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.