Recapping the last week in Albany Devils action, which included two game over the weekend against the Syracuse Crunch and the Worcester Sharks.
Welcome to the third edition of your Albany Devils roundup. The A-Devils played on both Friday and Saturday this past weekend, so there is a lot to talk about in recapping those results. A handful of players made their season debut over the course of the two games, as Rick Kowalsky is trying to get all of his healthy players a chance in the lineup. There were some other assorted happenings with the team -- player movement, an update to the injury report, and an update on Scott Wedgewood's activity in Trenton. Follow along after the jump for all of the details.
Maxime Clermont's upper body injury is healed, so the Devils assigned Clermont to Elmira of the ECHL.
Clermont's new team, the Elmira Jackals peeled off a pair of victories this past weekend over one of the awesomest named teams in all of hockey, the Wheeling Nailers. Although originally the Jackals indicated Clermont would start one of the weekend games, it appears he did not. According to the recaps and box scores,
Clermont is not listed on the teams official roster as of yet, so I'll update everyone once he actually plays in a game.
Scott Wedgewood had an eventful week for the Trenton Titans. First, he came into Wednesday's game in relief of the injured Niko Hovinen. The game was tied 1-1 at the time. Wedgewood put up a clean sheet the rest of the way and helped lead the Titans to a 3-1 victory.
There is some lack of clarity about the severity of Hovinen's injury. At first, most reports were a possible broken collarbone. Now, the Titans are reporting he has a whiplash like injury and is day-to-day. Wedgewood should see the majority of action if Hovinen remains out of the lineup.
Wedgewood played both games over the weekend for Trenton. The first was a 4-3 victory, where Wedgewood stopped 20 of 23 for the win.
Saturday's game at Cincinnati did not go nearly as well for Wedgewood or the Titans. Trenton lost 6-4, and Wedgewood gave up 6 goals on 35 shots.
So far for the season, Wedgewood is 3-1 on the season with a 3.02 GAA and a .901 SV %.
Brian Haczyk scored his first goal of the season this weekend in the 6-4 loss Saturday night.
Eric Gelinas and Kelly Zajac remain out indefinitely. Steve Zalewski and Scott Parse returned to the lineup over the weekend. Maxime Clermont is now healthy, as mentioned earlier. I don't have an update on JS Berube's status right now, but he did not appear in any games over the weekend so I will assume he remains out until I hear otherwise.
Game Recaps and Thoughts:
Friday 10/19 - Albany Devils 2 Syracuse Crunch 3
The Devils fell to 0-2 on the season Friday night, as they dropped a close 3-2 decision to the Syracuse Crunch, last year's Calder Cup Champions (playing as the Norfolk Admirals). This team has not lost a regular season game since sometime in February of last season.
Here are the Devils lines for Friday's game.
The Devils dressed seven defenseman on Friday. The radio announcer said Chad Wiseman was a late scratch, as he was sick. I don't understand why the Devils didn't just plug in one of their extra forwards instead, since they have plenty right now. I guess McPherson must have been the only extra dressed for the game.
Jeff Frazee made his season debut for Albany, stopping 20 of 23 shots in the loss. Frazee played well enough and was not the problem this night, as he had no chance whatsoever on two of the three goals. The problem in this game for the Devils was special teams. Both the penalty kill and the power play were horrid Friday night. Syracuse finished 2 - 4 on the power play, while the Devils finished the night 0 - 5. The two Syracuse goals were almost carbon copies of each other. Both involved cross ice passes through the front of the crease, creating back door one timers on each occasion. The Devils power play continued their ineptitude displayed in the first game of the season. Despite having 5 opportunities, they still struggled to establish possession at times. When they did enter the zone cleanly, they could not really create quality opportunities with any consistency. It was a forgettable performance, to say the least.
This was a game that the Devils could have won for sure. In fact, if their special teams was even half decent to slightly below average, they probably would have defeated Syracuse. Just as in their first game, the Devils got on the board early. Jacob Josefson found Mike Hoeffel along the boards right near the goal line, and Hoeffel , with virtually no angle, somehow sniped a shot over the shoulder of the goaltender giving Albany a 1-0 lead.
After Syracuse tied the game with their first power play goal, Albany would strike again late in the first. Sestito and Tedenby headed up ice on a two on one break. Sestito wrapped a pass around the sliding Crunch defender and Teddy slammed the puck into the open net. 2-0 Albany at this point, and they had really controlled the flow of play for the majority of the period. Albany outshot Syracuse 10-4 in the first, and also outchanced them 6 - 3. One of the three chances for Syracuse was the PP goal, so the Devils really had the better run of play at even strength.
The second period began with more of the same. The Devils came out strong and continued to dictate the play and create opportunities. In fact, within the first three minutes of the period, the Devils had four more scoring chances. The Devils had their most competent looking power play of the night during this stretch, which produced several chances. Unfortunately, none were successful, and the lead remained 2-1. At this point the Devils were out-chancing Syracuse 10 - 3. But, Albany would not record another scoring chance for the remaining 16+ minutes of the second period.
Although they didn't produce many quality chances, it still felt like Albany had some control over the flow of play and was an even participant in this game over the next few minutes. Around halfway through the second period, Jay Leach took a slashing penalty, one of the 4631573157 penalties he took on the weekend. Josefson lost the faceoff to start the kill, and off of that sequence several slick passes later, a backdoor one-timer ended up in the back of the net. All of this transpired just 13 seconds into the penalty kill. At this point, the Devils seemed to be a team with the wind completely knocked out of their sails. They kind of got run over for the remainder of the period, as Syracuse scored the go ahead goal roughly 5 minutes later. It wasn't a power play goal, but it came just seconds after a harried penalty kill. By the end of the second period, chances were just 10-8 Devils, and shots were now 16-13.
Despite trailing by just one goal, the Devils seemed listless and unable to produce much offense to start the third period. They fell behind in shots early in the third, and did not retake the lead until very late in the period, when Syracuse was not really producing any offense at all. It was too bad the game, which started in such a promising fashion, sort of dwindled to an unsatisfying finish. The repeated failures on special teams clearly frustrated the Devils. Syracuse was not able to produce too much successfully at evens all game, and the Devils allowed them to get away with a victory regardless.
The Henrique line had its moments, but overall, was not a force to be reckoned with. You could see them coming together a bit, however. Adam and Harri Pesonen look to be a good combination with some chemistry. Looking for more still out of Henrique, as well as Bobby Butler, who was somewhat quiet, but looked like a possible good fit on this line moving forward. Pesonen continued to impress me with his play.
The Josefson line was great early in the game. They produced the first goal, plus a number of other chances. Josefson was probably the Devils best skater throughout the whole game. He had one incredible deke right, moving through two defenders just inside the blue-line and getting in on net for a great backhand opportunity. Unfortunately, his finish was lacking, as he skied the backhand high over the net. Hoeffel started out like a beast. Besides scoring a goal, Hoeffel also used his size to create space and opportunities and ripped some quality shots on net. He finished with 2 SOG for the game, plus one more that beat the goaltender and hit the crossbar. Unfortunately, he seemed to disappear about halfway through the game, just like most of the Devils. Matt Anderson looked good playing to the right of Josefson. They seemed to click. Anderson had 4 shots on the game.
The third line was pretty good this game. I thought Mattias Tedenby had a strong game. He scored a goal on the tap in from Sestito, but he was also very active, buzzing all around the offensive zone. Teddy did what he needs to do if he is going to be an effective player. He was demoted to the third line for this game and seemed to play with an extra pop to his step. Steve Zalewski was solid in his season debut, as was Phil DeSimone. This was a much better third line than the Wiseman-Wohlberg-Sislo line the Devils iced in the opener.
There was a bit of double shifting going on, mostly among the bottom six, since the Devils were short a forward. Tim Sestito, once again, was solid. Darcy Zajac was not a factor really. The only really eventful play I remember was him getting pummeled in a fight that occurred directly off a faceoff.
On defense, there were some new faces as well, with McPherson and Corrente making their season debuts. Corrente was good, McPherson not so much. McPherson had a horrid turnover early behind his own net which led to an incredible scoring chance for Syracuse. Frazee flashed the glove and commited a robbery on the play, bailing out McPherson. During the worst part of the second period, McPherson got burned badly on a rush to the net and took a hook. The Devils killed the power play but Syracuse scored just seconds after, so it was only technically a kill in name only.
Corrente was solid. I don't have too much to say about him, which is a good thing. He was generally solid and played his game. He didn't try to do too much, and I don't remember him being beaten or caught out of position. Kowalsky rewarded his strong debut with a spot in the top-4 Saturday night.
Frazee was not bad at all this game. On the two power play goals he was hung out to dry and had no chance whatsoever. The third goal, the Devils defense allowed Angelidis to establish position out in front of the crease and corral a loose puck which deflected off the boards. Under practically no duress whatsoever, he beat Frazee with a shot from about 5 feet away. Frazee made some nice saves at different points to keep the Devils in the game. He was not the problem this evening.
The Devils outchanced Syracuse 17 - 12. This seems to back up the idea that they had a very good opportunity to win this game. As mentioned, they were ahead in scoring chances 10 - 3 at one point early in the second period.
Saturday 10/20 - Albany Devils 4 Worcester Sharks 0
Here are the Devils lines :
Here is the recap from the Devils website. The highlights are not from the Devils website, and they skip the first two Albany goals.
Saturday night's first road game of the season was also the Devils first victory of the season. It was a much different game than Friday night's home loss. In fact, in many ways it was much the opposite of Friday's game. The special teams went from horrendous to very good. They had to be very good for the Devils to win this game, as specialty teams were on the ice quite a bit Saturday night. The power play was 1-6 on the evening. The penalty kill was 9-9, including a shorthanded goal. Yes, 9 -9. Quite a far cry from the first two games. Keith Kinkaid stopped 30 - 30 shots on the night for the shutout victory.
The Devils did not dominate play at evens early in in this game. In fact, this must have been a very frustrating home opener for the Sharks, as they had the better run of play early in the game, but nothing to show for their efforts. The Devils effectively killed off an Adam Henrique penalty around 5 mintues into the game, and they seemingly built a little momentum off the successful kill.
Just minutes later, Adam Henrique started things off for Albany with a fantastic play. He first drew a penalty for holding the stick, and his stick was knocked out of his hand on the sequence. He stayed with the play, picked up his stick and cut to the net just in time to receive a pass from Pesonen in front. As he was going down to the ice, Henrique lifted the puck skillfully over the goaltender. Great all-around play by the Henrique line on this one.
The second Devils goal was their first power play goal of the season. Butler ripped a shot from the left circle that Pesonen apparently deflected into the net from right in front. It is literally impossible to see a tip like that on the AHL video stream, so we will take their word for it.
Overall, Worcester outchanced Albany 4 - 2 in the first period, although the Devils outshot them 9-8. Still, Albany went into the locker room with a 2-0 advantage after one period.
Early in the second period, Worcester had the better run of play. The Devils were shorthanded for 4 mintues during this stretch, but they were able to kill off both penalties. Late in the second, Albany was really able to drive the first stake into Worcester's heart. Worcester had a 2-1 rush, which they botched and never got a shot on goal. On the ensuing rush up ice, Larsson drops a pass to Josefson inside the right circle, and he rips a shot which just sort of leaks through the Sharks goalie and ends up just across the goal line. Despite both outchancing and outshooting Albany to this point, Worcester found themselves scoreless and trailing by three. The second period ended 3-0 Albany. Shots at this point were 22-17 Worcester and chances 7-5 Worcester.
Early in the third period, Albany delivered another crushing blow. Mike Sislo went off for boarding about 4 minutes into the period and Worcester gained a power play. On the ensuing faceoff, Josefson and Sestito possessed the puck and rushed up ice on a two-on-two break. With some nifty passing work, the two Devils created some space among the defenders, and Sestito threaded a pass to Josefson for the tap-in. Great exchange between the two. If Worcester had any thoughts of using this power play opportunity to get back into the game, those ideas were crushed before they could even take form. This final dagger made the score 4 - 0 Albany, and Worcester decided rather than continue to play hockey, they might as well engage in a display of complete goonery since they had no chance to win the game.
The following sequence occurred just minutes later - Tim Sestito laid a clean hit on Petricki of Worcester near the half boards, completely toppling him. Petrecki got up and decided to retaliate. He throws Sestito head first into the boards, and then starts fighting. The problem is, Sestito never engaged in the fight, and was actually down on the ice for most of the time Petrecki was hitting him. Some other giant goon named Mashinter sauntered over to the area, and could be the third man involved. Alex Urbom put his hand out to lock up Mashinter and keep things honest. Mashinter decided to sucker punch Urbom out of nowhere, and cold cocked him in the face with his glove still on. Fortunately, both Urbom and Sestito were ok and returned to the game later in the period. At about 0:35 of the highlight video, you can watch this entire sequence while listening to the Worcester announcer applaud said goonery.
Later in the period, the Sharks are just running around attempting to injure Devils by this point. Whitney got crunched hard near the bench, and then someone attempted to slam Josefson into the Sharks bench. Leach delivered a somewhat pointless cross check in retaliation and then rightfully stood up and fought Matt Pelech in defense of his teammates. Pelech actually came off the bench to fight Leach, and was promptly ejected from the game. This sequence was late in the game, and as I mentioned the Sharks were doing very little by this point to actually play hockey. In fact, they completely stopped trying after the Devils 4th goal. From that point onward, the Sharks were outchanced by the Devils 5 - 1. The one chance they had came on the powerplay. So, yeah, like I said, they made literally no attempt to play any more hockey on this day after falling behind 4-0.
Albany outchanced Worcester 12-10 overall, despite trailing in this statistic for most of the game. The Devils were outshot 30 - 27, which is not bad at all for playing 50+ minutes with a lead.
Adam Henrique had the kind of impact on this game that we have all been looking for. He had some great passes, he was active all over the ice, and he scored a goal. The Henrique line all had a very good game. Pesonen continued his strong play with a goal and an assist. Butler had 3 SOG for the game, and looked more comfortable alongside Pesonen and Henrique.
Josefson was once again the best Devils skater on the ice this game. His line played very well. Josefson got his first two goals of the season, which is not surprising based on how well he has played the last few games. His first goal kind of leaked through the keeper, and maybe this type of break is exactly what Jacob needed to find his scoring touch. His second goal, the shorty from Sestito, was an easy tap in, and there was no doubt about it. Sometimes it just takes a bounce or a break going your way to get things going, and hopefully that is the case for Josefson. The kid is skating great, and contributing in all situations. He has been fun to watch so far. Matt Anderson had another good game. He chipped in an assist on the Henrique goal. Joe Whitney had a good game considering it was his season debut. He looked comfortable with Josefson and Anderson.
The third line for this game was Tedenby-Zalewski-Parse. This is an awesome third line, and I look forward to what they can do in a few games if given the chance. Parse was playing his first game of the season and managed two shots on goal, as did Teddy and Zalewski. Zalewski had at least one prime scoring chance I remember on a great pass from Henrique, but he was denied.
Today's fourth line was Sestito - DeSimone - Sislo. I thought Sestito was great once again. He is really an effective player at the AHL level. He contributes on the penalty kill and had the great assist on the Josefson shorty. We know he always brings the energy. DeSimone was active and aggressive on the forecheck and I thought he played well too. Sislo, not as much. Sislo took a few bad penalties and was not really a factor once again.
On defense, Adam Larsson had a good game overall. He had a really good game offensively, and was overall ok in the defensive zone, with maybe a couple of questionable moments. I remember one play where he was absolutely deked out of his skates in front but Kinkaid made the save.
Corrente had another good game. He was solid in back and jumped in for a few timely shots on goal as well. Glad to see Corrente playing well so far.
Jay Leach takes a lot of penalties. I felt like every time I turned around he was taking another penalty. He took two other minor penalties earlier in the game, plus the cross-check and fighting major on the same sequence late in the third. In other Jay Leach news, it looks like he is pretty much entrenched in that top spot alongside Larsson, as they have paired together all 3 games.
Keith Kinkaid was strong in net once again. He didn't get tested that much late in the game, as the Sharks gave up trying, but he turned away every shot he faced for the clean slate. Good job by Keith, and good to see him confident and successful early on in this season. He should get the start Wednesday against Connecticut.
I thought Dan Kelly had a solid game in his return to the lineup. It was a pretty uneventful performance, which is exactly what you want from Kelly.
The Devils finished the game up 12 - 10 in scoring chances, but they trailed for most of the game in this category. While amassing their 3-0 lead over the first two periods, the Devils actually trailed in scoring chances 7-5.
Stats: (All Stats taken from theAHL.com and ECHL.com)
Devils vs Connecticut Whale
The Albany Devils are hosting the New York Rangers affiliate, the Connecticut Whale, on Wednesday 10/24. The Whale are currently the only team behind the Devils in the Northeast division, and they are winless so far with a 0-3-1-0 record. They've also given up 20 goals so far in just 4 games, so hopefully the Devils can really get the offense rolling.
Devils vs Adirondack Phantoms
Friday night 10/26 the Devils host the Adirondack Phanotms, the Flyers AHL affiliate. The Adirondack Phantoms are 2-2 on the season, and just like the Devils, they have a lot of talent on that team as a result of the lockout. The Phantoms lineup includes Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Eric Wellwood, and everyone's favorite Flyer, Zac "I'm more than just a goon guys, seriously" Rinaldo
Devils at Hershey Bears
Saturday night 10/27 the Devils travel to Hershey to take on the Bears, the AHL's version of the Washington Capitals. The Bears are 1-2 so far on the season and have given up 14 goals in 3 games so far, while scoring 13. Braden Holtby is one of three goaltenders for Hershey this season and has appeared in one game so far, giving up 4 goals.
Well, that concludes our roundup for this week. Are you surprised the Devils were able to go 9-9 on the penalty kill on Saturday? Were you surprised by any of the lineup decisions so far? How do you think the defense will shape out moving forward? Brandon Burlon sat out Saturday, will he be back in the lineup Wednesday? How do you like the lines up front so far? Who would you like to see in the lineup for Wedensday's game? As always, thanks for reading, and please leave all your comments and questions relating to the Albany Devils in the comments section.