Welcome to Week 9 of your Albany Devils Roundup. Last week the Devils only played two games, both over the weekend. They dropped a 1-0 decision to St. John's on Friday evening at home, while defeating Adirondack 3-2 on Saturday night in Adirondack. It was good to get one back in the winning column this last weekend after dropping four in a row prior to Saturday night. On the injury front, the Devils suffered a significant injury to Adam Henrique, who will miss quite a bit of time. The Devils goaltending prospects playing in the ECHL finally had a showdown, but the results probably won't thrill most Devils fans.
The Trenton Thunder played 3 games last week, and Scott Wedgewood appeared in all three, starting two, and relieving NIko Hovinen in the other. On Wednesday night, Trenton dropped a 3-2 decision in Wheeling. Wedgewood stopped 28 of 31 shots in the loss.
Alexander Carrier and Brian Haczyk both played in this game for Trenton as well. Carrier did not have a point or a shot on goal and was a -1. Haczyk, unfortunately, was injured in this game and will miss some significant time. Mike Ashmore, who covers the Trenton Titans, told me on Saturday night that Haczyk apparently injured his shoulder during Wednesday's game and will miss up to a month.
On Friday night, we finally got the Clermont - Wedgewood matchup that Devils fans were denied two weeks ago due to Wedgewood's injury. I don't think the results were what any of us were hoping for, however. Trenton won the game 7-6 in a shootout. Clermont gave up all 6 Trenton goals, stopping 33 of 39 shots. This was Clermont's only appearance of the week. Wedgewood entered the game to start the second period in relief of Niko Hovinen. He gave up 3 goals, turning away 19 of 22 shots and all 5 shootout attempts for the win.
Wedgewood started Sunday afternoon's game for Trenton, which was a 6-2 loss to Elmira. Wedge gave up all 6 goals, stopping 22 of 28 shots on the day. He did pick up an assist during the game, his first as a pro. Still, not a good performance for the young goaltender. Wedgewood, so far, has struggled in the second half of back to back games, only posting an 0-3 record with a 4.13 GAA and and 88.7 save percentage.
Kelly Zajac played his first game of the season for Trenton on Friday night. He was loaned to Trenton earlier in the week. The youngest Zajac brother in the Devils organization posted an assist and three shots on goal, but was a -4 for the game.
Harry Young played in both games for Kalamazoo over the weekend. He didn't register a point and totaled 3 shots on goal for the two games.
The most significant injury is one that most of us now about by now. Adam Henrique suffered a detached ligament in the thumb on his left hand and will miss anywhere from 6 - 10 weeks with the injury. According to Henrique, it was the same injury suffered by Jacob Josefson two years ago while playing in San Jose during his rookie season. Henrique has already had surgery, which was successful, and he will be in a cast for at least 4 weeks.
Bill Cain posted an in-depth blog last week about how the Devils may utilize different players in an attempt to replace Henrique's minutes.
Brian Haczyk will miss up to a month with the shoulder injury mentioned above.
Dan Kelly remains out with an upper body injury, but is skating and should be relatively close to making his return.
J.S. Berube remains out indefinitely.
Friday 11/30 Albany 0 St. John's 1
Here is the official Devils game recap.
Friday night's home contest for the Devils was their first time on the ice without Adam Henrique, and it certainly showed. The Devils were not able to put together much offense. In fact, there wasn't much offense by either team, with just a lone goal scored in the game by Zach Redmond of St. John's. Overall, the game was a somewhat even back and forth battle. But, except for a few moments here and there, Albany really didn't have many dangerous opportunities as all.
Initially, the Devils really didn't have much offense going, but St. Johns missed a great opportunity within the first few minutes of the game. Frazee, beaten by a shot from between the circles, turned his head to watch the puck ring off the post and out of harm's way. The Devils had the only power play of the first period, and it came early on. They had a few good chances, including one by Joe Whitney, but they could not score.
Afterwards, the Devils carried some momentum off the power play and had the better run of play over the next few minutes. There was some good pressure on one shift by the fourth line. The Josefson line had a good shift or two as well where they spent most of their time in the St. John's end of the ice. St. John's got the better of the play as the period drew to a close. Late in the period, they missed out on another great chance. It came on a play that has plagued the Devils of late, a pass out from behind the net to a waiting player in front. Fortunately, Frazee made the save.
The second period of this game was really defined by the Devils inability to stay out of the penalty box. Just about 30 seconds into the period, a St. John's streak of 3 consecutive power plays began with a Brandon Burlon tripping minor. The Devils killed the penalty effectively. I made a note that St. John's had one very good chance, but a great save by Frazee kept the score 0-0.
Just about 5 seconds after the Burlon penalty expired, the Devils took another penalty, this time for too many men on the ice. This was frustrating. This is the type of avoidable penalty the Devils have taken far too frequently this season. The penalty kill was up to the task once again, with a relatively routine kill. Just about 20 seconds after Joe Whitney, who was serving the minor, stepped back onto the ice, Scott Parse caught a St. Johns player with a high stick and he was sent off for two minutes. Three back to back minor penalties was too much for the Devils to handle. About 50 seconds into the Parse minor, Zach Redmond blasted a one timer past Frazee from right in between the circles, and St. John's had a 1-0 lead.
The Devils had a terrific opportunity to tie the game just moments later. The Devils broke free on a 2-on-1 rush with Josefson carrying the puck up ice. He was able to slip a pass past the defender to Hoeffel streaking down the middle, but Hoeffel couldn't get a shot off, and the puck bounced harmlessly off his stick and into the corner. In Hoeffel's defense, it did look like the puck was bouncing a bit as it came through the middle. There seemed to be a lot of bouncing pucks and players falling down during this game, so I'm not sure if there were some problems with the ice quality.
The two teams traded chances over the remainder of the second period, but the Devils had the better forecheck at this time and turned play in their favor. The best St. John's chance occurred on a 3-on-1 rush. The play developed when Larsson fell down, but Leach played it well and Frazee made a save. Shortly after, there were a couple of nice chances by Bobby Butler at the other end. There was one other play I want to mention, where St. John's had a potential odd man rush developing. A nice hard backcheck by Mattias Tedenby killed the odd man rush, as he was able to deflect a cross ice pass.
Into the third period, the Devils had a great chance early on. Mattias Tedenby drew a hooking penalty, and on the ensuing power play, Raman Hrabarenka fired a shot on net from the point. Eddie Pasquale gave up a rebound, which came out to Josefson. Jacob fired a hard shot low glove side, but Pasquale made a very nice glove save.
St. Johns only had 5 shots on goal for the period, and didn't really challenge Frazee too much. They didn't have to, as their one goal lead stood up against the struggling Devils offense. Despite having 9 shots on goal for the period, not too many of them were dangerous chances by Albany. Joe Whitney had a pretty good chance late, but he couldn't convert. The game sort of slowly dwindled to a close, as Albany could not even establish the zone with the extra attacker on the ice.
Credit to Eddie Pasquale for the shutout, but the Devils really didn't challenge him nearly enough.
Zalewski did a serviceable job filling in for Henrique in between Whitney and Butler. He had four shots on goal, and Whitney had three. Butler only had one shot on goal, but did have a few good scoring chances early on.
Josefson had a good game, as usual. He had a couple very nice scoring chances, and created one for Hoeffel which didn't work out. He contributed in all situations.
I thought Mattias Tedenby had a good game too. He only had 1 shot on goal, which is a bit disappointing, but he drew a penalty, and made a noticeable defensive contribution, which I mentioned before.
The depth forwards on the Devils were mostly not great on this day. I think a lack of consistency or any opportunities created by the bottom six definitely hurt. Wohlberg again was not really a factor in this game. I thought Scott Parse was very quiet too, and only was noticeable for his high stick, which led to the St. John's goal.
Jeff Frazee was good. He gave up only one goal, on a power play one timer. He made some good saves, and did what he had to do to give the Devils a chance to win.
Saturday 12/1 Albany 3, Adirondack 2
Here is the Devils game recap
On Saturday night, the Devils traveled to Adirondack, desperately in need of a win. They were able to emerge with a 3-2 victory in a building they had not won in since March 2011. The game started out with not much action either way. When things picked up, it was initially Adirondack challenging the Devils often. Albany killed off two Adirondack power plays. The first came on a Gelinas boarding minor, followed almost consecutively by a Corrente high stick. The best chance for Adirondack did not come on the power play, however, but shortly after. Zalewski lost an edge, creating an Adirondack breakaway. Fortunately, Kinkaid made a great save to keep the game scoreless.
The Devils really couldn't produce much offense in the first. Adirondack was clearly the better team. Keith Kinkaid was certainly busy. He turned away 13 Adirondack shots in the first period. Unfortuantely for him, this would be his easiest period of the game. Fortunately for the Albany team and fans, Kinkaid was up to the challenge.
The Devils broke through very late in the first period. In the waning seconds of the first, Bobby Butler stole the puck in the Adirondack zone and got a shot on net. Cal Heeter coughed up a rebound, and Joe Whitney as all over it. Whitney put the puck in the back of the net with just three seconds remaining in the first. The Devils took a 1-0 lead into intermission after a period which their forecheck was not very effective overall.
Amazingly, the second period picked up for the Devils pretty much right where the first ended. Adam Larsson was able to get the puck to Harri Pesonen streaking up ice. Pesonen made a nice move to carry into the zone, and he was able to thread a pass across the crease through several Adirondack defenders. In fact, the play was actually a 2-on-3 rush. Still, Josefson was just able to get his stick on the puck and direct it into the back of the net. 30 seconds into the second period, and the Devils had extended their lead to 2-0.
Shortly after, the Devils continued to press Adirondack. The second period was definitely their best in terms of forecheck and pressure on Adirondack. They had a couple of flurries in front around Heeter, but could not add to their lead. In truth, they were pretty fortunate to be up 2-0 at this point anyway.
Shortly after, Adirondack would capitalize on the Devils inability to stay out of the box. After a Corbin McPherson interference penalty, Erik Gustaffson fired a shot from just above the circles past a screened Kinkaid.
The Devils, unfortunately, were back on the kill just minutes later, and Adirondack kept up the pressure but could not score again. In fact, there were no other goals for either side during the second period, but it was an exciting run of back and forth action. The Devils amassed 17 shots over the second period to 16 for Adirondack. Clearly, both keepers were busy.
In the early moments of the third period, the Devils were under a lot of pressure, as they had been for most of the game. Kinkaid was sharp and kept the 2-1 lead intact. Just a few minutes into the period, Mattias Tedenby extended the Devils lead to 3-1 on sort of a flukey wrap around play. He fired a puck towards goal. Heeter had his stick down on the ice, and according to Josh Heller, the Devils play-by-play announcer, the puck deflected off the knob of Heeter's stick and bounced into the net. It's literally impossible to see the details of the play from the provided camera angle.
Pretty much the majority of the rest of the game was Adirondack threatening and pressuring the Devils. Keith Kinkaid was almost constantly under pressure. The Devils generally did a good job of not letting him get run over in this game. But, he faced countless attacks from the Adirondack side, turning them all away, until very late in the game. With about a minute left, Adirondack got their second goal to cut the defecit to 3-2. It came on a 6-on-4 play with the Adirondack net empty. Yes, the Devils took a late penalty, creating the 7th Adirondack power play of the game. They certainly didn't make things easy on themselves, but Keith Kinkaid would not let them lose on this day. He was remarkable, turning in possibly his best performance of the year so far. Final score 3-2 Devils, and a much needed W.
Usually I start with the forwards, but I am going to start with Keith Kinkaid, because he was just that good in this game. The Adirondack forecheck dominated for the most part. They fired 46 shots on Kinkaid, and he turned away 44 of them. The Devils defense didn't do him any favors at times, but he was there over and over again to make the saves. Bravo, Keith. This was a game that he stole for the Devils.
The Devils forwards were mostly pretty good in this game. Let's start from the top. The Whitney - Zalewski- Butler line had another decent game. Great individual efforts by both Butler and Whitney on the Devils first goal.
The Josefson line was very good. Jacob had another excellent game. Harri Pesonen had a standout game too playing on the left of Josefson. This was good to see, it was the best game for Pesonen in a while, and he seemed to not only benefit from playing with Josefson, but he created as well.
Mattias Tedenby was awesome this game. 6 shots on goal for Teddy in this one. Yes, the goal he scored was a little bit of a fluky bounce. But, anytime you have 6 shots on goal, you create your own luck and deserve any breaks you get.
Not really a lot out of the fourth line of Hoeffel-D. Zajac-Sislo on this day. The Devils really need to find some combinations that work at the bottom of the lineup.
The Devils defense certainly had some shaky moments in this one. Adam Larsson had a great pass on the Josefson goal. There were times in this game when all of the defenders were pinned back in their own zone by the Adirondack forecheck.
Gelinas still seems to be finding his way, this being only his second game back. Overall, not the best game for the Devils defenders, but their goaltender picked up the slack.
All stats taken from theahl.com and echl.com
Albany Photo Book and Links:
Check out Tracey Lake's photos from Saturday night's game at Adirondack, as well as her recaps of the weekend action on her Albany Devils blog, Thoughts Inside the Box.
David Sarch took some great pictures in the Atlantic City game last Sunday. One of those is featured in this article. You can check the others out right here.
Also, EJ Fagan of Talking Red attended last Saturday's (11.24) game against Syracuse and had some great notes on the game. Check them out on the Talking Red website.
David, EJ, and John also discussed a lot of Albany stuff in the most recent Talking Red podcast, from last week, so if you haven't listened to that already, its definitely worth a listen.
Two games upcoming next weekend for Albany. Saturday December 8th they host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at 5 PM.
On Sunday, they travel to Connecticut for a 3 PM matinee against the Connecticut Whale.
So, that concludes this week of our Albany Devils Roundup. Who do you think could step in or step up for the Devils and provide a spark in the absence of Henrique? What do you think of Kinkaid's stellar performance on Saturday night? Mattias Tedenby appears to be breaking out, can he keep it going and show some consistency - something he has been sorely lacking in the past? Please sound off in the comments section with any relevant thoughts, ideas, or questions about the Albany Devils. As always, thanks for reading.