot the Whale 12-5, but Connecticut made the shots count. Andrew Yogan broke up the Devils perfect PK string with a power play goal midway through for a 4-1 lead, prompting the Let’s Go Rangers chants from several people in attendance with Blueshirts on (sorry you’re not in MSG…take it back to the city!). Kyle Jean made it a 5-1 lead less than 3 minutes later (and yet another Let’s Go Rangers chant…so confused, those people were). But the Devils weren’t quite done just yet. On a late power play, Jacob Josefson scored his 3rd goal of the season to cut the deficit to 5-2. But that was it, as Connecticut won its first game of the young season, while Albany dropped its 3rd straight on home ice. Kinkaid finished with 21 saves, while 4 players each contributed one assist.

10/26 vs. Adirondack: 5-1 W

Times Union
The Post Star

Friday night kicked off the 4th annual Time Warner Cable Cup series, as the Devils hosted their neighbors to the north, the Phantoms. And this one was clearly no contest. Jacob Josefson scored on Albany’s first shot on goal of the game 4 minutes in, and it was off and running from there. The Devils took the game’s first 10 shots on goal…Adirondack didn’t even register their first shot till 11 and a half minutes into the period. Matt Anderson padded the lead with his first goal of the season with about 4 minutes remaining in the first. Then the Phantoms finally got on the board late in probably the least likely way possible…a penalty shot goal, by none other than Zac Rinaldo (Dan Kelly had apparently hooked him on a breakaway). Eight minutes into the second period, it was the Devils turn at getting a penalty shot, after Marc Andre Bourdon took down Adam Henrique in a similar fashion. Naturally Henrique was successful in getting the goal, making it a 3-1 Devil advantage. It was the first time since 1996 that an AHL game featured two successful penalty shot goals. The Phantoms did catch up in the shot department, matching 11 shots, but Jeff Frazee stopped them all. Third period, more of the same from the home team, as Phil DeSimone and Darcy Zajac each added their first goals of the season to seal the win. Frazee had an outstanding night in goal, only letting Rinaldo’s penalty shot get by him as he registered 23 saves and earned #3 star honors. Adam Larsson also contributed two assists. The other big story? Not counting the two penalty shots, only two penalties called. All night. And Chris Brown was the referee. I almost thought Jeff Smith was there in disguise for a while there.

10/27 at Hershey: 3-0 L

Times Union
Harrisburg Patriot-News

To finish out the week, the Devils traveled south to Hershey to take on the Bears. The home team got things started with a Zach Hamill goal late in the first for a 1-0 advantage. Chances for both teams were pretty even as both had 7 shots apiece. The Devils tried in vain to get on the board in the second, but Braden Holtby was stopping everything in his path. Penalties became an issue again for Albany, as the Bears took a 2-0 lead while David Wohlberg was sitting on a roughing call. The goal actually went in and out so fast, it went up for video review, the first one I’ve seen so far. Referee Darcy Burchell did rule it a good goal. Although the scoring chances weren’t going in, the Devils special teams did step up after that, killing off a 1:15 5 on 3 just after the second Bears goal. Third period, more Devil shots on goal, but Holtby wasn’t letting anything get by him. He stopped all 35 Devil shots in getting his first shutout of the season (and the first Devil shutout loss). Tomas Kundratek scored an empty netter with 2 minutes remaining to seal the win. Lost in all this was Keith Kinkaid, who once again became the victim of poor offensive support, stopping 19 shots in the loss. He had quite a few acrobatic saves of his own, which kept the game close.

News and Notes:

-Two player transactions this week, to help with the logjam of scratches: Harry Young and Chris McKelvie were reassigned to Trenton earlier this week, joining Scott Wedgewood, Eric Baier, Alexandre Carrier, and Bryan Haczyk.

-Injury update: Alexander Urbom sat out the week after taking the sucker punch to the face last weekend in Worcester, he remains day to day. Eric Gelinas and Kelly Zajac have yet to arrive here from New Jersey where they stayed to rehab, so still waiting on an update on how long they’ll remain out.

The Week Ahead:

Two games this week, all against divisional opponents, all rematches from the week gone by. Friday night the Devils look to redeem themselves at home against the Whale. Saturday they head up the Northway for the first of 6 visits to the lovely Glens Falls Civic Center to take on the Phantoms, in Game 2 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series. Hopefully the momentum continues to build…and more offense, too!

*Note: I will be moving to a new house this week, but since Time Warner will have my internet and everything in place on moving day, I do not foresee any interruption as far as updates go. If there is a blog schedule change I’ll put it out via Twitter and the Facebook page (if you haven’t visited yet, please do and give it a Like. Still a work in progress.).

Wednesday Updates

Now that camp has finally shifted to the Capital Region (first session was on Monday), preparations are underway for the season opener against Manchester on Saturday. The latest:

-First, as of Sunday the blog is on Facebook! Click on the square under my recent tweets and give it a Like. I’ll post a few news items, and links to posts will be there as well.

-Now on to team news:

The first two cuts to the camp roster were made earlier in the week, with Eric Baier and Bryan Haczyk being assigned to Trenton in the ECHL.

Speaking of Trenton, earlier today it was announced that instead of having one ECHL affiliate, the Devils will utilize both Trenton and Elmira to reassign players.

And now for the walking wounded (all updates per Fire and Ice and The Daily Gazette):

Eric Gelinas is out indefinitely after being struck in the jaw with a shot in Binghamton on Saturday night. I had heard while in the building that he had lost three teeth, but in reality they were “loosened.”

Kelly Zajac never got into a preseason game, and there’s a good reason why: He underwent surgery to correct an abdominal issue stemming back to last season while he was still at Union. He’s out for 4 to 6 weeks.

Maxime Clermont, J.S. Berube, Steve Zalewski, Scott Parse, and Alexandre Carrier are all day to day with assorted ailments.

Unless any other news breaks, next entry will be the first pregamer of the season! All pregame entries will remain on a 3 hour before game time schedule. Most likely it will stay in the same format as last season with stats, radio/Twitter info, etc.