Recapping the last week in Albany Devils action, which included three games - at Rochester, home vs Syracuse, and home (in Atlantic City) vs Wilkes-Barre / Scranton
Welcome to Week 8 of your Albany Devils Roundup. It was a very busy weekend for Albany. Unfortunately, it was not a very successful one. The Devils played a 3-in-3 over the weekend, with games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They lost all three. The first two games were not so close. On Friday, the Devils dropped a 5-2 decision at Rochester. On Saturday, they were home to face Syracuse and lost that contest 4-1. The Sunday game in Atlantic City was very entertaining, but the Devils eventually fell in a shootout, 5-4. We'll talk about what went right and what went wrong, as well as update the activity of those Devils prospects playing in the ECHL.
In ECHL action, Scott Wedgewood finally returned and started both games for Trenton over the weekend. On Friday, he was victorious, winning a 3-2 decision over Evansville. On Saturday, Wedgewood and the Titans lost 3-0 to Greensville. Good to see Wedgewood back in action, and from the sounds of things, he played very well. Matt Bernot, who covers the Titans, had some very complimnentary words about Wedgewood once again.
Brian Haczyk played in both games for Trenton over the weekend, and he scored a goal on Friday.
Alexandre Carrier did not appear in either game for Trenton.
Maxime Clermont did not appear in any of Elmira's three games last week.
Harry Young played in all four Kalamazoo games last week. He did not register a point, but had 2 shots on goal total and 1 fight for the week.
Eric Gelinas has returned from injury! He made his season debut on Sunday for the Devils. Good to see him back on the ice.
Scott Parse also returned to the lineup Sunday afternoon.
Kelly Zajac is close to a return, he is practicing with the team again.
J.S. Berube remains out indefinetly.
Game Recaps and Notes
Friday 11/23 Albany 1 Rochester 5
The Devils were at Rochester Friday night, and were looking to build off a nice effort in their preivious game against St. John's. Unfortunately, they were not able to do so. All sorts of things went wrong for the Devils in this game. Initially, they got off to a lackluster start. Their play over the first twenty minutes was not good enough. Aditionally, their special teams failures were too much to overcome on this day. Rochester scored a power play goal along with two shorthanded goals among their five markers on the evening. When your special teams is a -3 for the game, you are not going to win many games unless your 5-on-5 skaters are absolute world-beaters. The Devils were just ok at evens, and that was only good enough for a 5-1 defeat on this day.
Early in the first, the Devils had one of the first few good chances of the game. Adam Larsson found Matt Anderson in front with a pretty nifty pass, but Chris Leggio turned aside Anderson's shot. Just a minute later, Brian Flynn scored for the Amerks to give them a 1-0. Frazee had turned aside an initial shot, but the rebound kicked directly to Flynn who made no mistake about it.
Rochester kept momentum on their side after the goal and kept the pressure on Albany. The Devils did not have many chances in the first. There was one more opportunity where Whitney created a nice shot for Bobby Butler skating in between the circles, but Butler could not get the puck past Leggio. The rebound kicked out to Henrique, who fired a long shot on net that Leggio swallowed up. That was pretty much the extent of the Devils offense for the first period.
Rochester, however, was not finished. They brought their 6th ranked power play onto the ice after a Brandon Burlon high stick. The kill was going alright for the Devils, but then they got into some trouble after Darcy Zajac tried to create an opportunity shorthanded. He tried a pass back up high into the zone to Sestito rather than dumping it deep, and Rochester was able to take it away and transistion into the Devils zone much faster than the tired penalty killers for an odd man rush. Brian Flynn scored his second of the game off a feed from Marcus Foligno and TJ Brennan. The three top scorers for Rochester had combined to make it a 2-0 game. The period ended with the same score, and Rochester leading in shots 13-6.
The second period was pretty much the opposite of the first. In the second, it was the Devils that ran over Rochester and created some nice scoring opportunities. Early in the period, the Devils had a power play which produced a couple decent chances but no goals. They even created a great shorthanded opportunity. Darcy Zajac deflected a pass near center ice, and Adam Henrique collected the loose puck while accelerating his way into a breakaway chance. Leggio turned aside Henrique's shot and the Devils remained scoreless.
Shortly aftwerwards, the Devils finally broke through. Steve Zalewski created a nice little give and go situation with Mattias Tedenby who was behind the net. As Zalewski crossed through the crease, Tedenby found him on the other side with a return pass for the goal. It was a 1-1 game, and the Devils were rewarded for their strong play in the second with an even slate.
The Devils kept up the pressure afterwards and were close to breaking through with another goal a few times. Mattias Tedenby was really buzzing around the net and came close to creating a goal. Then, Joe Finley of the Amerks took a roughing penalty late in the period. The Devils had turned their good hard nosed offensive zone play into a man advantage, but unfortunately that's where everything went wrong. The Albany power play conceded a short handed goal with just under 30 seconds left in the second period. Now, they faced a 2-1 defecit as they returned to the locker room for the second intermission.
The Devils came out strong to start the third period and tried to erase the 2-1 defecit. Adam Henrique ran a shot off the post from about 15 feet. The Devils kept up the work, and drew another Joe Finley penalty, this time for hooking, and it was de ja vu all over again. Another power play for Albany, another breakaway for Rochester, another shorty for TJ Brennan. Now the score was 4-1, and a game which the Devils had a real chance to take away from Rochester just a few minutes earlier had totally gotten away from them.
Raman Hrabarenka managed to score a goal about two minutes later to make it a 4-2 game, but that was as much offense as Albany could muster. They did have several more power play opportunities, but could not get anything going at all. The power play finished 0-5 on the day while also conceding two short-handed goals. Rochester's Brian Flynn added an empty netter to make the final score 5-2 Amerks.
This was a game that Albany started off terribly, only to fight their way back, take over the flow of the game, and then ruin it through an inept power play. The forwards created some decent opportunities.
The Henrique line was good all night, pretty much. They created the most opportunities, but no goals. Whitney had five shots, Henrique three, and Butler three. They were on the ice for one of the shorthanded goals against.
The Josefson line was ok. Hoeffel was pretty quiet, but Josefson and Anderson had three shots each. They didn't dominate the game like they had been recently.
The Zalewski line got some good work done today. They didn't create that many shots overall, but they were really buzzing during the second period and created the first Albany goal.
The Wohlberg line was pretty quiet mostly, but they were on the ice for the Hrabarenka goal. Wohlberg got an assist on the play, but he hasn't really had the impact I've hoped so far this year. Darcy Zajac was held without a shot, and Harri Pesonen managed to post a -3 with only 1 shot on goal. He was on ice for the empty netter, so it's more of a -2, but not a good game overall for that line.
Defensively, the Devils were not terrible. They only gave up one goal at even strength.
Raman Hrabarenka had an eventful game. He scored, but was also on the ice for three Rochester goals. His partner, Alex Urbom was on the ice for the first two Rochester goals.
Jay Leach and Adam Larsson were pretty good overall. Larsson particularly had a strong game. He created a couple of nice opportunities, and also had six shots on goal without giving up too much defensively. Good job by him.
Burlon and McPherson were pretty steady for the most part.
Frazee didn't have one of his best games. He stopped 26 of 30 on the game, but gave up a lot of rebounds once again. He made some nice saves at times as well, but his rebound control also caused himself and the Devils problems at times.
Saturday 11/24 Albany 1 Syracuse 4
On Saturday night, Albany hosted the Syracuse Crunch and basically got crunched in the process. Coming off an incomplete effort the night before, a better effort in this game was the expectation for Albany. The beginning of the game was somewhat uneventful, but not too uneven. Syracuse seemed to be having their way with the Devils defensemen in front of the net for the most part. At first it was a "bend but not break" situation for Albany, but things just tilted more and more in Syracuse's favor as the game went on. The Devils forwards had some chances throughout the first 40 minutes, but not nearly enough. Their forecheck was disrupted too easily by Syracuse, while Syracuse's forecheck was often problematic for the Devils.
Over the first seven minutes of action, there was not much going on either way. The Devils killed a penalty easily. The play was back and forth, but there weren't too many shots on goal or dangerous chances for either side. The first real action occurred when the Devils went on the power play for the first time at 9:08. The Devils took a shot on net, which was saved by Helenius, and there was a loose puck in front of the Syracuse net. Helenius never actually had the puck covered, but referee Terry Koharski blew the play dead just before Matt Anderson found the loose puck on his stick and put it into the open net. Adding insult to injury, Anderson was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct for complaining in some fashion about the blown call. There should have been a 5-on-3 situation upcoming, because Anderson was roughed on the play as well by Jean-Phillipe Cote. Instead, it turned into a 4-on-4 situation which did not amount to anything for either team.
The next 4-on-4 situation occurred just about 4 minutes later, and this time, Syracuse would capitalize. Syracuse entered the zone in transition, and Matt Taormina got the puck to Cory Conacher, who was pretty wide open and did not miss. Joe Whitney came into view very late on the play. It appeared Whitney was so late getting there because he just came on the ice after a line change, but I can't be sure from the video.
The first period ended with the score 1-0 Syracuse and Albany leading in shots 6-4.
The second period is when Syracuse began to slowly impose their will on the game and tilt the ice more in their direction. Early on, there were a couple of dangerous chances each way. Whitney hit the post on a shot. There was some messy action in front of the Devils crease that Kinkaid managed to keep out of the net. Then, about 5 minutes into the second, the Devils finally broke through. Adam Henrique outletted a pass to Joe Whitney and Whitney was free on a break. He roofed the shot and we had a 1-1 game.
After the Devils goal, the Crunch just kept working hard down low and establishing position all around the Albany crease. They were bumping Kinkaid and definitely making his life pretty miserable. Kinkaid made a few beautiful saves to keep the game tied at first. There was one play where he made an initial save from about 10 feet out, and then got his left leg extended in time to deny a rebound attempt from right in front. At this point, the Devils were bending, but had not yet broken.
Soon after, the relentless pressure around Kinkaid would lead to a Syracuse goal. Kinkaid was run over by a Syracuse player and lost his stick in the process. The Devils initially had the puck, but they couldn't clear the zone and turned it over to Syracuse near the blue line. Syracuse got back in on Kinkaid, who was back on his feet, but didn't yet have time to collect his stick. He blocked an initial shot, but a rebound got off to his stick side and he was unable to stop Richard Panik from putting it in the back of the net. The pressure finally was too much, and by this point Syracuse had a pretty firm grip on the game. It may have only been 2-1, but the Devils defense was not standing up to the Syracuse forecheck, and their keeper was facing far too much pressure, not in terms of shots against, but physically people in his face, jostling him and disrupting his flow.
Shortly afterwards, the Devils kind of let the game get away from them all of a sudden. A pretty beleaguered Devils defensive unit had almost killed off a Brandon Burlon cross-checking penalty when they fell asleep at the wheel just as the penalty expired. Alex Kilorn took the setup from Tyler Johnson and fired a beautiful shot low and past Kinkaid on the far side. It deflected off the far post and into the net. Now Syracuse was ahead 3-1, and the game was pretty well in their control, especially considering this Devils team had a record of 0-6-0-1 so far in games they trailed after 2 periods.
The third period was pretty much an exercise in futility for the Devils, for the most part. They created a few chances early on in the period, but not nearly enough. Then about 8 minutes into the third, Richard Panik was able to slide the puck somewhat slowly thorugh Keith Kinkaid's legs, making it a 4-1 game.
The rest of the third period was completely forgettable for the Devils. Syracuse ran over them with their forecheck, and continued to outshoot the Devils, despite holding a three goal lead. In fact, the Devils managed only five shots on goal for the entire third period while trailing by two and then three goals. Syracuse overwhelmed them throughout the course of the game, and by the end of it all the Devils just couldn't get anything going at all. The game mercifully finished 4-1 in favor of Syracuse.
The forwards couldn't really sustain much of a forecheck anywhere. The defense was completely run over. For me, there weren't many positives to point out in Saturday's game.
The Henrique line was the best set of Devils forwards for the game. They produced the one goal and had a couple of other good chances.
Josefson and Anderson started with Hoeffel, but Pesonen moved up and played with them for most of the game in Hoeffel's place. This line wasn't that dangerous tonight.
None of the Devils forwards were good. I don't want to single out anyone in a group of 12 forwards that put up a total of 13 shots in the game. Let's say there is enough blame to go around.
The defense was not good tonight. Their play in front of their own net left a lot to be desired.
Alex Urbom and Raman Hrabarenka were on ice for 3 of the 4 Syracuse goals against. Not a good day at the office for either.
Jay Leach and Adam Larsson were on the ice for the other goal against, and this was on a play where Kinkaid was run over. They weren't strong enough physically in front of their goalie tonight. I'm not singling out Leach, but if you are in there to provide "toughness", then you should be clearing the front of the net all day.
Kinkaid didn't have his best game overall, but playd well enough. There were moments when he was outstanding, standing up to the heavy Syracuse pressure and making critical saves. He had no chance on three of the four goals against. He stopped only 21 of 25 shots on the night, and clearly was agitated and frustrated as the game went on by the heavy pressure around his net from the Syracuse forecheck.
Sunday 11/25 Albany 4 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 5 (SO)
This was a very entertaining game which I attended live in Atlantic City yesterday. It was easily the Devils best effort of the weekend. Unfortunately, I don't have my usual recap for this one, as I got home from Atlantic City much too late to write up my thoughts. I will try to update my post this evening with my thoughts on this game.
For now, here is the Devils recap:
UPDATE: 11/26 6:30 PM -- added below the notes for yesterday's (11/25) game, as well as box scores for each game
Sestito-D. Zajac- Sislo
All in all, this was a very interesting and entertaining game to watch. First off, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City is a great venue to watch a game. Albany plays three more games there this year, and I highly encourage everyone to check out a game down there when you have a chance.
The Devils offense was productive on this day, and some things certainly went well. They scored a power play goal, a shorthanded goal, and two even strength goals, so they were able to produce offense in all situations. They also ran into some of the same problems that have plagued them throughout the season. They took a lot of minor penalties for one. The penalty kill was actually 8/8 on the day, but there were still problems as a result of penalties taken. Wilkes-Barre was able to take a 3-2 lead into the 2nd period, because they scored with an extra attacker on the ice as a result of a delayed penalty call just as the buzzer sounded to end the first period. Official time of the goal was 19:59.
The fourth Wilkes-Barre goal, which tied the game, came about 30 seconds after Sislo got out of the box, but the Penguins possessed the puck the whole time and the Devils were chasing them around the zone. While its technically not a power play goal, when you can't get out of your zone or even get a line change immediately after a penalty expires, I think it's safe to say that penalty had an impact on the goal scored.
The Devils special teams overall was quite successful on this day. The penalty kill was very good overall, and they even produced a goal. Jacob Josefson scored shorthanded to give the Devils a 4-3 lead mid-way through the 3rd period. The Devils power play didn't have many opportunities (2), but they converted on 1 of 2. The penalty calls were very slanted, as you can tell by the stats, with Wilkes-Barre getting 8 power plays and the Devils only 2.
The players you would expect to have a positive impact on the game for the Devils mostly did. Adam Henrique scored a goal. Jacob Josefson scored a goal. Mattias Tedenby scored a goal, as did Bobby Butler. These guys all played very well in my opinion.
Scott Parse was back in the lineup, and he set up Mattias Tedenby in front for the first goal. It seemed like those guys played pretty well together. They were good in the offensive zone, but this line was also on the ice for a couple of goals against, so I don't want to exonerate the forwards from having some trouble in their own end.
Whitney, Butler and Henrique provided some strong play together once again, combining for two goals on the day, as they were the power play unit on the ice for Butler's goal. There was a little luck involved in Henrique's goal. Butler set up Corrente, whose shot was blocked. A favorable bounce saw the puck end up pretty much right on Henrique's stick. He fired a really nice wrister over the keeper's shoulder.
Josefson and Anderson were paired with Pesonen today. They haven't really played much together at all this year until an in-game change on Saturday. Josefson certainly had a bounce back game after one of his weaker showings the night before. He gave an incredible individual effort on the short-handed goal. First, he accelerated through the neutral zone to take possession of the loose puck. Then, with a couple of defenders draped on him, he was able to get the puck back to his forehand and elevate it over the goaltender.
Eric Gelinas played in his first game of the year. I had not seen Gelinas play live before, and you could tell he has a heavy shot. He fired one blast on net from the point, which you can see on the highlights. Henrique nearly put in the rebound, but missed the net. Gelinas looked a little shaky at times, but he's been out of action for a long while. He took a few penalties and I think he may have been a bit mixed up in his own zone a few times.
Speaking of mixed up in your own zone, the Devils in general seem to really struggle when the puck goes behind their own net. Pretty much every single one of the Wilkes-Barre goals came on a play where a skater possessed the puck down low behind the net. Each time, he found an open man in front who had room to pick a spot and beat Kinkaid pretty much unopposed. Wilkes-Barre apparently got the memo that the Devils are susceptible to plays around their own goal and their cohesion down low in their own zone can be pretty weak at times. I am not really sure each time who was at fault, so I'm not going to speculate. I will say, I don't want to pin it all on the defense. I think there were times Devils forwards missed assignments as well. They need to get this issue straightened out. Just the night before, Syracuse victimized them with tough play down low too.
Jay Leach was scratched for the first time this season. I didn't think that would ever happen, and I certainly was happy to see some of the other guys getting a chance. That being said, I wasn't overly impressed with the newly formed Corrente-Larsson pairing.
Pretty much my usual narrative regarding Keith Kinkaid. I just don't really see how he could have been expected to do much on the Penguins goals. If I remember correctly, there was a skater coming free towards the net each time. This certainly isn't the first time this season the Devils skaters have hung him out to dry. Not the type of thing you want to get used to, but I'm sure he wasn't shocked by this point. Overall he continues to be pretty poised in net, and I'm looking forward to him playing a game where there aren't so many breakdowns occurring in front of him.
All stats taken from theahl.com and echl.com
The Week Ahead:
Albany plays two games this coming weekend. Friday, 11/30, they host St. John's, and Saturday, 12/1, they are at the Adirondack Phantoms.
Well, that concludes our Roundup for this week. What do you think the Devils can do differently to improve the results from this past weekend? Were you excited to see Eric Gelinas back on the ice?
Please discuss your thoughts about these questions, and also any other comments or questions you might have about the Albany Devils. Thanks for reading.