Tag Archives: Roster Moves

Week 5 in Review: There’s No Place Like Home

Sometimes a little home cooking…and a few friends sticking up for you…helps get a team back on track.  And it worked for the Devils this week, breaking a brief losing streak and getting back to the team we saw in October.

11/11 vs. Hershey: 6-3 W

Back home for the first time since October 29th, the Devils looked to get some revenge from last Saturday’s shutout loss with a rematch against the Bears.  And it didn’t take very long to get things started.  Just 28 seconds after the opening puck drop, Joe Blandisi would score his second goal of the season for a very quick 1-0 lead.  Vojtech Mozik, in his first game back after sitting all week as New Jersey’s seventh defenseman, picked up a power play goal late in the period to double the lead.  The Devils would outshoot their visitors 16-4 through the first twenty minutes.  Hershey would get on the board early in the second on a Jakub Vrana power play goal, but a beautiful breakaway by Brian Gibbons would restore Albany’s two goal advantage.  But Hershey was not about to go away quietly, as a goal by Stanislav Galiev with 90 seconds remaining in the middle period would cut Albany’s lead to 3-2.  The Devils appeared to put it away midway through the third…Blandisi was awarded a penalty shot and would be successful, giving Albany their two goal lead back.  But the Bears would again answer with the man advantage, as Travis Boyd would pick up his first goal of the season to again cut Albany’s lead to one.  Finally, with less than 3 minutes to go in the contest, the captain would put the game away…Rod Pelley’s first of the season would put the Devils up 5-3.  Kevin Rooney would add an empty netter for good measure.  But all that was just the lead in to what would happen with 26 seconds remaining, as a near brawl near the benches would break out after a high stick injured Blake Coleman.  Both teams would combine for a total of 86 penalty minutes and 9 players leaving early.  The other story of the night?  Scott Wedgewood barely had to break a sweat in picking up the win–he only stopped 8 of 11 shots.  Blandisi added two assists to go with his two goal night, Blake Pietila had two helpers, while two other Devils had one assist each.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Brian Gibbons-Ben Sexton

Miles Wood-Blake Pietila-Joe Blandisi

Ben Thomson-Kevin Rooney-Max Novak

Blake Coleman-Rod Pelley-Ryan Kujawinski

Defense:

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Karl Stollery/Steve Santini

Scott Wedgewood/Mackenzie Blackwood

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Brandon Baddock, Jan Mandat, Carter Camper, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 1 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 5.  Penalty Minutes: 56.  Shots on Goal: 26.  Shots Allowed: 11.

3 Stars: 1. Joe Blandisi; 2. Brian Gibbons; 3. Travis Boyd.

Highlight Reel:

11/12 vs. St. John’s: 4-3 W

A brief two game week wrapped up on Saturday afternoon, as the IceCaps came in for their second visit of the season.  And the Devils would see a familiar face in the other net–Yann Danis.  But it would be Blake Pietila stealing the spotlight on this day.  He got the scoring started with a power play tally 12:51 into the opening period for a 1-0 Devil lead.  Second period was a struggle once again for Albany, as the IceCaps would take the game over.  Nikita Scherbak would tie the game up less than 2 minutes into the period.  Michael McCarron and Mark Barberio would score power play goals 2:43 apart to put the visitors up 3-1.  But Pietila would come through with his second goal of the day with just 36 seconds to go in the period to cut the lead to 3-2.  After a strong showing by Albany in the first, the IceCaps would flip the script in the second, outshooting the Devils 18-8.  But in the third, Albany would put up a late rally.  With just 4:11 remaining in regulation, Rod Pelley’s second goal in as many days would tie the game up at 3.  Then just 1:46 later, Pietila would finish off his first pro hat trick and the Devil rally, putting the hosts ahead 4-3.  St. John’s could only muster 4 shots on goal in the final 20 minutes, and Albany finished off their second straight win in dramatic fashion.  Mackenzie Blackwood rebounded from his quick exit in Hershey the weekend before, stopping 27 of 30 shots.  Karl Stollery added two assists, while six other Devils had one helper each.

Lines:

John Quenneville-Brian Gibbons-Ben Sexton

Joe Blandisi-Blake Pietila-Miles Wood

Max Novak-Kevin Rooney-Ben Thomson

Ryan Kujawinski-Rod Pelley-Jan Mandat

Defense:

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Karl Stollery/Steve Santini

Andrew MacWilliam/Reece Scarlett

Mackenzie Blackwood/Scott Wedgewood

Scratches: Josh Jacobs, Blake Coleman, Brandon Baddock, Carter Camper, Brandon Gormley

Power Play: 2 for 3.  Penalty Kill: 4 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 14.  Shots on Goal: 31.  Shots Allowed: 30.

3 Stars: 1. Blake Pietila; 2. Rod Pelley; 3. Nikita Scherbak.

Highlight Reel:

Roster Move: During Saturday’s game, a trade between New Jersey and Philadelphia saw forward Petr Straka come to New Jersey for a conditional 7th round draft pick in 2017 or 2018.  Straka was in his fourth season with the Phantoms, but had been a healthy scratch all season despite being a regular in the lineup the previous three years.  He has just three NHL games under his belt, picking up two assists for the Flyers in 2014-15.  He will report to Albany early next week.

My Player of the Week:

A five point week, including your first hat trick?  Blake Pietila was an easy choice.  Honorable mention to Joe Blandisi and his four point performance on Friday.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Blake Pietila (6)

Assists: 2 tied with 5

Points: Blake Pietila (11)

+/-: Vojtech Mozik (+8)

Penalty Minutes: Joe Blandisi (36)

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (4)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (2.44)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.905)

Up North with the Thunder:

Adirondack spent the week in Idaho, where they took 3 out of 6 points from Joe Faust and the Steelheads.  On Wednesday, the Thunder posted a 6-3 win, as Ken Appleby stopped 26 of 29 shots.  Brian Ward scored twice, while Alex Wall and Mathieu Brodeur added one goal each.  Idaho would pick up a 4-3 shootout win on Friday night, with Ward and Ty Loney scoring for the Thunder.  The Steelheads would finish off the 3 game set with a 4-2 win on Saturday.  Appleby stopped 27 of 31 shots in the loss, the first in regulation on the road for the Thunder this season.  Adirondack heads to Utah this week for a three game series against the Grizzlies to finish off their western road swing.

This Week’s Schedule:

The Devils head on an Empire State three game road swing this week.  Wednesday they head west on Interstate 90 for their first visit to Rochester.  Friday it’s west on Interstate 88 to Binghamton to face the Senators.  Then on Saturday the trip finishes in Syracuse.

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Before the Games Begin

A few last pieces of business to take care of before we get underway for real tomorrow night:

-For 24 hours starting Monday afternoon, most of Albany and New Jersey held their collective breath as Scott Wedgewood was placed on waivers.  Despite a flurry of activity on Tuesday involving the waiver wire (including New Jersey picking up P.A. Parenteau), he managed to clear and was reassigned to Albany.

-Just as Wedgewood cleared, Seth Helgeson took a turn through the waiver wire and cleared on Wednesday afternoon.  He was reassigned to Albany to make room for Kyle Quincey’s return from IR.

-Patch Alber and Mathieu Brodeur were both released from their PTOs Thursday.  Both will return to Adirondack.

AHL teams have until midnight tonight to submit their Opening Day rosters to the league.  As of press time, none have been posted.

Now…how will I be covering things this season?  Here’s what to expect starting tomorrow:

First of all…I’m going back to daily previews!  I’ll be returning to the three hours beforehand schedule.  Plan is for opponent stats, notes, maybe some pertinent links.

Weekly recaps will still be around, either on Sunday or Monday morning depending on the schedule.

I also plan on getting back into game photos (admittedly I slacked on that last season), and all photos will be over on my Flickr page.  I’ll post links on social media as often as needed.

 

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Preseason Wrap

And now, a brief summary of everything that happened over the last four days:

-On Thursday, the Devils kicked off their two game schedule with a 4-1 win in Wilkes-Barre over the Penguins.  Four different Devils–Jan Mandat, John Quenneville, Ben Sexton, and Ty Loney–would all score while on the power play.  Mackenzie Blackwood drew the start and stopped 23 of 24 shots to pick up the win in net.

-Add two from New Jersey to the training camp roster on Friday, as Nick Lappin and Joe Blandisi were sent down.

-On Saturday, six players were released from their tryout deals: goaltender Andy Iles, defensemen Connor Hardowa and Alexander Kuqali, and forwards Ty Loney, Joe Pendenza, and Brian Ward.

-Sunday afternoon the Devils finished out their preseason schedule on a high note, shutting out Hartford 2-0 in Connecticut.  Ken Appleby stopped all 26 Wolfpack shots, while Brian Gibbons and Rod Pelley each scored.  Karl Stollery added two assists.

Coming up this week: once rosters are finalized and those that need to come down clear waivers, I will post that and get you set up for how I’ll be covering everything this season.

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Tuesday Updates…

Two days into Albany’s training camp, and already there has been some movement:

-On the first day of camp, four players ended up back on recall to New Jersey: defensemen Vojtech Mozik and Karl Stollery, and forwards Blake Pietila and Blake Coleman.  While Stollery was the extra defenseman in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Islanders in Brooklyn, Coleman and Pietila played on the fourth line with Rod Pelley, while Mozik was paired with rookie Steve Santini.

-Earlier today, forward Brian Gibbons, who was in camp with New Jersey as a tryout, officially signed a 1 year AHL contract.

-Also today: Coleman, Pietila, Mozik, and Stollery were all sent down to Albany, along with Pelley and defenseman Brandon Gormley, who had stayed behind as an extra after the first round of cuts Saturday.

With two games left in New Jersey’s preseason, the parent Devils have a total of 30 players remaining in camp: 4 goaltenders, 17 forwards, and 9 defensemen.

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Welcome to October!

First, a PSA to everyone who started whining for October as far back as April…it’s here.  So SHUT UP TILL NEXT SUMMER!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let’s get to the task at hand, shall we?

-Albany’s training camp will officially open for business on Monday morning in Troy.  Why at the practice rink and not the Times Union Center?  Well…between the Professional Bull Riders Tour and the annual circus visit coming in over the next two weeks, there’s no ice to practice on.  So…the wait for the official game ice continues till at least Columbus Day.

As for who will be in camp?  Yesterday, 8 players were given invites:

Patch AlberA local product (born and raised in Clifton Park), the defenseman split last season between Missouri and Adirondack, where he posted 30 assists in 66 games.  He has yet to make his AHL debut, only playing in the ECHL (also played in Elmira for a season and a half) upon completing a four year career at Boston College.  He re-signed with Adirondack during the offseason.

Mathieu Brodeur: You may remember this defenseman from his two game stint for the Devils late last season.  Outside of those two games, he spent all of last season with Adirondack, scoring 9 goals and assisting on 21 others in 70 games.  He also made 12 playoff appearances, scoring twice.  He is slated to return to Adirondack for his second season.

Connor Hardowa: A native of Edmonton, the defenseman spent last season in Utah (ECHL), picking up 13 points (3 G, 10 A) in 43 appearances.  He has little AHL experience, appearing in 2 games for Abbotsford in 2012-13 upon finishing his collegiate career at New Hampshire, and 5 games for Texas in 2014-15.  He has an ECHL deal with Manchester.

Andy Iles: The goaltender spent last season with three different ECHL teams (Atlanta, Brampton, and Cincinnati), going 19-14-4 with a 2.93 GAA and a save percentage of .898.  He also has yet to make his AHL debut, and is under contract with Elmira.

Alexander Kuqali: You may remember Kuqali as one of New Jersey’s invites during the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo a couple of weekends ago.  I had said earlier he could be a possibility if extra bodies were needed.  He is under contract with Florida (ECHL, not the Panthers).

Ty LoneyThe token former Penguin of the group (there’s always at least one!), he split last season between Wheeling and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, picking up 6 assists in 31 games for the Pens, and 7 goals/11 assists in 28 games for the Nailers.  He appeared in 5 games for Norfolk (when they were still AHL) in 2014-15 after finishing his collegiate career at the University of Denver.  He is under contract with Adirondack.

Joseph Pendenza: The center has spent his professional career split between Milwaukee and Cincinnati.  Last season, he scored 10 goals in 29 games for Cincinnati, and picked up 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 45 games for the Admirals.

Brian Ward: The only true rookie of the group, he made his professional debut at the end of last season, picking up one game with Charlotte upon completing 3 years with St. Lawrence.  He has an ECHL deal with Adirondack.

-Before New Jersey plays their fifth preseason game against the Rangers at The Rock, the first wave of cuts were announced:

Back to their respective junior teams: goaltender Evan Cormier (Saginaw); defensemen Colby Sissons (Swift Current) and Colton White (Sault Ste. Marie); and forwards Nathan Bastian (Mississauga), Brandon Gignac (Shawinigan), and Mikey MacLeod (Mississauga).

To Albany: goaltenders Ken Appleby and Mackenzie Blackwood; defensemen Josh Jacobs and Vojtech Mozik; and forwards Brandon Baddock, Blake Coleman, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Kujawinski, Jan Mandat, Max Novak, Blake Pietila, John Quenneville, Kevin Rooney, Ben Sexton, and Ben Thomson.

To Albany, once they pass through waivers: defensemen Brandon Gormley, Andrew MacWilliam, Reece Scarlett, and Karl Stollery; and forward Carter Camper.

Notables still up in New Jersey: Nick Lappin (after I witnessed his two goal performance Monday night in Newark, not shocked), Joe Blandisi, Seth Helgeson to name a few.  Rod Pelley was part of Saturday’s morning skate group, but expect him back in Albany shortly.

But the most important news of the week?  The River Rats are making a comeback!  Well…sort of.  The Devils announced on Thursday that on November 26th (vs. Rochester) and March 25th (vs. Providence), the team will be wearing River Rat sweaters as part of special Throwback Nights.  The jerseys will be signed and auctioned off after the second contest.

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Offseason Notebook #3

This week in the Notebook:

-On Tuesday, the full New Jersey preseason schedule was announced, and…again no game in Albany.  (Yes, four years later I’m still waiting for the make up from the lockout.)  The schedule begins on September 26th with a doubleheader of sorts…one squad will take on the Flyers in Newark, while the rest will travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens.  They play two at neutral sites…September 28th in Allentown against Philadelphia, and October 8th in West Point against Florida.  Two other matchups are at The Rock: October 1st against the Rangers and October 5th against the Islanders.  Full schedule can be found here.

-On Friday night, a trade with Florida went through that affected New Jersey’s cap hit and shook up the Albany roster.  The Devils acquired Marc Savard and a 2018 2nd round selection from the Panthers for Paul Thompson and Graham Black.  So why acquire a player who hasn’t been on ice since 2011?  Savard’s contract puts the Devils over the cap floor, and another draft selection for the future (between this year and 2018, New Jersey now has a total of 26 draft picks).  But it comes at a cost to Albany’s roster, which has seen four forwards leave before free agency has even begun.  It is most likely you will see both Thompson and Black in Springfield next year…and they will be coached by another familiar name in the Capital Region…

Segway to the latest news around the league…

-On Tuesday, former River Rats captain and assistant coach Geordie Kinnear was named head coach of the new Springfield franchise.  After spending a majority of his playing career with the River Rats, including the Calder Cup team in 1995, he retired as a player in 2001 due to injury and joined the coaching ranks, working as an assistant with the Rats during the last three years of the Carolina affiliation, then moving with the team to Charlotte, where he has remained behind the Checkers bench.

-And finally, break out the black spray paint can.  Congratulations to the Lake Erie Monsters, who finished off an amazing playoff run on Saturday night with their third sweep of the postseason, defeating Hershey 1-0 in overtime at home.  The Monsters, in their first season as a Columbus affiliate, won 15 of 17 playoff games, including sweeps of Ontario and the Bears, and finished the postseason on a 10 game winning streak.  Rookie Oliver Bjorkstrand was named MVP after scoring 10 goals in 17 games, including six game winners and three overtime winners, including the Cup clincher with just 1.9 seconds left in the first overtime of Game 4.

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Calder Cup Recap, Week 2: On to the Next Round

Three wins down, 12 more to go on the journey to the Calder Cup.  It may have taken an extra day to finish off the Comets, but now the Devils face the ultimate test…the Marlies await in Round 2.

Game 3, 4/26: Utica 2, Albany 1 (OT)

The series shifted nine exits west on the New York State Thruway on Tuesday, as Utica got their first chance to play on home ice in front of a sellout crowd.  Albany would stick with their lineup, with a chance to put the series away with a sweep.  But, the Comets were not about to go away quietly.  Jordan Subban’s second goal of the series would come 12:36 into the opening period, putting the hosts ahead 1-0.  That lead would not last for too long, however…less than 5 minutes later and just 16 seconds after starting a 4 on 3 power play, Mike Sislo would pick up his first goal of the postseason to tie it up at 1.  After that, the goalies would take over…Scott Wedgewood and Joe Cannata would be tested quite a few times over the remainder of regulation.  The Devils had plenty of chances to take the lead, including some extended power play time midway through the second period, but could not produce.  The Comets also saw many shots either get caught by Wedgewood or go way off the mark.  After 60 minutes, 48 combined shots, and a lot of pushing and shoving on each side, it was on to overtime to settle things.  It was clear from the start that Utica was the better team in the extra frame, outshooting the Devils 7-3, and the seventh shot came off a turnover and a pass from Mike Zalewski to Alexandre Grenier, who would score the game winner 9:13 in to keep Utica alive in the series.  Wedgewood had another excellent performance, stopping 28 of 30 (some of those thanks to some acrobatics) shots.  Damon Severson picked up his fourth assist of the series, and Reid Boucher notched his fifth point with a helper.

The Lineup:

Matt Lorito-Joe Blandisi-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Ryan Kujawinski-Pavel Zacha-Paul Thompson

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Nick Lappin

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Dan Kelly/Damon Severson

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Scratched: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Chris McKelvie, Blake Pietila, Graham Black, Raman Hrabarenka, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Josh Jacobs, Ryan Rehill, Colton White, Blake Speers

Power Play: 1 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 3 for 3.  Penalty Minutes: 12.  Shots on Goal: 28.  Shots Allowed: 30.

Highlights:

Thursday: Before Game 4, some roster trimming: Ryan Rehill, Colton White, and Blake Speers were all released from their amateur tryouts.  Rehill was the only one of the three to see any game action, making his professional debut on April 13th against Binghamton.

Game 4, 4/28: Albany 6, Utica 3

It was back to the Aud on Thursday evening, as Albany made their second attempt to close out the Comets.  After Tuesday’s loss featured a lot of chippy play on both sides, a little more grit and sandpaper was needed, and so a lineup change was made…Blake Pietila and Pierre-Luc Leblond were in, Paul Thompson and Ryan Kujawinski were out.  The lines were also shaken up, with Pietila going on the top line and Matt Lorito and Nick Lappin moving to the third line.  And the changes paid off quickly…Lorito and Joe Blandisi would score 13 seconds apart early in the first, and it was 2-0 Devils just 4:06 into the contest.  Mike Sislo would add his second of the series 7 minutes later for a 3-0 lead.  The rout continued into the second, as Reid Boucher scored his third goal just as the special teams killed off an extended penalty kill with 9:05 for a commanding 4-0 lead.  But the Comets still had some life left in them, as Game 3 hero Alexandre Grenier would break up Scott Wedgewood’s shutout bid with 3:27 left in the period to cut the lead to 4-1.  But a late shorthanded goal by Pietila would put the Devils ahead 5-1 entering the final period.  With their proverbial backs against the wall, Utica tried to rally in the third, as Richard Bachman went in place of starter Joe Cannata, and  goals by Alex Friesen and T.J. Hensick would cut the lead to 5-3 midway through the period.  But an empty net goal by Pietila, his second of the game, with 2:17 remaining would be the final nail in the Comets coffin.  Brian O’Neill had a chance to extend the lead to four after being awarded a penalty shot thirteen seconds later, but would be denied by Bachman.  At the end of the day, it didn’t matter…Albany won their first ever playoff series, and it was the first time a New Jersey AHL affiliate would advance to the second round since the 1998 River Rats, who made it to the conference finals that season before being eliminated by eventual Calder Cup winner Philadelphia.  Wedgewood had another outstanding game in net, stopping 32 of 35 shots.  Pietila lead the way with four points, while four other Devils had assists.  The penalty kill finished a perfect 14 for 14 over the four game series, while the power play finished 4 for 16.

The Lineup:

Blake Pietila-Joe Blandisi-Mike Sislo

Reid Boucher-Jim O’Brien-Brian O’Neill

Nick Lappin-Pavel Zacha-Matt Lorito

Ben Thomson-Rod Pelley-Pierre-Luc Leblond

Marc Andre Gragnani/Reece Scarlett

Damon Severson/Dan Kelly

Seth Helgeson/Vojtech Mozik

Scott Wedgewood/Yann Danis

Scratched: Brandon Burlon, Blake Coleman, Max Novak, Paul Thompson, Chris McKelvie, Graham Black, Ryan Kujawinski, Raman Hrabarenka, Corbin McPherson, Josh Jacobs

Power Play: 0 for 4.  Penalty Kill: 6 for 6.  Penalty Minutes: 12.  Shots on Goal: 34.  Shots Allowed: 35.

Highlights:

Postseason Stats (Team Leaders):

Goals: Reid Boucher (3)

Assists: Damon Severson (5)

Points: Reid Boucher (6)

+/-: Dan Kelly/Damon Severson (+4)

Penalty Minutes: 4 tied with 4

Wins: Scott Wedgewood (3)

GAA: Scott Wedgewood (1.93)

Save Percentage: Scott Wedgewood (.922)

Around the Calder Cup Playoffs:

The second round matchups are almost all set, except for the Atlantic Division final…Portland and Hershey will be the only first round series to go the distance, playing Game 5 this afternoon in Chocolatetown.  The winner will take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, who have been idle since finishing off a sweep of Providence on April 23rd.

Eastern Conference

North Division Final: (N1) Toronto vs. (N2) Albany

Atlantic Division Final: (A1) Hershey/(A4) Portland vs. (A3) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Western Conference

Central Division Final: (C2) Lake Erie vs. (C4) Grand Rapids

Pacific Division Final: (P1) Ontario vs. (P2) San Diego

 

Up North with the Thunder:

Adirondack kicked off their second round series on Friday in South Carolina against the Stingrays, managing a split of the two game weekend matchups.  On Friday night in Game 1, the Thunder picked up a 5-4 win as Ben Johnson and Greg Wolfe each had a goal and an assist, Joe Faust picked up an assist, and Ken Appleby stopped 23 of 27 Stingray shots.  South Carolina would get a 1-0 shutout win in Game 2 on Saturday to even up the series, as Appleby only allowed a second period goal and saved 29 of 30.  He is 5-2-0 so far this postseason, with a 1.96 GAA and a .934 save percentage.  The series shifts to Glens Falls for the next three games: Game 3 on Tuesday, Game 4 on Thursday, and Game 5 on Saturday.  If necessary, Game 6 is May 10th and Game 7 May 11th in South Carolina.

What’s Next?

First up…here is the full second round schedule:

Wednesday: Game 1 @ Toronto, 7:30 PM

Friday: Game 2 @ Toronto, 7:30 PM

May 8th: Game 3 @ Albany, 5:00 PM

May 10th: Game 4 @ Albany, 7:00 PM

*May 12th: Game 5 @ Albany, 7:00 PM

*May 14th: Game 6 @ Toronto, 3:00 PM

*May 16th: Game 7 @ Toronto, 7:30 PM

As far as my coverage goes: I will be able to cover Games 1 & 2 at home.  Due to work obligations, no Game 3 on Sunday.  I will be at the arena for Game 4, hopefully for Game 5 if it is needed.  Game 6 & 7 I will cover from home if it gets that far.  The Round 2 pregamer will be out on Wednesday at noon, with the weekly recap next Sunday.

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