ALBANY, NY – The Albany Devils haven’t had a game at Times Union Center in nearly three weeks and the team hasn’t had consecutive practices at the downtown facility since the beginning of January. On Wednesday and Thursday the team was on the home ice, preparing for games at Springfield Friday, against Hartford Saturday and against Syracuse Sunday.
Entering the weekend, the team is in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference — just two points out of fifth place. The Devils went 1-1-0-1 last weekend with a shootout win at Portland, a loss at Hartford and a shootout setback at Worcester. Albany, which claimed three-out-of-six points, outshot opponents, 112-65.
“I thought we outplayed all three teams,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “I think during the Portland game we gave up six chances. We gave up eight in Hartford and we gave up seven [at Worcester]. At the other side of that we were 14, 15 and 18 by our count as far as chances. We certainly did a lot of good things this past weekend. I told the guys sometimes the pucks just don’t go in.”
The Devils hope to continue their offensive success where they have a +16 goal differential. The plan for the upcoming games is not much different than what the team tried to accomplish on the road last weekend.
“Our message has been we’re not changing things,” Kowalsky said. “Bear down. We looked at some other options in the offensive zone as far as finding some guys when we get pucks at the blue line, but no, there isn’t much we can change.”
Friday’s contest at Springfield concludes a five-game road trip. Both Saturday and Sunday’s outings are slated for 5 pm puck drops.
• Both practices this week concluded with a shootout contest. Although the team has a good time with — what appears to be — a light-hearted drill at times, Kowalsky says he takes notice of how players perform.
“As a coach, you’re looking at what they do as a move and what their thought process is going out,” he said. “Especially, if they shoot multiple times. So I think its still beneficial, whether some of these guys will see the shootout or not remains to be seen.”
• Tim Sestito, who is the longest tenure player on the roster, is on a four game point streak with two goals and two assists. His line, which also consists of Mike Sislo and Harri Pesonen, registered seven points last week.
“He’s just playing smart, hard, simple hockey and not making a lot of mistakes.” Kowalsky said of Sestito. “He’s picked up his physical play and his energy a little bit here. I think that line’s been good for us. He’s made those two guys better. His responsible play and his veteran presence has certainly helped those guys.”
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