Whistle While You Work

Coming off a 1 point weekend, the Devils found themselves in a much too familiar spot…the basement. With only two games on the docket, they needed to get back on track…and were halfway successful, going 1-1 despite being down a man for a majority of the time. Looking back:

11/30 vs. St. John’s: 1-0 L

Times Union
St. John’s Telegram

The weekend began with the first ever visit to Albany from the Icecaps, a team the Devils split a weekend series with in Canada just two weeks ago. The game had an uneventful start, with just one power play (to the Devils) and the Icecaps outshooting Albany 9-8. Second period things tipped the way of the Icecaps, thanks in part to 4 penalties called on the Devils in a 8:11 span (I would say 1 or 2 were quite questionable). The penalty kill was successful in the first 2, but on the 3rd penalty Zach Redmond scored just 51 seconds in to put St. John’s on the board. And that was all goaltender Eddie Pasquale needed. No matter what the Devils tried, they could not get any kind of offense going, whether it was a missed pass, a turnover, or just not getting anything on net. The Devils did have their chance in the 3rd period with two back to back power play chances, but to no avail. Jeff Frazee played very well in the hard luck loss, stopping 22 of 23 shots and earning 3rd star honors.

12/1 at Adirondack: 3-2 W

Times Union
Glens Falls Post Star

The Devils finished the weekend with their second trip north of the season to Glens Falls to face Adirondack. Much like the night before, penalty calls got to them early, as they had to kill off two consecutive power plays halfway through the first period (I should mention that there were two refs: Jarrod Ragusin, who called the game in Albany Friday night, and our old friend and Glens Falls native Chris Brown. Remember that as I go along). But with just 3.0 seconds left on the clock in the first, a breakthrough. Joe Whitney scored his second of the season to get the Devils on the board. The momentum carried over early into the second period, as just 31 seconds in Jacob Josefson scored his team leading 8th goal for a 2 goal cushion, something the Devils haven’t enjoyed in quite a few games. The Phantoms did get on the board against Keith Kinkaid during their third power play chance (before the Devils even had their first I should add), Erik Gustafsson cut the lead to 1. Mattias Tedenby added an insurance goal early in the 3rd to put the lead back up to 2, and that goal was much needed. With goalie Cal Heeter pulled late on yet another Phantoms power play, Tye McGinn got a 6 on 4 goal with less than 2 minutes remaining to put it at 3-2. But Kinkaid and the Devils were able to hang on and snag the win, their 3rd against Adirondack this season. Kinkaid had an excellent showing in goal, stopping 44 of 46 shots and earning #1 star of the game honors. Five Devils had assists and captain Jay Leach finished a +3. And if you were keeping track of power play chances? The Devils had only 2 (obviously they were 0 for 2), the Phantoms 7. A little one-sided, shall we say?

Overall on the weekend the special teams were out quite a bit, killing 8 of 11 power plays (most consecutive) but going 0 for 5.

Notes:

Scratch another one off the injury list…and off to Trenton. Forward Kelly Zajac got his first action of the season in, but after he was reassigned to Trenton on Friday. Dan Kelly sat out the weekend, but has been skating. J.S. Berube remains the last one out long term, I have yet to even see him up here this season.

The Week Ahead:

Another light schedule this week. After a rare Friday night off (how will I entertain myself!?), the Devils are back on home ice Saturday afternoon for their first matchup of the season against Bridgeport. Then Sunday afternoon it’s off to Hartford to take on the Whale. Two divisional games coming up, hopefully the Devils can build on last night and try to beat someone other than the Phantoms. Out of their 5 wins, 3 are against Adirondack. The other two opponents? Worcester and St. John’s.

Not So Special Holidays…

After celebrating Thanksgiving, the Devils were right back to work over the weekend, with their first 3-in-3 of the season, in 3 different venues. The special teams and offensive struggles continued, as they were only able to take 1 out of 6 points and fell further behind the pack. Looking back on the weekend that was:

11/23 at Rochester: 5-2 L

Times Union
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

The post Thanksgiving swing began west on the New York State Thruway in Rochester. And it was clear in the first period who got over the holiday hangover first. Rookie Brian Flynn scored twice (the second on a power play goal) in the period for a 2-0 Amerk lead, and Albany was outshot 13-6. Second period the Devils started to wake up a little, outshooting their hosts 17-8. But it was only Steve Zalewski who found the back of the net, finally getting in the goal column for the first time this season to cut the deficit in half. But T.J. Brennan snagged a shorthanded goal late in the period to put the Amerks lead back at 2. Brennan added a second shorthanded goal early in the third to put the game away. Raman Hrabarenka scored his first pro goal a short time later to get to 4-2, but that’s all the Devils could do. Flynn finished off the hat trick with an empty netter late to seal the victory for Rochester. Jeff Frazee stopped 26 of 30 in the loss, while four players each contributed an assist. And the power play struggles continued on…0 for 5 with the man advantage and two short handed goals allowed.

11/24 vs. Syracuse: 4-1 L

Times Union
Syracuse Post-Standard

Finally back home for the first time in 12 days, the Devils had a daunting task…defeat a Crunch team that had yet to register a regulation loss on the road. Cory Conacher gave the Crunch a 1-0 lead in the first, and despite 3 power play chances, the Devils could not get the equalizer. Not many scoring chances during the first, though…the Devils outshot Syracuse 6-4. Second period saw another Devil get the no goal monkey off his back, as Joe Whitney broke away and scored his first of the season to tie the game at 1. Sadly, that was all the offense the Devils could muster against the Crunch. Tyler Johnson broke the tie halfway through the second period, then Alex Killorn made it a two goal lead just under three minutes later. Richard Panik added to the lead 8 minutes into the third period, and the Devils just didn’t have an answer. Keith Kinkaid, getting his first start since a shootout loss in St. John’s, stopped 21 of 25 shots. Adam Henrique had the lone assist on the day, and special teams continued to slump, going 0 for 3 on the power play, but a perfect 5 for 5 penalty kill.

11/25 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton: 5-4 L (SO)

Times Union
The Citizens Voice

To finish out the weekend, the Devils made their first trip of four to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for a “home” game against the Penguins. The game also marked the season debut of defenseman Eric Gelinas, his first action since getting injured preseason in Binghamton. Mattias Tedenby got the home team off on the right foot by scoring halfway through the first. Then the seesaw battle began. Tom Kuhnhackl and Brian Gibbons scored less than 3 minutes apart to put the Pens on top. Bobby Butler then retied it with–gasp!–a power play goal. But the Pens barely escaped the first with the lead as Trevor Smith scored on a delayed penalty with one second left on the clock for a 3-2 advantage. Adam Henrique retied the game with just under 7 minutes left in the second period, then Jacob Josefson broke the tie with a short handed tally halfway through the period. But the Penguins weren’t quite done yet. Less than two minutes after the Devils re-took the lead, Kuhnhackl scored his second of the game to tie the game up at 4. That’s how it would stay for the rest of regulation and overtime. In the shootout, the Devils one on one struggles continued, as Tedenby, Matt Anderson, Joe Whitney, Butler, and Josefson could not get it past Pens goalie Brad Thiessen. It took a 5th round goal from rookie Jayson Megna to give the Penguins the extra point. Keith Kinkaid stopped 31 of 35 shots in the loss. The positive spin from this game was the penalty kill, who went a perfect 8 for 8 on the afternoon.

Notes:

-The injury list is starting to get a little smaller. As mentioned earlier, Eric Gelinas finally got back in the lineup earlier today after being out since early October. Kelly Zajac is a little closer to returning, as he has finally arrived to start practicing with the team. J.S. Berube remains the only one out indefinitely, while Dan Kelly sat out the weekend with an unknown ailment.

The Week Ahead:

Much lighter schedule for the Devils this week, with only two games. Friday night St. John’s makes their first ever visit to the Times Union Center. Then it’s back to Glens Falls on Saturday for Game 4 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series with Adirondack.

On an off ice note, I’ll be doing a couple of Booster Club activities with the team next week. Sunday is the annual Bowlathon for charity, followed two days later by another annual event, the Holiday Party. I may have an extra photo gallery up along with my usual game photos, probably mid-week next week.

Offense, Awakened

At the beginning of this week, the offensive stats for the Devils were, in a word, dismal? 4 percent success on the power play, averaging less than 2 goals a game…the goaltending could have easily sued for non-support. But by the end of the week, the team showed signs that the long slump from the offense may finally be coming to an end, as they nearly doubled their season goal output and managed to take 4 out of 6 points over 3 games. Let’s recap the week that was:

11/12 vs. Norfolk: 5-4 L (SO)

Times Union
The Virginian Pilot

The week began with a Veterans Day matinee against the defending and new look Calder Cup champions, the Admirals. Both teams traded goals late in the first, with Chad Wiseman first to score for the home team. Tim Sestito gave the Devils a 2-1 advantage with 12 minutes to go in the second. Third period things got quite interesting on both sides. Peter Holland tied the game just 32 seconds into the period. Then both Jacob Josefson and Jay Leach were called for penalties two minutes into the period, giving the Admirals a full 2 minute 5 on 3 advantage. And they (and the referees too) made the Devils pay, as Kyle Palmieri scored twice in 59 seconds to break the tie, then give the Ads a 2 goal cushion. While killing off a Sestito penalty later in the period (where once again he opened his mouth and took an extra 10 minutes), Matt Anderson scored shorthanded to bring the Devils back to within a goal. Then 5 seconds after Adam Henrique and Garrett Klotz took roughing penalties, Adam Larsson came through and scored his first AHL goal to tie the game at 4. The game eventually went to overtime, where the Devils survived 1:03 of 4 on 3 time at the end of the extra session to force the shootout. Joe Whitney was the only Devil out of 5 to connect (Anderson, Bobby Butler, Josefson and Larsson were the other skaters), while Jeff Frazee surrendered goals to Holland in the 3rd round and Patrick Maroon in the final round to lose the extra standings point. Despite the loss, it was not a bad day for an offense who sorely needed to get back on track. Steve Zalewski and Alexander Urbom each contributed two assists, and Frazee took a hard luck loss stopping 31 of 35 shots in regulation and overtime.

11/16 at St. John’s: 4-3 L (SO)

Times Union
St. John’s Telegram

For the first time since the Devil River Rats days, an Albany team ventured up north to Newfoundland to take on St. John’s. Instead of Maple Leafs like back in the day, it’s now the IceCaps. After a rather uneventful first period which only saw one penalty called and the Devils outshoot the hosts 7-6, things picked up in the second. Raymond Sawada put the IceCaps on the board just 1:54 into the period. Carl Klingberg pushed the lead up to 2 7 minutes later. Jay Leach brought the Devils to within one on his first goal since the 2010-11 season. Third period a miracle happened…the Devils had actual power play success! Adam Henrique tied the game at 2 4 minutes into the 3rd on his 4th goal of the season. Halfway through the period, Zach Redmond broke the tie and gave St. John’s a 3-2 advantage. But once again the Devils rallied, and after a Mike Hoeffel goal was called off, it was Jacob Josefson scoring a power play goal (yes, you read that right…2 power play goals in ONE PERIOD.) with just over 2 minutes remaining in regulation to tie it at 3. After an uneventful overtime, it was on to the Devils second straight shootout. Mattias Tedenby was the only Devil to score (also up to shoot and eventually miss were Matt Anderson, Joe Whitney, Bobby Butler and Adam Henrique), while Keith Kinkaid gave up goals to Alex Burmistrov in the first round and Jason Jaffray in the final round to once again lose that extra point. Kinkaid played well in the loss, stopping 26 of 29 shots in 65 minutes. 5 players each contributed an assist.

11/17 at St. John’s: 5-3 W

Times Union
St. John’s Telegram

The Devils closed out the week with a rematch against the IceCaps. Only change from the night before was Jeff Frazee getting the nod in goal. And it was the visitors that started out strong, outshooting St. John’s 8-0 to start the first period. Jacob Josefson and Darcy Zajac scored within 43 seconds of each other for a quick 2-0 Albany lead. Ivan Telegin got the IceCaps on the board with just over 5 minutes to go in the period. Second period got off on the right foot for the Devils as Adam Larsson scored on a power play (yes another one, three in two games after only getting two in the first 11 games of the season) to go up 3-1. Maxime Macenauer scored 2 minutes later to cut the deficit to 3-2. Just over 3 minutes later Bobby Butler scored on a nice breakaway to regain the two goal advantage. Third period seemed to be all St. John’s, as they outshot the Devils by a 22-8 margin. But Zajac scored his second of the night to make it 5-2. Jason Gregoire made it a 5-3 game with 6 and a half minutes remaining, but it was all the IceCaps could muster. The Devils staved off a rare 6 on 3 advantage late to seal the much needed victory. Frazee had a busy evening in net but was up to the challenge, stopping 42 of 45 IceCap shots. The penalty kill finished a perfect 8 for 8 and the power play finished 1 for 4. 3 players each had 2 assists (Jay Leach, Adam Henrique, Brandon Burlon).

Notes:

-Only one roster move this week, as Harry Young was reassigned to Kalamazoo of the ECHL on Wednesday. He was the only one on the roster yet to suit up for a game…and that is likely to continue.

-Injury update: no changes, but Eric Gelinas has begun practicing with the team again. Still no word on when he’ll be back in the lineup.

The Week Ahead:

After celebrating Thanksgiving, it’s time for the first 3 in 3 weekend of the season. Friday night the Devils travel west on the Thruway to Rochester to take on the Amerks. Then it’s right back home Saturday afternoon for a home tilt their other Thruway rivals, the Crunch. Sunday it’s off to Atlantic City for the first of 4 “home” games at Boardwalk Hall as they take on the Penguins in an afternoon matchup. Here’s hoping this resurgence of scoring continues…and the goaltending continues to play well, then it shouldn’t be long before the Devils escape the all too familiar basement.

Goals at a Premium

Another week, another struggle for the Devils offense to get something…anything…going. Luckily the goaltending has been up to the challenge, which helped spur the team to 3 out of 4 much needed standings points on the weekend, despite only scoring 3 times. Time to look back:

11/9 at Providence: 2-1 L (SO)

Times Union
Providence Journal

The weekend began with a trip east to Rhode Island to take on the Bruins. And it started off as usual, with the Devils first on the board. Adam Henrique scored his 3rd on the season with just under 6 minutes left in the period for a quick 1-0 advantage (lone assist to Joe Whitney, finally back in the lineup after Mattias Tedenby sat out due to illness). Chris Bourque tied the game in the second on a power play tally. Other than that…more of the same. Devils took shots, nothing went in. Meanwhile Keith Kinkaid was solid in keeping his team in the game, coming up big on his own. The Devils survived a near heart attack inducing overtime, overcoming a 7-1 shot differential and killing off a Corbin McPherson holding call halfway through the OT session. It was on to the shootout, where only Matt Anderson was able to score in his round (Bobby Butler, Jacob Josefson, Whitney and Henrique were all denied), but Kinkaid gave up goals to Bourque and Jamie Tardif in the final round to secure the hard luck shootout loss, the team’s second in a 7 day span. Kinkaid played well despite the loss, stopping 37 of 38 Bruins shots in regulation and overtime.

11/10 vs. Adirondack: 2-1 W

Times Union
Glens Falls Post-Star

It was back to home ice on Saturday night and Game 3 of the Time Warner Cable Cup series against the Phantoms. No one was able to get on the board during the first period, despite the Devils outshooting Adirondack 14-10. Bobby Butler finally broke through with just over 6 minutes remaining in the second, getting his first of the season past Scott Munroe for a 1-0 Devil lead. Four minutes later, Eric Wellwood tied things up at 1. The real story of the period was the special teams play on both sides, as each had to kill off extended 5 on 3 time and were successful. Frazee even came up big in stopping a couple of short handed breakaway chances. Early in the 3rd, Matt Anderson came through and broke the tie. And Frazee took care of the rest, only needing to stop 5 Phantom shots in the period to seal the much needed Devil win. Four Devils each contributed an assist, and Frazee earned #1 star honors by stopping 22 of 23 shots and lowering his GAA to a miniscule 1.48, good for fourth in the entire league. (I should note that Kinkaid is 17th with a 2.32 GAA.)

Notes:

-Forward Chris McKelvie finally broke into the lineup last night, leaving Harry Young as the last active player on the roster to get into a game.

-No changes on the long term injury front, although there was a positive sign of one of those players coming close: Eric Gelinas was spotted in the building last night, the first time I’ve seen him since preseason. Alexander Urbom finally returned Friday night after sitting out since October 20th. Mattias Tedenby sat out the weekend due to illness, not sure of when he’ll return to the lineup.

The Week Ahead:

Three games coming up this week. Monday afternoon the Devils host Norfolk in a Veterans Day afternoon tilt, the first of only four matchups between the two teams this season. Then later this week the team makes the long trek to The Rock…not Prudential Center, but to Newfoundland, for a two game set against St. John’s on Friday and Saturday. Hopefully the offensive spark pops up sometime this week…

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Ever had one of those moments where it seems like no matter how much effort you put into something, it just isn’t working for you? That could easily sum up the Devils week on ice, where despite all the chances and strong play by both goaltenders, they only escaped with one goal and one point to show for it. Let’s look back on what exactly happened:

11/2 vs. Connecticut: 2-1 L (SO)

Times Union
Hartford Courant

The week started off with a return visit from the Whale, who had a pretty easy time in the teams first meeting just a week earlier. Mattias Tedenby continued the trend of Devils 1-0 leads early when he scored just 5 minutes into the game. Connecticut’s Christian Thomas tied it up late in the period…then after that the Devils took over as far as scoring chances go. They continued to pepper the Whale’s Cameron Talbot, but he either stopped it, it went wide, hit a post, etc. Meanwhile the defense wasn’t allowing anyone near Jeff Frazee…the Whale registered just two shots on goal the entire second period, Albany had outshot them 30-8 by that point, but still a 1-1 tie. The same continued into the third, but still the same result. On to the first OT game of the season, where despite an early power play opportunity, Talbot came up big yet again, along with his post. I was hoping for a “Henrique, it’s over!” moment like in the playoffs, but never happened. On to the bonus round (aka the shootout), where only the Whale’s Matt Gilroy was able to get a puck in the net, in the first round. Talbot stopped all 5 Devil shooters (who incase you wondered were Tedenby, David Wohlberg, Bobby Butler, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson) to seal an improbable Whale win. Frazee did extremely well despite the hard luck loss, stopping 14 of 15 shots in regulation and OT. Wohlberg had the lone assist.

11/3 at Adirondack: 4-0 L

Times Union
Glens Falls Post-Star

Saturday saw the first trip north to Glens Falls of the season and Time Warner Cable Cup game #2. The Devils special teams failed them early on, as they allowed a short handed breakaway goal off an ill timed turnover by Adam Larsson to Sean Couturier 6 minutes into the first. The one highlight of the period? A decisive win by Darcy Zajac in a fight with Cullen Eddy, which I hoped would set the tone for the Devils to get back in the game. Well, not exactly. During a rather quiet second period, Ben Holmstrom scored on the power play for a 2-0 Adirondack advantage. Third period the Phantoms put the game away…and the frustration started coming out. After a pileup behind Keith Kinkaid’s net (which almost produced a goalie fight, but Scott Munroe stayed put) which put both Adam Henrique, Dan Kelly and Tye McGinn in the box for roughing, Erik Gustaffson added another power play score to make it 3-0. The Devils had a great opportunity to get at least one goal after the Phantoms took penalties within two seconds of each other (including the ever popular faceoff violation…think that’s a first for me), but Munroe and the Phantoms came up big. Shane Harper added an even strength goal with less than 4 minutes left…then the fun began. Matt Corrente got one of everything (instigating, fighting, 10 minute, game) taking on Gustaffson (just a fighting) and Marc Andre Bourdon (who got 10 minutes). Munroe took care of the rest and pitched the shutout, stopping all 26 Devil shots. Kinkaid had a rough night, stopping 29 of 33 Phantom shots and getting knocked around by the opposition on quite a few occasions.

Notes:

-Harry Young and Chris McKelvie were both recalled from Trenton earlier this week…only to be scratched for both games again.

-Injury update: no changes. Eric Gelinas, Kelly Zajac and J.S. Berube remain out. Alexander Urbom is still considered day to day, but did not dress for either game this week. Chad Wiseman returned to the lineup Friday after sitting out last weekend.

The Week Ahead:

Another light schedule for the Devils this week. Friday night they travel east to Rhode Island for the first meeting of the season with the Bruins. Then a chance at redemption yet again on Saturday, as Time Warner Cable Cup game #3 with the Phantoms comes on home ice. If they can get the offense going and continue to play like they did Friday night, good things may finally come their way.

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.).

A Step in the Right Direction?

Three games into the season, and it looks like the Devils might be about to turn the corner. After the same problems in a Friday night loss, the team rebounded quite nicely the following night on the road and finally broke into the win column. Time to rewind the weekend:

10/19 vs. Syracuse: 3-2 L

Times Union

The weekend slate began with the first of 8 matchups against the new look Crunch. Things looked up very early in, as Mike Hoeffel scored his first of the season just 58 seconds in for a quick 1-0 lead. But then the special teams problems started up yet again, as on the first penalty kill of the game Tyler Johnson scored to tie things up at 1. But the home team finished the period strong as Mattias Tedenby scored his first on a beautiful play with Tim Sestito to regain the lead. Second period we were reminded on just what a Tampa Bay farm team can do, whether it’s in a Norfolk uniform or a Syracuse one. The second penalty kill yielded the same result, just 13 seconds in J.T. Brown tied the game at 2 apiece. Then six minutes later former River Rat and now Captain Crunch Mike Angelidis gave Syracuse a 3-2 lead (and to add insult he took on Darcy Zajac after a faceoff 3 minutes later and got the decision). Third period the Devils tried to tie things up, but nothing was getting past Crunch goaltender Dustin Tokarski, as he stopped all 11 shots. But special teams showed a little improvement, going a perfect 2 for 2 on the penalty kill after the 2nd Crunch goal. The power play, another story: 0 for 5. Despite the loss, Jeff Frazee did well in net, stopping 20 of 23 shots, while Jacob Josefson and Tim Sestito each contributed an assist.

10/20 at Worcester: 4-0 W

Times Union Worcester Telegram-Gazette

Saturday night the Devils took to the road for their first away contest of the season, making their only trip to central Massachusetts to face off against the Sharks, in their first home contest after three straight road losses to start the year. I’m not sure what happened overnight or on the bus, but suddenly there was a whole new Devils team that showed up to play. After killing off an early penalty, Adam Henrique finally broke through and scored his first of the season on a delayed penalty call for a 1-0 advantage. About six minutes later, the power play finally clicked and Harri Pesonen scored his first Devil goal to make it 2-0. Second period things got better, as the penalty kill went 4 for 4 and Jacob Josefson scored his first of the season for a 3-0 Devil lead. Then for good measure Josefson added a shorthanded goal early in the third for a commanding 4-0 Devil lead. Things got very chippy after that, where we saw Tim Sestito get crushed/held down by defenseman Nick Petrecki and Alexander Urbom get inexplicably sucker punched by Brandon Mashinter in the same sequence. Then after a Shark boarded Joe Whitney and captain Jay Leach went to intervene, Matt Pelech leaves the bench and the two exchanged punches. Lost in all this was Keith Kinkaid, who was absolutely brilliant in stopping all 30 Shark shots en route to his first shutout of the season…and more importantly the first win of the season. Adam Larsson contributed 2 assists, while Pesonen, Joe Whitney, Bobby Butler, Tim Sestito, and Matt Anderson each contributed 1 assist.

The Week Ahead:

After a relatively light first two weeks, business picks up with three games on tap this week. Wednesday night the Devils host Connecticut for the first of 6 matchups. Friday night the 4th installment of the Time Warner Cable Cup begins as they host Adirondack. Then Saturday it’s back on the bus as they head south to Hershey to take on the Bears. With two divisional rivals and a very tough opponent awaiting, this will be a good early test to see if what we saw in Worcester is real or just a lucky night.

Starting on a Disadvantage…

First game of the 2012-13 season is officially in the books…and, well, it wasn’t quite the start the Devils were looking for. In a kind of rematch of Stanley Cup Final teams…well the farm anyway…it was the Kings, or should I say the Monarchs, on top once again. Time to review the Opening Night festivities:

10/13 vs. Manchester: 2-1 L

Keith Kinkaid drew the opening assignment against a Monarchs team featuring 4 Stanley Cup winners on its roster. Things started picking up with just over 8 minutes into the game, as Chad Wiseman gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead (assist and first pro point for rookie Raman Hrabarenka on the goal). Fifteen seconds later, Harri Pesonen drew the game’s first penalty. Just 14 seconds into the ensuing Monarch power play, David Kolomatis sent a score through Kinkaid’s pads to tie it up at 1. With 7:09 to go, the Devils took a too many men penalty, and Kolomatis made them pay yet again with his second power play goal of the night to give the Monarchs a 2-1 advantage. Albany was outshot by a 10-6 margin for the first period, along with the imperfect penalty kill.

Second period…no goals across on either side, but the Devils finally got a power play chance of their own (it’s what happens when a Koharski is in charge), but could not capitalize on the opportunity. Other than a scrap between Richard Clune and Dan Kelly (and another near scrap between Clune and Jay Leach just before that), not much to write home with.

Third period the Devils had a good chance of tying the game up with back to back power play chances, but could not get anything past Manchester goaltender Martin Jones. The special teams had quite the struggle, going 0-4 on the power play and allowing 2 power play goals on three chances. Despite a mad scramble at the end, the Monarchs held on for the 2-1 win. Jones stopped 22 of 23 shots in notching his second win (along with #3 star of the game honors), while Kinkaid was the hard luck loser, making 25 saves on 27 chances.

Notes:

-I didn’t find out till warmups tonight who ended up wearing the extra letters on their jerseys. Just as I had predicted during the offseason, your new captain is Jay Leach. Tim Sestito and Adam Henrique are the assistant captains. Not sure if this is for both home and away or if there is a rotating A, we’ll find out next weekend.

-Lots of scratches for the first game, including Matt Corrente, Joe Whitney, Steve Zalewski, among others. Still a few nursing injuries, others are healthy. We’ll see if any more ECHL assignments are in the works before next weekend’s games.

Looking Ahead:

2 games on tap for this week. Friday night sees the new look Syracuse Crunch come into town for the first of 8 matchups between the Interstate 90 rivals. Saturday the Devils hit the road for the first time this season, as they make the trek east (as will I) to take on Worcester in their home opener. We’ll have to see if it ends up as action packed as last year’s matchup, when the two teams combined for over 150 penalty minutes.

Preseason Recap

We are now 6 days away from the official start of the 2012-13 season. Last night the Devils finished up their preseason schedule, and it wasn’t a bad showing. They went 3-1 against two divisional rivals and a familiar East Division foe. For those that missed it, here’s a little review of how they fared:

10/1 vs. Adirondack (at Voorhees, NJ): W 5-3

Traveling to the Phantoms/Flyers training facility in Voorhees, NJ, the Devils got the week off to a good start with a win over their rivals to the north (or, in this case, south. Well in the state of New Jersey anyway). Mike Sislo and David Wohlberg each scored twice, while newcomer Raman Hrabarenka added the fifth goal. Brandon Burlon and Harri Pesonen each contributed two assists. Keith Kinkaid and rookie Scott Wedgewood each shared time in net, combining for 45 saves.

10/2 vs. Connecticut (at Cromwell, CT): W 3-1

The strong play moved on the following night to Cromwell, CT, with a victory over the Whale. Burlon, Pesonen and Darcy Zajac all scored, Hrabarenka contributed two more assists, and Jeff Frazee and Maxime Clermont combined for 18 saves.

10/5 vs. Adirondack (at Newark, NJ): 2-1 W

In a closed to the public scrimmage Friday afternoon (the only time you’ll ever see a Devil-Phantom matchup that quiet), the Devils won their third straight and their second win over the Phantoms in a 4 day span. Both goals were scored shorthanded, courtesy of camp invitee Scott Parse and Jacob Josefson. Parse and Adam Larsson also contributed one assist apiece. Kinkaid and Wedgewood split time in net, combining for 25 saves.

10/6 at Binghamton: 6-3 L

To finish off the preseason slate, the Devils traveled to Binghamton to take on the Senators. Frazee drew the start and played 40 minutes, stopping 24 of 28 Senator shots. Kinkaid took over in the third and played solid, making 14 saves on 15 shots. The Devils fell behind 2-0 after 1 period on goals by Derek Grant and Corey Cowick. After allowing an early power play marker to fall into a 3-0 hole, former Senator Bobby Butler notched his first goal of the preseason (on the man advantage) to bring the Devils to within 3-1. The Senators responded with another power play goal to regain a 3 goal advantage, but Mattias Tedenby scored even strength to reduce the deficit again to two. Binghamton went back up by 3 on an Andre Petersson goal early in the third, but Mike Sislo answered late with his team leading 4th goal for another two goal deficit. But that’s as close as they would get, as Mark Stone scored an empty netter to seal a 6-3 win.

A few links to pass on related to the week:

Fire and Ice has the full preseason scoring list here, along with the news that Raman Hrabarenka has officially signed an AHL deal after a strong camp showing.

In Lou We Trust is counting down the top 25 prospects under 25 (so far updated to #21).

Stay tuned…next entry a photo gallery from my first in person game of the season in Binghamton…