Recapping the last week in Albany Devils action, which included three games - at Bridgeport, and at Norfolk for a pair.
Welcome to Week 12 of your Albany Devils Roundup. This week of action leading up to the holiday break featured a Devils team that was coming off some promising results of late. Unfortunately the winning ways did not continue. The Devils captured only one out of a possible six points on the week. They got the one point Saturday night against Norfolk by managing to turn a 1-0 lead with 33 seconds remaining in the game into a 2-0 overtime loss. So, not only were the overall results disappointing, the dramatic fashion in which an impending shutout victory quickly became an overtime loss certainly left a sour taste in everyone's mouths. Let's hope they are able to put this behind them quickly and move on. In truth, they almost managed to steal the victory Saturday night, and probably deserved to lose the game anyway. We'll get to that after catching up on the ECHL players activity.
Trenton scored three victories last week, and Scott Wedgewood started two of the three. First, he was the victor in a 5-4 contest over Elmira on Wednesday. Then, he capped off the week Saturday night with a 5-2 win at Fort Wayne.
Phil DeSimone played his first game for Trenton Wednesday and registered a goal and an assist. He followed that up by putting up the same statline (1G, 1A) Friday night as well. . On Saturday, DeSimone scored another goal and amassed 7 shots on goal for the game. Needless to say, good start for the young man down there, and good to see him playing every day and producing right away.
Kelly Zajac didn't play in any of Trenton's three games, so apparently that groin / sports hernia injury, or whatever exactly is the ailment, is still a problem for Kelly.
W 12/19 Albany 3 Bridgeport 4
The first game of the week was at Bridgeport, and it was played Wednesday night. I was unable to watch this game, so I don't have many thoughts on the game, outside that it was probably the Devils best effort of the week. I say that partly based on the stats, and partly because I watched both weekend games against Norfolk. I find it hard to believe the Devils could have played worse on Wednesday evening while scoring 3 goals and outshooting Bridgeport.
Mike Sislo scored his first goal of the year, and Mattias Tedenby and Matt Anderson also scored. Anderson's goal came on the power play. Adam Larsson registered two assists. Keith Kinkaid was in net, and it was probably not his best game of late, since he's been outstanding lately.
F 12/21 Albany 1 Norfolk 2
McKelvie-D Zajac - Sislo
Friday night Albany played the first of a back to back in Norfolk. The Devils were playing without Jacob Josefson for the first time this season. Josefson was scratched with the flu. It was a penalty filled game. Except for one fight, all of the penalties were minors, and as a result each team had 10 power plays in the game. Norfolk was able to convert two, the Devils were able to convert zero. That was the difference in a 2-1 game. The Devils lone goal came with the extra skater on, and about 30 seconds remaining in the third.
Early on, Norfolk was bringing the pressure on Albany. Kyle Palmieri had a scoring chance from right in front of the goal, but Frazee stayed with him as he made his move and made a pad save. Shortly afterwards, Wohlberg took a holding the stick penalty on a forecheck, and the onslaught of special teams play began. Norfolk would make the Devils pay, and take an early lead. Norfolk had an active power play. Frazee first made a save through a screen. Then shortly after, there was another shot through a screen. Frazee made the save again, but he couldn't control the rebound. It went right to Devante Smith-Pelly who scored, giving the Admirals a 1-0 lead.
Just seconds later, the Devils were back on the kill when Gelinas earned a double minor for a high stick. One of the two minors was evened out by a Norfolk penalty, but on the other two minutes of the power play, Norfolk again brought the pressure. The Devils managed to survive.
The Devils then had a power play, which amounted to nothing. Probably the best scoring chance of the first period happened just after when Pesonen and Wohlberg had a 2-on-1 break. Pesonen carried in and shot the puck, and Igor Bobkov made a quick save. The rebound kicked just past Wohlberg's stick as he skated in on the other side.
After this near miss on one end of the ice, then Jay Leach took a tripping penalty when he got his stick caught up in a Norfolk player's skate. Norfolk put in another power -play goal extending the lead to 2-0. It was very similar to the first goal. Frazee was screened again, he gave up a rebound, and there were two Norfolk players in behind the Devils defenders. I think it was Urbom and McPherson on the play. The scorer's sheet, I believe, has an error, because it lists Leach as being on the ice, but he was in the box at the time.
There was one more good chance for the Devils just before the period expired. Urbom had a nice shot from up near the point, and Wohlberg just missed on a rebound chance from in front.
To begin the second period, the Devils were right back to the kill. McKelvie off for interference, but the Devils kill it off. Then, they followed up with some nice pressure from the Gionta line. Gionta then drew a penalty, but the Devils power play could get nothing going. Shortly after, the Devils are gifted another power play chance, but it is cut very short when Zalewski gets a high sticking minor right away.
The ensuing 4-on-4 play produced a really nice scoring chance for the Devils. Sislo and Anderson broke out on a 2-on-1. Sislo passed to Anderson, who returned the pass to Sislo. Sislo got off a pretty decent shot, but Bobkov made a pad save.
Frazee then made a spectacular save to keep the Devils in the game. McMillan of Norfolk came in on a breakaway when Hrabarenka was stripped of the puck near center ice. McMillan got off a decent backhand and elevated the puck some, but Frazee got his glove on it.
Next, the Devils had a glorious chance to chip away at the Norfolk lead, when they earned 1:56 of 5-on-3 power play time. You kind of had the feeling that this could be one of those huge momentum shift moments - the huge save by Frazee followed up by the power play, but the Devils couldn't get any dangerous chances on net. They managed to possess the puck mostly, but really couldn't find a lot of room to shoot, which is very disappointing for a 5-on-3 situation. Then, just as the second penalty is expiring, a one-timer by Anderson goes into the back of the net. The goal is subsequently waved off by the official, because Bobkov, the keeper, knocked the goal off its moorings sliding across the crease to attempt the save. Based on the quality of the video and angle available, it was really not possible for me to tell when the puck went in the net - before or after it came loose. If I had to guess, I'd say after.
The third period, the Devils really pushed the action. With a two goal lead, Norfolk was just content to sit back for the most part. They had been dumping and chasing a lot all game, and now were chasing even less than before. The Devils had another extended 5-on-3 situtation, and this one was just as fruitless as the last. I'm not sure if they didn't have their spacing right or what exactly was the problem, but something was off. It didn't really even feel like it was a two man advantage. Norfolk was able to defend it much too comfortably with only 3 skaters on the ice.
A couple more fruitless power plays later, and we are down to the last minutes of the game, with the Devils still scrambling down two goals. They outshot Norfolk 14- 3 overall in the period, but couldn't break the defense until the final minute. Skating with an extra attacker and the net empty, Sislo fired a shot on net. Bobkov made the save, but the rebound went right to Anderson who scored. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, as the Devils could not score again in the final 30 seconds and ended up losing the game 2-1.
S 12/22 Albany 1 Norfolk 2 (OT)
Hoeffel-D Zajac- Sestito
Saturday's rematch ended with an identical score to Friday's game. How the two teams arrived there, however, was much different. Unlike Friday, the majority of this game was played at even strength. Unlike Friday, the two teams remained tied for over 40 minutes. Unlike Friday, the Devils were able to score first, breaking through on a great play by Bobby Butler. Unlike Friday, the goal scored with an extra skater in the final 30 seconds was the game tying goal. Yes, the Devils gave up an equalizer with 30 seconds remaining. Then, in overtime, they gave up the game winner right off the opening faceoff. Everyone was pretty much standing around when Emerson Etem, who also scored the tying goal, skated straight in off the faceoff unopposed and beat Kinkaid. From shutout victory to loss in 39 seconds.
Early on, the Devils had the first good chance of the game. Bobby Butler had a nice shot on goal, and Joe Whitney had a chance on the rebound, but was also stopped. Norfolk had the first power play of the game when Leach sat for delay of game. Despite a crazy flurry in front of Kinkaid at one point, the Devils kill off the penalty.
After a couple of failed power plays for the Devils, Kyle Palmieri had easily the best chance of the period (or maybe the game). On a breakaway, he beat Kinkaid with a deke, but then after going around him slid the puck between Kinkaid and across the front of the goal mouth, missing the net entirely. The Devils escaped the first, fortunate to be in a 0-0 tie.
Now in the second period, the Devils were looking a bit out of sync to me. There was not much action either way in the early second. Neither team could really create many good scoring chances. Then, the Devils managed to turn the play in their favor a bit with some good forechecking. They also drew a power play, but pretty much spent the entirety of the power play time retrieving the puck from behind Kinkaid's net.
The Devils got another power play chance when Wagner of Norfolk crashed full steam into Kinkaid while chasing a loose puck. The most eventful play on that man advantage was Kinkaid skating out full speed to near his blue line and just winning the puck by a hair to prevent a shorthanded breakaway.
There was at least one more good chance each way during the second period, but to no avail. First the Devils had some nice pressure by Tedenby in the offensive zone. He had a wraparound attempt denied, but the Devils maintained possession. Pesonen passed from behind the net to Josefson for a one timer from about 8 feet, but Bobkov made a glove save. Just before the period ended, Kinkaid made a great save on a rush by Norfolk to keep it 0-0.
To open the third period, the Devils came out looking fairly strong. Whitney almost broke Butler on an odd man rush, but some good defense by Vatanen broke up the play. Shortly after, Zalewski found Butler after the Devils established some possession in the zone. Butler used a nifty bit of stick handling to go forehand to backhand, and put a great shot on net, beating the keeper from in front.
The Devils had a 1-0 lead. Strangely, they were content to just sit back and try to defend their one goal lead. Kinkaid made a couple nice saves to keep things even, and over halfway through the period, the Devils were still pinned back defending, and had only Butler's one shot to show for the period.
As we got closer to about 5-6 minutes left in the game, the Devils finally started to even things out a little bit. Josefson nearly scored on a nice pass from Pesonen and a good deke, but he was denied on a kick save. Whitney had a 2-on-1 opportunity, but he waited too long, and sort of overskated the puck.
Then, the Devils, who were hanging on by the skin of their teeth for the most of the third period, saw things fall apart with just about a minute to play. First, Adam Larsson went down hard, and had to be helped off the ice. I am not sure what happened to him, but he was helped off by the trainers and couldn't put any weight on his right leg. According to Josh Heller, the play by play announcer, Larsson remained on the bench at first, which is probably a good sign. He didn't have a chance to return to the game even if he was capable. Seconds after the injury, the Devils just got outhustled in their own zone, and they gave up an equalizer to Emerson Etem from right in front.
Overtime begins, and it was over as quickly as it started. Josefson lost the faceoff, Etem collected the puck, skated right down the middle of the ice between the two Albany defenders. He skated straight in on Kinkaid unopposed, and scored the game winner. Talk about turning a victory into a defeat. The Devils were poised to steal a shutout victory, but they couldn't hold on. I'm not sure why they were so content to just sit back and defend for virtually an entire period and sit on a one goal lead, but it totally blew up in their faces in the end. That's why I mentioned earlier they probably deserved to lose the game. They were probably only the better team during the second period of this game. Despite scoring the early goal in the third, they were pinned back, whether by choice or just by the fact that they were outworked and couldn't do any better, I am not sure. A regrettable loss and a disappointing end to a disappointing week.
Bobby Butler continued his strong play this week. He is really firing at a different level lately. He is contributing in all situations, including the penalty kill. Joe Whitney and Steve Zalewski have been good also. That line has been very solid.
Jacob Josefson sat out Friday's game with the flu. The line was pretty quiet in his absence. He didn't really seem his usual self on Saturday night, so maybe he was still a bit under the weather.
Adam Larsson, as I mentioned, had to be helped off the ice late in the game. Let's hope that whatever injury he suffered was not very serious. I'm not going to speculate at all about the potential injury, but he wasn't putting any weight on his right leg. If anything serious is wrong with Larsson, a bad week just got much, much worse.
The Devils lost at least one game this week due to an ineffective power play and taking far, far too many penalties, two problems that have plagued them early on this season.
All stats taken from theahl.com and echl.com
The Devils face a 3-in-3 this upcoming weekend with games Thursday at Springfield, Friday home against Binghampton, and Saturday at Hershey.
So, that concludes our Roundup for this week. This week was certainly disappointing for the Devils. Let's see if they can bounce back next week with a challenging 3-in-3. Did anybody get to watch Wednesday's game and have any thoughts on how they played? Please feel free to chime in with any relevant comments whatsoever about the Albany Devils, and thanks, as always, for reading.