Breaking a Trend

The Devils six game…er, five game road trip (thanks to the huge snowstorm that crippled New England) continued this week, with three stops against a division rival and two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. And something amazing happened…not only did they take all three games played this week, the way they won was something no one had seen here all season long. Time to review:

2/5 at Connecticut: 4-3 W (SO)

Times Union
Hartford Courant

The week began with the third stop on the road trip, Hartford, to take on the Whale. And it didn’t take very long for the visitors to take over. Matt Anderson scored 27 seconds into the game for a very quick 1-0 lead. Phil DeSimone added a power play marker 5 minutes later for a 2-0 advantage, and with that Connecticut called in Cam Talbot from the bullpen to replace starter Jason Missiaen. Albany would outshoot the Whale 14-4 in the first. After no goals across in the second period, the third period was, shall we say, action packed? Corbin McPherson scored his first goal as a professional 9 minutes in for a 3-0 Devil lead. Well, we know what they say about 3 goal leads. And it almost came true on this night. 20 seconds after McPherson’s goal, Kris Newbury would break up Keith Kinkaid’s shutout bid to make it 3-1. Four minutes later, Mike Vernace would cut the deficit to 1. Kelsey Tessier would complete the rally less than 3 minutes later on a shorthanded goal, making it 3 all. It was on to overtime, where maybe, just maybe, the 10th time would be the charm for the Devils, as they had yet to win after regulation (1 OTL and 8 SOL). After both teams exchanged one shot without success, it was on to a shootout, the Devils’ 9th chance at redemption. After Mike Sislo and Brandon Mashinter were stopped in the first round, Chad Wiseman and Matt Anderson both scored in back to back rounds. Kinkaid stopped former teammate Nick Palmieri (making his Whale debut after being acquired from Minnesota), Newbury, and Brandon Segal to secure the Devils first overtime win of the season (FINALLY! Sorry had to let that out). Despite a shaky third period, not a bad day for Kinkaid, as he stopped 20 of 23 shots prior to stopping all 4 shootout attempts. Anderson and Brandon Burlon each had two assists. And of course, what’s a Devil-Ranger matchup without this?

2/9 at Syracuse: 4-3 W

Times Union
Syracuse Post Standard

After a bonus day off Friday due to the snowstorm known as Nemo, the Devils were back to work Saturday, traveling west on the Thruway for their first visit of the season to Syracuse to take on the Crunch. Nothing across during the first period, then Vladimir Namestnikov got the hosts on the board just 99 seconds into the second for a 1-0 lead. Tyler Johnson added his 21st goal of the season late in the period for a 2-0 advantage. At this point, one would think this game was pretty much over with–the Devils had yet to win when trailing after 2 periods, the Crunch had yet to lose when leading after 2. Well, it’s a good thing they don’t play these games on paper. Joe Whitney would break up Dustin Tokarski’s shutout 4 minutes into the third to cut the deficit to 2-1. Then while on a power play, Scott Parse scored his first as a Devil to tie the game at 2. Less than 2 minutes later, Matt Anderson would give the Devils their first lead of the night, 3-2. And to top off the rally, Tim Sestito scored with just over 2 minutes left for an insurance goal. That actually turned into the game winner, as Johnson would add his second of the game with 22 seconds left to get the 4-3 final. It took Albany a total of 7:58 to erase a 2-0 deficit, an almost identical rally to one the Devils mounted last year in Norfolk, against the same group of players. All this despite being outshot by the Crunch 12-8 for the period. Keith Kinkaid won his second straight in net, stopping 27 of 30 Crunch shots. Anderson also added two assists, while 5 other Devils each had one helper.

2/10 at Binghamton: 3-2 W (SO)

Times Union
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

The road trip came to an end Sunday afternoon in the Southern Tier of New York, as the Devils took on the Senators. No goals across in the first period, but the Devils did manage to kill off 3 power plays during the period (yesterday’s referee tandem was quite whistle happy on this day), but were outshot 12-8. Things started picking up in the second…Corey Cowick put the hosts on the board just 1:42 into the period for a 1-0 advantage. Jeff Frazee came up big after that, making quite a few acrobatic saves to keep it at a one goal game. Hugh Jessiman connected on a penalty shot just one minute into the third period to give the Senators a 2-0 lead. But just like the night before in Syracuse, the Devils started to rally. Matt Anderson broke up the shutout on a nice breakaway four minutes later to cut the lead to 2-1. Five minutes later Phil DeSimone would get the equalizer. After a few very close calls late in regulation and into overtime, it was on to the shootout, #10 for the Devils on the season. Mike Sislo and Chad Wiseman would score in the first two rounds, then Binghamton’s Dustin Gazley and Jessiman would score in the 4th and 5th rounds to extend the shootout to extra rounds. And it didn’t take long to settle: Joe Whitney scored in the 6th round, and Frazee would stop Chris Wideman to snag the extra point and finish off a perfect week. Frazee had an outstanding day in net, stopping 37 of 39 shots, getting the lone assist on Anderson’s goal, and earning #2 star honors. Tim Sestito and Eric Gelinas each assisted on DeSimone’s goal.

Notes:

-It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for Matt Anderson. He gets his own bobblehead, then gets the call to New Jersey where he gets his first NHL assist in a 2 game stint before returning to Albany, then in the last three games he puts up 7 points (3 G, 4 A). For his performance this week, he earns the AHL Player of the Week, the second Devil to earn the honor (Bobby Butler the first back in mid December).

-Andrei Loktionov made his Devil debut Saturday night in Syracuse, finishing with no shots and a -1. He took part in the shootout in Binghamton on Sunday afternoon. First impression? One word: Fast. The other Russian to join the team, Stefan Stepanov, has yet to make his Devil debut.

The Week Ahead:

The Devils finally return to home ice for the first time since January 26th, with a Wednesday night matchup against the Crunch. Friday it’s back up north to Glens Falls, where they have a chance to clinch the Time Warner Cable Cup with a win over the Phantoms. After a rare Saturday off, it’s back to work Sunday afternoon at home against the Senators.

Hitting a Roadblock

We have reached February and the start of the second half of the season. The Devils got to start it by embarking on a 6 game road trip through New England and Central New York, with the first two stops in Rhode Island and Maine against two very good Atlantic Division teams. And things didn’t go as planned, as only one goal was scored and no standings points earned. Looking back:

2/1 at Providence: 5-1 L

Times Union
Providence Journal

The second half and the long road trip kicked off Friday evening in Rhode Island, where Bobby Butler was just on the ice a few days earlier as an All Star participant. The Devils did kill off their lone penalty early on, but it was all Providence after that. Max Sauve and Torey Krug scored just 1:06 apart to close out the first period for a quick 2-0 Bruin lead. Providence would pad the lead to 4-0 in another short span in the second, this time 1:41 in between. Sauve would score his second of the night and Ryan Spooner would add a power play marker. The Devils had a chance to gain momentum when Cam Janssen (in his first appearance in any Albany uniform since 2006) actually skated away from a fight with the current AHL penalty minutes leader Bobby Robins. But the Bruins would of course kill it off. Albany finally got on the board in the third period on a Tim Sestito goal to make it 4-1, but Kyle MacKinnon would add a 5th goal with 3 and a half minutes to go to seal the win. It was a tough night in goal for Keith Kinkaid, as he stopped 33 of 38 Bruin shots. Brandon Burlon was the only defenseman to finish with a positive plus/minus rating (+1).

2/2 at Portland: 2-0 L

Times Union
Maine Hockey Journal

The trip continued north to Maine, as the Devils and Pirates met for the first time since the 2010-11 season. It was a fairly quiet first period on the scoresheet, but there was this:

Moving on…second period the Pirates got on the board with a Chris Conner goal just 1:22 in. Ethan Werek would add an insurance goal 7 minutes into the 3rd for a 2-0 advantage. The Devils could not get any offense going against Pirate goalie Mark Visentin, who would stop all 22 shots for the shutout, the 4th against Albany on the season. Another hard luck loss for Jeff Frazee, as he stopped 27 of 29 Portland shots. While looking for something…anything…else positive on the evening, I do have this: your team leader in shots? Jay Leach with 4. And the penalty kill did go a perfect 3 for 3.

Notes:

-After appearing in two games for New Jersey and registering his first NHL assist on Thursday night, Matt Anderson was sent back to Albany on Friday afternoon.

-Finally, the anticipated Bobby Butler recall came to pass on Saturday afternoon, in between New Jersey’s 5-1 loss in Pittsburgh earlier in the day and just before Albany took the ice in Portland. He became the 8th AHL All Star since the game took place on Monday to be recalled to an NHL team.

-Chad Wiseman and Scott Parse both returned to the lineup this week after nursing various lower body injuries. This leaves David Wohlberg as the sole member of the injured list. Mattias Tedenby has yet to make an appearance since being sent down on Monday due to “soreness” but he should be back shortly. But now the team will be dealing with an influx of extra forwards, much like during the lockout.

The Week Ahead:

A very busy 4 game week awaits the Devils, all on the road as the 6 game trip finishes up. Tuesday night they make their final visit of the season to Hartford to take on the Whale. Friday night it’s back down the Mass Pike, but stopping in Springfield to take on the Falcons. Saturday it’s the other direction down Interstate 90, going to Syracuse for the first time all season to take on the Crunch. Finally it’s south down Interstate 81 to Binghamton on Sunday afternoon to face the Senators.

Note: Photo Gallery is taking a week off, since, well, I wasn’t on hand for any of the games. Road Trip/Power to the Purple Edition coming up after next week’s recap!

Polar Opposites

To finish out the month of January and start off the All Star break, the Devils had two familiar opponents on the schedule this week…basically rematches from the weekend before in Springfield and Adirondack. After a dud start, the boys finished off the week on a high note, finishing with another 4 of 6 points this week. Time for the recap:

1/23 vs. Springfield: 4-2 L

Times Union
The Republican

The week began with a midweek tilt at home against the division leading Falcons. Not much to write home about in this one. Despite the Devils outshooting their guests 13-12 in the first, they were down 1-0 thanks to a Cody Goloubef goal 9 minutes in. Things didn’t get any better in the second period…Michael Chaput (fun fact: he is the younger brother of former River Rat Stefan, now in Hamilton) gave the Falcons a 2-0 cushion 4:39 into the period. Mike Sislo cut the deficit in half with a short handed goal less than a minute later. Then with just over 6 minutes left in the period, an odd double penalty call on rookie defenseman Raman Hrabarenka gave Springfield’s Ryan Russell a penalty shot. Jeff Frazee would deny it thanks to his trusty goalie post. But less than a minute later the defense was caught napping and Scott Howes would capitalize, giving the Falcons the two goal lead right back. Tomas Kubalik would extend the lead to 4-1 on a video reviewed goal (it bounced off the top of the crossbar and dropped just barely over the goal line…we all thought it was cleared out in time but it was not) 90 seconds into the third. Joe Whitney would add his 9th goal of the season 4 minutes later, but that’s as close as the Devils would get. It wasn’t the greatest of nights defensively, as only two Devils (Whitney and Jay Leach) finished with a + rating (Corbin McPherson, normally steady on defense, finished a -3). Frazee finished with 29 saves on 33 chances in the loss, and Bobby Butler had the lone assist.

1/25 at Adirondack: 4-1 W

Times Union
Glens Falls Post Star

For the second time in 7 days, the Devils headed north on Interstate 87 to take on the Phantoms, who on this night were sporting very pretty pink jerseys as part of a Pink in the Rink promotion (sadly, no pink ice, just the jerseys). Unlike last week, when the Devils outshot Adirondack by a huge margin, it was the Phantoms who came out shooting in the first period, with a 12-3 advantage. But the Devils made their precious few shots count…on their second of the game, Joe Whitney scored for the early 1-0 advantage. Keith Kinkaid managed to stop all 12 chances. The momentum would shift over in the Devils favor in the second, as they added to the lead on a Matt Anderson goal nearly halfway through the period. Matthew Ford would score on a power play to cut the deficit in half, but that’s all Adirondack would manage to get. Albany took over in the third, scoring twice and outshooting the Phantoms 18-6. After Kinkaid stopped the team’s second consective penalty shot (this one off the stick of Harry Zolnierczyk), Whitney would score his second of the game for a two goal lead, then Kelly Zajac scored his second as a pro with 7 minutes left for some extra insurance. Kinkaid had an excellent showing in net, stopping 26 of 27 and earning second star of the game honors. Steve Zalewski contributed two assists.

1/26 vs. Adirondack: 5-2 W

Times Union
Glens Falls Post Star

The Devils and Phantoms finished off the home and home with an early Saturday afternoon tilt in downtown Albany. I knew it was going to be a big day when I walked in and saw every single upper deck section had the black curtains lifted up. I haven’t seen that for hockey in quite a long time, probably way back in the River Rats days. But more on that in a bit. This game was all Devils from the start, as they put up a 3 spot in the first period against Scott Munroe. Steve Zalewski got the scoring going 4 minutes into the period. Harri Pesonen was next in line, scoring 6 minutes later. Then Bobby Butler would add his team leading 16th with 5 and a half remaining. All of this was on just 6 shots on goal…Keith Kinkaid stopped all 9 Phantom shots. Marcel Noebels would get Adirondack on the board in the second with a power play goal (just 22 seconds into the penalty kill…they either give it up early or completely kill it off it seems). Pesonen would return the favor 4 minutes into the third with his second of the day on a power play for a 4-1 lead. Danny Syvret would cut the lead to 4-2 just before the penalty kill ended. Then Darcy Zajac would seal it with a short handed empty netter with just 13 seconds left to close out the win. Another good day in net for Kinkaid as he stopped 26 of 28 shots. Tim Sestito, Eric Gelinas, and Phil DeSimone would each add two assists. But the biggest story of the day had to be the announced attendance…ready? A whopping 10,218 people witnessed this one, which shatters the old Devils AHL attendance record by over 2000 (this just counts Lowell/Albany). If you really want to dig into attendance records, there hasn’t been a crowd like this since the River Rats heyday in the mid 90s, when 10,000+ crowds almost seemed like the norm, especially when the old Adirondack Red Wings came to town.

Notes:

-Forward Bryan Haczyk was reassigned to Trenton on Friday, after only appearing in one game since coming up two weeks ago while a few Albany forwards were participating in New Jersey’s training camp.

-Injury update: Only three on the list, all had sat out the week. Chad Wiseman (lower body) and Scott Parse (hip) were both expected to be available, but neither made an appearance. David Wohlberg (lower body) sat out as well, we’ll know more about their return to the lineup once everyone returns to work after the break.

-Yesterday morning the AHL All Star starting lineups were announced, all selected by fan voting…and Bobby Butler was chosen as one of the starting forwards, along with Nino Niederreiter of Bridgeport and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault of Springfield. Lineups for both can be seen here.

The Week Ahead:

After a nice four day vacation for the rest of the Devils, it’s back to work at the end of the week, as they start the month of February with a 6 game road trip. The first two stops come Friday night in Providence and Saturday night in Portland. Looking ahead at the month, the Devils only touch home ice three times (well, four if you count the final stop in Atlantic City on the 24th), with this New England swing the furthest they will travel. Historically this part of the schedule is always heavy on travel for Albany (this goes back to the River Rat days as well), so this is a great time to judge what these guys have got as they make the push to move up in the standings.

Old Habits Die Hard…

Despite all the roster changes this week as New Jersey’s training camp went on, the Devils still had a tough 3 in 3 weekend stretch to face, as they took on two divisional opponents with a lot of travel mixed in. And it wasn’t a bad showing, gaining 4 of 6 points, but a big weakness prevented them from making it so much more. Looking back on the weekend:

1/18 at Adirondack: 4-3 W

Times Union
Glens Falls Post Star

The weekend began with the first trip north of 2013 for Game #5 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series. Matt Anderson put the visitors on the board 3 minutes into the game. Then the Phantoms, despite barely having that many scoring chances, made those chances count. Jason Akeson would tie the game at 1 on a power play, then rookie Marcel Noebels would give the Phantoms the lead under two minutes later. All that despite having only 3 shots on goal. Albany would finish the period outshooting Adirondack 15-5, but staring at a 2-1 deficit. Second period was virtually all Devils, as they probably produced one of their most dominant periods of the season (and usually second period is a weak time for them…go figure). Harri Pesonen, just returning from spending the week in New Jersey training camp, tied the game at 2 halfway through the period. Then Joe Whitney would score twice in a less than 5 minute span to boost the Devil lead to 4-2. And the shot on goal differential? 16-4 for the period, with a total of 31-9 after 40 minutes of play. Third period, the Phantoms suddenly woke up and tried to stage a rally. Tye McGinn would cut the deficit to 1 halfway through the period, but it was all Keith Kinkaid would allow. He went on to stop 20 of 21 Phantom shots in the 3rd, while the Devils only managed 4. The last Phantom shot was thought to have tied the game with just 1.4 seconds left, but it was waved off, and the Devils survived with their fourth win in 5 tries against their upstate rivals. Kinkaid recovered from a shaky first period to stop 27 of 30 shots, including a penalty shot against Matthew Ford in the 3rd. Mike Sislo and Brandon Burlon each contributed two assists.

1/19 at Springfield: 2-1 L (SO)

Times Union
The Republican

The road trip continued east down the Mass Pike for the third matchup in less than a month against the first place Falcons. Unlike the night before, both teams played a little more evenly. Nick Drazenovic put the hosts on the board 7 minutes into the first on (what else is new?) a goaltender interference call against Matt Anderson, probably the 4th or 5th time this week a Devil was called for that (when it was really an opposing player shoving said Devil into the net). Barely two minutes later, on a full 2 minute 5 on 3 advantage, Eric Gelinas would tie it up at 1. After that, the goalies took over, particularly Falcons netminder Paul Dainton. The Devils would go on another shot barrage, outshooting the Falcons 22-9 through the second and third periods, but Dainton was practically standing on his head and running a goaltending clinic, stopping everything in his path. And I believe it was because of him that instead of the Devils cruising to another win against Springfield, that the game stayed tied at 1 going into the dreaded overtime. To refresh your memory, the Devils and overtime do not get along well, as they have suffered 1 loss and 6 shootout losses thus far. Despite outshooting the Falcons 4-1 in the extra session, again it was Dainton who rose to the challenge. It was on to the shootout, where once again the Devils would fall short. Phil DeSimone was the only Devil of 5 (Mike Sislo, Harri Pesonen, Eric Gelinas, and Joe Whitney the other participants) to score, while Frazee allowed goals to Sean Collins in round 1 and Wade MacLeod in round 4 to seal the Devils 7th shootout loss of the season. You have to feel for Frazee in this one, as he played outstanding in yet another hard luck defeat, stopping 23 of 24 shots and earning 3rd star of the game honors. Mike Sislo and Joe Whitney each had one assist, and Gelinas actually had 8 shots on goal.

1/20 vs. Adirondack: 3-2 L (SO)

Times Union
Glens Falls Post Star

Much like the weekend before, the Devils went back to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for a rematch with Adirondack. Unlike Friday night, when the Devils had a huge shot advantage, it was the Phantoms who came to play this time. They outshot Albany 12-6 and despite being in early penalty trouble, it was a power play goal by Jason Akeson late in the first that put the Phantoms up 1-0 (to the delight of what sounded like a good chunk of the city of Philadelphia in house). The Devils would comeback in the second to tie it up, courtesy of a power play goal from Phil DeSimone. Third period the Devils had a great chance to go ahead with a 5 on 3 opportunity, but couldn’t produce. But it was during a 4 on 4 that Marcel Noebels would score to give the Phantoms a 2-1 advantage. But with just over 2 minutes left on the clock, the captain came through in the clutch, as Jay Leach would score just his second goal of the season to tie the game at 2…and salvage at least one standings point, because it was off to overtime (lather, rinse, repeat the night before). During the 5 minute OT session, the Devils had quite a few chances to get the game winner past goaltender Cal Heeter, but he was up to the challenge, stopping all 5 shots. So of course it was off to shootout #8 of the season, maybe today would be the day? Of course not. Akeson and Tye McGinn scored during the first 3 rounds, while only Matt Anderson was able to score for Albany (the other shooters for those who are wondering: Mike Sislo, Phil DeSimone, Steve Zalewski). Danny Syvret scored the deciding goal in the 5th round to give Adirondack the win…and shootout loss #8 for the Devils (is that a league record?). Yet another hard luck defeat for Keith Kinkaid, who turned in a solid day in goal stopping 28 of 30 shots. And Harry Young finally cracked the lineup for the first time all season.

Notes:

-Finishing off all the roster moves from this week: Bobby Butler cleared waivers on Saturday and was reassigned to Albany. He returned to the lineup on Sunday. Mattias Tedenby was sent down and recalled within a day on paper while Butler’s fate was decided.

-Injury front: very short list. Chad Wiseman and Scott Parse are both out with various lower body injuries (Parse’s I believe is reaggravating his hip injury that kept him out most of last season while in Los Angeles). David Wohlberg sat out both Saturday and Sunday, I’m not sure if it was injury related or not.

The Week Ahead:

Three games this week, and virtually no real travel involved. Wednesday night the Devils return home to host the Falcons, then it’s a home and home with Adirondack to close the week, Friday night in Glens Falls and a Saturday early afternoon tilt. Saturday has the makings of what could be an epic day at the TU Center, as attendance is expected to be over 8000 thanks to a $5/$10 Time Warner Cable ticket promotion…and the game will be followed by college hockey at night, as local teams RPI and Union (Kinkaid and Kelly Zajac’s alma mater) square off.

Wednesday will also mark the official halfway point of the schedule for the Devils, so watch for a first half numbers entry sometime Thursday evening, before the weekend games kick off the second half of the season.

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.

The Perfect Sendoff

The first week of 2013 started out normally for the Devils, as they only had two weekend games at home to contend with, but against two very good teams in Springfield and Binghamton.

Then this happened.

So what turned into a perfect weekend for the team became a farewell of sorts for a good percentage of the roster. Looking back on the last two days of action:

1/5 vs. Springfield: 4-1 W

Times Union
The Republican

The New Year started off for the Devils on home ice, hosting the first place Falcons on the annual Pucks and Paws night (for a $5 fee fans could bring their dog to the game). Very interesting matchup in net if you’re a fan of local college hockey: Union alum Keith Kinkaid against RPI alum Allen York. Stephen Gionta put the Devils on the board 12 minutes into the first with his second goal since returning to the team. Cam Atkinson tied the game 5 minutes later with a power play marker, something rarely given up by the Devils recently. Mattias Tedenby would break the tie halfway through the second period with his sixth of the season. About three minutes later, an interesting on ice situation developed, as referee Trevor Hanson had to temporarily leave the game after getting nailed in the face with a puck. Luckily the remainder of the period was uneventful, save for just two routine penalties being called. Hanson did manage to come back for the third period…he is a hockey referee, after all. Tim Sestito would give the Devils a needed insurance goal 6 minutes in (and just as their 3rd unsuccessful power play expired too) for a 3-1 advantage. Kinkaid would take care of the rest, stopping all 7 Falcon shots. Bobby Butler would add an empty netter with 50 seconds remaining to seal the win. The real offensive star of the night may just surprise you: seldom used forward Chris McKelvie, who wound up in the right place at the right time and finished with three assists on the night (along with a +3 and #2 star of the game honors). Fun fact: the Devils are 9-1-1 when he’s in the lineup. Kinkaid finished with 21 saves in picking up his 9th win of the season and #3 star honors.

1/6 vs. Binghamton: 5-2 W

Times Union
Press & Sun-Bulletin

Just a few hours after the official end of the NHL lockout, the Devils took on Binghamton for the second time in 9 days. In a surprising move, none of the expected New Jersey callups were given the mysterious scratch treatment, so it became the last chance for the Albany faithful to see the likes of Butler, Larsson, Josefson, and Gionta. And it was the Devils who came storming out of the gate at the start, dominating in their offensive zone for most of the period. After finding themselves on the power play just 90 seconds into the contest, Eric Gelinas went back to doing what he does best…score on the power play, putting Albany on the board 1-0. They had a chance to really pull away early after David Dziurzynski high sticked Chris McKelvie (if you recall, his hit last time the two teams met put Joe Whitney out of the lineup) and drew a double minor, but could not add to their lead. Tim Sestito added to the lead with just under five minutes remaining…and oh by the way Binghamton to that point had yet to register a shot on goal (I believe it was 10-0 at that point). Albany finished the period outshooting Binghamton 13-3 (I doubt Keith Kinkaid broke a sweat that period at all). Second period the Senators realized they were playing a game and dominated play. With Jay Leach in the box for a double minor (which really only started out as just a cross checking penalty, then he said the magic words to the referee and got hit with an extra two minutes), Patrick Wiercioch put the Senators on the board, cutting the deficit in half. Just under three minutes later, Shane Prince completed the Binghamton rally and tied the game up at 2. Kinkaid and the rest of the team settled down after that and turned the tide. After an uneventful start to the third, the Devils offense picked it up. After having a lackluster first part of the game, Adam Larsson came through in the clutch, scoring the go ahead goal 11 minutes into the third to put the Devils back up 3-2. Mattias Tedenby added an insurance goal exactly five minutes later to make it 4-2, and for the proverbial icing on the cake, Steve Zalewski scored the second straight empty netter for the 5-2 final. Despite a shaky second period, Kinkaid did very well on the day, stopping 23 of 25 Binghamton shots (and putting on a clinic at one point in the second), and 13 players registered at least 1 point (with Sestito’s goal and assist leading the way).

Notes:

-Injury front: Joe Whitney sat out both games after being injured on December 28th. He told me postgame Sunday he’s day to day and should be back this weekend. Dan Kelly and David Wohlberg finally returned to the lineup after both battled the flu bug since Christmas. Scott Parse and J.S. Berube remain out indefinitely, although Berube is practicing with the team. He too just got over the flu bug and may be ready to go shortly (and yes, he should be getting his number back from Gionta).

-We should know who from here is getting recalled to New Jersey as NHL camps reopen for business later this week. I’ll likely have a separate entry for that when everything is made official.

The Week Ahead:

A busy 3 in 3 weekend looms, with 3 different stops. Friday night the Devils travel to Manchester for a minor league Stanley Cup rematch against the Monarchs, a team Albany hasn’t seen since Opening Night. Saturday they return home to face Worcester on Kids in Free Day (always a big attendance draw), then it’s off to the second home in Atlantic City Sunday afternoon to take on the Sound Tigers.

Holiday Upswing

After taking a few days to celebrate Christmas, the Devils were right back to work, playing a 3 in 3 swing against 3 tough opponents. And they rose to the challenge, taking 4 out of 6 points…and it could easily have been 6 for 6 if not for a questionable call or two. Let’s recap:

12/27 at Springfield: 4-3 W

Times Union
The Republican

A four game road trip that kicked off before Christmas came to an end Thursday night in Springfield, as the Devils faced the first place Falcons for the first time all season. Harri Pesonen got the visitors on the board first with just 52 seconds left in the first period. Stephen Gionta scored his first goal since his return halfway through the second period for a 2 goal cushion. Ryan Johansen put the Falcons on the board with four and a half minutes left in the period to cut the deficit in half, but Joe Whitney scored 31 seconds later to regain the 2 goal lead for Albany. Steve Zalewski made it a 3 goal lead early in the third with a power play marker (gasp! Another one!), then the Falcons started to rally. They made it interesting late, as Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson scored 1:29 apart to cut the deficit to one. But the Devils shut the door and held on for the win. Keith Kinkaid stopped 28 of 31 shots to pick up the win and Adam Larsson contributed two assists.

12/28 vs. Binghamton: 3-2 L

Times Union
Press & Sun-Bulletin

The Devils returned home Friday night for their last home game of the calendar year, the first of 8 matchups of the season against Binghamton. First period was virtually all Devils, as they outshot the Senators 13-2. But the story of the period was a major penalty by Binghamton’s David Dziurzynski, who sent Joe Whitney into the boards with a hit from behind, knocking Whitney out of the game with a leg injury. During the ensuing 5 on 3 (Eric Gryba had taken a minor 26 seconds before the hit), Bobby Butler scored on his former team for a 1-0 lead. Second period saw the Senators come back, actually playing even with the Devils (shots all even at 12), but it was a questionable call at the very end of the period that changed the course of the game. Just as the clock struck zero to end the period and the horn was sounding, Cole Schneider slid the puck past Jeff Frazee. We all figured it would be called off due to the puck going in after time had expired. But the referee tandem of Jeff Smith and Jon McIsaac (I couldn’t see from my angle which one made the call) called it a good goal, tying the game at 1. And put a second back on the clock to boot. Third period it was Schneider coming through again, scoring just 1:29 into the period for a 2-1 Binghamton lead. Much like with Emerson Etem last Saturday night in Norfolk, it took 91 seconds for one player to turn a 1-0 game into a 2-1 deficit. But the Devils–namely Butler–weren’t done just yet. He notched his second power play goal of the night with just over 6 minutes remaining to tie the game at 2. But with 2:35 left in regulation, rookie Jakob Silfverberg scored the go ahead goal. Despite a last minute rush to the net, it was not to be for the Devils. All this despite grossly outshooting Binghamton 37-17, including 12-3 in the third period alone. Another hard luck defeat for Frazee, as he stopped 14 of 17 shots.

12/29 at Hershey: 3-2 W

Times Union
The Patriot-News

The Devils closed out the 2012 portion of their schedule with a trip south to Hershey to take on the Bears. Despite outshooting the Bears 12-10 in the first, the Devils faced a 1-0 deficit on a Jon DiSalvatore goal. Tim Sestito tied the game at 1 with under 8 minutes to go in the second. Third period, the line of Bobby Butler, Harri Pesonen and Jacob Josefson took over. Butler scored his team leading 14th goal just under 3 minutes into the third to give the Devils a 2-1 lead. Not to be outdone, Zach Hamill scored 45 seconds later to re tie the game at 2. But with just over 8 minutes to go in regulation, Pesonen scored to put the Devils back on top. The rest was taken care of by Keith Kinkaid, who stopped 14 of 15 Bears shots in the third, including a few good chances late, to hold on for a rare Albany win at the Giant Center. Kinkaid finished with 34 saves and #3 star honors. Josefson contributed both assists in the third, while Eric Gelinas and Mike Hoeffel (yes he was freed on this night) also had one assist each.

Notes:

-Forward Phil DeSimone, fresh off ECHL Player of the Week honors after a one week stay in Trenton, was recalled on Sunday. He actually did manage to crack the lineup this week, appearing in Friday’s game against Binghamton, registering one shot on goal.

-No update on the status of Joe Whitney after leaving Friday’s game with an apparent leg/ankle injury. He did sit out Saturday in Hershey. And apparently the flu bug has hit the team, as Dan Kelly and David Wohlberg sat out all week due to illness. J.S. Berube has finally rejoined the team, no word on when he may be back. And Adam Henrique should start rehab shortly on his injured thumb.

The Week Ahead:

After ringing in 2013, the Devils have a short week ahead with just two weekend home games, both rematches from the weekend. Saturday afternoon they host Springfield, followed by the first Sunday afternoon “real” home game of the season (the first was in Atlantic City in November) against the Senators.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

Flying South for Christmas

Before taking a break for Christmas, the Devils embarked on a southern road swing through two cities. And the results weren’t what they expected, taking 1 out of 6 points and just running out of time…and in one case, blinked and it was over. Let’s take a look back at the week that was:

12/19 at Bridgeport: 4-3 L

Times Union
Connecticut Post

A four game road swing began Wednesday night in Bridgeport, with the second matchup against the Sound Tigers in 11 days. Both teams kept goalies Keith Kinkaid and Kevin Poulin busy, combining for 28 first period shots. But it was Bridgeport that struck first, as Casey Cizikas scored 7 minutes in for a 1-0 advantage. But the Devils would come back, as Mike Sislo (with his first of the season) and Mattias Tedenby scored 1:09 apart later in the period for a 2-1 Devil lead. Second period it was the Sound Tigers making a comeback for the lead, as Matt Donovan tied the game just 2 minutes in. Cizikas would add his second goal of the night with under 8 minutes left to give Bridgeport the lead back. But once again, the Devils would come back. On a power play (yes, you read that right) with about 4 and a half minutes remaining in the period, Matt Anderson re-tied the game at 3. The game would remain tied–till about 7 minutes to go in regulation, as Donovan scored his second of the night to give Bridgeport a 4-3 lead. The Devils had many late period chances, including a great shot by Joe Whitney with 2 seconds left on the clock, but it wasn’t meant to be, as the Sound Tigers handed Albany its first regulation loss in the month of December. Not a bad night all around despite the loss…Kinkaid stopped 26 of 30 shots, Adam Larsson contributed two assists, and the penalty kill went 6 for 6.

12/21 at Norfolk: 2-1 L

Times Union
The Virginian-Pilot

The road trip continued south to Virginia, and the start of a two game series against the Admirals. The story of the night was the special teams play on both sides, as two referees called a combined 20 power plays. But it was Norfolk who took advantage of that early on in the first. Devante Smith-Pelly put the Ads on the board first with a power play marker exactly 4 minutes into the game. Patrick Maroon added a power play goal of his own with 3 and a half minutes left in the period to make it a 2-0 lead. After that, goalies Jeff Frazee and Igor Bobkov would settle in…and the whistle would start blowing, as a combined 8 minors were killed off during the second period, adding to the Devils power play woes. Matt Anderson thought he had put the Devils on the board in the second period, but the goal was waved off due to the net being off its moorings. The Devils finally broke through in the goal column with 26 seconds left in the game, as Matt Anderson scored for the second straight game to cut the deficit in half. But again it was too little, too late, as Norfolk held on for the win. Frazee recovered nicely after a shaky first period, finishing with 28 saves. Mike Sislo had the lone assist. And no, I will not discuss the 0 for 10 power play.

12/22 at Norfolk: 2-1 L (OT)

Times Union
The Virginian-Pilot

The two game series in Virginia concluded on Saturday night, with Keith Kinkaid back in net and a couple of changes on offense…Mike Hoeffel was finally back in the lineup (my Twitter #FreeHoeffel campaign worked…for at least one night), along with Jacob Josefson (he was under the weather last night…everyone breathe), Chad Wiseman and Brandon Burlon (swapping places with Raman Hrabarenka). Unlike Friday night, special teams were not as much of a factor, as one referee only called a total of six penalties all game. Nothing across on either side during the first, as Norfolk outshot the Devils 13-11 (but Albany did have one or two very good chances on goaltender Igor Bobkov). A quiet second saw the Devils outshooting Norfolk 10-8 and missing out on two power play opportunities (finishing 0 for 4 on the night). Third period, things started happening. The Devils first shot of the third period counted…Bobby Butler finally solved Bobkov 5 minutes into the third for a 1-0 Devil lead. And with the way Kinkaid was playing, we thought that was all he would need. Well…not so fast. After the Admirals called a time out with 1:13 left and pulling Bobkov for a 6th attacker, it was Emerson Etem finding the back of the net with just 33 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 1. The game moved to overtime, where so far the Devils are 0-6, all in shootouts. Well, it didn’t even get to that point. Right off the opening faceoff, Etem got the puck and scored the game winner just 6 seconds into the extra session. So basically in a span of 39 seconds, the Devils went from snagging a much needed 1-0 shutout win to a deflating 2-1 loss in overtime. Kinkaid, outside of those 39 seconds, had a great night in goal, stopping 34 shots in another hard luck loss (he and Frazee have had way too many of those this season). Steve Zalewski had the lone assist.

Notes:

-Only one roster move this week, as the Devils sent forward Phil DeSimone, who hadn’t seen any action since November 12th, to Trenton of the ECHL, joining Kelly Zajac and Scott Wedgewood. And he didn’t have a bad week there, scoring 3 goals in 3 games played and adding two assists. Not sure if this is a long term assignment or just for the week so he can get some game action (much like Chris McKelvie and Harry Young a month ago).

-No changes on the injury front, with Adam Henrique and J.S. Berube still out.

The Week Ahead:

After taking a few days off to celebrate Christmas (or even Festivus), it’s right back to work for the Devils, with a 3 in 3 to close the week and the 2012 calendar year. Thursday night they make their first trip of the season to Springfield to take on the first place Falcons. Friday night it’s back home for their first matchup against Binghamton since the preseason. Then it’s off to Hershey on Saturday night to take on the Bears.

On behalf of myself and Sascha (my cat), have a merry Christmas!

*Note: Photo Gallery is taking a week off, since, well, I wasn’t at any of the games.

Inching Upward…

Coming off the weekend sweep, the Devils looked to continue their season long winning streak with two home games and a quick road trip. And they managed to do that, extending the streak to 5 before a season-long problem came back to haunt them yet again. Looking back on a fairly good week:

12/12 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 6-3 W

Times Union
The Citizens Voice

To mark 12-12-12, the Devils played host for the second time this season to the Penguins, this time in Albany (the first matchup, if you recall, was in Atlantic City in November). The Penguins dominated most of the first period, outshooting the Devils 11-5 and taking the lead halfway through the period on a Riley Holzapfel goal. But with just over 2 minutes remaining, Bobby Butler tied it up at 1. That would not be the last we would be seeing of Mr. Butler, not by a long shot. Second period was probably the best period of the season for the Devils thus far, as they outshot Wilkes-Barre 13-9 and scored 3 times. Harri Pesonen started the period on a good note with his second goal of the season just 1:03 in. 45 seconds later Butler scored his second of the night for a 3-1 lead. Brian Dumoulin would cut the lead back to 3-2 about two minutes later. Five minutes later, with Dan Kelly in the box, Butler broke away short handed and finished off the hat trick (the first by an A-Devil since Joe Whitney in Springfield back in January) for a 4-2 lead. Then the fun and games began, with the first bout of the evening between Kelly and Eric Tangradi. Jayson Megna would cut the Devil lead again to 1…then came a wild third period. Just 21 seconds in, Darcy Zajac took on Pens rookie Bobby Farnham. Steve Zalewski added just his second goal of the season two minutes later for a 5-3 lead. Then for good measure Butler added goal #4, virtually doubling his season output in one game, to put the Devils up 6-3. After that…it turned into fight night at the Times Union Center. First on the card, Zalewski (who I do not recall ever fighting, at least while in a Devils uniform) taking on Dominik Uher. Peace was then restored…for 10:05. With 4 minutes to go, Zajac and Uher went for a round. A little more than three minutes later…more fisticuffs as Chris McKelvie and Tim Sestito each had a fight behind the Wilkes-Barre net. Then to top off the night, Farnham slashes a Devil prior to a faceoff and starts chirping. He gets shown the door, but then for good measure Kelly and Warren Peters start up fight #7. Finally everyone settled down, and the Devils held on for their 4th straight win. Lost in all the fights and Butler’s goals was another good night for Keith Kinkaid, as he stopped 24 of 27 shots. Joe Whitney, Jacob Josefson, and Zalewski each contributed two assists, while Butler assisted on another goal for a 5 point evening, the first Albany non-River Rat to accomplish that. Another strong night for the penalty kill, going a perfect 5 for 5 (and we won’t address the 0 for 7 power play).

12/14 at Connecticut: 4-3 W

Times Union
Hartford Courant

The Devils hit the road to Hartford on Friday for their second matchup in 6 days against the Whale. Unlike in Sunday’s matchup, it was Connecticut who got on the board in the first period, on a Ryan Bourque goal 7 minutes into the game. Albany did manage to outshoot their hosts 8-5. It was all Devils in the second period, as they scored three times on Cam Talbot and outshot the Whale 17-5. Tim Sestito tied the game at 1 just 1:35 into the second. Then with Brandon Segal serving a tripping call, his teammate Kris Newbury just slid the puck past Keith Kinkaid to give Connecticut a 2-1 lead. But just 18 seconds later, Eric Gelinas scored his first of the year (yes, you read that right, it was a power play goal) to retie the game at 2. A little over 3 minutes later, Jacob Josefson and Mike Sislo were called for penalties just 17 seconds apart…and the Whale took advantage, retaking a 3-2 lead on a Christian Thomas goal. But to seal the period, Bobby Butler scored his 5th goal in 2 games with 2 and a half minutes to go to tie the game yet again. Third period was basically uneventful…until the last 2:30 of the contest. Harri Pesonen broke away and scored with 2:19 on the clock for a 4-3 Devil lead. Kinkaid shut the door after that, and there’s your fifth win in a row. Overall the Devils outshot Connecticut 32-18. Kinkaid stopped 15 shots to pick up his sixth win of the season. Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby each contributed two assists.

12/15 vs. Providence: 2-1 L (SO)

Times Union
Providence Bruins

To finish the week off, the Devils hosted Providence, a team just as hot with a 4 game winning streak of their own. Albany wasted a great chance to get ahead during the first, wasting a four minute power play halfway through the period. Then they found themselves in a 1-0 hole on a Zach Trotman goal. Second period Providence may have outshot the Devils 13-8, but once again it was Bobby Butler stepping up, tying the game at 1 on…gasp!…a power play. It was his sixth goal of the week, putting him in serious league Player of the Week consideration. After that the goalies took over, as both Jeff Frazee (in his first appearance since November 30th) and Michael Hutchinson kept both teams off the scoreboard. The Devils had several opportunities late in the third period to break the tie, getting three power play opportunities, including a 4 on 3 for the first 1:47 of overtime. But they were not able to come up with the winning goal. It was then on to the shootout, which has been the Devils worst enemy all season at a staggering 0 for 5. It looked good early on, as Mattias Tedenby and Mike Sislo scored in the first three rounds. But Frazee gave up two in the first three rounds as well, to Chris Bourque and Jamie Tardif. Then it became a game of who would crack first, as the teams went five rounds without anyone scoring. In the 9th round, David Warsofsky finally solved Frazee, giving the Bruins a 3-2 SO lead. It was all up to Stephen Gionta to keep the round going…and he shot right into Hutchinson’s pads, sealing shootout loss #6 and stopping the win streak at 5. Frazee played well for his first game in two weeks, stopping 27 of 28 shots in yet another hard luck loss. Adam Larsson and Joe Whitney had the lone assists. A good night for the penalty kill yet again, going 3 for 3. But the power play? A lot of wasted chances in going 1 for 8, lowering the league worst power play percentage to 9 percent.

Notes:

-Early Saturday afternoon, the Devils announced that defenseman Matt Corrente is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery on Friday. It’s yet another injury blow to Corrente, who apparently was hurt Sunday afternoon in Connecticut after tangling with the Whale’s Micheal Haley. He only appeared in 11 games, registering 2 assists and 32 penalty minutes. He has not played a full season since 2008-09, his first season in Lowell.

-As for the rest of the walking wounded: Jay Leach sat out the week with a lower body injury, he had mentioned during the team’s STH Holiday Skate on Monday he expected to be back for the pre-Christmas road trip, but in reality he will not be back in the lineup till after the holiday. Raman Hrabarenka (foot) did warm up on Friday in Hartford, but he did not play in either game this week. We’ll see if he goes on the road trip or not. Stephen Gionta returned to the lineup on Saturday, while the other #22, J.S. Berube, is still considered out indefinitely. Adam Henrique (thumb) may return in early January.

The Week Ahead:

The Devils finish off the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with a 3 game road trip. Wednesday night they make their first visit of the season to Bridgeport to take on the Sound Tigers. Then it’s due south to Norfolk on Friday and Saturday night to take on a struggling Admirals team before the Christmas break.

Divisional Breakthrough

After a big win in Adirondack last weekend, the Devils got some well deserved rest. Along with two off ice events, there were only two games on the schedule this week, against two divisional rivals in Bridgeport and Connecticut. And the Devils answered the bell, taking both weekend games and starting to inch closer to getting out of the basement. Now to recap the last two days:

12/8 vs. Bridgeport: 3-1 W

Times Union
Connecticut Post

The weekend started off with the first matchup of the year against division rival Bridgeport. The Devils had a great opportunity early on to get ahead, drawing a 1:35 5 on 3 early in the first period. And it appeared so when Mattias Tedenby sent a shot off the net that appeared to cross the goal line. But a video review denied the goal, hence the power outage continued on. Albany made up for that later in the period as Joe Whitney redirected an Adam Larsson shot from the blue line for a 1-0 advantage. Defensively it wasn’t a bad first period either, as the Sound Tigers only managed 3 shots on Keith Kinkaid and the lone Albany penalty was killed off. Second period the Devils got a second 5 on 3 chance…and this time they finally cashed in. Bobby Butler scored his fourth of the year 43 seconds in for a 2-0 lead. Chad Wiseman made it a 3-0 lead 7 minutes later, with Stephen Gionta notching an assist in his first game back. The penalty kill got a test–and passed it–during the third after Jacob Josefson drew a boarding major and Adam Larsson took a 10 minute misconduct for his involvement after the play (or the fact he couldn’t get through his first AHL fight, it wasn’t pretty). Nino Niederreiter broke up Kinkaid’s bid for a second shutout with just 2:07 remaining to make it a 3-1 game. It was the only blemish on Kinkaid’s game all afternoon, as he stopped the other 22 Sound Tiger shots to pick up his third win of the season and #2 star honors. Another strong day for the penalty killers as well, going 4 for 4 against a team who ranked third in the league in power play percentage.

12/9 at Connecticut: 1-0 W

Times Union
Hartford Courant

Sunday afternoon the Devils headed southeast to Hartford to take on the Whale, a team coming off a 9-2 thrashing at the hands of Manchester the night before. Unlike the day before, when Keith Kinkaid barely had to break a sweat during the first half of the day, he was tested during the first as the Whale outshot Albany 12-6. Second period was all Devils, as they outshot Connecticut 15-6, capped off by Joe Whitney’s 4th goal of the season with just over 13 minutes to go in the period. And the one goal, which normally dooms Albany, turned out to be all Kinkaid needed. Much like the first period, the Whale again outshot the Devils 12-6 during the third, but Kinkaid stopped all 12 shots. He finished with 30 saves and his second shutout of the season, capping off a very good weekend for him. Bobby Butler got the lone assist on Whitney’s goal.

Notes:

-The weekend sweep gave Albany its first multi game win streak of the season, now up to 3 games. And it was a perfect weekend for the penalty kill, ranked 9th in the league at the start of the day, going 8 for 8. Now about that power play…sure they went 1 for 7 over the two games, but it is still ranked 30th at 8.8 percent.

-Cross another player off the injured list, as Dan Kelly returned to the lineup Saturday night for the first time since November 10th. That leaves Adam Henrique (thumb/surgery) and J.S. Berube…and with Stephen Gionta taking Berube’s #22 in his return to the team, one begins to wonder if Berube is really out long term or even for the season. Raman Hrabarenka suffered a skate cut to his foot during practice mid week and sat out both weekend games. Jay Leach missed Sunday’s game after sustaining a lower body injury on Saturday.

The Week Ahead:

A busy week lies ahead for the Devils. Along with the annual season ticket holder Holiday Skate tomorrow (I will of course be in attendance…not skating, just watching and sipping my hot chocolate), there are three games lined up this week. Wednesday night they host the Penguins, followed by a return trip to Hartford Friday night for a rematch against the Whale. Saturday they host the Bruins in their last home game before Christmas. Now to see if they can build on the winning streak and maybe not be #30 anymore…