Photos by James DiBianco Jr.
The Albany Devils and the AHL have partnered with Labatt Blue for the 2014-15 Labatt Blue AHL Bubble Hockey Tournament of Champions. Each participating AHL city will have a local tournament and the Albany winner will represent the Devils for the league title.
The winners of each location advance to the Albany finals, which will be held at Times Union Center later this season. The winner of that tournament will represent Albany at the ultimate Tournament of Champions.
|Fri., Oct. 24||Swifty’s||7:00 – 9:00 PM|
|Sat., Oct. 25||Wolf’s 1-11 Arena||2:30 – 4:30 PM|
|Sat., Nov. 15||Lynn’s Uptown||7:00 – 9:00 PM|
|Wed., Nov. 19||Junior’s||9:00 – 11:00 PM|
|Sat., Nov. 22||Center Square Pub||9:00 – 11:00 PM|
|Sun., Dec. 7||Washington Tavern||6:30 – 8:30 PM|
|Wed., Dec. 17||Junior’s||9:00 – 11:00 PM|
|Fri., Jan. 16||Lynn’s Uptown||7:00 – 9:00 PM|
|Sat., Jan. 17||Center Square Pub||9:00 – 11:00 PM|
|Fri., Jan. 23||Hooters||7:00 – 9:00 PM|
More dates will be added throughout the season.
ALBANY, NY – For the past few seasons the Albany Devils lacked depth at the right wing position. Take a second and look at the 2013-14 roster and you’ll see three right wingers listed: Cam Janssen, Mike Sislo and Darcy Zajac.
Three is a generous number considering Janssen and Sislo floated between the NHL and AHL and Zajac is more of a natural centerman.
“You want to be as deep and as complete of a team that you can,” Sislo said. “Anytime you have strong right wingers, strong left wingers — right-handed players, left-handed players — that balances is definitely going to help the team.”
Because of the volatility of an AHL roster, Head Coach Rick Kowalsky and his staff slotted left-hand shots into the right wing last season. For example, leading scorer Joe Whitney played on the right side as did centers Rod Pelley and Tim Sestito.
During last Saturday’s 5-1 win at Adirondack, Albany’s lineup included four right-handed, right wingers: Bernier, Janssen, Sislo and Thompson.
“To go from not having that many right-hand shots to having options, it helps the power play and it certainly helps a lot on breakouts and that transition game,” Kowalsky said.
Sislo indicated that he actually prefers coming down the left side on the rush, but playing on the right side is crucial in the defensive zone.
Thompson, who had four of the team’s five goals against the Flames, agrees.
“It makes it a little easier in the D-zone coming out and having clean breakouts,” he said. “The way we want to play is with speed coming out of there and creating rushes. It’s a lot easier to catch pucks on your forehand and move it quicker than if you are on your off side and you have to try and make a backhand play.”
The team is better equipped on the right side, not only with depth, but with experience. Entering this weekend’s home-and-home series against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Devils right wingers have combined for 1,720 career professional games.
Here’s what you need to know for Thursday.
“Last year a lot of our speed came through our clean breakouts. Whereas this year, I think we can utilize it more in transition.”
That’s Head Coach Rick Kowalsky talking about the Devils speed when moving from defense to offense. Four of the team’s five goals at Adirondack Saturday came off the rush.
New Jersey closes road trip
The NJ Devils wrap up their four-game road trip to start the season. They are in search of their fourth consecutive win tonight when they face the Capitals at 7 pm. The game can be seen on MSG Plus 2.
NEWJERSEYDEVILS.COM took a look at five reasons the Devils are off to a 3-0 start.
Last Wednesday, the A-Devils kicked off the season with their “Puck Drop Party” at Wolf’s 1-11. Here is a closer look at that event.
The A-Devils will practice at 10:30 am at Times Union Center.
About today’s image
Joe Whitney and Dan Kelly skate sprints during Wednesday’s practice at Times Union Center.
Today’s Morning Skate was posted at 8:00 am
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ALBANY, NY — While the first game of the season was against an unknown opponent, the next two for the Albany Devils are against a very familiar foe.
The team skated Wednesday at Times Union Center, preparing for a home-and-home series against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday and Saturday. The Devils and Sound Tigers met 10 times last season and will face off 10 times this season.
Albany is coming off a commanding 5-1 win at the Adirondack Flames last Saturday. The Flames relocated from Abbotsford, BC and the game was the first ever meeting between the two franchises.
“We’ll take the win I thought we did some good things,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “It’s only one game. It’s good to get that first one out of the way especially when you are planning a team you’re not really fimiliar with.
We have some time to spend in practice this week and work on some of the things we need to and we expect a little bit of a different opponent this weekend back-to-back with Bridgeport.”
Friday’s contest will be Albany’s first divisional test this season. Last year, they went 21-13-2-2 within the division, including 7-2-0-1 against the Sound Tigers.
Part of the Devils success was their speed. With some key additions, Kowalsky believes the team’s skating will be an even bigger asset.
“We know that we utilized it last year, but I think we can utilize it even more in transition,” Kowalsky said. “That’s something we will spend a lot of time on. Last year alot of our speed came through our clean breakouts. Where as this year, I think we can utilize it more in transition.”
That transition game was on display last Saturday. Four of the team’s five goals came off the rush.
Kelly Zajac, who missed Saturday’s opener with a lower body injury, has resumed skating with the club. With 28 players on the roster, the Devils staff is still strategizing on their 20-man lineup.
“You don’t necessarily want to change the lineup for the sake of changing it,” Kowalsky said. “We would like to see some of these guys because they did have good camps. As the week progresses here, we’ll get closer to finalizing our lineup.”
No surprise, Kowalsky did say winning makes line up changes tough. During Wednesday’s practice the Devils iced five offensive lines and had eight defensemen and three goaltenders.