Of the 25 players on the Albany Devils roster, only 21 are available for Friday’s contest against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Times Union Center. Cam Janssen and Kelly Zajac are out with upper-body injuries and Mark Fraser and Paul Thompson will sit because of suspensions.
That doesn’t leave the Albany Devils with many options heading into their first three-in-three weekend of the season.
“It’s unfortunate, we’re going to have to find a way to have some guys step up and, I don’t want to say play shorthanded, but right now we’ve got one healthy scratch up front,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky after Thursday’s practice. “It’s tough, it’s unfortunate, and we’ve got to move on.”
The Devils have six defensemen available, meaning a player like rookie Joe Faust will have the opportunity to step in and, hopefully, make an impact.
“You never want to see a teammate get injured or suspended, or any of the problems we’ve had, but personally I’m excited for an opportunity to get in there and excited for a chance to, hopefully, be a part of putting some wins together,” Faust said.
On the front end, Reid Boucher has moved up to the Devils top line alongside Scott Timmins and Joe Whitney. Boucher, who had 22 goals a year ago, netted his second of the season during last Saturday’s game at Portland.
“Certainly hoping it will maybe reconnect them a bit, and maybe give him some more opportunities and some more looks,” Kowalsky said. “But he’s just got to focus on playing the right way which he certainly took a step in the right direction this past weekend.”
Boucher, Timmins and Whitney had success playing together during the early part of last season. After 11 games, they had combined for 46.7 percent of the team’s scoring with 13 goals and 17 helpers.
Keith Kinkaid hasn’t started a game since the Nov. 2 contest against Portland. New Jersey recalled the 25-year-old on Nov. 4 and he made two relief appearances before being returned on loan on Nov. 17.
“He was anxious; he actually wanted to get back on the ice on Monday, when we didn’t have ice here and we had a workout,” Kowalsky said. “He looked really sharp today, and I think with Keith, he’s just anxious to get back and get playing. He’s certainly going to get that opportunity this weekend.”
Kinkaid enters the weekend ranked seventh in the AHL with a 1.95 goals-against average. He is 4-0-2 with a .920 save percentage.
“I haven’t played in three weeks now,” Kinkaid said. “I’m definitely eager to get back in. Obviously, I was a little frustrated that I didn’t get a game up there. Right back to work and just play well down here again.”
“They’re getting better,” Kowalsky said. “We’re still not 100% sure on a timeline on Kelly, but it’s a while. Cam’s slowly feeling better here, so not available this weekend, which is really all that matters right now.”
How to Follow
Fans who can’t make it to Times Union Center Friday and Sunday or to Binghamton Saturday can follow the action online at ahllive.com. Additionally, Friday and Saturday’s contests can be heard on 104.5 “The Team” ESPN Radio.