Recapping the last week in Albany Devils action, which included three games - at Springfield, vs Binghamton, and at Hershey
Welcome to Week 13 of your Albany Devils Roundup, and the final edition for the 2012 calendar year. This was another three game week for Albany, this time featuring a three-in-three from Thursday - Saturday nights. It featured games against three of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. Albany fared quite well all things considered. They won two of three, and should have won the other as well. So, it's good to see the team playing well on the ice and getting a few notches in the win column. Albany now sits in 12th place in the conference with 29 points and an 11-11-1-6 record. They are also 3rd in the Northeast Division, ahead of Connecticut and Adirondack. So, while things may not be perfect in Albany, at least they are ahead of the Rangers and Flyers.
In the ECHL action, both Devils goaltenders played in two games this past week. Maxime Clermont appeared Friday and Saturday, winning both games for Elmira. On Friday, Elmira scored a 4-3 victory at Cincinnati. Clermont stopped 27 of 30 shots in the victory. On Saturday, Elmira won 6-3 at Evansville. Clermont stopped 40 of 43.
Trenton played a 3-in-3 vs Reading this past weekend, and Scott Wedgewood started 2 of the 3 games. Wedgewood went 1-1 this past weekend. On Thursday, Wedgewood turned aside 29 of 30 shots in a 2-1 victory vs Reading. On Saturday night, Wedgewood and Trenton lost to Reading 3-2. Wedgewood made 37 of 40 saves on the night.
Kelly Zajac played in the same two games as Scott Wedgewood. He sat out Saturday's game apparently as a precaution still relating to his nagging groin injury. Zajac had nothing but a roughing minor to show for his efforts Thursday. On Saturday, he had two assists, one shot on goal, and finished as a +2.
Harry Young played for Kalamazoo Friday night, and had 7 PIM (kneeing minor, fighting major) in a 4-1 defeat. On Saturday night, Young was a +1, but did not appear elsewhere on the scoresheet in a 4-3 victory at Toledo.
Alexander Carrier appeared in a rare game on Friday night for Trenton, and had three shots on goal and a fighting major to show for his efforts.
Joe Whitney is the newest addition to the injury report. He took a hard hit during the first period of Friday night's game, and limped very gingerly to the locker room. He did not return to the game, and did not play Saturday either. I don't believe the Devils have released any information yet about Whitney's injury. Hopefully, it is not too serious. Joe is typically one of the more active and productive forwards on the team game in and game out.
Dan Kelly did not play in any of Albany's three games this past weekend, so it would seem he is ailing once again.
Chad Wiseman and David Wohlberg also did not play in any of the three games this past week.
I saw, I think on the Albany twitter feed, that J.S. Berube has practiced with the team, but I couldn't find the tweet to link, so you'll have to take my word for it. Not sure what is his timetable for actually appearing in a game at this point.
Matt Corrente - out for the season
Adam Henrique- Henrique is close to having the cast removed from his hand. On Dec 26, Rich Chere tweeted that within a week Henrique would have the cast removed.
W 12/27 Albany 4 Springfield 3
Highlights (note: audio quality is poor, a lot of background noise)
Hoeffel-D. Zajac - Sislo
Wednesday night the Devils traveled to Springfield in need of a win. They were winless the previous week, going 0 -3. This would stack up as a tall order on paper, as Springfield is leading the Northeasst division and currently sits second in the conference behind Syracuse.
The Devils would start off well enough. They had their forecheck working early, and while they gave up a few chances, they certainly created some as well. The first good chance of the game went to Springfield on a 3-on-1 break, but Kinkaid would make a glove save on Jake Hansen. Hoeffel would have a good chance for the Devils in front, off a good forecheck by his line, but he could not convert.
Next up would be the Butler line, also producing a good forecheck. They came within a couple missed passes of breaking through the defense. First,Whitney almost found Butler streaking to the net, but it was just broken up. Then, Butler looked for Larsson sneaking up in the zone behind the play, but the pass was behind him.
Afterwards, the Josefson line would almost make their mark, but they too just narrowly missed. Josefson won a draw back to Pesonen, who ripped a shot from the circle and hit the crossbar. Following more pressure by the line, Tedenby then joined the play on a change, and drew a penalty after sustained possession in the offenseive zone. The Devils had one chance on a Butler one timer that was denied.
Finally, just before the end of the period, the Devils would break through on a fortunate puck bounce. The Josefson line had a great flurry in the offensive zone, and used some really crisp passing to create openings. Burlon threw a puck in front, and it deflected off Pesonen's skate, directly into the back of the net. The call on the ice was a good goal, and after a somewhat lengthy review, the call was upheld. The Devils finished the period up 1-0, while shots were tied 11-11.
In the second period, the Devils came out and ramped up the pressure. The Josefson line produced more good shifts. The Devils were the more active team to start the period and had good pressure on the forecheck, but neither team could break through for over the first ten minutes. Then¸ the Devils were able to increase their lead when Corbin McPherson teed up a point shot, which was redirected by Stephen Gionta in front, for his first goal of the season. The lead was now 2-0 Albany.
About 4 minutes later, Albany would give up a goal and Springfield would get back in the game. Springfield would also score off a deflection. Ryan Johansen had a puck deflect off (I think) his skate, and into the back of the net, making the score 2-1. Fortunately, the Devils would turn right around and get one back.
Again, a deflection would account for a goal in this game. We already had two skates and a stick, why not another stick to even things out? Adam Larsson fired a point shot which was redirected by Joe Whitney into the back of the net. Once again, the Albany lead was two goals, and it would remain that way for the rest of the second period.
Early in the third, Albany would have another 5-on-3 power play situation, something they have had often lately. This time, they would again capitalize. Again, the goal would come off a deflection. Bobby Butler fired a slap shot which deflected off Steve Zalewski in front and into the net. Early in the third, it was 4-1 Devils. This score would remain intact for nearly the entire third period.
Then, with two minutes left, Springfield would begin to chip away at the lead. Matt Calvert got position on Corbin McPherson down low, and was able to play a puck that deflected off the back boards and out in front. First, Calvert used his positioning to get a strong backhand off, and it deflected off Kinkaid. The rebound remained loose in front, and Calvert again outpositioned McPherson to put the rebound past Kinkaid. It was a pretty nice individual effort by Calvert on the play.
Then, with just 31 seconds left and the extra attacker on, the Devils would give up another goal. This time Matt Calvert fired a shot off the back boards, and it deflected right out the other side and up past the crease. The extra skater, who was uncovered on the play, came in hard down low chasing after the puck and was first on the scene. Cam Atkinson put the puck behind Kinkaid before the goaltender could slide across the crease. Now, it was 4-3 Albany, and based on recent events with this team, it was panic time.
With about 7 seconds left and a faceoff in the Albany zone, Springfield created a point shot for David Savard, and he rang it off the post and out of play. This would be the last chance for Springfield. The only other play was McPherson fighting Matt Calvert after time expired after some shoving both ways. McPherson more than held his own, and easily won the fight against the smaller Calvert. Final score, 4-3 Albany.
F 12/28 Albany 2 Binghamton 3
DeSimone-D Zajac - Parse
Friday night was Albany's last home game of the year, and for the most part, they put forth a very good effort on the ice. They really dominated Binghamton for long stretches of this game, but when all things were said and done, a couple of unfavorable breaks left the Devils on the short side of a 3-2 final score. This was definitely a disappointing loss, and the Devils deserved a better fate in this game. Their forecheck was working hard and creating opportunities all game, but they still struggled to score goals. In fact, both of the Devils goals in this game came on the power play, which is very unusual for Albany. Binghamton did not have many scoring chances, but they took advantage of those they had. In fact, the Senators only had 17 shots on goal for the entire game, and were really only competitive for the majority of the second period. The Devils dominated both the first and third periods, spending the majority of time in the B-Sens zone. Still, they could not catch some puck luck at times, while Binghamton did.
The first period was defined by two major events for Albany the power play looking productive and effective, and an injury to Joe Whitney on a dirty hit from behind.
Early in the game, Burlon sat for a cross check, and the Devils were tested first on the kill. The most dangerous chance of that power play came by Bobby Butler shorthanded, so it was a relatively smooth kill. Afterwards, the Devils began right away with a good aggressive forecheck that was typically outworking and outplaying the Senators. The Josefson line turned in a nice shift, and Steve Zalewski, who hopped on the ice sfterwards, got a nice scoring chance off a feed from Adam Larsson as the Devils were able to maintain extended zone possession. This chance, like all created by the Devils at 5v5 on the night , was turned aside. Zalewski did manage to draw a penalty and give the Devils their first power play of the game.
Early on in the power play, Dziurzynski of Binghamton hit Joe Whitney from behind and into the boards in the Devils zone. Whitney went down hard, and did not get up at first. It looked like he may have hit his head off the boards, but when he finally came to his feet he was heavily favoring his left leg. He could barely put any pressure on it as he made his way off the ice under his own power. Dziurzynski was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind.
The Devils gained an extended 5-on-3 sequence, and they would take advantage. The 5-on-3 looked like a 5-on-3 should. Good passing got Josefson a one timer from the side of the net, but he was robbed by Lehner, who was very good in this game. Shortly after, Josefson worked the puck up to Gelinas at the point. Gelinas worked a pass through the triangle to Butler, who was waiting in his spot, down low, just off to the side of the net. Butler slammed home the one timer and Albany had a 1-0 lead.
The 5-4 kept on for over 3 more minutes, and the Devils threatened several times, but could not score. Soon after, they earned themselves another power play through more solid forechecking. Jean-Gabriel Pageau sat for a hook on Matt Anderson. At the time of the Pageau penalty, The Devils were outshooting the Senators 11-1. The Devils again threatened on the power play, but could not score. Still, the power play looked more active, crisp, and potentially dangerous.
The first period ended with the Devils up 1-0 and leading 13-2 in shots, which in my opinion, was not necessarily a good thing given the score. Of course its always good when you dominate an opponent, but it just seems there are often hockey games where one team will bury their opponent for a full period or beyond, but only have a one goal lead or worse to show for it. The ice tilt almost inevitably evens out a little, and that's exactly what happened here, plus some puck luck for Binghamton.
About four minutes into the second frame, the Devils were still controlling all the play. Then, Urbom sat for a high stick. This was the first time Binghamton really had any chances in the game. They mustered a couple shots on the power play, Frazee made the saves. A few decent chances for Binghamton, all denied.
Shortly afterwards, Butler drew a penalty by hustling up ice on a 1-on-2 play. This power play was not quite as good as the few during the first period. In fact, Frazee had to make a great save on a shorthanded breakaway to keep the score 1-0.
Still, the Devils were showing a great forecehck in general, and that was still the case here. There were notably good shifts from Anderson and Josefson, as well as from Zalewski and Butler. Its worth noting that the lines were shuffling throughout the night with Whitney injured. So, the Devils were keeping up the good work, they just weren't totally dominating the play like they did in the first period, when Binghamton spent nearly half the period (9 minutes) shorthanded. Shots were 12-12 overall for the period, and Binghamton saved their best chance for the very end of the period.
First, Frazee made a great save on a one-timer from 8-10 feet with time getting short in the second. Then with just seconds remaining, Binghamton entered the Albany zone. With about 6 seconds remaining, Butler and Leach got beaten to a loose puck behind the net. Binghamton was able to work it out for a shot, and Frazee made a save but gave up a rebound. Butler was kind of chasing the play, and then he got beaten to a rebound with just a second or so left. Cole Schneider's shot beat Frazee from about 4 feet as time expired, and the score was 1-1 after two periods.
So, a bit of bad luck for the Devils, who saw Binghamton sort of even out the play (at least, get in the game somewhat) as the second period continued, and then even out the score as the period ended. A bit of bad luck (or good luck), depending on how you see it, would strike each team once in the third period. It was the Devils turn first to come up on the wrong side of lady luck.
Around 1:30 into the third period, Zalewski tried to clear the puck from down low in the zone on a pretty routine play. The puck ended up hitting a stantion or something and took a very odd bounce. Instead of continuing onward towards center ice as it should have, the puck careened straight across the Devils zone to the other side of the ice and right to a waiting Binghamton player. Mark Stone collected the puck for Binghamton and advanced it, covered by Alex Urbom. Stone had enough room to pass across to Cole Schneider who had Gelinas pretty much draped on him, but on his rear. Schenider was able to get his stick on the puck for a perfect deflection that beat Frazee and went right in the goal.
The Devils, as they have done in other games lately, went from dominating play to trailing in a matter of 1:35. They got right back to work on the forecheck. The Devils kept up the action and created chances. Gelinas hit the post on a blast from the point on one play. Then, the Devils would earn two more chances on the power play through their hard work on the forecheck.
The first power play created a few chances, but no success. Just seconds after it expired, the Devils earned another chance, and they would take advantage. In fact, the hockey gods would equal out the strange and untimely deflections off the boards, and this time the Devils were the beneficiary. A puck was shot in behind the net, and instead of careening around, it just came straight back out in front of the goal. There was a Bridgeport player closest, but Zalewski was the most aggressive and he canceled him out. Then Parse was next on the scene to collect the puck. Parse held for a second but quickly found Bobby Butler on the back porch for a one timer tap in, and the game was tied 2-2.
The Devils kept up the pressure afterwards, and continued to work towards a tie breaking goal. At this point, late in the period, Binghamton had only one shot on goal, the one they scored on. The Devils kept pressing forward, creating all the chances, but could not score, and time was running out. Still, you had the feeling they were in control of this game, but were running out of time before the dreaded overtime / shootout which has been so cruel this season.
Then, a harmless routine play goes wrong for Albany. It was a simple wrap around behind the end boards from Leach to Josefson. Josefson, as he was about to collect the puck, stumbled and lost his edge for a minute. The puck went by him, and it was held in at the point by Mike Hoffman for Binghamton. Hoffman held the puck, carried to the circle, and fired a shot on Frazee. Frazee made the initial save, but the rebound dropped right in front and Jakob Silfverberg was there to shove it through the five hole, giving Binghamton a 3-2 lead.
There were only two and a half minutes left at this point in the game. The Devils kept trying, but could not get an equalizer. Binghamton had only 3 shots for the entirety of the third period - two of them were goals, and the third was the rebound that created the second goal. A disappointing loss for the Devils, to say the least. They really controlled play for the vast majority of this game. They outshot Binghamton 37-17 overall, and outchanced them handily as well. A couple bad breaks were really the difference in this one. A frustrating and disappointing loss, but at least a game you can come away from knowing you did a lot right. It can sting when that doesn't translate into points in the standings, and the Devils left it up to themselves to make up the difference the next night in Hershey.
S 12/29 Albany 3 Hershey 2
HoeHHoeffel-D Zajac - Sestito
The Devils traveled to Hershey Saturday night needing a win and some points after coming up empty Friday at home. It's never easy to play in Hershey, and the Devils were unable to solve Braden Holtby at all in their first meeting earlier this season. Holtby earned a shutout that night, turning aside 35 shots.
The first period of this game featured up and down play, with chances created by both teams on each end of the ice. First, Kinkaid robbed Mathieu Beaudoin from right in front of the net. Shortly after, Darcy Zajac was stopped on the far post after a flurry in front of Holtby. Butler created a dangerous chance, where he made a nice deke, cut behind the net, and emerged on the other side for a potential wraparound, but he lost the puck on the wrap attempt.
Then, the even play back and forth tilted slightly in Hershey's direction, and they took advantage. Hershey would break through first, and it was Jon DiSalvatore with a one-timer for a goal from about 8 feet in front of Kinkaid. After the goal, the chances would continue to be back and forth. A good forecheck by the Josefson line created a couple of shots. Then, there was a flurry by Hershey right in front of Kinkaid, but the puck doesn't go in.
Then, the Devils had probably their best chance of the game so far. Gelinas carried the puck up ice on a rush. He dished to Anderson, who found Pesonen. Pesonen got a backhand attempt off that was defelcted partially by Holtby, fluttered towards the net, and hit the crossbar, staying out. The first period would end with Hershey leading 1-0, Albany leading in shots, 12-10.
Early on in the second period, the Devils were active on the forecheck. The fourth line had a very good shift and created some chances. Soon after, the Devils got a power play when Adam Larsson was absolutely crunched into the boards by Garrett Mitchell. The call was elbowing, but the man advantage was short lived. Discipline, or a lack of, came back to hurt the Devils again. A too many men on the ice call ended the power play. Harri Pesonen sat, serving the bench minor. Matt Anderson soon joined him in the box, when he sat for tripping about 45 seconds later. The Devils had turned a 5-on-4 into a 3-on-4.
Ultimately, they had to kill first a 4-on-3, followed by a brief 5-on-3, and then a 5-on-4, and the Albany kill was up to the task. They almost got caught in a change once, but overall, a very good job to keep this a 1-0 game. The game continued to be somewhat of a back and forth affair. Kinkaid faced some challenges, but was very good and made the saves.
The Devils were also able to produce on the forecheck, and were soon able to get a well deserved equalizer. Gelinas ripped a point shot, which was tipped by Sestito in front and beat Holtby. After over 92 minutes of shutouts, the Devils finally cracked Braden Holtby. After the goal, the Devils kept buzzing and kept up the pressure. They got a power play opportunity when Hershey cleared the puck over the boards for a delay of game. Unfortunately, the best chance on the power play came for Hershey. Harri Pesonen broke up a potential odd man rush with a hard and timely backcheck. The second period would end still deadlocked in a 1-1 draw.
Early in the third period, the Devils would take the lead. Bobby Butler, who seemed to spend a lot of the third period playing with Josefson and Pesonen, was the goal scorer. Butler received a very nifty feed from Jacob Josefson who was behind the net with his back to the play. Butler beat Holtby top shelf for a highlight reel setup and goal. If you haven't watched the game highlights yet, its worth a peek.
Before the dust could even settle on Albany's goal, Hershey struck with an equalizer. Something I have said too many times this season - the Devils were caught on a bit of an odd man rush and were standing around. Kinkaid came out of his net to challenge Alex Berry, and Berry deked Kinkaid, leaving him out of position. Then Berry easily found Zach Hamill for a pretty much undefended tap in from in front. The Devils, once again, could not hold a lead.
Hershey would keep the ice tilted in their favor in the ensuing minutes of play. Kinkaid faced a lot of pressure, but stood tall. On one notable save, Kinkaid flashed the glove on a blast from the point.
Albany managed to weather the storm and come up with a counter attack on a pretty great effort by Bobby Butler, among others. Butler read a pass and intercepted a cross ice feed by Hershey just inside the Devils blue line. Butler raced up ice, and dished to Josefson, who joined the play, for a shot. Josefson got the shot on Holtby, which was saved but not covered. After what looked like possibly several rebound attempts, Harri Pesonen, who crashed the net hard following the play, got the tap in for the go ahead goal. It was now 3-2 Devils, with just about 8 minutes left in the game.
The remainder of the game was mostly a nail biter for Albany fans. Kinkaid faced a lot of pressure. Then, Gelinas sat for a trip with 5 mintues left, and the Devils kill would be challenged once more. Hershey put forth a good power play effort, but could not score. At one point, it looked like a puck thrown in front was going to deflect right off McPherson's stick and into the goal, but it hit Kinkaid in the chest.
Now, with just 2 - 3 minutes left in the game, Kinkaid faced a ton of pressure. The Devils had one flurry on a counter attack where they actually looked sure to score and ice the game, but somehow the puck stayed out. I think a defender in front made several blocks in front of an open net.
Finally, Hershey emptied the net and pushed once more for an equalizer. They challenged and created chances, which were turned away by Kinkaid. Then, with just seconds remaining, a play almost developed giving me flashbacks to the night before. Hershey seemingly had created some space and a good look on net from about 8 feet away as time was winding down. Jacob Josefson came through on a back check skating full steam, and pretty much came out of nowhere to get his stick on the puck, break up the play, and clear up ice, ending the game. Final score 3-2 Albany, and a much needed victory in a well played game. Shots ended 36-29 Hershey, but things were pretty even until Albany took the lead with 8 minutes left.
Good weekend for Albany. They let one get away from them Friday, but also won two road games against two good teams. 4 out of 6 points for the weekend is not bad.
Jacob Josefson is back in form. He looked like his old self out there this weekend.
Harri Pesonen continues to come on strong over these recent games. He looks very comfortable with Josefson now. It seems he has gotten over a little plateau he faced, which I will attribute to adjusting to the North American game.
Bobby Butler is still playing on another level. He has been scoring goals left and right while generally contributing in all situations. He is just a very noticeable player on the ice these days. Butler continues to be in beast mode of late, and he is fun to watch right now.
Scott Parse filled in very well for Joe Whitney on Saturday. Hopefully Whitney is back soon, but it is nice to have a decently skilled guy like Parse who can step in if needed. I think if Whitney remains out, we might see more Pesonen-Josefson-Butler moving forward. These guys combined for the two Devils third period goals, and seemed to dominate while on the ice together.
Mattias Tedenby has been a little quiet the last few games.
Corbin McPherson continues to be an everyday presence for the Devils blue line, and he is really doing a good job back there. He's not flashy. He's more of a big stay at home guy, but he is decently mobile for a big guy and seems to be getting even more comfortable in joining the play somewhat.
Eric Gelinas had a very good game Saturday night. He was getting his shot off, and it created a goal on one play.
Keith Kinkaid was outstanding on Saturday night. I'm sure he would like back the play on Hershey's second goal. He came out to challenge, and got beaten. Other than that, he was tested often and played great.
All stats taken from theahl.com and echl.com
Albany Photo Book and Links:
Check out Tracey's photos from the Binghamton game and thoughts on last weeks action over at Thoughts Inside the Box
The Week Ahead:
Albany will have just two games this week, both rematches of games played lst week. On Saturday afternoon, they will host Springfield at 5 PM. Then, on Sunday afternoon , Albany will host Binghamton at 4 PM.
Well, that concludes our final Albany Devils Roundup of the 2012 calendar year. It's good to get a couple wins in and end things on a positive note. The team has played better of late, and hopefully they can continue that into 2013.
As always, thank you all for reading, and a Happy New Year to everyone!