KellyZajac

Notebook: Devils Get Healthy Down The Middle

TROY, NY

Part of Tuesday’s Albany Devils practice was spent working on a three-on-two drill with the forwards starting at the red line and the defensemen at the defensive-zone face-off dots. The Devils are trying to generate more offense this weekend, coming off a pair of 4-1 setbacks last weekend.

“We address it, but we don’t want to structure the entire practice around it,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “I think it’s more about guys bearing down on their chances. We have emphasized today and will all week about getting to the net and getting pucks there.”

Albany’s success this season has come when producing three goals — 18 of the team’s 22 victories have come when scoring three or more goals. But recent injuries have paid a toll on the Devils upfront – particularly down the middle.

With Graham Black, Rod Pelley, Scott Timmins and Kelly Zajac out of the lineup last week, Chris McKelvie — a left-winger — centered the fourth line.

Black and Zajac were back on the ice for Tuesday’s skate. Black joined Alexandre Carrier, Cam Janssen and Ben Johnson in blue jerseys. Zajac was in red along with Joe Whitney and Mike Sislo.

Rod Pelley will join the team tomorrow,” Kowalsky said. “Kelly Zajac is cleared and had been skating. He certainly should be available for a couple games depending on how he feels this weekend and Graham Black will see how the week goes. There have been four centers that have been in and out.”

The Devils have had some time to rest their ailments. Thanks to the schedule, the Devils did not have games last Saturday and Sunday and will go a week between games. The team appears to welcome the break in the schedule.

Kowalsky said: “This is a good week. We were able to do a little bit of conditioning, which is good because we haven’t had much time in the gym because of the amount of games we’ve had.

“We were able to give the players some rest, do some off-ice conditioning and still have three full days of practice. I think the biggest thing is getting guys healthy and we are looking at maybe 2-3 guys back by the weekend, which is a huge boost for the team.”

Points To Be Had

As the April regular-season deadline gets closer and closer, the standings get more important. The Devils will try and take advantage of three conference games this weekend. They host Hershey on Friday before a home-and-home series against Hartford Saturday and Sunday.

Eight points separate Albany from Hershey and five points are between Albany and Hartford.

“I feel that Friday’s game is so important and we need to play the right way,” Kowalsky said. “Getting some bodies back in the lineup will certainly give us a boost. We need to take advantage of our home ice this weekend. We’re chasing some top teams in the standings and, from weekend to weekend, you want to make sure you’re making up ground and not losing it. ”

The Devils are 0-1-1-0 against the Bears this season and 2-2-0-1 against the Wolf Pack.

Broadcast Information

All three games this week can be streamed online or on mobile devices at ahllive.com. Additionally, the contests will be available on 104.5 “The Team” ESPN Radio.


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