ILWT Audition 2014: The Albany Devils and their Impressive Season

Writer K wrote about the Albany Devils. There are only Albany pictures in the photostream from their December 2012 game against Bridgeport so...here's one of those. - Bruce Bennett

The ILWT Audition process continues into it's final day with this submission by Writer K Spyro Mantzas. It's all about the minor league affiliate: the Albany Devils, who made the playoffs in 2013-14.

At the end of April, I put out another call looking for new writers for In Lou We Trust to write about the New Jersey Devils. I've opened up the audition to the community at large in order to get some new perspectives and additional voices on the front page with regularity. Since then, I've received eighteen entries that met the submission criteria. Regardless of how they're received, I thank the writers of each and every one of them - you know who you are - for stepping up and submitting an entry.  (One more instruction for those who made submissions and received letters, by the way.  Please do not comment on your submission or any of the other audition posts.  This will help allow others to freely judge the work and show that you can handle online reactions.  No drama is the best drama.)

Throughout the this week, I will post each one under an anonymous name so you can discuss and critique the post without regard to who actually wrote it. I can ensure you that I did not change any of the content outside of formatting it in to the SBN platform.  To that end, please note that I don't necessarily agree with what the posts actually say. I'm just letting them stand on their own. Please be constructive in any criticism and do offer your thoughts about whether you liked (or disliked) the post in addition to discussing it's content. Don't be mean, but be fair.

Now, I assigned a letter to each writer based on when I received it.  However, I decided to mix up the letters in terms of order of posting.  So this process continues with the submission of Writer K Spyro Mantzas, who focuses on the Albany Devils, the minor league affiliate who made the playoffs in 2013-14.

***

In what is a rarity in the New Jersey Devils' farm system, their minor league team, the Albany Devils made the Calder Cup Playoffs.

When looking at the parent club and their injury woes, Albany was decimated by call-ups.  When Bryce Salvador went down with a serious injury on October 23rd, Lou brought up the hard-shooting Eric Gelinas. Gelinas had spent a few seasons in Albany, being far and away their best point producer on the blueline. Just a few weeks later, Jon Merrill got the call and after an injury, played so well with NJ that he spent the remainder of the season up with the big club.  Before Adam Larsson was sent to Albany in early January, there were not any notable names on the A-Devils' blueline. Despite this, they gave up the sixth least amount of goals in the AHL. Mind you, this is with sub-par goaltending, which will be discussed later.

Offensively, rookie Reid Boucher provided a much needed boost, notching an impressive 22 goals in 56 goals. However, he spent two months in New Jersey, taking away arguably Albany's best scorer. 26 year old, Mike Sislo, had a breakout year but like Boucher, saw significant time with the parent club. Devils fan favorite and possibly the human version of a cat (seriously, the guy has nine lives), Tim Sestito, played 16 NHL games.  While many fans joke about Sestito and how he constantly gets chances in NJ, he does contribute at the AHL level.

Key cogs were consistently missing from the A-Devils' lineup, yet, they put up a 40-23-5-8 record, good for 5th in the Eastern Conference. Lines were constantly being juggled, defensemen were in and out and goalteding was not an asset. After getting off to a strong start, Keith Kinkaid finished with a .912 save percentage. That is right around league average, which is passable but not great.  Scott Wedgewood was a problem and a large one at that.  He posted a .899 save percentage, a horrendous number.

For those who have a palate for "advanced stats", the A-Devils owned a Corsi of 53.8%.  Corsi is the number of shot attempts (SOG, missed and blocked shots) meaning, they had nearly 54% of attempts at ES.  They ranked 3rd in the AHL in this category.  Certainly, head coach Rick Kowalsky plays a similar system to Pete DeBoer, so it shouldn't be a surprise the Baby Devils do well possession-wise.

The Albany Devils seemed poised to make a deep run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.  Larsson, Merrill and Gelinas were all sent down to bolster the backend and there were not any injuries of note.  Unfortunately, they bowed out in four games, running into a strong St. John's Icecaps.  While the Albany Devils will probably be worse next year due to Larsson and Gelinas being waiver exempt, Merrill playing so well in NJ and Boucher, Sislo and/or Stefan Matteau pushing for full-time NHL jobs, there was still plenty to be proud of.  The coaching staff had a difficult task keeping the team afloat while players were in New Jersey and had their best season in years. Well done, Albany.

***

Now that you read Writer K Spyro Mantzas's post, I want to know what you think about it.  What do you think of the subject matter? What did you think about how Writer K Spyro wrote this post? Based on how it was written and what was it about, is this the kind of post you would want to see regularly at In Lou We Trust? Please leave your answers and other comments about this post in the comments. Thanks go to Writer K Spyro Mantzas for the submission and thank you for reading.

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